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Sonomax Makes Custom-Fit Earphones for the Common Man

Sonomax PCS-100
Custom-fit earbuds are nothing new, but usually such audio gear costs in excess of $400, requires a trip to the audiologist and takes weeks to arrive on your doorstep. Sonomax wants to bring the luxury of custom headphones to a broader audience. The core of that effort is the SonoFit system, which creates custom ear-wear in four minutes, without the need for a trip to a professional. The folks at the booth were kind enough to give us a demo by making us a pair of custom buds. The process is simple and the company hopes that consumers will eventually be able to perform it themselves in the comfort of their own home. During the pilot program, however, Sonomax recommends that the fitting be performed by a technician in a store.

The system works by injecting silicone into bladders that expand to fill your ear canal. A recyclable headband holds the over-the-ear molds in place and contains the pumps that push silicone. Setting up is simple: the earpieces are lubed up and inserted into the ear. The headband is tightened to make sure the buds don't shift during the molding process, and then the pumps are engaged. The release of the silicone sounds like someone popping open a very loud beer can. Almost immediately, you feel your ears begin to fill up with silicone, and the sound of the world around you starts to fade away. You feel mild pressure as the mold fills and hardens over the next four minutes, but it's certainly not unpleasant.

Sonomax Custom Earphones



When they're done hardening, the buds are simply pulled off. You can then attach the Sonomax-branded face plates to the outside of the buds. The pair we got to test out was the PCS-100, a single-driver set of earbuds with impressive sound quality that will retail for $199 when the pilot program launches later this year. There are better headphones with better specs in the same price range, but none will be custom-fit to your ear canal. Turn up the volume on your iPod (but not too much -- as you don't want to go deaf), and the world disappears. A premium, $299 model with dual drivers will also be available (the PCS-200), and should appeal to impatient audiophiles. We did our best to document the process, so check out the gallery.

Tags: audio, ces, custom, CustomFitEarbuds, earbuds, headphones, sonofit, sonomax, top