World’s slimmest, buoyant DSC handheld radio unveiled

Icom are well known for their marine radios and when you are in a boat or on your yacht, you want a radio that if you accidently drop it in the water, you can turn around and pick it up really easily and not have to get the scuba gear out. This is the IC-M93D and it is the slimmest most buoyant radio on the market, now all they need is some waterproof (Icom radio earpiece

The IC-M93D EURO VHF/DSC handheld radio is the successor to the popular IC-M91D. Stylish and slim, this new Icom handheld contains an abundance of features including a dedicated built-in DSC receiver (meets ITU-R M.493-13 Class D DSC), internal GPS and active noise cancelling technology. In addition, an intuitive interface coupled with 2.3 inch full dot matrix high-contrast display and soft keypad makes this a comfortable and easy handportable to operate.

The IC-M93D EURO has an integrated DSC/GPS giving users the facility to send and receive DSC calls. A dedicated DSC receiver continuously monitors CH70 and is independent of the main receiver and other operation. Other important safety at sea offerings include a built-in compass, navigation and Man Over Board features.

Advanced noise cancelling technology on the radio reduces background noise by up to 90 percent on both outgoing and incoming calls making sure your communications are heard. The IC-M93D EURO come as standard with the BC-220 rapid charger which charges the standard Li-ion battery pack in just 2.5 hours. The handheld’s extended 1500mAh Li-Ion battery life provides a full day of use.

The IC-M93D EURO features Icom’s exclusive Float’n Flash and AquaQuake technology. Should the radio be dropped overboard, a flashing light will activate, making it easier to locate. The Float’n Flash feature works regardless of whether the power is turned on. The AquaQuake draining function uses low-frequency sound waves to clear water away from the radio’s speaker grill for clear audio.

Additional radio features include the IPX7 waterproof rating, 50 waypoint memories with alphanumeric names for navigation and a loud speaker.

Ian Lockyer, Marketing Manager of Icom UK, said: ‘The IC-M93D EURO combines advanced safety features with an intuitive user interface for faster and easier access to all the radio functions.’

The IC-M93D is now available to buy from authorised Icom Marine Dealers with a suggested retail price of £349.95 including VAT.

What’s A Two Way Radio Earpiece

A two way radio is a type of communication that can both receive and transmit information. The radio enables the operators to have conversations with other similar radios operating under the same (channel) frequency. Two way radios are available in stationary base, hand-held portable and mobile configurations. Often, hand-held radios are called handie-talkies, or just walkie-talkies.

Two way radio systems normally operate in a half-duplex mode, in which the operator can listen, or he can talk, though not at the same time. A “Press To transmit” or “push-to-talk” PTT button initiates the transmitter when released, hence activating the receiver. A cellular telephone or mobile phone is an example of a two way radio that both receives and transmits at the same time (full-duplex mode).

Full-duplex is usually achieved through frequency-sharing methods or by using two different frequencies to simultaneously carry the 2 directions of the conversation. Dynamic solid state filters and use of two antennas are some of the methods used for mitigating the self-interference caused by simultaneous same frequency reception and transmission.

Types of two way radio earpiece

Two way radio earpieces come in a variety of types . They include: D ring, acoustic tube and ear hook. The acoustic tube type features a wireless transceiver operating in a radio-frequency band that receives audio signals. It has an acoustic chamber and an acoustic transducer, which is coupled electrically to the transceiver, and operates to activate acoustic signals.

Connectors

As far as covertness is concerned, communication must definitely be very discreet, whether it’s a just a private group or a security personnel of designated people. Two-way radios are used for conversations between compatible devices in a given location. Nonetheless, it would be much less comfortable if somebody talks through the radio and the entire communication is disrupted.

That’s why there are different types of two way radios connectors in the world, and they include Motorola, Hytera, Icom, and Kenwood, among others. Motorola is the leading connector of two way radio communications controlling about 45% of the market. It would be super stylish and discreet if you had a Motorola radio-earpiece to accompany your radio.

Hytera is another one of the best connectors you can find on the market. Its products are easily available on leading websites with all the necessary accessories. There are plenty of different two way radio earpieces designed by Hytera but most of them come with few accessories less or more. There is not much difference on how they are built or in their quality.

One important thing to have in mind is that there are three basic types of two way radio earpiece kits; the 1-wire, 2-wire and 3-wire. A 1-wire kit and 2-wire kit features a single combined microphone and “push to talk button” which clips to your collar. A wire with an earpiece then extends from this button, but from the connector on the 2-wire.

A 3-wire kit has a wire with a combined “push to talk” button and microphone that can be run down cuff or collar. There is another wire with an earpiece clip on it. Other kits have a second push to talk button that clips to your pocket or belt near the radio.

How The Headsets Changed the World

It is surprising how in a crowded, noisy environment you can still create your small world. This is one of the most amazing changes that have been made by headphones. Small devices with a big impact on the world are the only way to describe headphones. In the past, the only way to listen to music was through devices that allowed everyone to listen to music at the same time. With the introduction of headphones, you don’t have to bother everyone with your music; you can create your space and enjoy listening to what you like directly to your ears.

