Cool headphones, can I have a listen? Sorry, I’m afraid not, they’re mine.
You don’t have to be like that, it’s not like they have your name on them. Actually, they do, but I think you’re misunderstanding my point – these headphones were designed for specifically and solely for me.
Ooh, how fancy. So, what are they? They’re Snugs – custom-fit earphones moulded to my ears, produced by a UK-based start-up that you may or may not have seen on Dragon’s Den.
Sounds pretty exciting, how do they work? Around each headphone is a custom-fitted moulded casing perfectly moulded to my ear.
I thought you had to visit an audiologist for “custom-fit” ear gadgetry. You certainly used to, but personalised, moulded earphones are much simpler to produce now, largely thanks to the arrival of portable 3D scanners and the ease of 3D printing.
This all sounds very 2018, you know. It’s pretty cutting edge, I won’t lie. Until recently, the best fit for consumers has been to use foam tips which squish into the compact space of your ear before expanding, creating a seal – but Snugs are able to produce bespoke, and incredibly accurate moulds of individual ears.
Woah. Woah indeed. But before you can start grooving on your new headphones the first thing you have to do is produce a digital 3D model or an ‘impression’ of your inner ears. Then moulds of the earphones are created from those impressions, using a soft silicone material. No impression, no custom-fit earphones.
Wouldn’t you know, I never leave the house without a digital 3D model of my inner ear! No need to be sarcastic.Snugs can accommodate. They operate 3D scanning facilities in a number of retailers throughout the UK.
I had an MRI scan recently, gave me the heebie-jeebies. Oh, it’s nothing like that.This is a small handheld device comprising a laser scanner and probe, which is gently inserted just inside the ear.
Sounds a little uncomfortable. It’s a bit ticklish! But it’s significantly quicker, simpler and more hygienic than the moulds one might produce with a traditional audiologist. The only real difficulty is having to sit still for five minutes.
That doesn’t sound so bad. It really couldn’t be much simpler. The chaps running the scanning booth at Selfridges were super friendly and helpful. I’d expected the scanning process to be more arduous, but it was over almost as soon as it had started.
That’s reassuring. Pro-tip: clean your ears before you arrive for the scan to save any, aherm, potential embarrassment.
Good point, well made. So, scan done – what next? After choosing from a range 19 of colours (ooh, a glitter option, yes please) and customising further with some text on the left and right earbuds…
Hence your name being on them… Yes, that’s right. If you look at the other ear bud, I’ve put my phone number.
In case they get lost? Precisely.
It’s not like anyone else can use them. Quite. So after choosing colours and text, two weeks later my Snugs custom-fit earphones land in the post.
How do they feel? Snug
Obviously… In fact, they’re so snug it can be a little disconcerting at first – wearing these is a fairly unique experience.
How so? Teething issues is all – I wore these for an hour on first go and eventually removed them once they’d become slightly uncomfortable, but this is completely normal and after a week of daily use, this wasn’t an issue in the slightest.
So they fit like a glove and they look super badass, but what do they sound like? Well that’s the million-dollar question. Technically they don’t sound like anything as they are just the mould that fits around the earphone and sits in your ear.While we’ve tested a pair of Snugs own wired earphones, Snugs are able to fit your custom-moulds around any in-ear headphone, so if you’ve just forked out for some really high-end in-ears, then this should be the way to go.
I have no headphones, tell me more about the bundled in pair? Pretty good around, if a little boomy (a nod to common trends, perhaps). There’s a decent spread in the stereo space and you get a clean, impactful (if not entirely authentic) sound at both ends of the dynamic range. An impressive, if slightly over-eager sub-bass response maintains itself well at low volume, but if your ears can take it, these tiny in-ears can pump beats at drum-shattering volume too. Old-school hip-hop and techno beats are better represented than music with more even requirements – guitars electric and acoustic fared less well, with bass tones somewhat slightly overbearing in the mix, but the Snugs Wired demonstrated a real clarity even in these moments.
So after all that, what difference do the moulds make?
Well, they really do just stay in your ear. Whether you’re walking to work, jogging around the block, running a 10k, delivering a lecture or gigging to a field of thousands, these custom-fit earphones will not budge.
Not that you’ve ever done any of that… True, but I do sit on the London Underground a lot. Whilst I found the immersive nature of Snugs’ listening experience takes a little getting used to, I can with some confidence say that I’ve never had a clearer listening experience on my morning commute than with these – all the discordant wailing of the Tube is banished, never to be heard again. Background interference is kept to an absolute minimum, something which should appeal far beyond audiophiles.