I am in a rare position this month of having more than one custom IEM on my desk thanks to the wonderful team at Minerva UK who kindly sent me their latest creations – the Mi-Performer Pro and Mi-Performer Artist customs monitor class IEM’s. Previously I have been a card carrying fan of UM and my only other custom, the UM Merlin. I love that dang Merlin to bits and spent a ton on cables and accessories since getting it 2 years ago and many a flagship universal IEM has come and gone and still the love falls on my Merlin. Call it the game changer, call it the end game, whatever, but the custom IEM is the best solution for people like me that struggle to see the value in earphones period over headphones.
Maybe it is the process from ear impressions to the personalization that imparts a sense of loyalty and achievement, I just cannot put my finger on it exactly, but that sense of “This is mine and mine only” when you stick that perfectly shaped ear shell and block out the world is just very hard to replicate with anything universal. It really is that hard to go back to “regular joe” earphones after a customs experience.
And it seems a lot of people agree with that sentiment. The customs business is big business driven by the likes of Unique Melody, JH Audio and big conglomerates like Ultimate Ears rolling out iteration after iteration with the number of drivers stuffed inside the shells multiplying like bunnies in heat. The whole business is on a bold step and new companies are popping up just about everywhere offering something unique and personal – vibes which people relate to strongly in the era of the selfie.
Now you may not have heard of Minerva if you are making the leap from cans and universals but in actual fact Minerva are a pretty big company in the “hearing” business being on the go now for over 60 years and are rated as one of the largest specialist earmould laboratories in Europe. In terms of in-ear custom monitors though this is a more recent venture and though I wouldn’t say they are playing catch up but on first sight they don’t do the whole “razamatazz” website marketing experience you might get with JH Audio and the likes. This is primarily a hearing specialist company that knows how to make great in-ear monitors. I find that pleasantly reassuring rather than an audio company dabbling in customs without any heritage or background.
Click to next page for the ear impression process…