How headphones have changed over time

Early headphones were mainly used for communication purposes. The birth of headphones in early 19th century was purely for communication and professional uses. It is strange how the creator of headphones Nathaniel Baldwin didn’t have the musical concept in mind. The uses of headphones at this time were purely for professional uses by people in the army and also church coordination.

Discovery of stereo phones for music was a big break in the mid-19th century, the whole perspective of headphones changed from professional use and they were given a musical touch. The musical evolution changed the concept of headphones, and this gave birth to the stereo phone technology to cater for musical fanatics. This was when headphones specifically for music were created, but they were expensive.

Light weight portable headphones were discovered in the 1980s there was a big break after everything went mobile. The headphones now become lighter, and you could see youngsters carrying them around. The growth of the pop culture at this time might have had a huge impact on how people wanted to listen to their music and this made headphones grow more. The sound quality becomes better at this time.

Modern fashion statement headphones are now common to bring out personality and social standards. The headphones that we have now are bringing the fashion statement in mind. The unique design and the big brand names like Beat by Dre are bringing a new perspective on the way we view headphones. The technological advancement is sound quality is now improving due to latest technological innovations.

Benefits of headphones in the modern world

Good sound quality and faithfulness is one of the main benefits of headphones. We all agree listening to music through headphones feels good compared to listening through loudspeakers. The reason for this is quite listening simply. Music from headphones has no interference from external forces and especially if you are listening to music through quality headphones.

The concentration at work is now better with headphones. With the use of headphones, it is now possible to get peace of mind and keep up concentration whilst working. It is surprising how music takes us to a new world where we can be able to reflect and focus on the work we are doing. This is the reason why you will find people working in jobs that need a high level of concentration using headphones all the time.

Peace of mind and calming stress is a major reason why many people use headphones. Music is therapeutic, and it works wonders in relieving stress and restoring peace of mind. Listening to music through external speakers is good for entertainment but not necessarily for healing. There is something special about listening to music through headphones because it brings calmness and brings back peace of mind.

Privacy is one thing that many people seek in the crowded and noisy world. If you want to maintain privacy, then you can easily escape in your headphones and get the privacy that you need. People around you will understand that you need privacy and allow you to have your solitude.

Who uses headphones?

The uses of headphones are now limitless, and they go beyond just for the sake of entertainment and communication purposes.

Music lovers get lost in their headphones for hours listening to music without interrupting the rest of the world with the type of music that they love. Using headphones, music lovers can get the sound effect that they want from the headphones through sound effect settings.

Transcribers who translate audio content into text need headphones to be able to listen to what they are typing. This is one of the most common professional use of headphones. Other people like pilots, recording artists and also the military use headphones in their job.

You can find a whole ton of walkie talkie headsets at this amazing store headsetonline .co.uk

Motorola Solutions announces new mobile radio, enhancements to its P25 platform

Motorola Solutions are busy re-modelling their business at the moment and are under pressure from many other radio manufacturers, that are stealing away their market share. They are moving towards creating equipment that can use the LTE, essentially competing with the mobile phone market. This will be seen by many as a move away from the essence of two way radios, but it is an inevitable progression. This new radio will use current motorola earpieces, chargers and batteries. We brought you this article from the urgentcomms websites

Motorola Solutions today will unveil a new P25 mobile radio that operates on its ASTRO 25 systems and will highlight key features enabled by the 7.17 release of ASTRO 25 software today at APCO 2016.

One of the key features of the APX 8500 all-band mobile radio is its ability to leverage LTE connectivity from a VML750 modem installed in the public-safety vehicle, if the ASTRO 25 data capability is interrupted by continuous voice transmissions during a busy incident, according to Anatoly Delm, Motorola Solutions’ director of global infrastructure marketing.

“Let’s say that you have a major incident, everybody’s talking all the time and the ASTRO network is being used all the time, it can [offload] some of the data communications, like GPS, to broadband—public-safety LTE or commercial LTE, depending on what the modem is operating on,” Delm said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.

“So, you’ve got this combination of the best of both worlds, where your voice communications are continuing over the ASTRO network, and your data communications—if the ASTRO network is too busy, because of a major incident—can be carried on by an LTE network from the same car.”

Meanwhile, the 7.17 release of ASTRO 25 software will provide system users and operators with features that are designed to improve the reliability and usability of the P25 network, Delm said.

One enhancement is a more efficient way to execute over-the-air software updates, Delm said.

“Ordinarily, what happens is that the software update has to travel to one radio at a time. If you’ve got a large enough fleet, it could take days or possibly weeks [to complete the software update for all radios],” he said. “In this case, the software is being continuously broadcast, kind of like on repeat. In the meantime, all of the radios continue to function as normal—you can talk on them, and none of the functions are disrupted.

