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Finally! Music with hearing protection - cheap!

Discussion in 'Electronics' at netrider.net.au started by backmarker, Mar 25, 2012.

  1. I've been looking for a solution to the problem of being able to listen to music while riding, without killing my hearing for ages.

    I always wear ear plugs while riding because I value my hearing. I already have tinnitus, and I don't want to make it worse, and there is no doubt that the wind noise while riding WILL damage your hearing. I started with disposable foam plugs, then got custom made earmolds done. The foam plugs are more effective in my view, but others seem to get better results.

    But I like music, and on long highway rides a little music would assist the ride. I didn't want to pay the exorbitant amount for the earmold option - air tubes inserted in custom moulds, which could result in problems of noise generated from wind hitting the air tubes. Not at that cost.

    I bought some DIY moulds that go over supplied in-ear phones from the US, but they were really quite awful. The sound quality was terrible, and the noise suppresion was useless. Perhaps I did it wrong. Anyway, they were cheap, and for me a failed experiment.

    I tried other in-ear phones without getting sufficient noise suppresion.

    I heard about the Etymotic noise isolating earphones, which have a db noise reduction rating, and everyone said the ER6i were the ones to get due to their low profile - fitting under helmets. But! No longer available, and the replacement didn't look terribly helmet friendly, or particularly cheap as an experiment that may fail.

    Recently I found the Ultimate Ears from Logitech. These actually have a db rating for noise reduction, which I thought was a good start. The UE200 versions were low profile and looked perfect for under a helmet. They were also pretty cheap, and they could be bought at the local Dick Smiths store. I decided I could take the chance and see how it went.

    I went and bought them, and got them for just over $20 as Dick Smiths had them on 40% off! Back to try them in the ears.

    Hmmm. First impressions were not so good. Despite the wide variety of silicone rubber fittings I didn't find them overly comfortable, and the noise reduction wasn't incredible - not good enought to trust my hearing to them on the bike. Bummer.

    The final option was to add an extra to them - Comply foam tips. I have heard various people get very good results from these. They replace the silicone rubber ends on the ear phones. I bought them on ebay from a seller in Singapore for not a lot (under $20 for three pairs), but you do need to make sure you choose the right type for your earphones. Fitting them to the earphones is very simple.

    I then use the 'lube ear with saliva' method, squeeze down the foam, lift my ear like I would if inserting a foam ear plug and put the ear phone in, holding it for a moment while the foam expands in my ear canal. The fit is then excellent, and the noise isolation is superb - at least as good as my custom earmolds! Around town I put my music on before staring my bike, set the volume at a comfortable, normal, non-riding level, start the bike and ride. The volume is still fine on the bike!

    Like riding with foam earplugs I can still hear the bike, other vehicles, emergency vehicles etc, but the surrounding noise is greatly reduced. The music is perfect.

    I highly recommend Logitech Ultimate Ears UE200 when combined with Comply foam tips if you like music when riding but still want to protect your hearing, and want it all at a decent price. For me it was all up around $40, which I reckon is pretty good. Certainly beats $300 or so for Earmolds with air tubes.

    Hope this is helpful!


    • Like Like x 2
  2. Can you hear yourself singing when you have the earphones in? I find that happens with the sound isolating earbuds.. as much as I'm a brilliant singer, I'd rather not listen to myself when riding.
  3. Yes, but I have that problem with standard earplugs without music too. I'll still sing. Oh, and my singing isn't good.
  4. I have been using HiFiMan RE0s.
    Very low profile, so quite comfortable under the helmet.
    I was also really impressed with the sound quality (better than the UE Stereo 3s I previously had).
    Isolation is also really good. On the bike I have the volume at the same level I do if I wear them in the office.
    My only complaint is that they feel quite fragile. I've heard reports of some of them just falling apart due to glue failure.
  5. You hear yourself singing through your skin & head rather than your ears.
  6. HiFi trader in Newtown (Sydney) claim to have some ER6i available.
    Backmarker, I have pretty much the same problem thanks to decades of loud exhausts, loud intakes and wind noise. For me moulded plugs/earphones soon become uncomfortable and noise reducing plugs sorta work but jaw movement and road bumps keep breaking the audio seal for a fraction of a second causing strange effects. I'm thinking of going back to foam plugs as the most comfortable solution.

    I have a set of Ultimate Ears from about 6 years ago, before Logitech bought them out. Brilliant sound but they are not a helmet friendly model. Sadly Logitech took the brand name and diluted it with too many lesser products.

