It is understood that ear moulded plugs are far more comfortable and effective than the mushroom plugs, but which ones are the best? The Custom fit or generic fit. This article runs over the positives and negatives of that question and comes to a conclusion, if your debating to get some moulded ear plugs or some from the shelf, you will want to read this first.
Over the past 20 years,Â In Ear MonitorsÂ (orÂ IEMs) have become a near-necessity for live performance.
In years prior, engineers would inevitably have to crank up a venueâs stage monitors loud enough for the musicians to hear themselves over the audience, over the sound coming from the stage, and over the main mix.
This would often lead to an arms race of ever-increasing stage volume, potentially causing feedback issues and compromises in clarity and quality for the live mix.
Custom in-ear monitors from JH Audio, one of the first commercial brands to make a name for itself in the IEM market.
With the advent of in-ear monitors, all this began to change.Â In the mid-1980s,Â EtymoticÂ developed the first-ever insert-styleÂ earphones, and soon after, a designer namedÂ Marty GarciaÂ began making one-off custom in-ears for rock stars like Todd Rundgren.
By 1995, Jerry Harvey, founder ofÂ Ultimate EarsandÂ JH Audio,Â brought some ofÂ the first commercially-available dual-driver IEMs to market. All of a sudden,Â everyday musicians had an option that allowed usÂ to save our hearing, get better monitor mixes, and dramatically reduce the chances of feedback onstage.
Today, IEMs are increasingly being considered useful tools for the studio as well. Their ability to prevent sound leakage can be of tremendous value in helping to control click and instrument bleed, and in saving musiciansâ hearing by allowing them to monitor at lower levels.
Some musicians and engineers, such as drummer Rich Pagano ofÂ The Fab Faux, will use IEMs to quickly check for phase when micâing up a drum kit, while others turn to IEMs as a kind of audio microscope, using them to help check for and remove extraneous low-level noise.
Any modern musician would be wise to consider adding in-ear monitors to their toolkit. But is it worth it to dish out the extra money on custom fit IEMs, instead of saving some money with the generic fit ones?
In testing a variety of in-ear monitors from brands like Westone, Ultimate Ears, Future Sonics, and even Skullcandy (that last of which is not recommended for professional use), I have found that there are cases in which generic fit earphones may work better than their custom counterparts. Making the right decision for your needs comes down to considering the following four factors:
Ultimate Ears custom fit in-ear monitors.
Custom fit IEMs tend to cost more than generic fit ones, as it takes more time and effort for the manufacturer to craft a product designed specifically for the unique anatomy of your ear.
Getting custom IEMs made also requires that you go to an audiologist to make a mold of your ear canal that the IEM company can then use to make your monitors fit as well as possible.
Take note of both of these costs, which can range from $100-$200 or more for a fitting from an audiologist, and $299-$1499 or more for the custom monitors to be made.
2)Â Comfort & Seal
Custom fit IEMs areÂ custom, so they should feel really comfortable, right? Â Well, yes and no.
In my experience, custom fit IEMs can feel a little tight in the ear canal compared to generics, especially at first. Hearing so little acoustic feedback from your performance can also take some getting used to, and the tight seal of custom fit in-ears can feel particularly awkward when signing.
Because of this, my looser-fittingÂ Westone 3Â generic IEMs actually feel more comfortable to me on vocal duties, so I often find myself using them over my custom fitÂ Future SonicsÂ when I step up to the mic.
Matt Bellamy from MuseÂ (recently featured inÂ Get THAT Guitar Tone) has been seen using both customUltimate Ears UE-11s and generic-fitÂ Westone UM2s when on tour, and my guess is that he has similar reasons.
Though the tight fit of custom IEMs and lack of acoustic feedback from your performance can be a challenge, itâs worth noting that generic foam-tip IEMs also provide their own tradeoffs: The looser fit of generics can sometimes create a bit of a tingling or âticklingâ feeling in your ear when playing at higher volumes, so it may be useful to have a pair of each and go with what feels best depending on the date and venue.
Silicone-based Encore Studio custom IEMs from ACS.
Another option here is the custom fit brandACS, which makes its IEMs out of soft silicone shells.