“Once a radio has received all of the packets that it needs, it can then give the user the [a notification] that the update is ready and asks whether the user wants to install it. If they say ‘Yes,’ then the radio is updated. This means you can reduce your update time to maybe a few hours, depending on the size of your fleet. But you certainly don’t have to do it one at a time.”

Other new capabilities included in the latest ASTRO 25 software release include personnel accountability—often used for roll-call functionality on a fireground or other incident scene—over trunked systems, Delm said. Previously, this capability existed only in conventional mode.

Motorola Solutions Envisions Virtual Reality Transforming Public Safety

Virtual reality and augmented reality will creep into our lives slowly in the next 10 years, it has so many applications from gaming to business. Motorola have been leading the radio industry for many years and are taking the initiative with this technology, While this will take away the need for CCTV, radios, radio earpieces and headsets, it will add a more immersive, structured way of running events and festivals.

Motorola Solutions  is exploring a future where virtual reality will immerse a public safety command center supervisor in an incident scene. By using a combination of virtual reality and eye-interaction technologies to navigate through video and data feeds from multiple sources, incident responses can be quickly coordinated and information shared widely to help guide officers and protect people at the scene.

Motorola Solutions will show live demonstrations of the virtual command center on Aug. 15-16 at the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) 2016, held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. (booth #1337).

The virtual command center proof of concept uses eye-interaction technology from startup company Eyefluence, a Motorola Solutions Venture Capital investment, to envision the future of public safety.

A look at today’s smart public safety solutions

Today’s public safety command centers can integrate the Project 25 (P25) standards-based, interoperable ASTRO® 25 land-mobile radio (LMR) network for mission-critical communications with the power of LTE broadband and the latest in smart public safety solutions to turn data into intelligence.

Since 2009, Lake County, Fla. has been using Motorola Solutions’ ASTRO 25 LMR network as the core network for emergency interoperable communications for several counties across Florida. On Aug. 17, Greg Holcomb, Lake County public safety communications technology manager/E911, will join Motorola Solutions in a managed services panel discussion at APCO entitled “Systems Down: Best Practices for Eliminating this Status from Your Network Performance Logs” (see all Motorola Solutions presentations at APCO 2016 here).

“The Lake County core network and many connected sites on this P25 mission-critical communication system are managed by Motorola Solutions,” said Holcomb. “With their robust managed services offerings, the company ensures 24×7 availability, reduced risks and maximized performance for our public safety network.”

Motorola Solutions’ CommandCentral platform provides real-time intelligence throughout all phases of police work – from planning, to operations, to investigations. CommandCentral Aware aggregates video from several sources, allowing crime center analysts to view multiple feeds on one screen and share high-definition images of suspects, vehicles, license plate numbers and other critical information to responding officers in real time.

“Law enforcement agencies have access to data from multiple sources including 9-1-1 calls, live video feeds, social media activity, nationwide databases and more,” said Jim Mears, senior vice president, Motorola Solutions North America Sales. “Motorola Solutions’ CommandCentral platform captures this information and turns it into real-time intelligence that helps first responders resolve incidents quickly and even prevent them from happening.”

The CommandCentral platform will be showcased at APCO 2016, along with several of the latest mission-critical communication solutions from Motorola Solutions’ Innovation Design Center in Plantation, Fla. This includes the Si500 body worn camera andCommandCentral Vault digital management solutions, which automates and streamlines the processing of video from the point of capture to video management and review, and the LEX L10 LTE handheld device designed for the rigorous demands of real-world, front-line policing.

Introducing new mission-critical solutions at APCO 2016

Motorola Solutions is launching the new APX™ 8500 P25 all-band mobile radio, updated ASTRO 25 network features and the IMPRES 2 energy management system.

APX 8500 P25 all-band mobile radio: With Motorola Solutions’ new APX 8500 P25 all-band mobile radio, first responders can use a single mobile radio to exchange critical voice and data communications – such as text messages and GPS coordinates – with multiple agencies and jurisdictions operating on different radio bands. Radio updates can be made instantly without interrupting voice communications; the radio does not need to be brought to a shop, saving both time and money. When connected to the Motorola Solutions VML750 LTE vehicle modem (now available globally), the APX 8500 frees up radio channels by offloading data to LTE.

APX Personnel Accountability for ASTRO 25 trunked networks: The APX Personnel Accountability solution is now available for ASTRO 25 trunked networks (which enable efficient operation of large systems with a small number of channels) and continues to also be available on ASTRO 25 conventional networks (where users select communication channels).

Commanders using the APX Personnel Accountability solution can automatically perform tactical notifications and streamline roll call processes via a computer. They can automatically account for staff using APX radios at the scene of an incident. If a team needs to evacuate, commanders can instantly alert them through their radios and receive acknowledgements. Commanders can monitor radio battery life, identify radios and receive radio power down indications. If a radio is on the wrong channel, a commander can remotely switch the channel to the right one and ensure the entire team can communicate with each other.