    Jerry Harvey, the guy behind UE ended up starting a new earphone company and keeps improving on his old designs which have now been copied by quite a few other companies. Sadly, for the likes of you and me his target markets are pro-musicians and pilots.
  7. Good work

    Sent from myPhone
  8. I've had a pair of the ER6i's and some Ultimate Ears SuperFi 5 Pro's and I prefer these style of 'canalphones' or 'inner ear monitors' to anything else.

    The comply tips are great and have used them on both of the above earphones and even a set of cheap Sennheiser cx300's when I lost the silicone tip whilst travelling.

    One concern people have raised when I have told them I ride with them in is that not hearing everything is dangerous. I often found that you still heard enough of the "Major" noises like horns etc as well as hear/feel when the bike needed some attention. But ultimately, it's a personal choice.

    Ultimately investing in a good set of ear moulds is probably the best option, but as you said, is pricey. Luckily, they should be able to fit most of the major brands. I've seen a few groups appear at bike shows every now and then making custom ear plugs. they may be able to create a better "tube in a plug" solution and, being based in Australia, could be cheaper.
  9. Yeah I have the same problem its really annoying. I like the headphones though cause they have an in line control which is really handy. I will try to get some foam to replace the silicon, great idea! Thanks
  10. I've found the foam tips don't give that 'break' in seal with jaw movement like the silicone earphone tips or the earmolds suffer from. I have been really surprised by how good they are.
  11. Brilliant, I'm gonna get some of the Comply ones then...cheers
  12. Hi.

    Just wondering if these were helmet friendly?

    I find that some of the earphones(such as the samsung galaxy s2) protrude a little too out into the side of my helmet to the point where it can sometimes hurt when i use earphones. But when i use my apple standard earphones, everything is fine.
  13. A good set of custom earplugs shouldn't cost more than $140. I know that might sound like a lot to some but I bet many of those same people would spend that much in a fortnight on alcohol, cigarettes and gambling. I guess it's a question of priorities.
  14. Yes, that was one of the main things that held me back from ordering the replacements for the er6i that everyone raved about. The UE200 model is very low profile, and for me doesn't touch the helmet at all.
  15. I paid for custom ear plugs - earmolds. I think that was around the price I paid. But that doesn't include music, I'm not absolutely convinced about their effectiveness, and being a "hard" mould as opposed to a foam plug, they will lose their seal momentarily with jaw movement.

    I still use my earmolds for short rides due to their convenience, but for longer rides without music I prefer the confident protection (sounds like a tampon ad) of a foam plug, and the UE200 plus Comply tips for protection plus music. Both options I find better and a lot cheaper than custom moulds.
  16. the reduction in noise get A LOT Better if you have them molded to your ear. I got a pair of UE in ears because of work....its like utter silence around me, kind of creepy actually. But no go outside of the job, thats the boss'es rules, since he paid the 700+ it cost for the mold etc, but currently stuffed in my helmet are these lousy LG HBS-250 bluetooth stereo speakers, will most deffinately be breaking the bank for a pair of molded in ears in the future....
  17. So, how does one know what is the right type? What did you buy?

    ETA: Ahh, Comply has a compatability chart on its website.
  18. Ya! I just saw it too - looked at the reviews and stuff, ordered a set. :p I might try it on the bike but I feel uncomfortable riding without being able to hear things around me - haven't been on a long trip yet though... And I plan to use them for every day things, so hopefully they'll be great for that!
  19. I'm using Atrio M5's bought from headphonic australia (www/headphones.com.au) for $200. This is my second pair, the first pair I had for about 2 years then I accidentally squashed them in a car door. Another reason to ride the bike! I've had Ety's and a pair of Shure 535's in past, The Atrio M5's aren't really on par, but they're a very good canalphone for the money. They're easily driven, and pack a punch that pricier phones can't deliver in the bass.

    The noise isolation is excellent, but it really depends on what tips you've got on and there's no one size fits all thing here. If you are lucky, the silicone tips fit your ears well. They've got the best isolation, but seem to work for very few people. The various types of foam tips are still very good and fit most people. The tips that come with the Atrio's are complete rubbish. I'm using tips I got from headphonic, they're not the comply foam tips but for my ears are a better fit and give better isolation. They cost about $20 for 10 pairs from memory. I bought 20 pairs and go through a pair every couple weeks. Whichever phones you get, experiment with the different tips until you find what works for you, because without a decent fit... the sound of any canalphone is crap, and you get no noise isolation.

  20. I'm certain that headphonic are the most expensive place to buy headphones in the world. They're even more than standard retail stores.