Yesterday I headed to e-Earphone's brand-new CIEM shop. I reserved an impressions spot for 16:00 in the grotto, and arrived at 16:02. I paid 5.400- ¥, or about 54$. I sat down with a no-nonsense gentleman by the name of Naoto Hattori. He runs Hattori Hearing Aids in Saitama. Mr. Hattori squirted silicon in my ears.
I went because I need to refit one of my custom earphones.
Above the impressions grotto is the brand-new CIEM shop. The outside of the shop is smeared with an image of Kurt Cobain modelling a UE woody; there is no mistaking what goes on inside. But dear me, I didn't expect it to be so well-organised.
If you've been to e-Earphone before, you know it as an organised chaos of headphones and related equipment. Racks and racks of stuff. Nerds spraying the air with geeky pheromones. Ear wax flitting in the air conditioning.
Breaking the custom section away is brilliant. (Who needs the riffraff?) The first floor of the CIEM shop boasts several listening stations. They are in the middle of the room. On the left is a large glass display case carrying demos from pretty much everywhere. On the right are two separate sitting booths displaying demos from a number of companies.
The main sitting booth comprises a computer, a pair of UE earphones, and a big ol' machine whose job it is to kick out the sound you'd hear from any of UE's custom earphones. The trick is that you just keep one earphone in your ears. Click on a different earphone icon from the MacBook Air and the sound changes to correspond to the selection.
And here is the box and earphones that spit out the sound:
None of this could have been cheap. While checking out the new main shop (huge, spacious, well-light, and much, much better), I overheard an American talking with another American. Both were businessmen. I can tell that because all they talked about was money. (Their eyes did that bigwig thing of never staying in one place for longer than a second.) According to the bigwigs, e-Earphone pushes 15 million dollars worth of merchandise a year. That or 15 million in revenue. Whatever.
One thing is certain: the dudes and dudets behind e-Earphone work hard. The new CIEM shop is wonderful. It is clean, it is peopled by amazing staff, and it is well organised. That it boasts a grotto where large men in lab coats squirt silicon in your ears is just icing on the cake.
By the way, here's me with silicon in my ears and a bite block between my teeth:
And this is Mr. Hattori, the large man that squirted silicon into my ears:
And this other stuff is what you can see while at the brand-new CIEM shop.
NOTE: click to advance to the next image.