I love the live presence I get from my analog stereo, but when I'm on the road, I have to resort to my iPhone and earbuds. There are already many good Instructables that walk through custom fitting earbuds, and I recommend that as the first step toward portable live presence.

The one I used is:

With the exception of putting straws down my ears, this is pretty easy to follow. There may be others newer and better, so check around.

I use Sugru and for me, feel that's the material of choice, but if you want to mix up your own goo, go right ahead. Also, make sure you only cover the OUTSIDE of the ear canal. You don't need to shove gobs of silicon down to your ear drum. The whole idea is to isolate the sound you want from the outside noise going on around you. Your ear is designed to funnel that noise into your ear canal, and if it gets that far, it's already too late to block it.

If you look at my earbuds, the Sugru ends where the metal part ends. The part that blocks the noise is the part having the increased surface area surrounding the outside of the ear canal.

Let me take a moment to explain what I mean by "live presence". Imagine you're at a live concert, sitting at the edge of the stage listening to your favorite band. Not only do you hear the sound, but you feel it as well. Not just the deep base, so popular at stoplights, but the click of the drummer's stick on the rim of the snare and the chords from the guitar at the instant they're strummed. All but the most muted and soft sounds effect your entire body, not only your ears. If your were able to reproduce that with perfect earbuds, all those pressures would still be running around inside your head, vibrating your skull at the music's frequencies and creating additional sounds even the totally deaf can "hear".

Speaking of which... I'm not a "spring chicken", as we old folks like to call ourselves. My hearing is poor, at best. I have to "fine tune" my music, to produce the same sound that you young people hear.

I think I've succeeded in this task, using a couple of apps available from the App Store (one free and one costing $2) and a unique earbud sealing technique that truly puts the sound pressure into my skull the same way sitting at the edge of the stage does in a live concert.

Step 1: Ear Bud and Software Setup

I truly don't know how much better one earbud is over another.  Since internet trade with China has become so well accepted, there's no truth to the old adage "you get what you pay for" anymore.  They all advertise the same frequency response, so preference should come down to fit and color choice.  I like inexpensive multiple driver earbuds, but I'm sure larger single drivers sound just as well or better.  The choice is truly personal.

My earbuds only last very long, as I'm constantly ripping them out of my ears whenever the cords get within 10 feet of anything.  I don't spend more than $75 on them and as little as $5 from closeout stores.  I have a drawer full of unopened earbuds, waiting in line to be sugrued at a moment's notice and always carry a spare when I'm traveling.

Software is something else.  EVERY new music player that shows up on the App Store or Cydia ends up on my iPhone... And usually, shortly after, in my deleted pile.

We all hear differently.  As you can see by the test pictures, my hearing is pretty well shot,  SoundBest, an app available for $2.99, will test your hearing, equalize your music, and set it up in an proprietary music player.

The concept is good, but the implementation is terrible.  First, it adjusts the equalizer to the programmer's idea of what should sound good to you.  Second, once you set it up, you can't make further adjustments to the sound and finally, the music player is, well, a piece of junk... And all this, for 3 bucks... Mega expensive for an app.  Don't tell my wife I wasted money on this.

There are two other App Store finds, that together will do the same thing, only infinitely better.  They don't crash and together, will only set you back 2 dollars. The player's called "HD Music Parametric Equalizer", and the hearing test, "uHear" is free.

The hearing test comes first.  Take the test (Don't cheat... Why would you even want to?).  Take a screen shot of the graph and use it to adjust the equalizer settings on Parametric Equalizer.  Remember, if the hearing test curve goes up and down, set your equalizer settings to do the opposite... Go down and then up.  Boost the frequencies you have the most difficult time hearing and keep or reduce the ones you hear just fine.  The program allows you to make unlimited changes, so take your time and tune your music to fit your hearing and your style.

How I set my equalizer up and how it ended up are two entirely different things.  After hundreds of hours, I've pretty much settled on two or three setups.  My equalizer still follows the general curve of my hearing test software, but has "matured".  My right ear is 30% worse than my left, so I boost the volume towards the right to adjust for the difference (I'm not connected to Parametric Equalizer but this is the ultimate app I've found.  No other equalizing app, to my knowledge, is as good at left-right adjustment, nor so intuitive to use).

<p>Would this work for &quot;hearing aids&quot; ? Anything you might do different ? I have had to replace my earbuds before, due to wear and tear&quot; buy they don't come cheap. I would like to give this a try if it is suitable for Hearing Aids.</p>
Good question. Theoretically it should work. I'm not an expert by any means, but it seems I'm able to perceive a broader range of sound, but this could be a placebo effect. A broad spectrum is not desirable for understandings speech in a noisy environment, but it would certainly help block random external noises from interfering. I have a cheap pair of hearing aids around somewhere and if I can find them, I'll give it a test, if I have the right batteries:)
&quot;Money for Nothing&quot; is a song from &quot;Brothers in Arms&quot;, which was recorded using 24-track DIGITAL tape. It read zeroes and ones only, and therefore will not have any tape hiss at all. &quot;Brothers In Arms&quot; is known for being one of the first all-digital CD's. <br> <br>Thanks for the Instructable though. I really need to get around to modding my ear-buds one of these days.
Thanks for your comment about MFN being one of the first digital recordings... But you neglected to mention that it was also one of the best. I had trouble trying to see your point, but then it dawned on me. You are correct: any analog recording will also be producing &quot;live presence&quot; hiss. I wonder if by decreasing the 20k frequencies and raising the 15k frequencies slightly, you could create a (non) Dolby effect by fooling the brain into thinking if certain frequencies are louder, they must be higher?<br><br>I'm glad you commented for another reason. It gives me the opportunity to report that I no longer Carry a bottle of soap around with me. Every rest room has soap dispensers and even though the soap doesn't last as long as the hand cleaner, it's not hard to come by. Thanks again for the head's up on the hiss issue.
Which soap did you use exactly? Brand name?
Let's see... That would be &quot;Goop Hand Cleaner&quot;, made by Critzas Industries, Inc., www.goophandcleaner.com <br>The key thing to look for are the words, &quot;Non Toxic&quot;.

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Bio: Retired inventor, reverted back to my 10 year-old self. A shop full of tools, a boat, race car, 3D printer and a beautiful wife who ... More »
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