This softer silicone-based design is meant to offer both better comfort and a tighter fit than the hard acrylic shells used by brands like Westone and Ultimate Ears.
Though these silicone monitors sell for a premium price of $400-$1,200 and up, they may help bridge the gap between the tight seal of custom acrylics and the looser and easier fit of foam-tipped generic IEMs.
3)Â Hearing Protection
In addition to cutting down on sound leakage to help improve sound quality and reduce feedback, another primary benefit of IEMs is that they can offer considerable hearing protection by helping to block out exterior noise, allowing you to monitor at lower levels.
Some of the best custom fit brands likeÂ JH AudioÂ andÂ Ultimate EarsÂ offer NRR ratings of 26dB in reduction, and some of the better generic brands advertise comparable results as well. (Though your results with generics may vary depending on the fit and seal in your ear.)
In the long term, reducing the levels youâre regularly exposed toâeven by a few extra decibelsâcould mean the difference between a long and illustrious career as a âgolden-earedâ audio engineer and potentialtinnitusÂ and irreversible hearing loss.
Also worth checking out is theÂ REV33Â system, which can be added on to yourÂ your in-ear-monitoring system to help reduce distortion and ear strain. Many live musicians, includingÂ Phil XÂ and Steve Salas swear by the system. According to the company:
âAll in-ear monitors and headphones generate damaging, unwanted noise and distortion that forces the ear to shut down and compress for protection. The REV33 reduces the symptoms of tinnitus, ear-ringing, ear-fatigue, buzzing and dampened hearing by preventing in-ear monitors and headphones from producing this unwanted noise and distortion.â
4)Â WaitingÂ and TimeÂ Considerations
After getting my first pair of IEMâs made, I found that the right ear monitor turned out well, but I was not getting a proper seal in the left ear at first. This made the monitors essentially useless for my live sound needs at the time, and so I had to send them back for some tweaking.
When I got them back a couple of weeks later, the seal still wasnât great, so I had to send them back once again for further modification, and visit my audiologist a second time to take another impression of my ear canal to send in.
Getting the perfect fit turned out to be quite a time-consuming process (as well as an expensive one) so unless youâre on the hunt for a long-term solution with as much acoustic isolation as humanly possible, you might satisfice with generic IEMs, or keep some around as an alternate option.
In that case, I would recommend the generic in-ears from Ultimate Ears, Shure, or Westone.
Ultimate Earsâ generic fit UE900 model sports 4 drivers for $400.
TheÂ Ultimate Ears UE900âs are a great sounding 4-driver IEM that only costs $399, while the $99Â Shure SE215Â single-driver IEMs advertise an astonishing 37dB of noise reduction (more than most custom IEMs) at a great price.
My own triple-driver Westone 3âs (since replaced by theÂ W30 model) are the most comfortable in ear monitors I own right now, and they isolate a lot more noise than most thanks to their foam-tip construction.
Compared to custom in-ears, any of these model can potentially save you time and money, or work as a welcome supplement for those times when the tight fit of custom in-ears feels irksome.
I hope my experiences here help you make the right decision when you go to buy your own IEMs. In short, I found that less-expensive generic foam-tipped IEMs worked better for me in many situations, and the savings enabled me to spend my money on better drivers with a fuller sound.
If youâve used IEMâs in the past, let us know in the comments below whether you prefer custom fits or generic fit ones, and why.
Patrick Macnee, the actor best known for his work on TVs The Avengers has passed away. He was 93 years old.
Macnee was born in London, England in 1922. His father trained racehorses and was noted for his keen fashion sense, whilst his mother was a niece of the Earl of Huntingdon (which may even have made Patrick a descendent of Robin Hood!). However, such privileged beginnings proved to be only deceptively comfortable for the young Macnee, who saw his father drink and gamble away the family fortune, before leaving the country for India, while Macnee lived with his mother and her Lesbian lover Uncle Evelyn Spottswood. The pair attempted to dress the young boy up as a girl, but settled for a kilt instead, which was how Macnee was dressed every day until he was eleven years old.
