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Moderators: I don't see an "audio" forum and this thread could just as easily have been started under Intercom, iPod/MP3, Ergonomics, etc.... so if it belongs in a different forum please move it.

We've all seen lots of discussion about the pros of custom-molded ear plugs: more comfortable, more effective (at reproducing music and keeping out wind buffeting and other noise), etc. I have some general questions regarding these products:

1. Do licensed audiologists make these (i.e., without hearing aids installed)? If so, are they necessarily "better" (more comfortable, better quality) than those made by the vendors we see at IMS, CCR, MOA, etc.?

2. Will a custom ear plug without an earbud still allow the wearer to hear audio (music & intercom) from the helmet headset? (I'm trying to avoid paying for earbuds because I already have helmet headsets installed.)

3. Some vendors of these products seem competent and professional; some... look like they bought the Ronco DIY Custom Molded Earplug Kit and bought a table for the show. Do you have any vendors you would recommend? Any you would not recommend? Feel free to PM if you don't want to express that opinion here.

Thanks in advance. I'm going to the IMS in Cleveland tomorrow. I know it's kind of late to be asking these questions but I'll be paying these folks a visit while I'm at the show.
 

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Ear plugs

My wife and I had our ear plugs made at a gun show several years ago, and I have since had a second set made to carry on one of my other bikes. I have helmet J & M headsets tied into my intercom on the LT. I do not have any trouble hearing the music or the wife. We listen to books on CD and Tapes a lot and hear them just fine.
 

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There must be some way to make those things at home: pump some silicone in your ear, insert microphone, take a nap for a hour or two. Presto! Molded ear plugs. Who's first?
-Kent
 

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Custom Ear Plugs

I have had a set for years. Yes they are more comfortable, and you can hear the music and intercom just fine.

The bike seems to run better too.

Karl
 

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cfell said:
Made my own molded earplugs, similar to Kent's method above.. hehe

There is a link.. I think it is this: http://www.podfitkit.com/
Oh wow! I gotta try that. I wasn't sure how long a nap it would take for the silicone to harden up but I guess these folks have got it figured out. I've been messing around with earbuds to replace an aircraft headset. This is worth a try. Thanks for posting, Padre.
-Kent
 

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I bought a pair at CCR a few years ago and I believe that I could have done better at an Audiologist. Mine are fine but some parts are a little rough but they work great no matter how the look.

I am amazed at how much better you can hear with the ear plugs in. I would expect that ones with ear plugs would give great 'music' ;) but you would eventually hang yourself or damage the plugs or ears when you catch the wires on something..
 

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Earplugs

Howard,

My qualifications: I have purchased 3 pair of ear plugs - 2 for myself and 1 for my wife. My experience in reference to your questions are as follows:

1. Do licensed audiologists make these (i.e., without hearing aids installed)? If so, are they necessarily "better" (more comfortable, better quality) than those made by the vendors we see at IMS, CCR, MOA, etc.?

Yes and no. Yes they make the molds and then send them off to the factory, shop, firm, vendor that installs the transducers. So the answer is no - most all audiologists do not make the ear plugs with transducers in them. They fit the ear plugs just like the traveling vendors. The audiologists fit you up in the same manner the street vendors do. In fact several audiologists I contacted seemed out of touch of what is going on or they hire high school and college kids to do the fittings.

Note several of the vendors I have talked to are jerks and are full of mis information and that comes in every profession. But there are others that know their stuff and products and are especially helpful in taking impressions and knowing how to mark the impressions for routing of the wires since we wear close fitting helmets. Audiologists are not that caring.

2. Will a custom ear plug without an earbud still allow the wearer to hear audio (music & intercom) from the helmet headset? (I'm trying to avoid paying for earbuds because I already have helmet headsets installed.)

Not sure I understand your question "with an earbud". What makes the custom fitted ear plugs unbelievable is the ability to be fitted exactly to your "ear canal" and this fitting allows for you ear canal to become "sealed" by the plastic penerating your ear canal for some distance. Please note this is not to say you cannot hear other noises - in fact you can get ear plugs with varying ability to suppress noises - with or without music. Can you hear everything - no, can you hear your bike, sirens and other noises - yes.

3. Some vendors of these products seem competent and professional; some... look like they bought the Ronco DIY Custom Molded Earplug Kit and bought a table for the show. Do you have any vendors you would recommend? Any you would not recommend? Feel free to PM if you don't want to express that opinion here.

