Read Audio’s custom made, triple driver in-ear monitors and earplugs get put to the test
Words: Jamie Dawson Images: Read Audio
The world of in-ear monitors can be one of immense confusion. Which company to choose? Then when you finally set your sights on a company that looks, and more to the point, sounds right for you, you have to figure out what combination would suit you best. And as the product is specifically custom made for your ears, it’s not like you can sell it on after three months of ‘not really getting on with it’. With all of this comes quite a hefty price tag, to boot; you want to get this one right. In steps Read Audio, established in 2013 to supply musicians with quality, custom made in-ear monitors and earplugs.
The first step in the process, for both monitors and earplugs, is to have an ear impression made. I headed up to the Big Smoke to Read Audio HQ for this quirky process. Cold silicon is squirted into your ear canals, and after about 10 minutes it sets and creates the perfect impression of your ear, which is then used to create your plugs and monitors. Unlike most of the companies in this field, Read Audio promises an unbelievable 48-hour turn around. The monitors arrive with a flight case-style box as sturdy as the monitors themselves.
In Detail – R302 Triple Driver In-Ear Monitor
I’ve opted for a set of the Read Amplified earplugs, along with the flagship R302 triple driver in-ear monitor.
This means that inside the ear-piece is a top-notch triple speaker – one low, one mid and a high speaker, with three-way crossover – that delivers a clear, true response capable of handling anything you wish to throw at it. I happened to be playing at a festival the weekend I received my R302s so I was able to really put them through their paces.
I found it quite bizarre at first as I was running them with a flat EQ, but once I had a bit more bottom end pumped through, the usual drummer mix (bass guitar, kick drum, bit of overhead and a tiny bit of everything else) truly sang in my ear like I was listening to the record. I did at one point pull them out and struggled to get them back in quickly, which I would imagine gets easier as you get used to them. It was a joy to have everything I could wish for in perfect clarity, and I didn’t have the usual fight with the monitors down at my feet to hear what I wanted to hear.
Read Amplified earplugs
I’ve always wondered (after a few scary moments of dizziness caused by high volume playing) why we skimp on ear protection. You only get one set of ears! So having purchased a set of the silicon ER25s many years ago, I was assured that putting the Read Amplified ‘plugs (which come in one of four guises — Acoustic, Orchestral, Amplified and Extreme) in would make the old ERs sound like Blu-Tack. Wow! Not quite, but very close. At first I had to keep checking I had them in correctly, because I could hear perfectly; all frequencies filtered though crystal clear. I think if I was to use these with the kit I’d want to use the Extreme version, which offer up to 26dB cut on average. Regardless of which filter or in-ear monitor you choose, Read Audio will supply subsequent spare/replacement pairs from your original cast at half-price.
I’d say that if you’re going for in-ears, you can’t go wrong with this wonderfully engineered, top spec product to give the luxury afforded to the stars. Earplugs are a no brainer and should be on the top of your drumming shopping list. The custom build of Read Audio’s plugs, along with the competitive price tag and shipping in 48 hours, surely make them accessible to all of us.
R302 triple driver IEMs – £800
R202 dual driver IEMs – £600
Read ear plugs – £135
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