ASTRO 25 Enhanced Geo Select: Geo Select provides hands free operation of APX radios when entering a defined region, or geofence, and this feature is now available even if the radio is no longer on the network. When entering a geofence, APX radios can automatically take action such as change channels, alert the user and change power levels. No manual intervention is needed.

ASTRO 25 Over-The-Air radio software updates: ASTRO 25 Over-The-Air Programming (OTAP) has been available for radio managers to remotely program APX radios. Now they will also be able to update APX radio software over-the-air for their entire fleet simultaneously over the course of a few days, without disrupting radio function in the field. With this new feature, there is no need to bring radios to the shop for software updates, saving both significant time and money.

IMPRES™ 2 energy system for APX radios: The new IMPRES 2 high-capacity, water-resistant batteries keep APX radios powered longer. When combined with the new IMPRES 2 charger, they deliver 60 percent more charging cycles than traditional lithium-ion batteries. The IMPRES 2 charger’s enhanced diagnostics provide usage data including a battery’s ability to hold a charge, letting users know when it’s time to replace it. The multi-unit chargers also feature customizable charging – batteries in service can be charged at 100 percent while those in storage can be partially charged to optimize battery life.

what to look for when buying earphones

Closed Back Headphones vs. Open-back Headphones

Open-back headphones have pads which rest on the outer ear. They’re designed such that the outer shell of the ear cup has perforations usually with horizontal cutouts. The Open back headphones design of the ear cup enhances better natural sound because of less coloration as compared to the Closed back headphones.

Closed back headphones have much larger earpads which encircle the ears. They are designed such that there’s a big pad which cups the ears, and it features an insulated outer shell of plastic which covers the ears. The Closed back headphones actually have a very solid outer shell which doesn’t have any sort of perforations such that the outer shell effectively cups/encircles the entire ear. The Closed back headphones are excellent at isolating noise. They block most of the ambient noise, but they’ve a smaller sound stage, which gives the user the perception that the audio/sound is originating from within their head. Closed back headphones also tend to produce much stronger low frequencies as compared to Open back headphones.

Low Impedance vs High Impedance

Headphones normally come in various different impedance levels, such as 8 ohms, 16 ohms and 32 ohms. The power that’s supplied by an audio source may be at varying levels because of a variety of factors including being limited because of being battery powered. Generally, as the impedance of the headphones increases, much more voltage will be required in order to drive it, and the audio loudness of headphones for a particular voltage decreases.

The determination of impedance is usually disregarded by many headphone buyers, however, the truth is it’s one of the most important factors to consider when choosing the best headphones for your particular needs. Impedance is basically just how much power the headphones can put out so that it can overcome resistance to move the headphones’ diaphragm.

Low impedance headphones (that is, less than 25 ohm), usually require little power in order to deliver high audio levels. Low Impedance headphones play well with devices which have weak amplification. These can include; mobile phones, portable music players and various other portable devices. This type of headphones can be used at home and also while jogging with your mobile phone; this is one of the reasons why most of the on-, in-, and over the ear headphones, are low impedance. Low impedance headphones are normally designed to get plugged directly in to a single (one) source, and generates sound more efficiently from a lower level input signal. This headphones tend to be much louder and much more efficient, however, they will also require a much more capable amplifier.

High impedance headphones (25 ohms and above), generally require more power in order to deliver high audio levels. As a result, they’re protected from damages caused by overloading. High impedance headphones are typically designed for studio like applications where there might be multiple phones/devices wired in parallel and receiving input signals from a single source. High impedance headphones are more tolerant of the amplifier limitations, however, they will produce less volume for a particular output level. They are also a little more durable (that is, electronically), however, they require much higher signal levels in order to produce the same level of output level of the low impedance headphones. This type of headphones can be used with a wider range of audio equipment.

Passive Headphones vs. Active Headphones

Passive (noise cancelling) headphones are made of materials which help in blocking out sound waves from the surrounding environment. The same way ear muffs soften the outside noise, so does this type of headphones employ passive noise canceling. This type of headphones are typically used for both professional mixing and monitoring, like in broadcast and recording studios, and such other applications. Passive headphones are basically designed to playback music/audio true to the actual original recording, with minimal, compression, EQ, and such other sound enhancements.

On the other hand, Active headphones use batteries in order to power the built in Digital Signal Processing (also abbreviated as DSP) technology which processes play back for a particular reason, for example, to enhance the bass and the high end. Due to the enhancement of playbacks with sharper high ends and more bass, active headphones are more popular for general listening and listening to music for pleasure. Active noise cancelling headphones are also made of materials which help in blocking out outside noise, however, they take things a step further by making their very own sound waves; the sound waves created mimic the outside noises, but are a mirror image of each other, thus cancels each other out.

Wired Headphones Vs Wireless Headphones

When choosing a pair of headphones, deciding between wireless vs. wired is among one of the most overlooked factors. Wireless headphones might be a more popular choice, however, the wired headphones also have their own set of benefits. Well, that being said, as a general rule of thumb, between wireless headphones and wired headphones, assuming a similar price between the models; the wired headphones usually offer a much better quality. Also, the audio quality may get compromised over Bluetooth.

