Your ears are like fingerprints: no two are alike.
So your earbuds — which tend to come with maybe 4-5 different size inserts — are certainly not designed with you in mind.
Which is why award-winning audio gurus Decibulz have decided to take things personal.
Their custom-fit Black Diamond earbuds, launching today, use a proprietary “thermofit” system that allows you to mold the buds to your exact ear shape by ... boiling water. We’ll explain.
Decibullz is the brainchild of Kyle Kirkpatrick, a former X Games athlete and gymnastics coach who wanted a pair of earbuds that would never fall out. “I was just a hobbyist mixing sh*t in my basement,” he tells us. “I glued so much sh*t in my ear.”
That hobby eventually grew into a company that’s already launched two successful earphone products and won a few Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Innovation awards, while also expanding into a go-to solution for professions that require hearing protection.
Black Diamond is the Colorado-based company’s first foray into wireless earbuds. They still utilize the DIY custom fitting technology of the brand’s previous sonic endeavors, although they’ve simplified the process and kept the price point down.
To custom-mold Black Diamonds, you simply submerge the earpieces in hot water (during our demo, Kirkpatrick used a portable kettle), snap them on the earbuds and insert the entire piece into your the ear. The buds won’t scald your ear, but we can’t stress this point enough: do NOT throw the mechanical part of the earbuds into the hot water, just the earpieces. They’re two separate pieces that click together.
In a few minutes, you’ll have earbuds molded to your unique hearing canals. Didn’t do the process right or want to make the fit better? You can infinitely reheat and reshape the earpieces just by repeating the process.
We tested it out, and the pieces we made were definitely snug but still comfortable — something that we can’t quite say about our previous dive into custom-fit earpieces (which required a trip to an audiologist, a few weeks of waiting time for the unit to be built and, had I not been doing it for a press review, several thousands of dollars).
Besides a good fit, the Black Diamond sound was strong and clear, and not distorted by bass. It didn’t quite match the levels of a more premium unit like our current sonic favorite, the Master & Dynamic MW 07, but that good-looking unit runs three times the price. While not noise-canceling per se, the buds feature something called Digital Audio Passthrough, which allows users to block or enable ambient/external noise. When we turned it on, the cacophony of the outside world disappeared enough that we couldn’t hear a conversation taking place one foot in front of us.
The specs here are also well above the norm: five hours of playback and a charging case that provides an additional five full charges, which is about 40% more than you’d find on most sport earbuds. You can get a full charge in under 30 minutes, and the buds magnetically snap into the case (so they’ll always charge correctly).
As well, the Black Diamonds utilize Bluetooth 5.0, feature a noise-suppressing, echo-cancelling microphone and have an extended 50-foot range. They’re also IPX7-rated water-, sweat- and dustproof. For play, pause and forward/rewind controls, you can click on the buds, use your phone or utilize the voice assistant of your preference.
The Black Diamonds are available today with an estimated delivery date of May 2019. A very limited amount are on sale for the early-bird price of $99 (MSRP will be $179), with prices up going up to $109+ soon after — probably within the next 24 hours, based on the company’s previous Kickstarter campaigns.
Given that most custom-fit earphone companies start in the mid-hundreds range, consider these Diamonds a steal.