Sonomax ‘sculpted eers’ custom-fit earphones

Feb 08, 2012 No Comments by

Most earphones that come with an MP3 player or smartphone sound crap.  And unless you have ears with the necessary ridge of cartilage they will probably fall out.  Even earbuds with a variety of silicone tip sizes tend to wriggle out of your ear canal whether they have an over-ear loop or not.   Having earbuds custom-made used to be expensive, time-consuming and mostly the preserve of professional musicians.  TF has a pair of in-ear monitors from Advanced Communication Solutions (www.hearingprotection.co.uk) which, if we’d been Joe Public and paid for them would have cost the thick end of £500.  Having them made involved ACS head honcho Andy Shiach coming to the office and squirting silicone goo into our ears, thus creating a unique mould, from which a pair of extremely high-fidelity earbuds were fashioned.  Because they fit perfectly they are naturally ‘noise-cancelling’.  Likewise, because the sound from a music player isn’t competing with extraneous racket it doesn’t have to be so loud, thus saving our ears from long-term damage.

Andy will be a worried man now, though, because Canadian smarty-pants Sonomax have worked out a way to make custom-fit earbuds for quite a lot less than £500.

Sculpted eers – all lower-case, deliberately spelled wrong – come in two flavours; not-so-cheap $199 and quite expensive $299.  That’s Canadian dollars which are currently $1.58 to the pound so $199 = £125.90 and $299 = £189.16. They are now available in-store in the US and Canada and online in the UK, although the prices have  somehow gone up from $199 and $299 to £199 and £299, plus shipping.   So you pay £100 more for them in the UK.  Nice one.  If you’re still even vaguely interested you can get the full UK low-down here.

The tricksy bit is a fitting kit that sits on your bonce like a pair of headphones and squirts silicone goo – not into your ear canal itself, but into a membrane that has been shoved inside your lug-holes.

SonoFit fitting kit

It all sounds a bit complicated but isn’t really and the whole thing takes about five minutes.  Although you could do it yourself, the idea is that a retailer who’s watched the video at www.sculptedeers.com/fitting/ does it for you.  Although, if you’ve bought them online you’ll be doing the fiddling about.

How do they sound?  No idea.  I can’t wear yours and you can’t wear mine because each is a unique fit.  Apparently no two ear canals are the same shape, a bit like fingerprints.  There’s reams of waffle on the website about ‘premium Knowles dual driver balanced armature speakers with BAX audio crossover’ and ‘sensitivity 106 dB SPL /146 mVrms @1 kHz’ so they seem like they should sound pretty tasty but who’s to judge?  And the SonoFit fitting system is one-use only and so gets chucked away afterwards, which seems somewhat wasteful.  But TF wishes Sonomax well, not least because if everyone on the train has them, none of their jangling crap will seep out, as it does from standard freebie buds, thus turning amiable, placid commuters into potentially homicidal maniacs.

 

CES 2012, HEADPHONES