You can opt for the wireless headphones if you are not much of an audiophile, and you tend to travel a lot. If you really don’t like getting the cables of your headphones getting tangled, or caught while listening to music/audio, then the choice should be rather simple; go for wireless headphones.

You can opt for the wired headphones if you are an audiophile, and you do not necessarily bother with the wireless options unless absolutely essential like using them when traveling, or keeping the headphones as a backup. As aforementioned, the wired headphones are way ahead in terms of output quality as compared to the wireless headphones. You will never have to worry about running out of batteries, unless you happen to opt for wired headphones which cancel noise. In addition, you will never suffer from interference from the other commonly used wireless electronic devices. However, you will need to take good care of the wired headphone cables, or they will eventually break.

Imtradex Aurelis Handheld Microphones Future Proof to fit all Purposes

We call these Remote Speaker Mics (RSM) and they have come in all different shapes and sizes over the years. Normally a staple of the emergency services, but we have seen a upsurge in general radio users using RSM’s. So it comes as no shock to us that a pro-active company like Imtradex has designed one to suit the needs of the masses.

What was originally developed as a handheld microphone for digital radios, has blossomed over the past few years to an essential equipment accessory for digital radio standards of emergency service: The Aurelis hand microphone from Imtradex.

Meanwhile with the Aurelis, the specialist for critical communications, have a whole series of hand microphones on the market, all adapted to the specific challenges of the communication in critical applications of security agencies, fire departments, dispatch and emergency services. The Aurelis series addresses the different needs of the user: based of the basic model Aurelis Base, Imtradex manufacture customized versions that are specially tailored to the range of functions that meet the customer’s requirements.

All the Aurelis hand microphones have a send button, a microphone and high quality speakers. “All devices contain a cable attachment and also the possibility to connect external audio accessories” adds Ralf Kudernak, CEO of Imtradex. Depending on the radio, different data applications can be integrated, so can ex. on the model Aurelis AudioDis, information be displayed on the LCD display.

“The youngest member of the family is the Aurelis USB handheld microphone, which is designed for connection to computer-based communication system, especially for control centers” informed Ralf Kudernak. “The USB interface gives the easy integration and can be connected independently to each operation system and used with existing hardware. With the development of the Aurelis USB, we followed the desire of several control centers, which wanted to use a handheld microphone which you can also hang at the table of the workplace” said Kudernak.

In terms of digital communication, security and flexibility the innovative ultra-lightweight Aurelis Nexus PTT set new standards. It was specially designed for fire fighting. Thanks to it extra large PTT, with short sensing path and exactly defined pressure point, the operation with use of working gloves is possible.

The user can also be flexible in their choice of radio and headset: All Aurelis handheld microphones can be combined, not only with many headsets, for example with the monaural neckband headset from the NB Series. They are convenient and safe to wear, provide a maximum safe mobility and provide an excellent voice quality. Imtradex can also build them with the different connectors required, so they can easily be connected to different digital radios. All Aurelis handheld microphones have a robust plastic housing. Is splash-proofed and protects the device against dust and against temperature influences, so they can be reliably used in a temperature range from -30 to + 70 degrees Celsius. The 180 gram lightweight Aurelis handheld microphones are also available in different colours and optionally equipped with a car holder or cloth clip.

– See more at: http://www.tetra-applications.com/33213/

Can Headsets Trigger Ear Infections

Technology is improving each and every day, but these advancements have left many of us tightly trapped in the luxuries and comforts, imposing many side effects on our overall health. One such modern advancement in technology that’s affecting our health is the use of headphones. Today, many people use headphones without knowing the kind of negative health issues the devices can cause.

Well, although headphones are an ergonomic, convenient and quite useful hands free accessories, there are various health risks that are associated with their use. Experts believe that prolonged use of headphones can cause great damage to the ears. In addition, headphones cause ear infections, which contributes to hearing loss. Well, some of the risks that are associated with headphones have more to do with their use and maintenance, than with the headphones mechanics.

Ear infections are much more likely to occur amongst the headphone users who wear the devices for extended periods of time, and also amongst those who don’t take good care of their headphones. For example, headphone ear cushions need to be replaced every 2-3 months, and should be treated regularly with the right cleaning agent so as to avoid accumulation of germs and bacteria. Prolonged headphone use also causes aural hygiene issues, hearing loss along with ear canal infections. Recent scientific studies have revealed that wearing headphones for extended periods of time usually increase the humidity and the temperatures inside the ear canals, thereby increasing one’s susceptibility to ear infections. This shows that headphones cause ear infections.

Sharing of headphones is another way headphones cause ear infections. It is quite common for people to share their headphones with others. Sharing headphones with others is not a good idea since the bacteria from other people’s ears will travel to your very own ears and this will cause ear infections. Therefore, the next time you think of sharing your headphones, think again. Do not share your headphones with anyone, not even your friends or family.