Many of the kits are supplied by companies that specialize in mold making. If the vendor displays his tools, samples and wares in an unprofessional manner then walk away. No matter who takes your impressions I can only recommend from experience the following people to make your monitors:

http://www.earinc.com/p2-music-competition.php

At the last CCR I bought a pair from Tim McCarty (770 992-0048) - unfortunately he lives in Marietta, GA - give him a ring maybe he can refer you to someone!!

Good luck . . .
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all the feedback.

A clarification (Dan's reply brought this to my attention):

In my second question, by "earbud" I meant "audio electronics". I was trying to determine if I can keep my helmet headset, get a pair of custom-molded earplugs, and still hear the intercom and bike audio, OR if I would be better served by getting custom-molded earplugs WITH the audio electronics installed in it. I think the answer to that question is "yes", but if I can still hear the audio I don't want to spend the additional money on the electronics. Hope that makes sense...
 

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hschisler said:
Thanks for all the feedback.

A clarification (Dan's reply brought this to my attention):

In my second question, by "earbud" I meant "audio electronics". I was trying to determine if I can keep my helmet headset, get a pair of custom-molded earplugs, and still hear the intercom and bike audio, OR if I would be better served by getting custom-molded earplugs WITH the audio electronics installed in it. I think the answer to that question is "yes", but if I can still hear the audio I don't want to spend the additional money on the electronics. Hope that makes sense...
I prolly missed it, Howard; butt did you say whether or not you wear earplugs routinely? I do, and I hear more stuff around me than I do when I don't wear 'em. I buy Howard Leight brand MAX-1 (about 33 db attenuation?) by the 200-in-a-box, individually wrapped in pairs; use a pair for, normally, three or four rides and discard 'em. I hear my Autocom in-helmet speakers just fine, as well as being able to carry on an off-bike conversation with someone and not have to remove my helmet. Wind noise I don't hear; traffic approaching from behind I hear; the normal LT riding sounds, I hear; my cell phone in the oddments box ringing, I hear; my radar detector mounted down on the lower air winglets, I hear. So, as an input to your question, I would say that an audiologist's work up of custom molded ear plugs (sans embedded speakers) should work for you (depending on the level of competence they use in their job of fitment) as well as the disposable, deformed foam plugs like I use, and maybe better. I would also pay particular attention to the hygienic aspect of reusable fitted plugs versus the disposable type (guess that might depend on ear canal maintenance one employs ;) ). For MHO, I would entertain the use of custom molded plugs only if I were to fit them with embedded speakers. A couple of my riding buds have done that and are happy with that feature. They have experience with all three types of plugs - disposable, speakered, and non-speakered. Jm2cw Howard - good luck in your finding the right solution for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks Dick. I didn't mention it, but the answer is: When I was riding with an open-face helmet I wore disposable ear plugs. Since I switched to the full-face helmet I stopped wearing them, although I should because of some high-frequency hearing loss, and because the buffeting noise bothers me. Thus, my questions regarding custom-molded ear plugs.

Another thing I should have asked: Which does the better job of eliminating unwanted noise: foam earplugs, or the custom-molded jobs?
 

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hschisler said:
Thanks Dick. I didn't mention it, but the answer is: When I was riding with an open-face helmet I wore disposable ear plugs. Since I switched to the full-face helmet I stopped wearing them, although I should because of some high-frequency hearing loss, and because the buffeting noise bothers me. Thus, my questions regarding custom-molded ear plugs.

Another thing I should have asked: Which does the better job of eliminating unwanted noise: foam earplugs, or the custom-molded jobs?
I'm sure there is a definitive answer to that question, Howard - butt I don't know what it is. I do know this - a friend had a local audiologist make him up a set of the molded ones. This after doing a hearing loss test (which he flunked, cuz he shot big game in his younger daze w/o hearing protection) and advising him on the attenuation number that she recommended. He's not a good candidate for any opinions, due to his degree of deafness, butt she did him right about suggesting the match of attenuation to his condition. And if I remember right, each of his ears received a different formula.

So - if a good audiologist can do that, then I'd say you'd be better off with the molded type rather than the disposable like I use. I'm not sure there is a db number higher than 33 in the foam models, so if there is a need for that, then molded for sure.

Best.
 

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Dick said:
II buy Howard Leight brand MAX-1 (about 33 db attenuation?) by the 200-in-a-box, individually wrapped in pairs; use a pair for, normally, three or four rides and discard 'em.
I also use the Howard Leight Max. The ones I get say "For Law Enforcement" on the box, but they are also 33 db attenuation. Dunno what the LE designation means, if anything. Prolly the same as the Max-1 that Dick uses.