Spottswood paid for Macnees schooling, which included boarding school from the age of five, a preparatory school (where he acted alongside a young Christopher Lee in a production of Shakespeares Henry V) and ultimately a spell at Eton, where he joined the schools dramatic society. Eventually however, Macnee was quietly expelled from the school after he instigated a gambling ring and was then caught selling erotic photography and whiskey to his fellow pupils.
By this time though, he had already been bitten by the acting bug and so decided to pursue a career in the performing arts.
Before he could make his West End debut, the young actor was called up for National Service. It was 1942 and World War 2 was in full swing. He began his military career in the Navy as an ordinary seaman, before progressing to sub-lieutenant. Fortunately, a nasty bout of bronchitis caused Macnee to miss the D-Day landings, where the ship he was serving aboard was destroyed and the entire crew killed. He was ashamed of not being present at the battle for the rest of his life. Macnee was demobilized in 1946 with the final rank of lieutenant.
Patrick Macnee learned his craft via a number of small roles, appearing in The Life and Death of colonel Blimp in 1943 and portraying a Spear Carrier in Lawrence Oliviers 1948 production of Hamlet (alongside an uncredited Christopher Lee), amongst other assorted roles. However, as the years passed and his big break failed to arrive, Macnee became depressed and frustrated by his lack of progress.
Eventually, he decided to leave the United Kingdom for Canada, making the difficult decision to leave his wife and two children behind in the process. He arrived in Toronto with just Â£10 in his pocket. In Canada, Macnees eccentric Englishness made him a genuine novelty and his career began to pick up somewhat. He explored producing and, as an actor, appeared in over 30 televised plays, before finally hearing about a new television series in development called The Avengers.
In The Avengers, Macnee played the unflappable British secret agent John Steed from 1961 to 1969, before reprising the role for 1976 – 77s The New Avengers. Both the series and the character would become an iconic part of British popular culture, creating a legacy that endures to this day. The show made Macnee an international star and proved to be his finest hour as an actor.
The character of John Steed first appeared in The Avengers pilot episode Hot Snow (1961). Here, he was depicted as being an assistant to Dr. David Keel. When Ian Hendry, who had played Dr. Keel, quit the show later that year, Steed became the central character and was partnered with a series of crime fighting accomplices, namely Dr. Martin King (Jon Rollason), Venus Smith (Julie Stevens) and finally Cathy Gale (played by future Bond girl Honor Blackman).
As the series progressed, Macnee extensively re-designed Steeds wardrobe, furnishing his character with the now iconic look of bowler hat, Saville Row suit and gentlemans umbrella. Of course, these garments came to be tricked out with various spy gadgets as the series went on.
It was Steeds debonair, quintessentially British wardrobe that helped the show to become so successful both at home and overseas. In fact, the clothes were so iconic that in France The Avengers is known as Chapeau Melon et Bottes de Cuir â Bowler Hat and Leather Boots.
Macnee also decided early on that Steed should never carry a gun. In later interviews he stated that he was sick of firearms after experiencing âa war in which Id seen most of my friends blown to piecesâ.
Besides, a pimped-out brolly is waaaaay cooler.
In 1965, Steed was paired with his most iconic partner (and best, but Im biased since she was my childhood crush) Mrs. Emma Peel. Portrayed by Diana Rigg, Mrs. Peel (designed to have man appeal â hence the name) was smart, self-assured and supremely confident. In a unique twist, Peel often acted as Steeds muscle, being by far the more physical of the two characters. Although he frequently rescued her from harm, their relationship was truly a partnership of equals, making Mrs. Peel, secret agent, martial artist and chemistry genius, a genuine pioneer among female heroines. Macnee was always proud of the strong, positive female characters that were so prominently featured in The Avengers.
Rigg left the series in 1968 and promptly followed her predecessor into the James Bond franchise, while Macnee was partnered with Linda Thorsons Tara King until the series demise a year later in 1969.
ITV revived the Avengers concept in 1976 and Macnee starred alongside Joanna Lumley (Purdy) and Gareth Hunt (Gambit). The show ran for two series, but, despite a positive reception, was scrapped in 1977 due to financial problems.
Away from The Avengers, Macnee appeared in the James Bond film A View to a Kill (1985) and the classic Rock n Roll mocumentary This Is Spinal Tap (1984), where he portrayed Sir Dennis Eton-Hogg, the somewhat sanctimonious president of Taps record company. He also played Dr. George Waggner in 1981s cult favourite The Howling.
