It was way back last year that a guy called Andy Shiach came to my house and syringed a thick gloop into my ears. It was in a good cause. Andy is an ex musician who damaged his ears while playing. He has been an evangelist for protecting ears against noise damage ever since.
His company, Advanced Communication Solutions has been involved with earphone specialist Etymotic Research for a while now.
When Andy came to see me a year ago the purpose was to make custom moulds of my ear canals, and then use these to produce a pair of lasts from which personalised sleeves were made for a set of Etymotic ER-6i earphones.
I love my music and I want the listening experience to be as high quality as I can make it. But I’m not much of a geek when it comes to being able to define listening quality. Nevertheless I found the combination amazing, and am still using it a year on.
Recently Etymotic came up with a new set of headphones, the hf2. These are being sold via Apple online or in store for £99. They have an inline microphone so you can use them with an iPhone. They are very good indeed. I know because I’m listening to my iPod through them now.
And I’m wearing them with a new set of sleeves, made from the lasts that Andy produced a year ago. If you want a pair of sleeves too, you take the voucher you get when you buy the hf2s into a store to get moulds made. That'll cost a further £90. There are plenty of outlets offering the service.
Sleeves have about a five year lifespan, apparently. After that the ear canal will have changed shape enough to make the sleeves ineffective in their jobs. Which are: to be comfortable in the ear and to assist with noise isolation.
Achieving those two jobs means you get higher quality music output at a lower sound level. This means you don’t turn the volume up higher than is necessary, which in turn means you don’t risk damaging your ears.
Advanced Communication Solutions makes sleeves for a range of headphones – check their Web site out for more information.