At Bloom, we offer custom IEMs from 64 Audio, Campfire Audio, Empire Ears, FiR Audio and Noble Audio. While the initial transaction is quite easy, the full process for custom fit IEMs is a little bit complicated, and generally requires a visit to an audiologist. The whole thing can be a little overwhelming, but the end result is an incredible set of IEMs that will be a perfect match for your ears. With that in mind, after getting my own set of custom IEMs, I put together this guide to provide guidance and answer questions about every step in the process.
The basic process has 4 steps with varying levels of potential resistance, with the hardest step being the first:
- Visit an audiologist to have your ear molds created.
- Place an order for custom IEMs. Depending on the brand you may need to fill out an additional form or pay additional charges to add on specific options like custom artwork, or specific materials to be used in the final product.
- Ship the ear molds along with any applicable forms to the manufacturer.
- Get your custom IEMs delivered and bask in the wonder of how much of a difference a perfect fit can make in IEMs.
Having Ear Molds Created
There are basically two reasons that more people don’t get custom IEMs. One is that you can’t resell or give them away. The other is that you need to have ear molds created, which is not something that’s part of regular everyday life for most people. To get ear molds, first you’ll need to find an audiologist. Some manufacturers provide lists of recommended service providers, but you can also easily find one online. They often also work as part of an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) medical practice.
The additional potential pain point is that you might have to get your ears cleaned out before you can have the molds created. When I had mine created, we had to delay my initial appointment because the audiologist determined that I had too much wax to create an accurate mold. While I wasn’t planning on having my ears professionally cleaned, on the bright side, if you’re spending hundreds or thousands of dollars for custom IEMs, having your ears cleaned ensures that earwax isn’t a detriment to your hearing the best from your new IEMs.
The actual process of having ear molds made took about 10 minutes and was completely painless, if a little odd feeling. The audiologist will insert a small piece of foam into your ear to create the stopping point for the mold. Then they fill your ear with a specialized silicone that will conform to the shape of your ear and then harden. The hardening process takes about 5 minutes and then the audiologist will remove the mold. You can “ooh” and “ahh” at the shape of your ear canals for a minute, and then you put it in a small box to be shipped out to the IEM manufacturer.
Placing the Order and Shipping the Molds
Once you have your ear molds created, you can order your custom IEMs. We offer a broad selection of IEMs that you can order in a custom format. You can place the initial order directly through the website, and then pay any charge later if you need additional options or customizations, or you can reach out to the team and we can create a custom invoice with all of the options you need in one transaction. We’ll provide any necessary forms that you need for selecting your options and providing the molds to the manufacturer, and then you can send those out to get the actual work started on your custom IEMs.
Getting Your Custom IEMs
Now all you need to do is wait. Depending on the brand, customization options, and how busy they are, you can expect a turnaround time between 3-6 weeks before you receive the custom IEMs. Once they arrive, you’ll get to experience a unique, one of a kind IEM made specifically for you.
So was it all worth it?
So you’ve had your ears cleaned, had goop hardened in them, and you waited a whole month to get your new IEMs, when you could have just gotten a universal pair with free 2-day shipping. Are they that good? In short: yes, they are. Firstly, you’ll have an IEM that is perfectly molded to your ears, no need for ear tips or frequent adjustments to get a good seal. These will just slide right in and provide a perfect fit and seal. Second, with IEMs, fit = sound. A good fitting pair of IEMs is going to sound better every time because a good seal creates the best environment for the full range of frequency response and to fully appreciate the technical capabilities of the IEM.
The other end of custom IEMs is that some brands, like Empire Ears and Noble Audio, let you fully customize the look of your custom IEMs, from choosing different designs, to selecting the materials. So not only will the IEM be a perfect physical fit for your ear, but it can give you the opportunity to create something that fits your personal style and looks just like you want it to.
Personal Impressions: Campfire Andromeda Universal vs. Campfire Solstice Custom
The Campfire Andromeda is one of my favorite IEMs of all time. To me it represents the standard by which other ~$1000 IEMs can be judged: “Does it have a bigger soundstage than the Andromeda? Then it has a big soundstage. Does it have more bass than the Andromeda? Then it’s a bassy IEM.” and so on. With this in mind, comparing the Solstice – essentially a custom Andromeda – to the Andromeda is the perfect IEM to compare the feeling of a custom to a universal.
In terms of fit, I’ve gotten quite accustomed to the Andromeda as it is one of my daily drivers. Pop on CP500 eartips, loop the cable around my ears, give it the twist to the right angle, and with a couple minor adjustments I’m good to go. While I consider the Andromeda to have a tight secure fit, the Solstice provides a step up in the quality of fit in an effortless fashion. The fit remains more secure – and more comfortable – through movement and activity. It also feels more natural, and while I can’t really imagine running for exercise in any other IEMs I’ve tried, the custom Solstice has such an effortless, natural fit that running doesn’t feel bad at all.
In terms of the sound, the Solstice definitely has the same core tuning as the Andromeda, but the custom fit provides deeper, more impactful bass, a wider soundstage, and a stronger feeling of definition without any sense of sharpening or brightening in the treble. It’s like everything is turned up just one notch. To my ears, the improvements delivered in the custom fit make the Solstice feel like it’s elevating the Andromeda’s design to nearly U12t levels of performance.
The Bottom Line
While the process takes some time and effort, getting custom IEMs is definitely a rewarding experience, especially if you have had trouble getting a good seal with universal IEMs in the past. If you’re a musician and need IEMs for stage use, it’s a complete no-brainer, as custom IEMs provide a level of seal, isolation, and stability that universal IEMs can’t match. For audiophiles, it’s a matter of getting all those benefits along with the personal touch to your IEM that only a custom fit can provide.