Isolation is basically the key thing in sound, especially in lower frequencies. So, if you don't have isolation, you lose that. You don't get to enjoy all the lower-end of the spectrum.
So, what we did was, we took an average of people's ear impressions. This was possible thanks to our sister company, My Ears, who've been taking impressions for a very long time. We used those statistics and data to find one standard deviation – which is roughly 67% of the population – and have our product's size and shape adhere to that.
We especially focused on the outer pinna; the part where the IEM actually goes into the ear and sits on the lobe. We wanted it sealed as much as possible. The data (demographic) that we had were mostly Western with a little bit of Asia as well. So, we designed the shell according to that. The whole idea behind it is if we were able to seal the pinna as much as possible, we would be able to achieve incremental isolation of 10dB, and that's a lot.
While IsoStealth takes care of the lower frequencies in terms of isolation, SonicFlo takes care of the higher frequencies. As we all know, the drivers in IEMs pump out sound through tubes. These tubes carry that energy into your eardrums and that turns into sound.
But, if you pump that energy through your average, circular tubes, you don't get to hear the higher harmonics. Why? It's because of principles called resonance and cancellation. For example, whenever a sound engineer goes to a concert hall, they try to make sure no surface reflects equally. Because, if they do, one of two things will happen: Resonance or cancellation. You’ll lose out on some of that sound energy.
So, that's precisely the idea behind SonicFlo. We use asymmetrical sound tubes to pump the air or sound through. Because there’s a lack of reflection now, the higher harmonics – the hi-hats, triangles – don't get muddied out and disappear, so you do get that feeling of, "Wow, I'm hearing everything." This will not affect the low frequencies, because the amplitude isn't big enough. So, the lows won't be affected by these asymmetrical tubes.
Stealth Damping allows us to give you crispier bass. How does that happen? On the faceplate of the universal, you'll see something that looks like a turbine with a brass tip. Now, really, it's only the weight of that thing that's important; the turbine is just for design.
What it does is this: Think of a bass signal on an oscilloscope; let's say the drummer hits the bass drum. What you'll see is a spike, then you'll have a trail; a decay trail. Now, assume that decay doesn't decay as quickly as you want. What happens is that trail will build, and it'll accumulate into what we call boominess. Because of that, you begin to lose all the other frequencies; the boominess masks them and takes over.
So, by adding a weight - that we've specifically measured (with a bit of tolerance) - to the IEM, the weight is allowed to absorb only the low-frequency sounds. It's mechanical in nature. This allows the bass response to decay very quickly. When that happens, you hear a more crisp, clear bass, which also allows you to push it even further without diluting the other frequencies at the same time.
If you look at our shell and feel the material that makes contact with the ear, you'll find a rather strange material that isn't used in the market really. It's soft, yet resilient; solid. This is a nanocoat that we've employed from the audiology industry. The audiology industry had developed this for older people, because they have to wear their hearing aids for a very long time; 8 to 10 hours. So, comfort was very important, and we brought this over to our IEMs.
That comes default with our universals. For our customs, we give options. We can finish them in a variety of materials. For example, we can finish the customs in medical-grade silicone, which is softer. We can also finish them in acrylic. We can finish them in plastic too. So, there’s no standard when it comes to customs. It's all up to the user's requests.
The Klarity Valve promises to ease discomfort. How? In our ear, pressure is balanced via our outer ear and the Eustachian tube. Every once in a while, your body will equalise that pressure. Now, when you have an IEM or an earbud in your ear, the drivers are pumping air into your ear, which builds up pressure over time. What the Klarity Valve does is it allows that pressure to escape through the IEM. If there's ever too much pressure in the ear and it pushes back against the nozzle, the Klarity Valve will release it. So, it eases discomfort and reduces ear fatigue.
Now, let's talk about why you need a large nozzle. Air, like water, is a fluid. Imagine a gardening hose. If you reduce the cross-sectional area of the gardening hose and you maintain the same amount of pressure pushing the water out, the velocity of the water shooting out of the hose will increase. Suddenly, the water has more power and impact, and it carries enough energy to even be considered damaging. So, even though the material conveyed is the same, the speed of the fluid is different. This is Bernoulli's theorem.
The same applies to IEMs. If I were to listen to something via a smaller nozzle and a bigger nozzle, the information will still be the same; you'll still hear the sound. However, the smaller nozzle will deliver it at a higher velocity for the same given amount of drivers and air being displaced. So, it impacts your eardrum at a much higher velocity than the larger nozzle. Because we don't want the sound to impact the eardrum in a damaging way, we've made the nozzle of the U2, the U4 and the U9 quite pronounced compared to the other brands. It's almost three times the size.
The name says it all. When we were prototyping our custom units with people who have had custom IEMs before, one of the main complaints was that custom IEMs were so brittle. Often a single drop of the custom IEMs will cause a crack and in some cases even pieces to break off. This exacerbated by the higher costs of making customs and the fact that musicians move around a lot meant that custom IEMs would break often.
We wanted to correct this issue so that users of custom iems don't have to keep replacing broken units. We experimented with multiple lacquer compositions that is usually applied as a finishing to the acrylic shell of the custom in ear monitor. After many tests and trials, we developed a superior lacquer that provides a much tougher exterior. Based on our tests it withstands most falls that are of normal height (i.e. shoulder height) and we even did drop test at over 2 storeys and still our shells passed the test. Watch this drop test video to see that particular test: