My first custom in-ear monitor: a personal journey

Step 4: Making your CIEMs

Once you have your impressions in hand (or as digital files), you’ll need to send them to the CIEM manufacturer for validation. Even if you made your impressions to spec, any good manufacturer will need to inspect them, approve them, then scan them using a special scanner to create workable 3D models of the impressions for each ear. 

Image courtesy Campfire Audio

The scanning process creates highly detailed and accurate 3D files from which the 3D prints or injection moulds of the earpieces are made.

Image courtesy Campfire Audio

The digital files are then sent off for production, where they’re used to model your new CIEM based on the model you’ve chosen. 

Image courtesy Campfire Audio

CIEMS are generally made from a hardened resin acrylic material. The raw 3D shells are usually grey in colour, and need to be sanded down to remove any rough edges from the printing process.

Image courtesy Campfire Audio

Sanded shells are sent through to next station for polishing and airbrushing. This is where the layers of paint are applied, and the shells are lacquered for protection.

Image courtesy Campfire Audio

The final steps involve assembling the CIEM’s internals, inserting the drivers and connecting cables and tubes (if any). This is the most delicate part of the process, since even the slightest issues errors in driver placement or soldering will affect the sound quality of the earphone. 

Image courtesy Campfire Audio

Once completed, the CIEM is capped and sealed with the faceplate, and your earpieces are sent for final inspection, measurements, QC, packing and shipping. Depending on the company, and the complexity of your CIEM, expect this last stage to take anywhere from a week to several months. 

Campfire Audio had my CIEMs made and shipped within three weeks of receiving my impressions, and in fact it took longer for the package to clear customs than it did to make them! 



Picture of Guy Lerner

Guy Lerner

An avid photographer and writer 'in real life', Guy's passion for music and technology created the perfect storm for his love of portable audio. When he's not playing with the latest and greatest head-fi gear, he prefers to spend time away from the hobby with his two (almost) grown kids and wife in the breathtaking city of Cape Town, and traveling around his native South Africa.


2 Responses

  1. Hi. I’m from head-fi and looking for nice CIEM as well to match with SP3000. Looking for warm, fun to listen one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent posts