Listening to music together is another way headphones cause ear infections. As romantic as it may seem, there are dire repercussions to sharing headphones. In the process of enjoying music together, you will end up transferring somebody else’s bacteria to your ears; this can lead to ear infections. Make sure you sanitize your headphones by thoroughly cleaning them with a clean tissue paper before plugging them in.

Apart from the germs and bacteria you get from borrowing or/and sharing headphones, you can also get germs and bacteria from not changing your very own headphone sponges. It’s recommended you change the rubber or sponge cover of your headphones every 2-3 months mainly because they tend to get covered with germs and bacteria over time.

Some other ways you can avoid ear infections caused by headphones is by always keeping your headphones clean, regularly replacing the old headphones and ear pads, avoiding sharing headphones or using the public headphones, and not sharing earbuds. Also, if your headphones have a sponge or a rubber cover, make sure you change them every 2 months. Finally, remember to give your ears some rest once every 15 minutes, and do not play the music way too loud, for this might contribute to hearing loss.

In Ear Monitor Buyer’s Guide: Custom vs. Generic Fit

It is understood that ear moulded plugs are far more comfortable and effective than the mushroom plugs, but which ones are the best? The Custom fit or generic fit. This article runs over the positives and negatives of that question and comes to a conclusion, if your debating to get some moulded ear plugs or some from the shelf, you will want to read this first.

Over the past 20 years, In Ear Monitors (or IEMs) have become a near-necessity for live performance.

In years prior, engineers would inevitably have to crank up a venue’s stage monitors loud enough for the musicians to hear themselves over the audience, over the sound coming from the stage, and over the main mix.

This would often lead to an arms race of ever-increasing stage volume, potentially causing feedback issues and compromises in clarity and quality for the live mix.

Custom in-ear monitors from JH Audio, one of the first commercial brands to make a name for itself in the IEM market.

With the advent of in-ear monitors, all this began to change. In the mid-1980s, Etymotic developed the first-ever insert-style earphones, and soon after, a designer named Marty Garcia began making one-off custom in-ears for rock stars like Todd Rundgren.

By 1995, Jerry Harvey, founder of Ultimate Earsand JH Audio, brought some of the first commercially-available dual-driver IEMs to market. All of a sudden, everyday musicians had an option that allowed us to save our hearing, get better monitor mixes, and dramatically reduce the chances of feedback onstage.

Today, IEMs are increasingly being considered useful tools for the studio as well. Their ability to prevent sound leakage can be of tremendous value in helping to control click and instrument bleed, and in saving musicians’ hearing by allowing them to monitor at lower levels.

Some musicians and engineers, such as drummer Rich Pagano of The Fab Faux, will use IEMs to quickly check for phase when mic’ing up a drum kit, while others turn to IEMs as a kind of audio microscope, using them to help check for and remove extraneous low-level noise.

Any modern musician would be wise to consider adding in-ear monitors to their toolkit. But is it worth it to dish out the extra money on custom fit IEMs, instead of saving some money with the generic fit ones?

In testing a variety of in-ear monitors from brands like Westone, Ultimate Ears, Future Sonics, and even Skullcandy (that last of which is not recommended for professional use), I have found that there are cases in which generic fit earphones may work better than their custom counterparts. Making the right decision for your needs comes down to considering the following four factors:

1) Cost

Ultimate Ears custom fit in-ear monitors.

Custom fit IEMs tend to cost more than generic fit ones, as it takes more time and effort for the manufacturer to craft a product designed specifically for the unique anatomy of your ear.

Getting custom IEMs made also requires that you go to an audiologist to make a mold of your ear canal that the IEM company can then use to make your monitors fit as well as possible.

Take note of both of these costs, which can range from $100-$200 or more for a fitting from an audiologist, and $299-$1499 or more for the custom monitors to be made.

2) Comfort & Seal

Custom fit IEMs are custom, so they should feel really comfortable, right?  Well, yes and no.

In my experience, custom fit IEMs can feel a little tight in the ear canal compared to generics, especially at first. Hearing so little acoustic feedback from your performance can also take some getting used to, and the tight seal of custom fit in-ears can feel particularly awkward when signing.

Because of this, my looser-fitting Westone 3 generic IEMs actually feel more comfortable to me on vocal duties, so I often find myself using them over my custom fit Future Sonics when I step up to the mic.

Matt Bellamy from Muse (recently featured in Get THAT Guitar Tone) has been seen using both customUltimate Ears UE-11s and generic-fit Westone UM2s when on tour, and my guess is that he has similar reasons.

Though the tight fit of custom IEMs and lack of acoustic feedback from your performance can be a challenge, it’s worth noting that generic foam-tip IEMs also provide their own tradeoffs: The looser fit of generics can sometimes create a bit of a tingling or “tickling” feeling in your ear when playing at higher volumes, so it may be useful to have a pair of each and go with what feels best depending on the date and venue.

