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Modular vs Custom In Ear Monitors

In a world of options, we are constantly asked to explain what sets us apart from other custom in-ear monitors makers.

When it comes to in ear monitors, for the better part of 3 decades consumers were being offered only two options – universal-fit and custom-fit.

Universal in ear monitors with medium eartips

Universal Fit In-Ear Monitors, as the name implies, are designed to fit all ears. These come with different sizes of eartip fittings in the box and can provide a comfortable fit as long as one of the included sizes fits your ears well.

Every ear is unique, however, and oftentimes ears don’t fall into one of 3-4 standard sizes, resulting in diminished comfort, audio performance, and even earpieces falling out of your ears.

Custom in ear monitors

Custom-Fit (or Custom-Shelled) In Ear Monitors are molded to fit only your ears using ear impressions made at an audiologist’s office. Typically Custom IEMs are made of acrylic and can be customized with different colors, accents, and graphics.

The main advantages of custom in-ear monitors is that, if properly fitted, they are extremely comfortable, offer superior noise isolation, and never, ever fall out. This is especially important for musicians – after all, the last thing you want happening during your performance is losing sound AND having to deal with loose earpieces flailing around. Custom monitors also have superior audio performance, especially when compared to regular consumer-class earbuds.

There are, however, several downsides. One is the cost of custom earphones – the most basic models typically start at $400-500, and can get much more expensive for high-end offerings. There’s also the need to visit an audiologist for ear impressions, and the additional cost associated with that service.

Custom in-ears can only be serviced by the original manufacturer, and for most types of service have to be broken down and re-built, which can mean several weeks without your in-ears. On top of that, traditional custom in-ear monitors have basically no resale value and cannot be upgraded, so if your needs outgrow your current setup, you have to start from scratch and spend the full $400+ all over again on new customs.

Enter the Modular In Ear Monitor

After years of seeing musicians making the tough choice between universal and custom-fit in-ears, we wanted to introduce an option that combines the key advantages of both while being more affordable than the latter.

Our solution - a universal in ear monitor that can be upgraded with custom-fit and custom-artwork components whenever you’re ready to make that jump. We called this concept the Modular In Ear Monitor, and introduced it as our MX PRO in ear monitor series at NAMM 2019.

All of the custom and universal parts in our MX PRO line are interchangeable and fit any MX PRO model, giving musicians unprecedented flexibility when it comes to one of their most important tools of the trade.

Chart showing all of the interchangeable parts and accessories of the MX PRO IEMs

The MX PRO Series Offers the Two Main Benefits of Customs:

Custom fit – 3D-printed custom-fit eartips offer a more secure, comfortable, and noise-isolating fit

Custom design – custom-engraved faceplates let you personalize your MX PRO with your own logo, text, or design

At the same time, even a fully decked out, top-of-the-line MX4 PRO is hundreds of dollars less expensive than a comparable custom-fit monitor.

Customized MX PRO modular in ear monitors with custom-fit eartips and custom faceplates

Custom vs Modular In Ear Monitors – the differences

Try before you buy: The modular system lets you use the universal-fit in-ears first, make sure they suit your needs, and customize them later. This is simply not an option with traditional custom-fit in-ears

Fit guarantee: Fit issue? We offer the same fit guarantee as traditional custom-fit monitors, but with modular in-ear monitors you can send your molds in for a refit AND keep using your monitors in the meantime.

Easy repairs: Need to replace a part? Whether it’s under warranty or not, there’s no need to have the earphones broken down and re-molded. If a driver fails in our monitors, you can be back up and running in the amount of time it takes the post office to deliver a new earpiece.

We even include a spare cable with all of our musicians’ monitors, because a cable snag is no reason to be left without in-ears.

Easy upgrades: Want to upgrade your monitors, for example from a 1-driver to a 4-driver? Instead of starting from scratch, simply get new earpieces in your desired driver configuration and swap over your custom tips, cables, and artwork. Some customers even keep a set of earpieces with a different sound profile as a backup (e.g. MX2 for drumming, with an MX4 for when they go into the studio).

Made of medical-grade silicone: The soft silicone material of our custom eartips is more comfortable compared to the acrylic of most traditional customs and can change shape with your ears, so it maintains seal when you sing, talk, or chew.

Digital ear impression scans

We also wanted to provide an alternative to traditional ear impressions, so while visiting an audiologist is still the best way for those based in another city to get us their ear impressions, we now also have a handheld ear scanner at our Los Angeles office that greatly simplifies the process. Customers can simply stop by our office in LA and get their ears scanned on the spot at no charge, making it much easier to order custom-fit earphones and earplugs later on (please make an appointment at least 24 hours in advance).

Check out SomeGadgetGuy’s video diary of the ear scanning process, and his review of the MX PRO series in-ear monitors on youtube.

A close-up of two custom in-ear monitors with transparent casings and engraved logos, "big" and "srg," placed next to a pair of overlapping sunglasses on a dark surface.

Additional Information

Check out the MX PRO Custom in ear monitors to explore how you can design your monitors from the ground up using our design-your-own interface

Design Custom In-Ear Monitors

This post is part of an educational series on custom-fit products. Visit our Knowledge Base for more articles.