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Sure, you could buy the same celeb-endorsed headphones that everyone else has. But for the ultimate in quality and personalization, a pair of custom-made in-ear earbuds is hard to beat. Custom buds used to be the exclusive province of musicians and sound engineers, but they’re becoming more affordable.
The shell of the A3 is made from soft silicone. As such, they fit comfortably, and are ideal for extended listening sessions. But the silicone material isn’t perfect. It’s a bit tacky, so you’ll inevitably find bits of pocket lint, dust—and yes, earwax—adhering to the outside. Our advice: use one of the included cases, and clean them frequently.
Getting molds made only takes about five minutes. An audiologist injects molding material into your ears, you wait a few minutes for the mixture to harden, and then they pull out the molds, which precisely match your ears. It’s not as creepy as it sounds, honest.
When it comes to sound, Altec Lansing’s A3 delivers the goods. With 27 decibels of passive noise reduction, background noise fades away, without the annoying hiss of active noise-cancellation. What you have left is crisp, clean audio from three separate drivers in each ear. Bass is tight, and the sound is well balanced. Of course, a grand is a lot to drop on a pair of earbuds, but Altec also offers single and dual driver models for $499.95 and $749.95.
The bottom line. Custom in-ear headphones are the ultimate portable media experience. They’re not cheap (or as expensive as they used to be), but the sound is definitely rich.
Altec Lansing A3 Custom In-Ear Headphones
Audio device, deep pockets.
Comfortable custom fit. Excellent sound quality. Includes hard and soft cases, cleaning tool, and quarter-inch adapter.
Silicone material attracts dust, lint, and debris. Non-replaceable cables. Not easy to insert or remove quickly.