Why True Music Lovers Should Invest in a Pair of In-Ear Monitors

(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- In-ear monitors were developed so performers could hear themselves clearly onstage. But these high-end headphones are no longer reserved for bands on tour. Texas-based Noble Audio’s custom fit, in-ear monitors (from $599) offer a spare-no-expense dedication to sonic fidelity, but the fit is what sets them apart. Based on a mold of your ear canal you’ll have taken by a health professional, they block noise while ensuring that no amount of sweating and bouncing around dislodges them—whether you’re doing a high-intensity training workout or leaping off a drum riser for your screaming fans.

THE COMPETITION

• JH Audio’s custom in-ear monitors have been the preferred choice for Lil Wayne, Bruce Springsteen, and other chart-toppers. The company also offers universal-fit versions of some of its most popular designs, starting at $1,599.

• Unlike Noble, Ultimate Ears can personalize your earpieces without sending you to the audiologist. Select your monitors (starting at $499), and it will send you a “FitKit” to create a mold of your ear canal. Return it; in about 10 days, you’ll receive your earphones.

• 64 Audio has teamed up with legendary bassist Nathan East, who’s played with Eric Clapton and Daft Punk, to create the custom-fit $1,699 N8 in-ear monitors, which have pneumatically interactive vents designed to release sound pressure and reduce fatigue.

THE CASE

Noble’s monitors can have as many as 10 Knowles balanced armature sound drivers per ear and deliver sound profiles attuned to the type of music you’re most likely to listen to. Designs can be customized, from understated to outlandish: Along with 20 colors of acrylic for the body, you can opt for faceplates in carbon fiber or exotic woods or even embedded with watch components. From $599

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gaddy at jgaddy@bloomberg.net

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.