Overall Score: 9/10
- Improved comfort and sound quality.
- Quick and knowledgeable customer support (Facebook Page).
- Great Price at $79.
- Utilizes thermoplastics to allow user made molds.
- Can mold them as many times as needed.
- Comes in a variety of colors.
- Works with nearly all styles of IEM or earbud.
- A DIY product solution (though, this may be a downside to some).
- Makes changing ear tips seem like a drop in the fidelity bucket.
- Provides an insane amount of sound isolation, similar to earplug dB ratings.
- The thermoplastic can be tricky, while forming the molds.
- Can’t be left in a hot car or similar conditions (due to the thermoplastic).
- It would be nice if the finished material was just a little soft or had a soft finish. This is the cost of DIY for under $100. If they were, I could see listening times below, being unlimited.
- Should someone need to get your attention while using them, they may need a fog horn. Not really a con, but it is true, lol.
Custom molds for IEMs/earbuds have been around for a good while, but formerly they required a visit to an Audiologist and had a price tag north of $300. Luckily, times have changed and we have new equipment to create things (3D Printers), new materials (consumer thermoplastics) and even new ways to take molds of your ears (new scanning technologies). This has made it possible for the average consumer to try products which used to be reserved for musicians.
I should note here, there are hundreds or maybe even thousands of possible solutions to this topic, but for brevity, I have only included 3 of the most popular competitors (for comparison). However, there are so many possible ways to do this and I just want that to be clear.
Last note: I was provided a slight discount to do the review (~30% off), but I received no other financial gain. This review is completely neutral and based on my own experience and opinions of the product after hundreds of hours of listening time.
Today’s review will be on a product by “InYourEar.” This is a new solution for creating custom molds for inner ear monitors (IEM), like you see most musicians wearing during a show. The technology used in the molds reviewed today is thermoplastics. These bypass the need to take a mold and send it off, allowing you to do both the molding and finishing at the same time.
Conventional Pricing & Comparison to Other Molding Techs:
The cost of conventional moldings is mainly due to the fact it (usually) requires a doctor or trained professional with a scanner to take the initial molds. Then you send that off to make the finished molds, from the scans or impressions. InYourEar has figured out a way to bypass these steps and offer it for just $79! They accomplish this by using a thermoplastic material that becomes malleable once heated up, then once cooled, becomes a hardened plastic again.
Let us consider a few competing products first:
“Decibullz” – cost $65 and they use a custom molded silicone sleeve that works in a similar fashion to InYourEar. If I didn’t know about InYourEar custom molds, I probably would have tried these. If you are concerned about your ability to handle the DIY part of InYourEar, these may be a good alternative. I say this because silicone is much easier to work with than thermoplastic, especially when you make a mistake in molding.
I can’t comment on how the audio fidelity would compare to InYourEar, since I haven’t tried them. I’d assume it would be similar, but probably not quite as much sound isolation.
“Snugs” – cost around $230 and are manufactured in Germany. These are made using a 3D printer and are finished by hand, but they aren’t “full-size” molds. When you look at the picture, you can see how much smaller the molded part is compared to the InYourEar or Ultimate Ear molds. Aesthetically, I like these the best out of any of the other products.
According to ARSTechnica, when you move your mouth (talking, singing, etc.) “Snugs” will start to come loose, which is a huge downside for any musicians that sing. You have to assume, if they work their way out when moving your mouth, exercising with them is likely to cause it too. This is something that doesn’t happen with InYourEar molds.
“Ultimate Ears” – this is the top tier solution and the prices reflects this, but these aren’t just custom molds. Ultimate Ears actually creates the IEM part too, and this is what sets them apart from the rest. Note how these do not, and cannot, use foam/rubber ear tips. This is because Ultimate Ears is the only 100% custom molded solution in this lineup. Meaning they mold not only the parts surrounding the ear canal, they also mold the ear canal itself, up to a certain depth. If you are curious how they make these, check out this video of them being made in the factory
Essentially the driver/IEM is created around the mold that was made of your ear and the armatures are balanced accordingly. If you value fidelity above all else, I can recommend these. Know that the price for the lowest tier part is $250 (for a single balanced armature) and goes up to $1600+ (for six balanced armatures). If money was no object, I’d definitely give one of their high-end models a shot.
Note: from here on, everything I will talk about is with regard to InYourEar molds. The previous products were only here to inform the reader about possible alternatives and for comparison.
“InYourEar” – Finally, we have InYourEar custom (nearly “full-size”) thermoplastic molds for $79. These have most of the benefits of Ultimate Ears, plus they allow you to keep your favorite IEM. The low price is achieved by making the entire process DIY. Since they are DIY, you can remold them as many times as needed. Most other products require sending them back in to have them re-adjusted, or even having the mold taken again. Either of which is likely to cost you even more money, unless the company you selected guarantees a perfect fit (i.e. free returns to re-mold).
There is also a downside to them being DIY. Since the material has to be malleable at moderate heat levels (hair dryer on high), it can’t be left in a hot environment, such as a car in the summer. If you do leave them in a hot car, you may return to find your molds have changed or are stuck all over whatever you had them stored in.