Silicone-based Encore Studio custom IEMs from ACS.

Another option here is the custom fit brandACS, which makes its IEMs out of soft silicone shells.

This softer silicone-based design is meant to offer both better comfort and a tighter fit than the hard acrylic shells used by brands like Westone and Ultimate Ears.

Though these silicone monitors sell for a premium price of $400-$1,200 and up, they may help bridge the gap between the tight seal of custom acrylics and the looser and easier fit of foam-tipped generic IEMs.

3) Hearing Protection

In addition to cutting down on sound leakage to help improve sound quality and reduce feedback, another primary benefit of IEMs is that they can offer considerable hearing protection by helping to block out exterior noise, allowing you to monitor at lower levels.

Some of the best custom fit brands like JH Audio and Ultimate Ears offer NRR ratings of 26dB in reduction, and some of the better generic brands advertise comparable results as well. (Though your results with generics may vary depending on the fit and seal in your ear.)

In the long term, reducing the levels you’re regularly exposed to—even by a few extra decibels—could mean the difference between a long and illustrious career as a “golden-eared” audio engineer and potentialtinnitus and irreversible hearing loss.

Also worth checking out is the REV33 system, which can be added on to your your in-ear-monitoring system to help reduce distortion and ear strain. Many live musicians, including Phil X and Steve Salas swear by the system. According to the company:

“All in-ear monitors and headphones generate damaging, unwanted noise and distortion that forces the ear to shut down and compress for protection. The REV33 reduces the symptoms of tinnitus, ear-ringing, ear-fatigue, buzzing and dampened hearing by preventing in-ear monitors and headphones from producing this unwanted noise and distortion.”

4) Waiting and Time Considerations

After getting my first pair of IEM’s made, I found that the right ear monitor turned out well, but I was not getting a proper seal in the left ear at first. This made the monitors essentially useless for my live sound needs at the time, and so I had to send them back for some tweaking.

When I got them back a couple of weeks later, the seal still wasn’t great, so I had to send them back once again for further modification, and visit my audiologist a second time to take another impression of my ear canal to send in.

Getting the perfect fit turned out to be quite a time-consuming process (as well as an expensive one) so unless you’re on the hunt for a long-term solution with as much acoustic isolation as humanly possible, you might satisfice with generic IEMs, or keep some around as an alternate option.

In that case, I would recommend the generic in-ears from Ultimate Ears, Shure, or Westone.

Ultimate Ears’ generic fit UE900 model sports 4 drivers for $400.

The Ultimate Ears UE900’s are a great sounding 4-driver IEM that only costs $399, while the $99 Shure SE215 single-driver IEMs advertise an astonishing 37dB of noise reduction (more than most custom IEMs) at a great price.

My own triple-driver Westone 3’s (since replaced by the W30 model) are the most comfortable in ear monitors I own right now, and they isolate a lot more noise than most thanks to their foam-tip construction.

Compared to custom in-ears, any of these model can potentially save you time and money, or work as a welcome supplement for those times when the tight fit of custom in-ears feels irksome.

I hope my experiences here help you make the right decision when you go to buy your own IEMs. In short, I found that less-expensive generic foam-tipped IEMs worked better for me in many situations, and the savings enabled me to spend my money on better drivers with a fuller sound.

If you’ve used IEM’s in the past, let us know in the comments below whether you prefer custom fits or generic fit ones, and why.

Farewell, Faithful Steed: Veteran Actor (and Sometime Fashion Icon) Patrick Macnee Dies, Aged 93

Patrick Macnee, the actor best known for his work on TVs The Avengers has passed away. He was 93 years old.

g_face

Macnee was born in London, England in 1922. His father trained racehorses and was noted for his keen fashion sense, whilst his mother was a niece of the Earl of Huntingdon (which may even have made Patrick a descendent of Robin Hood!). However, such privileged beginnings proved to be only deceptively comfortable for the young Macnee, who saw his father drink and gamble away the family fortune, before leaving the country for India, while Macnee lived with his mother and her Lesbian lover Uncle Evelyn Spottswood. The pair attempted to dress the young boy up as a girl, but settled for a kilt instead, which was how Macnee was dressed every day until he was eleven years old.

Spottswood paid for Macnees schooling, which included boarding school from the age of five, a preparatory school (where he acted alongside a young Christopher Lee in a production of Shakespeares Henry V) and ultimately a spell at Eton, where he joined the schools dramatic society. Eventually however, Macnee was quietly expelled from the school after he instigated a gambling ring and was then caught selling erotic photography and whiskey to his fellow pupils.

By this time though, he had already been bitten by the acting bug and so decided to pursue a career in the performing arts.

Before he could make his West End debut, the young actor was called up for National Service. It was 1942 and World War 2 was in full swing. He began his military career in the Navy as an ordinary seaman, before progressing to sub-lieutenant. Fortunately, a nasty bout of bronchitis caused Macnee to miss the D-Day landings, where the ship he was serving aboard was destroyed and the entire crew killed. He was ashamed of not being present at the battle for the rest of his life. Macnee was demobilized in 1946 with the final rank of lieutenant.

