Friday, January 28, 2011

Headphones to fit your ears – 進化するヘッドフォンの装着性

iPhone用のイヤホンにはこれまでiPod Touchに使っていたUltimate Earsの170viをそのまま使おうと思ったが、なぜか曲送りのリモート機能が動作したりしなかったり全く不安定で、代わりを物色し始めた。そこで気がついたのだが、Ethymotic hf3という製品が米国と日本ではアップルストアの見出しからして表記が違うのだ。米国では耳の中に押し込むイヤピース部分をカスタムで誂えできるオプションがある。



I intended to continue using my Ulitmate Ears 170vi earphones for the new iPhone, but the remote functions were totally unstable (while fully functional with iPod Touch), and it made me consider an alternative. I found in Apple Store the feature of a product, Ethymotic hf3, was different in US and Japan. The US headline says “optional custom earmolds”.

According to Ethymotic’s site, you will visit a specified audiologist to have the silicon molds of your ear holes that are sent to the manufacturer and later your custom mold pieces are delivered to you. The cost is about $100. It sounds like a similar process of taking the mold of your teeth at dentist.

Such a technology for ultimate fitting seems a hot topic of canal-type earphones right now as several manufacturers offer the same option, and I came across with a website reporting very favorable listening test for such products. I guess this started for professional musicians on stage originally.

In Japan, similar service does exist, but products are limited to very expensive niche ones, thus purely remains as an extremity. There is another non-custom approach with Sony: Their high-end earphones have earpieces with the structure of 2 types of silicon, hard inside and soft outside, and urethane foam is filled in them to realize relatively free transformation in your ears. Unfortunately, Sony lines up only cheap products with integrated microphone for mobiles, so they are out of my context.

Headphones for portable music listening have evolved last 2 decades with the boom of “EAR” type products and recently with a major shift to canal-type products. It appears to be another step forward for better fitting to the ears with improved noise isolation.

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