A (very cool, bright, creative…) former student has UE as one of his clients. He bought a pair of the Ultimate Ears 18 Pro Custom In-Ear Monitors and posted a photo of his new pair. I made the huge mistake of commenting about how I have loved my UE 10vis but have always wanted a pair of the custom in-ear monitors.
I asked him lots of questions about them. Rats! He raved, and raved. Then, the ultimate: he could get me a discount. These bad puppies are custom-made to fit in only your ears and are therefore not inexpensive.
And that’s what makes all of the difference. The custom fit completely seals the ear canal. This means a -26db cut in the sound around you. I literally hear nothing around me unless it is incredibly loud. I’m in a private listening space.
Clean sound. Clear sound. Sound that is imminently present. This is the best listening experience I’ve ever had, and I can be very picky about audio fidelity. With computer speakers and cheap in home speakers (I got rid of my audiophile speakers many years ago: too big, too heavy.) I had given in to poor, mushy, non-defined sound that just existed out there somewhere and never excited.
The in-ear monitors are a complete re-write of my listening experience. I still respond to unexpected sound placement by looking in the direction the sound appeared to originate.
Cameron also introduced me to the audiophile channel on Spotify: which streams audio at 320kbs if you have their premium account—30 day free trial here I came. (I had always successfully avoided Spotify.) He also shared Tidal, a new lossless audio streaming service (1,411kbs) with zero compression coming soon. Jeeze! And then Apple and U2 are up to something that will be announced soon. I’m hoping it will be lossless audio files and streaming.
The first step in the manufacture of the Ultimate Ears Custom In-Ear Monitors is seeing an audiologist to have impressions created of your ears. Ultimate Ears then uses a high resolution scanner to scan the molds. They digitally modify the molds for comfort and fit as needed and then print the shell of the product using a $250,000 3D printer. The shells are then fitted with the electronics. The finished product fits my ears perfectly as they are an inverted replica of my ear.
Here’s a cool video from Head-Fi TV that details the manufacturing process.