When it comes to earphones, one size doesn't fit all. Uncomfortable, off- the-shelf buds can not only irritate your ears, but also allow in ambient noise such as the growl of traffic. And pumping up the volume on your MP3 player to shut out those sounds can permanently damage your hearing.
Audiologist Andy Shiach, head of British firm Advanced Communication Solutions, has the answer: custom-molded earphones. His $1,000 T2 in-ear monitors fit snugly into your ear canal. With almost all external noise blocked out, you can cut your MP3 player's volume by half, yet pick out new details in recordings you thought you knew by heart.
Shiach was a professional musician until he suffered hearing loss when a sound man accidentally blasted feedback through his headphones. "You can never fully repair damaged hearing," he says, "so the idea of being able to get great audio at a lower volume is hugely important."
The T2 experience begins with a registered audiologist, who takes an impression of each ear to make the silicone molds into which Shiach's technicians then build two high-end speakers. Within two weeks, your bespoke 'phones (in the color of your choice) arrive by mail. Once your T2s are fitted, it's just you and the music. So make sure to set your phone on vibrate. www.hearingprotection.co.uk