In 1998, Hollywood made a disastrous attempt to revive The Avengers. The movie starred Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman and Sean Connery and Patrick leant his support in the form of a voice cameo. However, without the twinkle, wit and class of the original John Steed, the idea was doomed to failure.
Finding himself in the enviable position of being a pop culture icon, Macnee was asked to appear in music videos for The Pretenders and Oasis amongst others. He also contributed vocals to a novelty single Kinky Boots with Honor Blackman that was issued three times, the first in 1964, the second in 1983 and the third in 1990, where it eventually became a top 3 hit.
As a television actor, Macnee appeared in such memorable shows as The Twilight Zone, Rawhide, Colombo, Frasier, Battlestar Galactica, Murder, She Wrote, The Love Boat, Magnum P.I, Diagnosis Murder, The Littlest Hobo, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and many others. He even played Dr. Watson alongside Christopher Lees Sherlock Holmes.
In later life, Macnee became a nudist. After an infancy spent in a dress, a childhood in a kilt and an adulthood in the finest suits money can buy, why not spend an old age in the nip? For a style icon that brought the suave and stylish John Steed to life with effortless grace, charm and virility, one supposes that it must have felt like the next logical step.
R.I.P Patrick, you will be sorely missed.
Itâs a brave move by the olympic organisers, the London Olympic communications was run by Riedel and they did an excellent job, they have experience in this field, but the Brazilians are obviously set on using Teltronic and we all hope that they do just as good as a job.
Teltronic, part of the Sepura Group, has been chosen by the public security secretary of RÃo de Janeiro State in Brazil to supply communications for the Summer Olympics and Paralympics, informally known as Rio 2016.
The â¬10m contract will cover four venues (Barra da Tijuca, Copacabana, Deodoro and MaracanÃ£), two airports (Rio de Janeiro/GaleÃ£o – AntÃ´nio Carlos Jobim International and Santos Dumont) and several key transport routes in the Olympic area.
The agreement with Teltronic will see an extension to the traffic capabilities of the existing Teltronic network currently used by the Rio police, as well as the installation of further Nebula base stations to provide additional coverage for the state police and emergency services, and the Olympics organisation workforce.
The existing network was originally provided by Teltronic for the Pan American Games in 2007 and, after some upgrades, is now supporting over 100 dispatch operators and more than 18,000 radios. This new upgrade for the Olympics will feature two extra TETRA carriers for each site, to update the capacity of the existing network; base stations with up to 12 TETRA transceivers to support high traffic loads throughout the event; a CeCoCo Control Centre, to accommodate a further 50 dispatch operators; an additional 6,000 terminals featuring Teltronic’s Synchronous Data Manager application to pare down the GPS refresh time in AVL applications; and 24/7 maintenance and operational support during the Games.
“This win builds on our long-term relationship with the Brazilian authorities and public safety agencies,” said Paulo Ferrao, the Sepura Group’s sales director for Brazil.
“We have a strong background in events of this scale, having supported communications for the FIFA World Cup 2014 and the Pan-American Games, both huge events in the sporting calendar of Brazil and, indeed, the world. We are delighted that Rio de Janeiro’s public safety agencies have, once again, placed their trust in us.”
Superintendent of critical communications at the Security Secretariat of the State, Colonel Alexandre Corval, commented: “We are extremely happy to have chosen Teltronic.
“The company has been a trustworthy partner to our public safety agencies for over ten years. Once again, they have exceeded our expectations in terms of technical development, quality of the deployment and, above all, their dedication to customer service: throughout the project, they have paid close attention to our technical and operational requirements.
“We are confident that this extension to the existing Teltronic TETRA system will optimise our mission-critical communications, enhancing the security of both visitors and employees throughout Rio 2016.”
Internationally beloved singer, songwriter and guitar hero Riley B. B.B King passed away last year. He was 89 years old.
King was a celebrated figure in Blues music from the 1950âs onwards and remained popular both in concert and on record until the time of his death.
