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Thread: Are My Expectations Too High For Big Ear?

  1. #1
    RK Ryder
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    Are My Expectations Too High For Big Ear?

    I had Big Ears custom speaker/earplugs made at the Tennessess Rally last July. They arrived in September, sent them back and a new set appeared in the mail yesterday.

    My first test for these is to turn the television on with loud volume output. When I put in regular disposable earplugs, the sound virtually disappears. Bliss.

    When I put in the Big Ear speaker/plug, I repeat the same test, same tv volume with no Ipod attached. The volume is only very, very slightly muffled; hardly noticeable. If they don't block external noise in the house, I expect that they won't give me much protection from wind noise at speed. Hence, not very practical for riding.

    If you have custom made earplugs/speakers, do they actually block noise, even without music being connected?

    I will be contacting Big Ear again about my problem with their product.

    I had heard good things about the Big Ear product and therefore bought from them. So far I am disappointed.
    Paul
    Retired and riding my RTs, the '87 K100 & the '98 R1100 !
    Treasurer of the Forest City Motorrad Club #159
    Knights of the Roundel #333

  2. #2
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    The law in California used to exclude the use of foam-style ear plugs but allow "custom ear plugs for hearing protection". (What kind of crazy law was that?) So I talked to one of the custom ear plug guys about buying a set.

    He told me that if I was happy with the foam plugs -- which I am -- that I would be disappointed with his product. The custom plugs don't block as much sound, and the fit loosens over time. I thanked him for his insight... and California has since changed the law.
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
    http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

  3. #3
    Registered User 88bmwjeff's Avatar
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    I had a pair of custom ear plugs made by Ear Inc., and they work great. I would not ride with music or anything without them. I'm able to keep the volume level at 1 or 2. Granted there are a few times when I can't hear the music, but that's better than damaging my hearing. Since you have the ear plugs, go out for a ride and see how well they work. And, yes my ear-phones do block the noise, but not as well as foam or regular custom earplugs.

    I had a pair of regular custom earplugs made a few years ago at a rally, and I've had mixed results with them. One suggestion that helped cut the noise down and to get them in and out was to apply a small amount of petroluem jelly. That may help if the ear plug has a poor fit in your ear.
    Jeff in W.C.
    1988 R100 RT (the other woman)
    "I got my motorcycle jacket but I'm walking all the time." Joe Strummer

  4. #4
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    I had two sets of custom ear plugs made

    by two different vendors. Wasn't happy with the sound damping of either of them.

    Went back to the foam ear plugs... except when i'm listening to my XM radio. Then I use in-ear speakers.... but that's a whole different thread.


    sdc
    Somers, NY

    Just enjoying the ride.......

  5. #5
    Rally Rat nytrashman's Avatar
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    let me relate my experience with custom earphones. i loved how quiet the foam Hearos are but in Gillette i had a set of custom ear plugs made. they were horrible and i could not wear them. fast forward to me getting a GPS w/ XM radio. i tried different earbuds and they all were a pain to put in and to get them to stay in place when i put my helmet on. i then figured i best get a pair of custom made earphones. there is an online site that sells them so i gave them a try. i went to the audiologist and had a set of impressions made. the earphones i received were ok but not what i had hoped for. i was all set to try a set from big ears when a friend recomended EAR-ific Molds/Tim McCarty/770-992-0048. i like these so much i ordered a second pair just in case i loose the first pair i bought. they are so comfortable i can wear them for 10-12 hrs a day, day after day after day. in all honesty the foam Hearos do block out more noise but these are a perfect blend of noise reduction while still allowing me to hear traffic around me. i am 100% happy with them and if i somehow lost the two pairs i have i would not hessitate to buy another pair. i never ride without them, weather it is the 1/2 mile down the street to get gas, the 5 miles to work or a 600 mile day while touring. i know this is all very subjective but i highly recomend Tim. give him a call and see what he has to say, i am sure you will be happy with his product.

  6. #6
    Mark A. dmaust01's Avatar
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    I had a pair of custom earphones made (not by a rally vendor) and one ear stopped working. They were replaced and after not a lot of use the same thing happened again...this time after the 90 day warranty. I have switched to Etymotic Isolator Earphones ER-6i and like them much better at a lower cost. They block external wind noise and the sound quality is fairly good. I don't hesitate to recommend these. If you order a pair, check prices as there can quite a lot of variance.
    Mark Austin
    BMW MOA Ambassador
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  7. #7
    RK Ryder
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    Quote Originally Posted by nytrashman View Post
    a friend recomended EAR-ific Molds/Tim McCarty/770-992-0048. i like these so much i ordered a second pair just in case i loose the first pair i bought. they are so comfortable i can wear them for 10-12 hrs a day, day after day after day. in all honesty the foam Hearos do block out more noise but these are a perfect blend of noise reduction while still allowing me to hear traffic around me. i am 100% happy with them and if i somehow lost the two pairs i have i would not hessitate to buy another pair. i never ride without them, weather it is the 1/2 mile down the street to get gas, the 5 miles to work or a 600 mile day while touring. i know this is all very subjective but i highly recomend Tim. give him a call and see what he has to say, i am sure you will be happy with his product.
    I did have a set made by Tim McCarty but my experience was exactly the opposite of yours. I met up with him at a trade show and he made a second pair to replace the first; they were no better. Unfortunately I lost them so I could not return them so he could get it right.