I started using them a while back on my H-D to block out the wind noise. It was kinda surreal at first, like I was floating along (due to lack of wind noise). Then it hit me, with the plugs in I could actually hear things around me better because the deafening wind noise was gone, and the exhaust sounds were a bit muffled (on my bike, that's a lot to muffle ;) ). This correlates to the improved hearing that Dick described.
 

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dfinazzo said:
What makes the custom fitted ear plugs unbelievable is the ability to be fitted exactly to your "ear canal" and this fitting allows for you ear canal to become "sealed" by the plastic penerating your ear canal for some distance.
How does this affect changes in altitude? When I ride up Whiteface mountain, will my head explode from the change in pressure????
 

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deputy5211 said:
I also use the Howard Leight Max. The ones I get say "For Law Enforcement" on the box, but they are also 33 db attenuation. Dunno what the LE designation means, if anything. Prolly the same as the Max-1 that Dick uses.

I started using them a while back on my H-D to block out the wind noise. It was kinda surreal at first, like I was floating along (due to lack of wind noise). Then it hit me, with the plugs in I could actually hear things around me better because the deafening wind noise was gone, and the exhaust sounds were a bit muffled (on my bike, that's a lot to muffle ;) ). This correlates to the improved hearing that Dick described.
Law Enforcement
 

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Deputy5211 said:
Originally Posted by deputy5211
I also use the Howard Leight Max. The ones I get say "For Law Enforcement" on the box, but they are also 33 db attenuation. Dunno what the LE designation means, if anything. Prolly the same as the Max-1 that Dick uses.

I started using them a while back on my H-D to block out the wind noise. It was kinda surreal at first, like I was floating along (due to lack of wind noise). Then it hit me, with the plugs in I could actually hear things around me better because the deafening wind noise was gone, and the exhaust sounds were a bit muffled (on my bike, that's a lot to muffle ). This correlates to the improved hearing that Dick described.
airborneod said:
Law Enforcement
Fair enough, you did answer the question that I asked. :)

Let me state the question a little more clearly. What does the "For Law Enforcement" designation mean in terms of fit/performance/anything else over the standard Max-1 that Dick uses? They seem to have the same attenuation, based on Dick's post. Is there other difference other than making us LEOs feel like they made something special for us, or is it simply a matter of the same item in a different package?

TIA
 

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deputy5211 said:
Is there other difference other than making us LEOs feel like they made something special for us, or is it simply a matter of the same item in a different package?
TIA
I'd bet the difference is due to the vendor. I get mine in a box from Locators and Supplies and the first box had 'em boxed as a pair per cellophane package. To open 'em, you tear off a blue-dashed tear strip. Next time I ordered 'em, no more identified tear strip, although it's there as a clear line. And the next time I ordered 'em, the package labeling wuz a leetle different and we're back to the blue-line tear strip.

So, maybe depending on where they're made and for what vendor, they're just packaged different. I like the heck outta mine, as you can tell. Nice leetle miniature cone-shaped, orange-colored traffic cones for my hot-wheels collection!! :D NOT!
 

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Dick said:
I'd bet the difference is due to the vendor. I get mine in a box from Locators and Supplies and the first box had 'em boxed as a pair per cellophane package. To open 'em, you tear off a blue-dashed tear strip. Next time I ordered 'em, no more identified tear strip, although it's there as a clear line. And the next time I ordered 'em, the package labeling wuz a leetle different and we're back to the blue-line tear strip.

So, maybe depending on where they're made and for what vendor, they're just packaged different. I like the heck outta mine, as you can tell. Nice leetle miniature cone-shaped, orange-colored traffic cones for my hot-wheels collection!! :D NOT!
Mine are blue. There's the difference! ;)
 

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Hi, folks, I just registered here, and will be asking some questions about Autocom installation, but I have some experience with custom earphones.

Earplug Superstore will send you a kit (google 'em) and you get someone you trust to smush goo into your ears, and send the molds back to them. They'll put earphones in . Not too expensive, but mine didn't last very long...the phones, and the left one never fit completely right...smusher error.

I've tried several different brands of relatively high end earphones, and Westone sounds best to me. They make a helmet-specific earphone which sounds great. You do have to go to an audiologist to get the molds made, which in my view is a plus, as you want a good fit.

List price is something like three hundred bucks, but I got mine done by a local audiologist for $200 OTD. Hearing protection, excellent sound, and intercom all tied up in one deal.
 
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