What makes one in-ear monitor different than any other in-ear monitor?

This is a profound question and the answer is shocking.

I recently had the chance to sit down with Eric Hruza, the Director of Pro Audio for Sonion. I’ve known Eric for nearly 10 years now and I can safely say that he knows more about this industry than anyone else I’ve met. As a manufacturer of balanced armatures, Eric has been involved in one way or another with the vast majority of every earphone that has ever hit the market  — at least any earphone driven by a balanced armature. So I asked him the above question and this is the summation of his response:

"Everything matters. Capacitors matter. The type of wire matters. The durometer of the tubing matters. The length of the tubing, the diameter of the tubing, the value of the damper, the placement of the damper, the type of ear-tip that you have — all these things matter. And they matter so much that I used to think that our customers had to protect their secret recipe in terms of ‘this is the Ultimate Ears Tweeter’ and you’ve got to make sure that nobody knows how it works… But the point of it all… Even if I sold the Ultimate Ears Tweeter to somebody else, it probably wouldn’t work for them because they made other decisions that would change what they needed. They would have a different type of tubing with a different capacitor in front of it, and they would have a different wire and their shell would go into the ear a different way. It all matters."

Thinking about in-ears like this is heavy. Every single choice that the manufacturer makes affects the total outcome. Every minute detail combines to form the overall tone and sound. Making in-ear monitors is much more akin to making art than to making a radio; more like making an instrument than an electronic device. So of course, every in-ear monitor is different than every other one. Every manufacture has their own methodology and their own approach. It would be impossible, actually, for monitors from various manufactures to end up the same.

Please lsten to these examples that Eric gives. You’ll be blown away. And I promise, you will think about in-ears in an entirely new light.

In “Everything Matters Part I” Eric primarily talks about capacitors and their proclivity to become inductive at high frequencies.

In “Everything Matters Part II” Eric primarily talks about tubing duromter and sound absorption rates for various material properties.

We’ll be featuring more exclusive insights from Eric Hruza, Sonion’s Director of Pro Audio next week.

Thank you ,

The In-Ear Guy

If you have touring questions about sound or wireless, we can help. Email me, The In-Ear Guy, at mike.dias@mac.com

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