I opted for a pair of half-shell for my ER4S since it is pretty much my reference these days (which is also good news as the new ER4SR and ER4XR should also fit these eartips). The turn-around time was only a couple of weeks, which actually is pretty quick consider I didn’t use digital scan but went for the old silicone impression method, then the impression had to be sent from Jaben Singapore to UK followed by the finished eartips themselves from UK to Singapore. Of course - as with any custom work, the turn-around time greatly depends on shipping time as well as how fast the lab can build them.
ER4 with custom cable and Snugs
As far as build quality goes, it is just about perfect. I picked transparent for both sides so any flaw will be easily spotted, but there isn’t any. The surface is smooth to the touch and there isn’t any bubble inside. They also fit my ears very snugly (*put intended :-) ) on the first go. But like any new silicone eartips, these custom can be slightly harder to slide into the ears due to friction when they are new. In that case, you can use the included hearing aid lubricant to ease the process. Once you use the eartips long enough, it will eventually absorb a bit of your skin oil and make the process a lot easier. Sometime a tiny bit of baby lotion will also do the trick. After the initial break-in, these eartips slide into my ears pretty easily. Though I have been quite used to custom IEM at this point, there is still no deny that soft silicone is definitely better than hard acrylic, especially after hours of use.
From left: Hifiman RE1000, ER4 with Snugs and Lear LCM-5
Like any change of different eartips, these custom eartips also alter the sound of ER4 just a tiny bit. I use mostly the same stock tri-flanges on my ER4 for the last few years and so it has long pass its break-in period. If anything, it sounds slightly more open than a brand new pair of tri-flanges - but otherwise it keeps to the highly detail and transparent, if not sometime being referred as the ‘sterile’ Etymotic’s house sound. The custom Snugs, in comparison, brings a tighter and deeper bass response and a crispier upper notes. This is perhaps due to the fact that Snugs has a tighter fit (*which improves lower end) as well as a wider bore size (*which helps upper end) when compared to the tri-flanges. While it is definitely different, I won’t call it a good or bad thing. Like any eartips rolling, it is all about what you are looking for as a listener. Someone’s good eartips might be another person’s mediocre. For example, I don’t really enjoy Westone STAR or SpinFit even though many stand by them. However, it is still something to keep in mind if you even wanted to get a pair of Snugs or any custom eartips – not necessary that you will get the same effect since you might not be getting them for ER4,but for something else. However, it will definitely change the sound, just more or less. Then again, I’ll have assumed the main reason for custom eartips should be about comfort and isolation, which Snugs will deliver in ace. Overall, I’ll say I am quite satisfied with the experience.
A thank to Snugs and Jaben Singapore for the sample.
Last but not least, here is something you don't see everyday - a custom made transparent ER4 with Snugs.