Are you one of those High Fidelity sound buffs, who is willing to spend hundreds or even thousands of Dollars in your quest for that perfect reproduction of sound as it was created by a singer or a musician? Are you also willing to let someone pour or inject some gooey slurry like stuff in your ear canal? If your answers to both these questions are yes, then pack your bags and catch the first flight to Singapore, because you are the right customer for the new customized earphones that would completely block all background noises and let you hear a perfectly reproduced sound as it was created.
A company in Singapore now offers such customized earphones for prices ranging in between 299 to 3000 Singapore Dollars. These earphones fit your ear cavity exactly and have to be custom made. This company sells such custom earphones from 10 brands of manufacturers with factories spread over from Japan, England and US. So, if you have finally decided to part with your money for sake of pure sounds, you can visit this store and select the brand you wish to purchase.
After that, the salesman will ask you to keep still and inject a gooey silicone slurry into your ear with a syringe. For next 10 minutes or so, you need to sit still as moving your head too much, would result into an inaccurate impression of the ear. The “gooey stuff” is nothing but a type of quick drying silicone that is used to create an impression of the ear canal to ensure that the finished earphones fit perfectly in the ear. After the mould is done, the store flies it to the manufactures selected by the customer.
After a delivery period that may extend from 2 to 6 weeks you would have your own earphones with colours and texture of your choice made to fit exactly your own ear. Mr. Tan (name changed), who is a lawyer by profession, is one such customer who has ordered turquoise blue coloured earphones tailored to the shape of his ear. Not only that, the earphones would also have his Chinese name engraved on the name plate.-one character on each side.
The earphones ordered by Mr. tan are not exactly cheap. I found this interesting comment made by another Singaporean on Facebook page of the company, saying: “the lawyer is pretty much screwed if his wife knows how much that pair of ciem cost.”
Mr Tan agrees and says: “My wife will kill me, “ if she finds out the cost. But he has an explanation, why he has purchased the earphones. He says, “while buying universal earphones I worry whether the earphone is too big for my ear, but this one fits exactly and is fantastic for music isolation. It cuts the background noise. I fly around quite bit for work and listen to music in the plane. So that will come useful.” He is probably right because custom earphones reduce background noise almost to 0 db level.
The shop manager says that they have 25 stores worldwide, spread from China to South Africa and are in this custom earphone business since 2005. They are exclusive dealers for well known brands like Fit-ear, JH Audio and Advanced Communications Solutions. Earlier, only musicians mainly used to buy these as they needed perfect sound isolation, while performing on stage. But things have changed now and since about 2008, customers ranging from 16 years students to working professionals in their 40’s have bought these earphones too. Demand has gone up by 30% in last two years. Demand also has gone up by 30% year on year basis for associated stereo electronics which carries one brand of custom made earphones, called Unique melody.
Mr. tan is now waiting impatiently for his new earphones to arrive, crafted for his own ears and which would come in colours of his own choice and his name engraved on it. In his quest for pure unadulterated sound, what are few thousand Dollars? Isn’t it?
(First published in Akshardhool on 15 July 2013)