The only other noteworthy hiccup has to do with when you make the molds, you need to be careful with the thermoplastic and the proximity to your MMCX jacks. These are the only two downsides I have been able to find after weeks of auditioning the product.
Prior to getting custom molds, I was already thoroughly impressed by my Westone UM30’s. The UM30’s stacked up against my old Shure SE425’s really well, I think I prefer them over the SE425’s. Regardless, I did not realize the full sonic potential until I ran across https://inyourear.biz/.
By using custom moldings, we improve our perceived fidelity in multiple ways: greater bass extension, deeper sound stage, far less background noise resulting in cleaner highs, and more. You may be wondering how adding plastic material around the outer parts of your ear can change the tonal signature of IEMs.
While using any standard IEM (even cheap earbuds will work for this), take your finger and push lightly on the case of an IEM, towards your inner ear and hold it. While you are holding them in, it causes the rubber/foam to make a better seal with your ear canal. When you create this improved seal, less and less music/sound waves escape from around the ear canal. As with the custom molds, you should notice an immediate improvement in bass response and overall sound-stage depth/width. Less music is escaping from around the foam/rubber tip and edges of the ear canal, which means more music is going into it.
That is roughly how custom molds work, except instead of just sealing the ear canal, they seal the entire area. Forming a triangular shape, from the “Tragus” to the “Concha” and “Antitragus” (see photo above). The reason it sounds better is simple, we are hearing more of what the musician intended us to hear (music) and less of what they didn’t (background noise).
Listening and Exercising:
I walk at least two miles each day and I tend to listen to music while I do. Prior to getting custom molds I noticed that as I exercised, the IEMs would slowly lose their seal; this is due to the movement of the head caused when walking. I would constantly have to keep pushing the IEMs back in my ear to get the tone I was used to. Once I started using these molds by InYourEar, I no longer even think about the seal, I just focus on the music.
Since these moldings are full-size, they use the shape of your ear to keep them in place. Regardless if you are walking or running, you can always enjoy the best fidelity! This also makes it very hard for them to ever fall out by mistake. I highly recommend them to anyone who loves being active, while at the same time, listening to high fidelity audio.
Comfort is something pretty important to me, as I seem to experience more ear pain than a lot of people. Whether it is over the ear headphones or IEMs, at some point I will start to get pain around my ears. I have tried all styles of headphones and a few IEMs over the years. On average these are the wear times I manage before ear pain begins.
- Audeze EL-8: 3-4 hours
- Stance S1: 2-3 hours
- SoundMagic HP100 & HP150: 4-5 hours
- Shure SE425: 4-5 hours
- Westone UM30 (before InYourEar): 4-5 hours
- Westone UM30 (after InYourEar): 6-8 hours
As you can see, InYourEars helped to extend my wear time by up to 4 hours! This didn’t happen the first time I molded them or the sixth time. It takes a little patience and some skill to get what works best. What I did was make small adjustments, then I’d try it out for a day or two and adjust again if needed. In total I probably molded mine 10 to 12 times. It was completely worth the trouble in the end. They may not be “pretty”, but they feel and sound awesome!
I was highly impressed by the results of such an affordable DIY solution for molding your own IEMs. It may have taken a lot of tries before I landed on what fit best for me, but once I found it, it was sonic bliss. I can only guess that owners of IEM’s better than my UM30’s, will be even more impressed by their gains. The best way to sum it up is to imagine you could combine your favorite IEM’s with the sound isolation of a great set of earplugs. In other words, you are able to play your source at a lower volume since you aren’t having to drown out environmental sounds. This gives you better battery life on a DAP and also helps to protect your hearing at the same time. Another cool feature is that you can re-mold them an unlimited number of times. So, if they did get messed up in a hot car, you should be able to fix them.
It’s hard to find any real downsides to the solution from InYourEar, from the user side anyway. Creating the molds is the only tricky part of this product and you just need to be careful with that thermoplastic. Aside from this, they are a nearly ideal product. I can recommend them to anyone who cares about fidelity with their IEMs and doesn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for traditional molds.
Important Notes for Users:
1: You cannot leave these in a hot car. This is because the car may get hot enough to make the thermoplastic soft again, which would mess up your mold.
2: You need to be very careful with the thermoplastic itself when it’s softened. If it gets between your MMCX jack and the cable’s plug, you will end up with a locked in place cable. I actually did this myself and even though I heated it back up, I still ended up breaking a cable end. This highlights the fact you most likely want to be in a mirror, having someone to assist you helps.
3: Depending on the size of your ear, you may need to remove some of the thermoplastic in order to get the best fit. If you have tried multiple times and you keep ending up with something that causes ear soreness/fatigue, I’d look at removing a bit of material at a time (working in small increments).
4: You can remove the thermoplastic and return your IEMs to stock form. The owner of InYourEar said he has done it, but it’s not a quick process. If you are really good at this, you might even be able to transfer the thermoplastic to another set of IEMs!
How to video from InYourEar: