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  • DIY in-ear monitors

    Hi there,

    This is isn't strictly edrum-related, but I thought it might be of interest as it's a piece of gear many of us use with our kits and elsewhere.

    I found an incredible thread where they describe in detail how to make your own custom IEMs; shells, driver combinations, crossovers, the works: http://www.head-fi.org/t/430688/home-made-iems. As it was my first go at it, I decided to keep it simple by buying a universal shell that's a Shure replica, and a driver combination that's used in commercially available IEMs (the Westone UM Pro 30 among others), and comes with its own crossover circuit. All you need to know is how to use a soldering iron; other than that it's really quite simple.

    This is the driver, the GK-31732, a triple driver with its ready-made crossover circuit:

    IEM_1.jpg

    First, I fitted a small (about 3 mm) length of tubing to each nozzle on the drivers to clear the way for the sound through a small piece of poron foam used to seal the drivers against the shell sound chamber/tube:

    IEM_2.jpg
    The tubing came as a gift with the drivers so it came in pretty handy. It slips tightly over the nozzles and doesn't require adhesive. I punched a couple of tiny holes in the foam with a multimeter lead, threaded the tubing through, attached it to the nozzles and then trimmed it flush with the foam.

    Next, I soldered a couple of wires (scavenged from a broken pair of cheap earphones) from the little solder pads on the crossover circuit to female mmcx connectors. Positive to centre pin and negative to outer pin:

    IEM_3.jpg
    Then, I squeezed everything into place. It's pretty tight and no glue or adhesives were required:
    IEM_4.jpg
    In order to adapt the sound signature to your taste, there are these little sound dampers that go in the earphone nozzle. They come in different colour-coded values and are used to tame the high frequencies (and let through lower frequencies), as BA drivers apparently tend to have strong highs. I looked at what others were using and bought white and green dampers, and after some testing decided to use the green ones:
    IEM_5.jpg
    Last of all, you need a cable with the appropriate connectors. They sell tons of different ones on Aliexpress.

    That's it. The sound quality is fantastic (I like them much more than some Shure 215's I have), they isolate from external noise really well, and aside from having to solder a few wires, it's a very easy project once I had all the parts it took about 20 minutes to put it all together. That said, keep in mind that the fact you built something yourself automatically raises the perceived quality by about 25%

    Parts list:

    Shell (11/pair): http://es.aliexpress.com/store/product/High-quality-C0-Repair-DIY-Unit-Housing-Shell-SE535-se425-se315-se215-W40-Earphone/333670_32499329423.html?spm=2114.30011108.3.27.LkI lSt&ws_ab_test=searchweb201556_0,searchweb201602_4 _10037_10017_10044_10043_507_10032_10042,searchweb 201603_2&btsid=832b0778-a57f-430c-86cf-2249bc0bfa32

    Drivers (75/pair): http://es.aliexpress.com/item/Free-Shipping-2pcs-pair-DIY-Earphones-GK-31732-Experience-Balance-Armature-Speaker-Receiver-Earphone-Accessories-from/1000001308317.html?spm=2114.13010608.0.81.kNzP49

    MMCX connectors (0.54 each): http://es.aliexpress.com/item/NEW-MM...08.0.89.kNzP49 These aren't actually the right ones; you need ones with a notch in the body so it fits on a ridge in the shell and stays put. I used a hacksaw to make the notch.

    Dampers (1.52 each): http://es.aliexpress.com/item/Unidad...08.0.57.kNzP49

    Cable (7): http://es.aliexpress.com/item/Earpho...08.0.65.kNzP49

    These prices fluctuate and may not be the same if you check them now. If you see they're more expensive, check in regularly and you'll probably find they go down again.

    The total cost comes to around 100. Not exactly cheap and you need to be careful when soldering and handling the drivers because they're tiny. They come in pairs so even if you mess just one up you automatically blow 75. However, a set of Westone UMPro 30's will set you back about 400, so the difference is not to be sneezed at, and I honestly doubt there's a 300 difference in sound quality between those and mine they're probably actually quite close. Plus, the satisfaction of having put them together myself and being able to repair them if need be is rewarding in itself. Having screws on the shells instead of gluing them together is very handy if you ever have to/want to swap out or repair anything, and the absence of any adhesives also makes swapping out components a breeze.

    If you're feeling adventurous (and have a lot of time on your hands), check out the head-fi thread I linked to above. It's amazing what the people there have done and the amount of information there is on making custom shells, crossovers, multiple driver setups, etc. A lot of the IEMs there are works of art. What I've done is the easiest, simplest (and laziest) build you can do, and though I'd love to, I don't have the time nor budget to get into the world of DIY custom IEMs...

    Anyway, hope someone finds this of interest and feel free to ask any questions.

    IEM_6.jpg
    MegaDrum module, DIY A2E pads, DIY hall effect 3 zone hi hat, DIY 1, 2 & 3 zone cymbals, DIY kick beater triggers, DIY triple driver IEMs, El Cheapo buttkicker. Various VSTs running in a tweaked Linux Mint. kit pics thread

  • #2
    Great job, those look completely professional!

    Not sure what kind of ear tips you are using with your IEMs but I saw a post on another forum about making custom DIY molds, and did that for my Westone UM2 IEMs and the molds made a huge dif for me. I would never have gone through the process or price of getting the custom molds built for these. But that inexpensive DIY was well worth it. I ended up adding the flanged rubber tips to mine later and they don't fall out of the ear and seal all the sound in quite nicely. https://www.vdrums.com/forum/advance...tone-um-2-iems
    I could tell you where to stick that piezo! ;)
    Stealthdrums.com Mega Kit: Powered by the TD-50 and 2ea. 2Box modules, drums and cymbals too many to count. VST quality sounds loaded into and played directly from the 2Box modules. Visit me anytime at: http://stealthdrums.com/

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    • #3
      Hi Jman,

      Thanks. Yes, I remember reading your thread and I probably will look into doing something like that. That said, I do get a pretty good seal with my IEMs (I'm using comply memory foam tips) and they stay put no matter what. Was there also a significant difference in sound quality using the molds? Or is it mainly for the sound isolation? Anyway, thanks for the link, I'll have a look at it again.