    Quote Originally Posted by dmaust01 View Post
    I have switched to Etymotic Isolator Earphones ER-6i and like them much better at a lower cost. They block external wind noise and the sound quality is fairly good. I don't hesitate to recommend these. If you order a pair, check prices as there can quite a lot of variance.
    I had a pair of these and yes the price is right. For my ears, the sound was quite good and blocked wind noise well. Unfortunately on two different occasions when putting the helmet on, an earplug got pushed right into the ear canal, requiring the very generous help of strangers with long finger nails to remove the plug each time that it happened. The pain was excruciating. Somehow I lost that set as well. I no longer carry earphones cases in my jacket pocket when not in use.

    The re-done right earplug from Big Ear seems to fit quite well, but still does not seem to block much noise. The left seems to block none. Both together are tempting fate for deafness if ridden for long at speed with the wind.

    Once when having my ears checked by a audiologist, I took my custom made plugs, either Tim's or EAR Inc and was told that I have unusually soft ear cartilage which makes a tight fit difficult. I did explain this to the Big Ear gentleman when he made impressions. I was told that it would not be a problem.

    I'll Big Ear tomorrow.
    Paul
    Retired and riding my RTs, the '87 K100 & the '98 R1100 !
    Treasurer of the Forest City Motorrad Club #159
    Knights of the Roundel #333

  8. #8
    Rally Rat nytrashman's Avatar
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    i think it is a crap shoot with custom earphones. what works for me may or may not work for you. give big ear a try and please report back as i am very interested in your opinions on them.

  9. #9
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    I can't comment on the ear plugs with speakers but I have a set of Big Ear custom ear plugs I picked up at the Sipapu rally a couple of years ago. I have worn them for many long days. They are comfortable and I think they block noise better than the foam disposables I used to use. Good luck. Big Ear keeps calling me trying to sell me the earphones. I guess I am too cheap. I am also satisfied with the Autocom speakers in my helmet.
    I get knocked down, But I get up again, You're never going to keep me down - Chumbawamba

    Denver, CO - '05 R1200RT, '06 F650 GS Dakar, 2006 Yamaha WR450F

  10. #10
    2-up and havin' fun sugarhillctd's Avatar
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    I have tried LOTS of different types of in ear protection since the wind coming over the fairing of my K1100RS hits me from the neck on up.

    This spring I bought these:


    From Aerostich: Comply™ NR-10 Earphones #3014. http://www.aerostich.com/navigate-co...earphones.html

    They insert easily since there is a rigid center that pushes the foam into the ear canal after I roll the foam between my fingers to compress it.

    I am able to listen to music at very low levels while riding at highway speeds. They still work as new after a season of use. I ordered some extra foam "tips" and soak used ones overnight in some mild cleanser.

    A bit pricey for "earbuds", but it beats going deaf from wind noise.
    John & Cathy
    '92 K100RS (gone- '04 R1100S Boxer Cup)
    '12 Suzuki DRZ400
    ("kid's" bikes) '02 Kaw ZX6R- Jen's '07 Duc 800ss- Johnnie's

  11. #11
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    From my experience(I have noise induced hearing loss so always ride/work w/foam ear plugs!) it is important to try the many foam plugs out there. Wally World has a bunch to experiment with-they are located near the eye drops @ the end of the pharmacy box. Aerostich has an assortment too. I find some that work for me , others that don't & same for my wife, she being more sensitive to how they fit than me.
    Main thing is to "wear some hearing protection", that's ""IF"", you want to hear your grandkids talk to you!!! I cannot imagine that a custom earplug that allows hearing conversation well, to provide the protection you need @ speed on a bike? I can hear conversation if quite close to the speaker(and they talk loudly) with my helmet on and foam plugs in place, yet am able to prevent titinitus from the ride. What with the high cost of the custom plugs I fail to understand their advantage, other than for those that cannot stand to wear foam?

  12. #12
    RK Ryder
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    Quote Originally Posted by gfountain View Post
    I can't comment on the ear plugs with speakers but I have a set of Big Ear custom ear plugs I picked up at the Sipapu rally a couple of years ago. I have worn them for many long days. They are comfortable and I think they block noise better than the foam disposables I used to use. Good luck. Big Ear keeps calling me trying to sell me the earphones. I guess I am too cheap. I am also satisfied with the Autocom speakers in my helmet.
    My audiologist tells me that there is less chance of causing hearing damage if one uses in ear earphones. When we use the speakers in our helmets, the volume has to be louder than the wind noise in order to hear what is coming out of the speakers. In earplug/speakers permit you to keep the volume low without risk of hearing lost.

