|T3 reviews the T3|
Finally, a pair of comfortable in-ear headphones that really deliver. Well, as long as you don't mind having silicone pumped into your ear…
The dilemma with using portable audio - CDs, MiniDiscs, Mp3s or ahem, cassettes - has always been how to listen. While full-size hi-fi headphones easily produce the best sound quality, they defeat the object of having something so small. On the other hand, in-ear headphones tend to be fiddly, produce unsatisfying bass, and are often extremely painful. Throw in the added distraction of background noise such as traffic, road diggers, people talking loudly (some people are just so rude), and listening to your Walkman can become something of a trial.
Well, ACS recons its T3 in-ear monitors solve all these problems in one hit. Instead of being a generic round or elliptical shape, they are custom-moulded to sit perfectly in your own ear and create a tight seal that cuts out almost all external noise. Or at least, that's the theory. But are they really effective?
At first sight, they are at once disappointing and intriguing. Considering that these are probably the most expensive pair of headphones you'll ever buy for your Walkman or otherwise-you might be forgiven for wondering where your money's gone. Apart from a 3.5mm headphone jack, one-metre cable and two tiny lumps of silicone, there's not much to see. On the other hand, it is reassuring to know that no expense has been wasted on unnecessary styling or gimmicks. The makers obviously recognize that these headphones will live or die not on what they look like, but how they sound.
The earpieces themselves are soft to the touch and slightly malleable. Everyone's ears are different, so a cast has to be taken before they can be made - this involves soft silicone being pumped into your ear until you can hear almost nothing (which is a slightly odd experience). It sets in a couple of minutes and the cast is then sent to the ACS lab, ready for a technician to make up the headphones. It's a relatively labour-intensive process, but is also very precise. And while you have to expend a little more effort than would be involved in simply popping into your local Dixons store, casts can be taken at any one of ACS's 120 agents around the UK, or in almost any European country.
The advantage of using silicone is that it creates an extremely tight seal, through which sound can travel neither in nor out. It means that these headphones don't need any special 'noise-canceling' technology, because there's nothing to cancel out (F1 driver Jacques Villeneuve uses them to hear his pit crew during a Grand Prix). Once inserted into the ear, and quite deep into the ear canal, the only sound you'll hear is the music. What's more, these headphones make your music sound extraordinarily good, with the kind of bass and clarity that's normally the preserve of full-size cans. In fact, it's not far off having a pair of floor-standing speakers buried inside your head.
The even better news is that while you hear more volume, the headphones aren't actually pumping out more sound than a normal pair of in-ear cans - its just that you can hear them better. Which is why top DJ Dave Seaman is working on a pair to use instead of headphones inside a club, and ACS is taking a lot of orders from motorcyclists who use them on the road. There is however, a downside.
Wearing what is effectively a pair of tight-fitting earplugs takes a bit of getting used to. Then there's the price: at £230.00 you've got to be mad about your music to want 'em. But hey, if you want superb sound while you're on the go, and you've got the cash, then why not?
Pros: Excellent sound quality and comfort, with almost complete obliteration of all external noise. Cons: Price. Nigh on £200 for a pair of personal stereo headphones will make anyone think twice.
Pricey, but there's little doubt that the ACS T3 in ear monitors are the only way to listen."
ACS is pleased to announce the introduction of a new state of the art scanning technology that means ALL customers that order custom made hearing protection and in-ear monitoring products from ACS will have their ear shape on file at ACS for up to 4 years. The device will scan the impressions and save as a file on the database so customers can order new products or replacements instantly without the need to have new impressions taken. What's more, this service will not cost customers anything extra on top of the standard product charge, it is just a little something we want to do to make your experience with us even more enjoyable!
Please be aware that the scanning service began on May 1st 2010 so will only apply to customers that ordered thereafter.
ACS T2 custom in-ear monitors and the custom-fit sleeves for Etymotic ER-6i featured in the Financial Times 'How to spend it' section in March 2008.
In his Dork Talk column for the Guardian, Stephen Fry confesses that his T2s turn him to the 'happiest puddle of butterscotch Angel Delight in Britain'.
Or redeem a CUSTOM VOUCHER at your nearest impression taker using our postcode store locator >>
Please note - ACS products require good deep impressions in order to create a seal in the ear so it is important there is no wax block in the canal that will stop the audiologist from taking an impression. If you think you may have a wax build up, please visit your local GP for a consultation before booking an appointment with a dealer. You may be charged a fee if the audiologist is unable to take an impression.