The future Blues Boy King was born on a cotton plantation in Itta Bene, Mississippi – not far from the Delta, in 1925. He began his musical career by busking on street corners for loose change, usually performing in as many as four neighbouring towns on any given Saturday night. Seeking his fortune, the young man hitchhiked to Memphis, Tennessee, with just his guitar, the clothes on his back and $2.50 to his name.
Whilst in Memphis, Riley stayed with his cousin Bukka (pronounced Booker) White, an established Blues performer who sharpened Kingâs already formidable musical instincts.
In 1948, B.B performed on Sonny Boy Williamsonâs KWEM radio show, which opened the door for him to perform at the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West Memphis and later to appear on all-black radio station WDIA. This led to King being given a regular slot on the station, beginning with Kings Spot and later evolving to The Sepia Swing Club. It was during this time that Rileyâs stage name of Beale Street Blues Boy became shortened to the initials B.B.
During the 1950âs, a fight broke out between two men at one of B.Bâs gigs. In the resulting fracas, a kerosene stove was knocked over, which set the place ablaze. B.B, dashed into the inferno to save his favourite guitar â an act that very nearly cost him his life. When he learned that the fight had been over the affections of a woman named Lucille, B.B named his guitar after the woman and, from that day on, all of his guitars bore the name Lucille.
King, now a local radio star as well as a very popular musician in his own right, soon had a number one hit on his hands with Three Oâclock Blues, this set the boy from Beale Street touring the United States of America, something he would continue to do for the rest of his life.
Towards the end of the 1960âs, B.B found that his music was transitioning to a young, white audience that were eager to embrace his electric Blues sound. B.B, who had spent his professional life playing almost exclusively to black audiences, suddenly found himself receiving standing ovations and an unprecedented level of respect and appreciation from white audiences, as well.
When he recalled the times changing around him in the 2003 documentary film The Road To Memphis, produced by Martin Scorsese, he was legitimately moved to tears. His music had broken down racial barriers and ultimately won the hearts of people from all races, all walks of life.
When he opened for The Rolling Stones on their 1969 US tour, Kingâs international stardom was assured. From this point on, B.B King held a new ambition close to his heart; he wanted to be known, nationally and internationally, as the ambassador of the Blues.
In the 1970âs, B.B King was a big enough name to tour internationally, visiting Africa for a series of concerts that were filmed for commercial release as B.B King: Live in Africa. Throughout the next four decades, B.B toured the world, recording live albums in places as far afield as Japan, Great Britain and San Quentin State Prison.
King toured Europe, Australia, New Zealand and even visited the UK from time to time, where this writer was lucky enough to watch the late, great man ply his trade in front of an awestruck and mesmerized audience.
The list of guitarists influenced by B.Bâs incendiary sound is a long and impressive one. Names include Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Freddie King, Albert King (neither are related to B.B) and Johnny Winter amongst many, many others. B.B King won at least 9 Grammy awards (among numerous other accolades), was honoured and admired by several American Presidents and touched a great deal of hearts into the bargain.
B.B King recorded 42 studio albums and many more live albums, including critically acclaimed masterpieces like 1965âs Live at the Regal, 1969âs Live & Well, 1970âs Indianola Mississippi Seeds and 2005âs birthday celebration album, simply titled 80.
Earlier this week, a procession of fans, musicians and well-wishers paid tribute to Kingâs memory. Walking through the streets of Memphis, a Dixieland Jazz band followed a black hearse down Beale Street, as local act The Mighty Souls Brass Band played, When the Saints Go Marching In in honour of a musical legend.
Later in the day, a tribute concert, featuring artists Bobby Rush, The Ghost Town Blues Band and Ruby Taylor amongst others, was held in B.Bâs honour.
Upon hearing the news of B.Bâs passing, US President Barack Obama sadly said, âthe Blues has lost its king and America has lost a legendâ.
Kingâs final studio album, 2008âs One Kind Favor, paid tribute not only to his own illustrious career, but also to an early influence of his, Texas Bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson. On the title track, B.B covered one of Lemonâs best-known songs, See That My Grave is Kept Clean. There really isnât much else to say about the staggeringly significant life and career of Riley B. King, perhaps better known as The King of the Blues except that his grave will most certainly be kept clean and that his legacy will live on until time immemorial.