From custom sleep plugs that ensure a good night's sleep to custom in-ear monitors providing superior sound quality, these products elevate everyday experiences. Discover the joy of personalized hearing solutions that blend comfort, aesthetics, and functionality, transforming how you hear the world around you.

The Joy of Custom Products For Your Ears Part II

by | Mar 31, 2019 | Hearing Loss, Hearing Protection, Patient Resources

Last month, I introduced you to CEPs (custom ear products). These are products that are custom made specifically for the unique size and shape of each individual user’s ears, like puzzle pieces. I hear far too many people report poor results from non-custom ear products (plugs, earbuds or headphones) due to poor fit. Not surprisingly, CEPs have distinct advantages over their non-custom alternatives relative to comfort, ease of use/ergonomics, retention and aesthetics (in more ways than you might guess). As promised, this month I want to give you the lowdown on two of my favorite CEPs–sleep plugs and in-ear-monitors, as well as some of those used by my patients. 

Custom sleep plugs are something I literally use every night. In fact, I would be hard pressed to get a good night’s sleep without them at this point. When properly fit, they are easy to use, incredibly comfortable and as effective as anything available. To be clear, they will not block out everything–no plugs can do that. I demonstrate this by speaking to my patients in a slightly louder than normal volume when I am making the custom ear impressions. Even with their ears completely occluded with silicone, they can still typically hear and understand me. Nothing (passive) will block out all sound.

Which, in a way, brings me to my favorite CEP, custom in-ear-monitors (CIEM). The best way to think about CIEM is custom molded headphones. CIEM were originally created back in the 70’s & 80’s on an ad-hoc basis by a few forward thinking sound engineers for musician’s such as Stevie Wonder and Todd Rundgren. But they didn’t really come to the fore until the 90’s. For musician’s, CIEM offer tremendous advantages over traditional stage monitors or ‘wedges’ because the custom molded shell considerably reduces the ambient environmental sound, thereby allowing for a customized sound mix at a lower (= safer) volume.

Now, CIEM are mainstream and can be used as personal headphones, with audiophiles realizing their incredible comfort, fidelity and detail. For me, that translates into physical comfort and fantastic sound while hearing little to no BART/plane/other noise when listening to music, movies, podcasts, etc. Putting on my professional ‘hat’ for a moment, it is critical that the physical fit is good not only relative to comfort, but also acoustically.

Without a good acoustic fit, audibility of the lower end of the frequency spectrum (ie bass) will suffer. This has (mostly) to do with the physics of sound within the ear canal.  In addition, a poor seal introduces ambient noise issues. If you want to treat yourself or someone you love, CIEM are a great gift that keep on giving! 

I want to close this piece by mentioning CEPs that I have expertise in, but don’t use personally. For gun enthusiasts, there are custom shooter’s earplugs, both passive and electronic.

And my patients who are water enthusiasts, whether swimmer, surfer, kite boarder or wind surfer, swear by custom swim plugs to keep water from entering the ear causing infections (“swimmer’s ear”) or exostoses (“surfer’s ear”)–bony growths caused by cold water that can (eventually) occlude the ear canal. I’ve also made many (colorful) custom swim plugs for kids who have ‘tubes’, from a previous infection.   

When it comes to taking care of your ears, CEPs are usually the best option. You don’t have to compromise performance or comfort. And as seen from the pictures above, you can even add your own flair! 

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Jonathan Lipschutz Audiologist, M.S., F-AAA, Owner

Jonathan is the owner of Berkeley Hearing Center. He received his bachelor of science in hearing and speech science and a master of science in audiology from Purdue University. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology and the California Academy of Audiology. Jonathan has over 20 years of audiology and hearing aid experience in both the non-profit and corporate sectors.

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