My first exposure to Dekoni products was almost as an accidental response to my shock at the poor quality of cough-crazy-cough-expensive pads that shipped with the Focal Elear.
So when I made the jump to higher-end mobile audio, Dekoni was one of the first companies I sought out, if only to see what solutions they discovered to problems I didn’t yet know I had.
As a relative newcomer to mobile audio, I quickly realised just how many more variables there are to contend with when it comes to finding the ‘sweet spot’ of comfort, looks and sound – at least compared to desktop or over ear headphones.
Bar a pad swap or two, and switching between a finite number of sources, you can fairly quickly get a handle on the headphones that best suit your tastes and sensibilities. Not so with IEMs. For every full-size headphone I’ve auditioned over the years, at least a dozen or more IEMs can fill a very similar sonic niche.
And just when you think you’ve finally got a handle on that ‘one’ IEM to rule them all, you decide to try different tips and everything you think you knew goes out the window!
A quick IEM tip primer
My first inkling to the power of ‘tip rolling’ in general – and Dekoni’s Bulletz in particular – came soon after the purchase of my first ‘proper’ IEM – the recently released FiiO FH5 hybrid IEM. Since FiiO saw it fit to include a handful of different types of tips, I saw it fit to try them all. Imagine my surprise, then, when each different tip, without fail, presented the same music differently.
As a basic rule, there are two broad types of IEM tips: silicone and foam. Silicone tips, at least the good ones, are made from smooth, pliable silicone that ideally sits cleanly in your ear and creates a relatively solid seal around your ear canal with the outer silicone flap. Foam tips, on the other hand, are usually made from memory foam that conforms to the unique shape of your ear, collapsing as it enters your ear canal and then slowly filling out to create a tight and hopefully comfortable seal.
Most people tend prefer one over the other, and for different reasons. Some find silicone tips less intrusive and therefore more comfortable. Others find them hard to fit and therefore less ideal for long term use. Foam tips, on the other hand, can get warm over time, which could be a plus or a minus depending on how much you enjoy the sensation.
Being porous, foam can also pick up more dirt (and wax) than silicone, and also tends to deteriorate much faster. That said, foam generally creates a better seal than silicone, and is therefore better at isolating outside noise and improving sound quality at lower volumes.