As promised, here is a full length review for my new Fidelity “Ears”. First, a little background on your reviewer. I’ve been a professional level musician for well over 20 years, playing bass guitar as my primary instrument, but I also play electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards, drums, and sing. I’ve also been trained in pro audio and recording engineering, where I earned my living for 8 of the last 10 years.
I recently moved to the Nashville Tennessee market, and began serving at a church which uses an Aviom monitoring system. The universal fit monitors that are offered for those musicians don’t have their own Ears are Shures (SE315 / SCL3 / E3 single driver types). Those buds just did not provide the performance that I required. They weren’t very loud – and if you tried to turn up the bass EQ or turn up the master volume with the Aviom mixer, then the Shure buds would distort. Since I’m going to be using this setup at least twice per month for the forseeable future, I thought it would be a wise investment to get my own custom mold IEM’s.
I should also mention that I have used a lot of other universal fit earbuds, such as Shure E4’s, Westone UM-2’s, M-Audio IE-30’s, and many types of “iPod-style buds” such as $40 Sonys, Dr. Dre’s, Skull Candys, Bose, and of course the dreaded Apple originals. But I’ve never owned a set of custom molds before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
I decided to go with the Fidelity brand mainly because of the price-to-performance ratio. Fidelity used to be associated with the “Livewires” brand name, but due to irreconcilable differences, the Nashville distributor disassociated themselves from the Livewires folks and continued with the Fidelity name. Fidelity lists their direct prices on their website, and I opted for the dual-driver version, which Fidelity just calls, “Duals”. The cost is $259 (not including sales tax or shipping).
Because I live in the Nashville area, near the Fidelity offices in Mt. Juliet, TN, I was able to stop by their location and get my ear molds done for no extra charge. (If you do not live in the Nashville area, you would need to make an appointment with an Audiologist to get your molds done.) The process takes just a few minutes. They cover your ear drum and then inject a spray foam in your ears. After it hardens, they pull it out and ship it to the manufacturer.
They told me it would take about 3 weeks to get them back. It actually took 4 weeks to get them. (Many people I talked to who own them had to wait even longer to recieve them.) They arrived with an included Pelican case, and serial number identification.
My first impressions were very positive. I noticed immediately that they had a great isolation seal, that they were LOUD, and that they had great bass extension – all things I was really looking for. Since getting them, I’ve used them to watch movies, listen to iPods, and rehearse music on my laptop. But I didn’t get the opportunity to use them live on stage until this morning, June 12th.
Again, the first things I noticed when I plugged them into the Aviom system this morning were that they were LOUD, and that my bass sounded like a BASS! When the drummer played the Kick drum for the first time, I’m sure I had a huge smile on my face because I felt that I could really FEEL the bass in it. And this is with the Aviom EQ flat and the Master level at 12 O’Clock (the center position)!
Our rehearsal starts at 6:30am and we play pretty much straight through til 8:30 including a full run through. Then we have two services at 9 and 11am. After all the time with them in, I can honestly say I feel no discomfort with them. I never had to pull them out or adjust them or worry about the fit or anything. They fit perfectly, and they sounded wonderful.
The overall tone of them does have a signature. This is subjective (because it’s hard to measure their frequency response when it’s so closed in to your own head), but I would say there is a slight presence boost in the upper mids. It is not extreme, and were I singing vocals or playing acousti guitar, I would probably really appreciate that boost. But this tone signature did not bother me, nor did I change the EQ on my Aviom – I was just really so much happier with the sound today than I had been with the old Shures I probably had a permanent smile on my face this morning.
I am really, really happy with my purchase. I don’t think I could have done any better for the price.
So what did I leave out? Did you guys have any questions I didn’t cover?