Blog: Tailored Pleasure – My First CIEM

Step three – Getting ear impressions done

Not only did the good folks of Head-Fi point me towards Gisele and Aid2Hearing, they also only spoke in the highest of tones about her. They said she’s a pure pleasure to deal with, an absolute delight. So when I sent her a mail asking about the K10 and the pricing of the additional options, she responded in such a charming way that I could easily see why people loved giving her their money. She even sent me a picture of her Wizard K10’s to look at – gorgeous. Gisele Flower, remember that name! Not only is she a wonderful and kind person, she also is extremely responsive and always looking out for her clients trying to make life a little easier for everyone involved. Since it was my very first custom, I had a few questions about the impressions. Her being also a well-respected audiologist and taking probably thousands of impressions herself, told me what to look for and what was important. She asked me to snap some pictures of the impressions and send them to her via mail, so she could put her final stamp of approval on them. That really did take some of my worries away.

After looking up some audiologists where I live and selecting those that were closest to me, I went ahead and chose the one that also offers CIEMs. Safe bet, right? I went down the street during my lunch break, told the guy what I wanted, sat down and (im)patiently waited. I got a bite block, he put a little piece of foam into my ears and filled my inner ear with greenish silicone. Lieven had advised me to bring a tissue because it is inevitable not to drool. Great advice! I sat there for about ten minutes as the world just got silenced around me. Then the guy pulled on the chord which was attached to the foam piece and out came the first impression. Same thing on my other ear and we were done. Those looked freaky. I paid him, said thanks and left. I sent the pictures to Gisele and waited. A short time later she responded: “They look great. Send ahead”. After work I went to the post office, chose extra fast shipping and off they were. Now my hands were tied.

Step four – Waiting

I told you, I am impatient, and I love numbers. I think it would have been fair if I’d have told Gisele about my bad habit upfront, because I guess this is when I started getting on her nerves. And believe me, I am more than sorry about that. I knew how long my impressions would take to show up on Gisele’s doorstep. When I saw that they were delivered, I didn’t wait a minute to ask for her confirmation. Her neighbor signed for the package as she wasn’t home. That very evening she sent me a mail saying that she has them. She’d sent them to Noble tomorrow and they will arrive just a day later in California. From here on I did the math, with the info I had it would be roughly three weeks until I had them.

noble-leonidas-3

To keep myself busy during that time I was looking for a nice balanced cable that would go well with my newest toys. I know, cables are a huge issue amongst audiophiles, but I am on the “I can hear the difference” side of it. I know, physically it is not possible. But guess what, a bumblebee also physically is not able to fly, yet it does. I have spoken to reps from a huge cable company about it, and they said: “Yes, physically it doesn’t make sense, but listen for yourself. We know that a few things matter for the sound of a cable and we follow that”. So for once in your life, be a bumblebee and listen for yourself. Sorry, rant over.

I asked Lieven for his advice. For the price I had given him, he told me Effect Audio’s Leonidas was one of the most popular cables. He had shown it to me at CanJam Europe and it definitely is an impressive looking and sounding cable. It arrived just a few days later. Unfortunately there was no playmate for it until K10 arrived, so it sat quietly in its luxurious leather case, waiting more patient than me.

Time had passed and I had gotten more impatient every day. I asked Gisele for an update. Even when she was busy with the Indulgence show in London, she kept replying to my mails. She said that my impressions are still on their way to the lab. The wait was eating me up inside but I had to wait. I told myself that it will be worth it, and I can’t do anything to make them come faster. A few days later I sent Gisele another mail, another update request. But I didn’t get a response. Did I push my luck too far? The one person everyone keeps raving about and I managed to get ignored? Crap, I did regret my last move. But that guilt didn’t satisfy my need for an update. So I asked Noble directly and did get a very helpful and fast response from both Brannan and Sunny (she’s the lab coordinator). My impressions were received a day ago!! Hell yeah. Things are moving forward. I knew I had to wait, but this time I’d have to stay quiet. In the meantime Noble had shown the world the successor of the K10’s, the Kaiser Encore. Which is built on the K10 but with proprietary drivers, just like the co-flagship Katana. It is said that the Encore took the K10’s sound a step ahead. Still keeping the musicality and details, but adding a sense of air and increasing sound stage. I thought about asking Brannan if an upgrade to the Encore was possible, but decided against it, since I wanted to have what I heard prior to ordering my pair. It still would be an incredible sounding set of customs. Just before the estimated building time ran out I got word from Gisele, “THEY’RE FINISHED” said the title of her mail, “do you want to see pictures?” How could I say no to that. When I first looked at them I was struck by Wizard’s impressive work. I sent the pictures to Lieven, who asked if he could use them for his Picture Sunday post – him being a big fan of Dr. John’s work too. Sure thing. The next couple of days I found myself looking at the pictures very often, zooming in to see the fine details hidden in them.

One more time I had sent my routine spam mail to Gisele – “do you have an update? Did you receive them yet?” It should be my last one. But she didn’t reply. Not a single word. Sunny did however, she told me my K10’s were received on Friday. As I typed my thank you letter to Sunny my phone began to ring. A UK number appeared on the screen. I picked up and out came the wonderful words “Hello, this is Gisele. I just wanted to call you, since it looks like you’re not getting my e-mails” It turns out my e-mail server had rejected her mails. Damn you, bad server, very bad bad server! “I wanted to tell you that I got your K10’s and I will send them out today so that they will arrive tomorrow”, she said. What a glorious message. I’d have them only a day later. I couldn’t thank Gisele enough for the call and all her services. I hung up and typed in the last few words of my mail to Sunny, telling her the story of the undelivered mails, thanked her too and waited the last remaining hours.

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The next day I tracked the package like a maniac, looked up delivery times and whatnot. Only to find out that it was delivered to the ground floor. Not a minute later I was downstairs. “Something came for you” – with a huge grin on my face I took the parcel and went away.
I felt like a child on Christmas, my hands were a little shaky. I took a carpenter knife opened the box and looked at my beauties. They were even better looking than in the pictures. I twisted them in to see how the fit was. Plop. Away went the outside world. At first the fit was something to get used to, but after a bit, they just disappeared in my ears. I can barely feel them anymore. So good! I immediately sent Gisele a thank you mail, told her I’m sorry for being annoying in the past. She responded in her typical charming way: “As long as you’re happy, I’m happy”. I was happy back then and I still am. Thank you once again Gisele!

The story continues on Page Three, after the click HERE or the jump below

Blog: Tailored Pleasure – My First CIEM
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2 Comments

  • Reply December 6, 2016

    Berkhan

    Such a nice post man. I enjoyed it reading it very much. I’m in a similar position, never tried a custom but these kind of posts are very tempting. I think I’ll also try to get an advice from Mr. Headfonia 🙂

  • Reply February 19, 2017

    George

    A very nice post.

    The best thing with a custom IEM is that when they’re in your ears, you can touch them, press on them, etc and the sound signature and quality remains the same – something you can’t say about most universal IEMs.

    For my walks/exercise, I deliberately got a pair that has been made just a fraction smaller and shallower for faster and easier ease (!) of entry/exit. The other pairs for home use are the perfectly fitting pairs.

    If one is starting on the CIEM route now, compared with just 2 years ago, there are now innumerable brands and cost of entry is way way lower.

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