Isolation: Ultraphones vs. IEMs

JimFiore

Silver Member
Who has used both IEMs and Ultraphones? I am interested in the comparative isolation qualities of them . I picked up a pair of Ultraphones based on the strong recommendations seen here. Nice stuff, good isolation. They do seem to grip my head rather aggressively, though. I can't imagine playing with them for a few hours continuously.

The sound reduction rating of the Peltors that they're based on is about 30 dB (averaged over the spectrum, probably peaking considerably higher). OTOH, I see that Shure rates the SE215 at "up to" 37 dB (I assume that's max at some particular range of frequencies) and Etymotic rates the ER4 reduction as 35-42 dB.

Has anyone done a direct A/B comparison?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
From a strictly isolation standpoint, they're very comparable.

But as already discussed in several other threads, each has its advantages and disadvantages. I will say that for me, the UltraPhones are preferable to in-ears with only one exception: the vanity factor. Let's face it, they're kinda bulky. But in concert, it's perfectly acceptable for drummers to wear phones (where it would look kinda weird if anyone else did.)

And, in-ears have only one advantage: the vanity factor. I use them for TV, but nowhere else.

But in every other way, I find the UltraPhones are superior in sound quality, ease of use, durability, ease and speed of replacement, and they cost FAR less than real in-ears (those Shure thingies aren't in-ear monitors, they're ear buds, and some of them are pretty expensive.)

Also note that all isolation phones are not created equal. I've tried MetroPhones, Extreme Isolation, and Vic Firth, and they pale compared to the UltraPhones.

Bermuda
 

JimFiore

Silver Member
Vanity is not an issue for me, comfort is.

I like the Ultraphones but something a little more comfortable wouldn't be bad.

What I found interesting is the specified noise reduction. I have a hard time believing that the ER4, for example, could have significantly better isolation than the Ultraphones. Perhaps they do, which is why I'm asking.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I don't know about the specs, but I can tell you that having used the in-ear molds initially, then switching to isolation phones, I thought they both had excellent isolation. That was never the issue for me.

As for comfort, isolation phones are snug, period, which is primarily how they achieve isolation*. But I find that much less bothersome than the molds. I love my UltraPhones, and will never go back to in-ears as a permanent monitor. Even assuming the sound would ever equal the phones, there's just too much coordination and special care required with in-ears.

Singers and guitar & keyboard players can use them, because their monitoring requirements are typically different than a drummer's. Just for a start, drums are a full-range instrument, only a synth rivals a kit in terms of the extreme range the player wants to hear.

Bermuda

* I should add that iso phones don't work their best if the wearer has thick or bushy hair, as that hampers the earcup's ability to effectively seal around the ear. I keep my hair short anyway, but even shorter on tour, partly for the best results from the phones, and also my hair looks the same after a sweaty night on stage, or after sleeping. No "bunk hair" for me!
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I use both. I have Ultraphones, and Disney provides me with Shure SE315's to use. I do like both. I probably like the Ultraphones more because I can just put them on. Everytime I use the IEMs it's like an event to put them on. I have to get the cable behind my back and then bring them up around my ear and maneuver them into place. But once they're set, they're set - it is that extra step though. And that extra step doesn't go away if you get better or worse IEMs,
 

Winegums

Silver Member
I have JH-16 CIEM's for the reason that I couldn't find anything comfortable or that had consistant isolation. I've used a lot of isolation headphones but they either were very uncomfortable or didn't block out sound evenly enough. So I got a set of CIEM's made by Jerry Harvey Audio and I haven't looked back since. They offer a perfect fit so comfort is never an issue anymore, I often wear them for 6 hours straight at work. The isolation at -27db is great for practicing drums and most importantly it blocks out frequencies evenly. I've often found that bass leaks into isolation headphones more than other frequencies.
 

weeschwee

Junior Member
This is something I've been wondering about myself. I posted in another thread about this. The thread is about Vic Firth vs Shure se215's.

I own the Vic Firth SiH1 and recently got a chance to borrow the Shure's. My Vic Firth's made my drums sound more natural. The drums sounded warmer. The highs of the cymbals and the overtones of the toms were muted. That's a downside for cymbals, but it made my toms focused and warm. It almost sounded as though they were mic'ed.

The Shures seemed to do the opposite. They made my drums sound thin and enhanced the attack. However, I could hear my cymbals more clearly. This comparison is without mics by the way. I practice at home without mics.

In a mic'ed situation both have enough isolation so that you basically hear the mix. I can only imagine the Ultraphones have even better isolation than my Vic Firth's, although they look like a similar design.

I am on the fence about buying the Shure se215's, buying better headphones like the Ultraphones, or saving for some custom IEMs. I'm curious how other products isolate in a situation without mics.
 
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