      ​​​​
      MegaDrum module, DIY A2E pads, DIY hall effect 3 zone hi hat, DIY 1, 2 & 3 zone cymbals, DIY kick beater triggers, DIY triple driver IEMs, El Cheapo buttkicker. Various VSTs running in a tweaked Linux Mint. kit pics thread

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      • #4
        Originally posted by ignotus View Post
        Hi Jman,

        Thanks. Yes, I remember reading your thread and I probably will look into doing something like that. That said, I do get a pretty good seal with my IEMs (I'm using comply memory foam tips) and they stay put no matter what. Was there also a significant difference in sound quality using the molds? Or is it mainly for the sound isolation? Anyway, thanks for the link, I'll have a look at it again.

        ​​​​
        As far as the tips, that really is what works best for you. I originally was using the foam, later tried the silicon triple flange type and those are what worked for me. Even with a good seal with standard tips like the foam or those silicon flanged I do believe the custom molds makes quite a difference. I don't think you really notice how much sound is leaking until you try the custom molds that basically seal the entire IEM into the ear. One thing that is a tiny pita is it takes a second or two longer to put the IEMs in the ear with the custom molds, because they are formed and copy your ear inside. So you pretty much place them in and make sure you get them seated correctly. I have the IEMs and some great headphones sitting at my drums ..... If I am just going to test a trigger or new sound for a minute or 2 I just stick the headphones on, but if I am going to sit down and play for a while I normally stick the IEMs in. J

        I could tell you where to stick that piezo! ;)
        Stealthdrums.com Mega Kit: Powered by the TD-50 and 2ea. 2Box modules, drums and cymbals too many to count. VST quality sounds loaded into and played directly from the 2Box modules. Visit me anytime at: http://stealthdrums.com/

        Comment


        • #5
          Those look very professional. If only I had more time.... One more thing to put on my to do list. I hope we get lots of bad weather this winter.
          Brain: mega drum. 5 toms: DIY mesh head, side-mounted DIY triggers. Snare: 14" 682 head, DIY crossbar trigger. 2xDIY beaterless BD pedal. .Cymbals: Crash: 2x 16" brass: 2 zone. Ride: 20" brass: 2 zone. Hi-Hat: 14" 1 zone DIY Control pedal + Pearl H900 stand. + drum rack:

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Viperr View Post
            Those look very professional. If only I had more time.... One more thing to put on my to do list. I hope we get lots of bad weather this winter.
            They look professional because in reality all I had to do was assemble a few parts - other than the piece of foam all the other components are ready-made, so at the end of the day, unless you really mess something up you have guaranteed professional results .

            All it takes is about half an hour. It took me more time to find the parts and buy them than to put them together... What made me hesitate before taking the plunge was actually the cost of the materials; it's a hefty sum that can go up in a puff of smoke (literally) if you're careless, but anyone handy with a soldering iron should have no problems whatsoever.

            Just a couple of comments after the first few days using them:

            - It turns out the shells are ever so slightly too small for the drivers - they initially snapped shut, but after a couple of days the side of the shell closest to the nozzle and furthest from the screw opened by about 1/2 mm due to pressure from the big driver. I applied a tiny drop of loctite and now it seems to be ok. I think these shells: https://es.aliexpress.com/store/prod...5-4618e2b029ef have more space inside them as they don't have the screw. The downside is you have to glue them together and repairs will be more difficult. I'd still stick to the ones I have.

            - The hole where the screw goes in has a slightly pointy edge that needs sanding off. Nothing major but it could make it uncomfortable it left there.

            Other than that couple of minor issues I couldn't be happier with them.
            MegaDrum module, DIY A2E pads, DIY hall effect 3 zone hi hat, DIY 1, 2 & 3 zone cymbals, DIY kick beater triggers, DIY triple driver IEMs, El Cheapo buttkicker. Various VSTs running in a tweaked Linux Mint. kit pics thread

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            • #7
              Hi,

              I decided to re-shell the drivers in another housing as the ones above had a couple of rough edges and I also wanted to experiment a bit with a different setup to see if it made a difference. I bought a pair of dirt cheap IEMs on Aliexpress, gutted them and replaced the internals with my triple BA driver setup. This time, I used separate tubes for the high/mid drivers and the low frequency driver, each tube with its own acoustic damper. I also separated them (they come epoxied together) and placed the mid/high close to the nozzle, and the LF driver with a 4 cm tube to enhance bass. It was a nightmare to fit everything in and I almost ruined one of the drivers, but the end result sounds spectacular, significantly better than before, and I haven't even got some proper foam tips for them yet. Although they did sound pretty good before, the highs could be a bit too harsh sometimes and the bass lacked some of the oomph that dynamic drivers have. Now they just sound astounding across all ranges. I have some Shure 215s for comparison, and while the previous DIY version surpassed them in everything except bass, now the Shures sound like pound shop buds in a side to side comparison. Yeah, you can tell I'm happy with them
              IMG_20170616_181703~01.jpg
              Last edited by ignotus; 06-18-17, 04:08 PM.
              MegaDrum module, DIY A2E pads, DIY hall effect 3 zone hi hat, DIY 1, 2 & 3 zone cymbals, DIY kick beater triggers, DIY triple driver IEMs, El Cheapo buttkicker. Various VSTs running in a tweaked Linux Mint. kit pics thread

              Comment

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