Sep 14, 2016 | By Tess

Where music and 3D printing merge, custom 3D printed earphones and in-ear monitors have been quite disruptive, offering people and especially music professionals products that are customized to their ears for optimal sound and isolation. This summer, speaker and earphone manufacturer Ultimate Ears broke onto the scene with their 3D printed customized in-ear wireless headphones and now Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer Onkyo is seeking to stake its place in the field with its new 3D printed custom in-ear monitors.

In-ear monitors, used by professional musicians around the world, are essentially what allow musicians to hear themselves play while they are on stage, while simultaneously protecting their ear drums and hearing from the blasting speaker systems on stage. Considering what a crucial role the small ear pieces play, one can imagine that having a perfectly fit pair could make all the difference. For that reason, Onkyo teamed up with Siemens Hearing Aids (who have been manufacturing hearing aid products for over 100 years) in order to design and develop a top-of-the-line custom in-ear monitor lineup called “IE-C1/C2/C3”.

The series of custom in-ear monitors are available in 3 model types with the choice of 3 different sound isolation options and in 12 different shell colors. According to Onkyo, the monitors are built with Balanced Armature (BA) drivers, which are specially suspended within a floating  silicone cushion mechanism to limit the amount of vibrations in the ear and keep the sound as clear as possible. 3D printing, for its part, has allowed for the in-ear device to be tailor made to fit the wearer both for optimal comfort and function.

How does the customization process work for Onkyo’s in-ear monitors? Well, according to the company it is relatively straight forward process that consists mainly of having a custom ear mold taken of your ear. That is, clients will have to place an order for the type and color of in-ear monitor they want at a shop, which will then suggest a Hearing Center that said client can visit in order to get a custom ear mold made. Once the ear mold is done, it will be sent directly to Onkyo’s facility in Japan, which will then use 3D printing technologies to produce the custom-fit in-ear monitor and have it shipped back to the client within no more than 20 days. If there is a problem with the monitors upon receipt, Onkyo guarantees that the product can be returned (within 30 days) and remade for no cost.


Let’s take a more in depth look at what Onkyo’s custom 3D printed in-ear monitors offer in terms of features. As mentioned, the monitors come in three different models, which are distinguished by their different number of Balanced Armature drivers. The suspended nature of the latter, allow for high sound isolation and a well-defined mid and high frequency playback for the user. Additionally, the levels of sound isolation can be adjusted for different uses. For instance, a professional musician would likely require the tightest fit for the best sound isolation, while a standard user might prefer the “optimum balance between sound isolation and comfort” and an athletic user might require a looser fit so that external sounds could be better heard.

Additional features include an antibacterial coating for easy maintenance of the in-ear monitors, detachable MMCX connectors, and a carrying case and cleaning cloth to keep them protected and clean. The custom in-ear monitors are expected to retail for between $600 and $900, depending on the model (IE-C1 HK$4,780; IE-C2 HK$5,880; IE-C3 HK$6,980).



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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