Patrick Macnee learned his craft via a number of small roles, appearing in The Life and Death of colonel Blimp in 1943 and portraying a Spear Carrier in Lawrence Oliviers 1948 production of Hamlet (alongside an uncredited Christopher Lee), amongst other assorted roles. However, as the years passed and his big break failed to arrive, Macnee became depressed and frustrated by his lack of progress.

Eventually, he decided to leave the United Kingdom for Canada, making the difficult decision to leave his wife and two children behind in the process. He arrived in Toronto with just £10 in his pocket. In Canada, Macnees eccentric Englishness made him a genuine novelty and his career began to pick up somewhat. He explored producing and, as an actor, appeared in over 30 televised plays, before finally hearing about a new television series in development called The Avengers.

In The Avengers, Macnee played the unflappable British secret agent John Steed from 1961 to 1969, before reprising the role for 1976 – 77s The New Avengers. Both the series and the character would become an iconic part of British popular culture, creating a legacy that endures to this day. The show made Macnee an international star and proved to be his finest hour as an actor.

The character of John Steed first appeared in The Avengers pilot episode Hot Snow (1961). Here, he was depicted as being an assistant to Dr. David Keel. When Ian Hendry, who had played Dr. Keel, quit the show later that year, Steed became the central character and was partnered with a series of crime fighting accomplices, namely Dr. Martin King (Jon Rollason), Venus Smith (Julie Stevens) and finally Cathy Gale (played by future Bond girl Honor Blackman).

As the series progressed, Macnee extensively re-designed Steeds wardrobe, furnishing his character with the now iconic look of bowler hat, Saville Row suit and gentlemans umbrella. Of course, these garments came to be tricked out with various spy gadgets as the series went on.

It was Steeds debonair, quintessentially British wardrobe that helped the show to become so successful both at home and overseas. In fact, the clothes were so iconic that in France The Avengers is known as Chapeau Melon et Bottes de Cuir – Bowler Hat and Leather Boots.

Macnee also decided early on that Steed should never carry a gun. In later interviews he stated that he was sick of firearms after experiencing “a war in which Id seen most of my friends blown to pieces”.

Besides, a pimped-out brolly is waaaaay cooler.

In 1965, Steed was paired with his most iconic partner (and best, but Im biased since she was my childhood crush) Mrs. Emma Peel. Portrayed by Diana Rigg, Mrs. Peel (designed to have man appeal – hence the name) was smart, self-assured and supremely confident. In a unique twist, Peel often acted as Steeds muscle, being by far the more physical of the two characters. Although he frequently rescued her from harm, their relationship was truly a partnership of equals, making Mrs. Peel, secret agent, martial artist and chemistry genius, a genuine pioneer among female heroines. Macnee was always proud of the strong, positive female characters that were so prominently featured in The Avengers.

Rigg left the series in 1968 and promptly followed her predecessor into the James Bond franchise, while Macnee was partnered with Linda Thorsons Tara King until the series demise a year later in 1969.

ITV revived the Avengers concept in 1976 and Macnee starred alongside Joanna Lumley (Purdy) and Gareth Hunt (Gambit). The show ran for two series, but, despite a positive reception, was scrapped in 1977 due to financial problems.

Away from The Avengers, Macnee appeared in the James Bond film A View to a Kill (1985) and the classic Rock n Roll mocumentary This Is Spinal Tap (1984), where he portrayed Sir Dennis Eton-Hogg, the somewhat sanctimonious president of Taps record company. He also played Dr. George Waggner in 1981s cult favourite The Howling.

In 1998, Hollywood made a disastrous attempt to revive The Avengers. The movie starred Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman and Sean Connery and Patrick leant his support in the form of a voice cameo. However, without the twinkle, wit and class of the original John Steed, the idea was doomed to failure.

Finding himself in the enviable position of being a pop culture icon, Macnee was asked to appear in music videos for The Pretenders and Oasis amongst others. He also contributed vocals to a novelty single Kinky Boots with Honor Blackman that was issued three times, the first in 1964, the second in 1983 and the third in 1990, where it eventually became a top 3 hit.

As a television actor, Macnee appeared in such memorable shows as The Twilight Zone, Rawhide, Colombo, Frasier, Battlestar Galactica, Murder, She Wrote, The Love Boat, Magnum P.I, Diagnosis Murder, The Littlest Hobo, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and many others. He even played Dr. Watson alongside Christopher Lees Sherlock Holmes.

In later life, Macnee became a nudist. After an infancy spent in a dress, a childhood in a kilt and an adulthood in the finest suits money can buy, why not spend an old age in the nip? For a style icon that brought the suave and stylish John Steed to life with effortless grace, charm and virility, one supposes that it must have felt like the next logical step.

R.I.P Patrick, you will be sorely missed.