In ear monitors: to custom or not to custom

I currently own the universal Westone UM3X, and I am very impressed with them, but there is always that nagging feeling that I could do better. The logical step is to go down the custom route, such as the Westone ES5 or the Unique Melody Miracle (both very highly thought of).

The main drawbacks are that I can’t test them before I buy them, and if I don’t like them, it is going to be a very expensive mistake. They are around the $1000 mark, and as they are custom made, there will be no chance of reselling them.

I would be interested in hearing the opinions of those who have gone from universals to custom; or, indeed, anyone who has any thoughts about this.

I can highly recommend Alclair’s. They start out at about the same price as a pair of high-end earbuds (I have 2 pairs of Shure earbuds that cost me over $300; the Alclair’s start at $249) and range up to about $700. Terrific quality sound and very well-made.



Sounds like they wrote the ad copy with you in mind, eh?

I have been reading the review of 249 (yes, 249) IEMs at Head-fi, and the Alclair Reference comes fourth. (Scroll to the bottom to see the table.)

As I have said, I am very impressed with my UM3X, and I am thinking that if I am going to go up from them, I might as well go to the top. But it is a heck of a lot of money. I just want to know if it is worth it.

Are you a pro musician? Would you make money using these, or are you just a guy who wants his iPod to sound really good?

If you’re going to be using these to gig, then it’s like any other investment in your career. If you don’t like them, they’re still a tax write off.

No, I’m a guy who needs his iPod to sound really good. :slight_smile:

The more I look, the more makers I see: Unique Melody, Alien Ears, Puretone, ACS, Alclair, JH Audio…

I’m confused.

I haven’t used in ear monitors, but everyone I know who uses them or professional stage earplugs went with custom-molded. I didn’t know there were any universal true in-ear monitors. But once you get an audiologist to get your ears modeled, I understand you can use the molds to buy anything you want. I wouldn’t know about those specific monitors, but those seem very expensive to me compared to what I’ve heard tell of (range of a few hundred dollars or so + audiologist fees).

Whoops didn’t see your post above – I guess you’re flying blind. Good luck!