Today I met the founder and president of Sensaphonics, Michael Santucci. He is a hearing conservation expert and audiologist. He is one of the few audiologists who work with the music industry. The relationship is interesting. Hearing conservation is about protecting your ears from continued exposure to loud sounds in order to preserve your hearing. He told us that baby boomers have a higher rate of hearing loss than senior citizens, probably because of devices such as portable music devices. He shows us pictures of a healthy inner ear and a damaged inner ear and had the same effect on my as the healthy lung and smoker lung photos we often see.
The traditional logic behind headphones and earphones is to increase the volume of the music reaching your ears for better sound. The brain compensates for background noise so, as most people have experienced, music in your car stereo suddenly sounds loud when you come to a stop and the background noise disappears. The damage to your ear is based on the total amplitude of the sound, whereas the perceived loudness of the signal is based on the amplitude above the background noise.
One way to have great earphones and not lose your hearing is to isolate and block the outside sound. Then you can listen to music at much lower volumes and it will still sound loud and clear. This protects your hearing while providing super high fidelity.
This is the theory behind the Shure E2cs and the E5cs that I've written about before. Michael takes this a step further and replaces the ear plugs that come with the Shures and replaces them with custom silicon molds. Sensaphonics also makes their own earphones.
Today, my second cousin Cornelius and I got molds taken of our ears. They are going to send me their ProPhonic Soft 2X earphones as well as molds that will work with my E5cs. They're also going to send me the TC-1000-totally-overkill ear set and the Elacin/Sensaphonics ER-9/15/25 high fidelity earplugs. I look forward to my future ear-mold-a-rama lifestyle, comparing the E5cs with the Sensaphonics and protecting my hearing.