CanJam at RMAF 2014 Highlight: Ultimate Ears Improved CIEM Purchasing Experience

It's always a pleasure to visit with Mike Dias of Ultimate Ears. It's doubly a pleasure when he has such an interesting topic matter: How to produce a custom IEM very quickly. Mike walked me through the process, and I have to say it was an excellent experience.

Ultimate Ears intends to distribute the gear I'm about to describe as broadly as possible to partner audiologists and qualified providers. I remember him waxing poetic for a moment about the dream of one in every zip code. (I think we've got some zip codes up here in Montana with about 20 people in them, so, maybe not every zip code.)

The process starts with a special pair of IEMs with generic tips that house all the drivers UE uses in their CIEMs. These IEMs are driven through a multi-conductor cable from a box that has all the cross-over components and switching needed to reconfigure the IEMs on-the-fly to become equivalent to all the models in the UE line. In other words, at the tap of a mouse you can listen to and switch between all the cans UE makes. Here's the thing, it worked superbly to my ears, making it almost knucklehead easy to hear the differences between the models and identify which was most pleasing to my ears. (Probably the UE18Pro, but the 7Pro sounded better than I expected.)

Once a model is selected and you have impressions made, they're popped into a laser scanner to create a 3D computer file. The file is then sent electronically to a UE CIEM manufacture site. There, trained technicians (currently, people who have been doing the work manually who have been retrained to do the work digitally—'cuz there's a lot of art and craft in what they do) will modify the raw 3D file with all the features needed for a comfortable fit, and the internal features to secure the drivers and port the sound to your ear canals.

Once the file modification is completed, a finished part is produced on a high-resolution 3D printer, components are installed, the CIEM is finished and boxed up for delivery.

Elapsed time: about one week. Pretty stunning. Didn't get the details but only a few are currently out in the field with more to follow. Contact UE to find a dealer near you.


Cotnijoe's picture

Where can we go to try the system where you can listen to all the different products? I know they'll probably have it set up at shows but generally speaking