    Quote Originally Posted by nytrashman View Post
    i think it is a crap shoot with custom earphones. what works for me may or may not work for you. give big ear a try and please report back as i am very interested in your opinions on them.
    I contacted Big Ear today. I am told that their owner and CEO will be at the Toronto International Bike Show in January. If I attend, I am to call his cell number and he will admit me into the show for free and make new impressions. That being the case, I won't be able to report as to how well the new ones work until the spring. I will let you know how things work out. In hindsight, I should have requested a refund when the first pair did not work within their 30 day refund policy.

    Quote Originally Posted by kantuckid View Post
    From my experience(I have noise induced hearing loss so always ride/work w/foam ear plugs!) it is important to try the many foam plugs out there. Wally World has a bunch to experiment with-they are located near the eye drops @ the end of the pharmacy box. Aerostich has an assortment too. I find some that work for me , others that don't & same for my wife, she being more sensitive to how they fit than me.
    Main thing is to "wear some hearing protection", that's ""IF"", you want to hear your grandkids talk to you!!! I cannot imagine that a custom earplug that allows hearing conversation well, to provide the protection you need @ speed on a bike? I can hear conversation if quite close to the speaker(and they talk loudly) with my helmet on and foam plugs in place, yet am able to prevent titinitus from the ride. What with the high cost of the custom plugs I fail to understand their advantage, other than for those that cannot stand to wear foam?
    Ten years ago, I had a bicycle inner tube burst beside my right ear. That was followed a few days later by an airplane descent into Manchester. The descent produced extreme pain in the same ear and caused a buzzing for the three weeks of that holiday. Because of this ear damage, I am very conscientious about avoiding further ear loss. I buy boxes of 200 pairs of Laser Lite earplugs which do a wonderful job of reducing wind noise for me. Both bikes always carry more earplugs than I actually need when touring, but they are there should I mis-guess the number I'll need.

    My post was not about foam earplugs, but rather what other riders' results were with Big Ear plugs that incorporate speakers for the odd hour that I might wish to listen to my Ipod. My pair does not reduce wind noise. Therefore, for now they are only suitable for regular Ipod listening; a rather expensive use. For most of my long travel days, I really enjoy the solitude of the machine and the road. However, after several hours on the road, an hour or so of music is a good way to continue the ride. Hence, the purchase of earplug/speaker phones. The first criteria is that that must work as well or almost as well as my foam plugs before I can even entertain listening to music with them.
    Paul
    Retired and riding my RTs, the '87 K100 & the '98 R1100 !
    Treasurer of the Forest City Motorrad Club #159
    Knights of the Roundel #333

  13. #13
    GREGFUESS
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    Big Ear

    I purchased a pair at the Tennessee rally also. I tried to put them in, and unwittingly did so incorrectly, so I returned them asking for a proper fit. I took pictures of the pieces in each of my ears, and sent those along with the pieces so that the company could determine what was wrong.

    When the pieces were returned, I called them and they indicated the proper way to wear the things, and that has made a great difference. I can now wear them around the house with the MP3 player at the lowest volume setting, and that works up to about 45 mph on the K12S. MP3 player volume adjustment on the bike is difficult and I haven't had the opportunity to use them much since, so I am not sure how well they work above that speed and at higher volume settings.

    Call Big Ear and make sure you are inserting the ear pieces properly, it worked for me.

    Greg

  14. #14
    "Running Out The Clock" grafikfeat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SugarHillCTD View Post
    Damn! I knew I should have patented that idea! I did that years ago...

    Big problem I see with most folks using foam is they don't have them in far enough.
    They need to feel like they are toughing each other in the middle of your head.
    "Stupidity, if left untreated, is self-correcting."

  15. #15
    Curmudgeon At Large Bobmws's Avatar
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    Straight talk about custom earmolds

    First, you need to be aware that an earplug makes the most efficient noise seal deep in the ear canal. As previously stated regarding foam plugs, they work best when fully inserted in the canal, with the ends just about flush with the canal opening. If your earplug sticks out like Frankenstein bolts, you are not achieving a good seal and not getting the reduction benefit your plugs are rated for. The success of a molded earplug depends on the impressions being made to a proper depth with your jaw closed and in a relaxed state, just as it would be with your helmet strapped on.
    There are other concerns when wearing custom molds under a helmet, but they are secondary to this discussion.
    For pure noise reduction, the highest rating goes to foam plugs. Molded material is just not as efficient in reducing sound. Foam plugs are rated as high as 34dB NRR while molded materials have a rating of 26dB NRR.
    If you can achieve a comfortable fit and good seal with a foam plug you will not do better for noise reduction with a molded plug. Those who will benefit most from a custom plug for noise reduction are those who can not successfully use a foam plug.
    For most people, a properly fit molded earplug will perform well when fitted with speakers, reducing wind noise and allowing the user to hear music (GPS or communication) with a low volume input.
    HTH
    Last edited by Bobmws; 10-29-2009 at 04:37 AM.
    Bob Weis
    '04 K12RS - Hannigan Hack
    www.earplugco.com

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