Care and Storage for Multiple In-Ear Monitors | Ultimate Ears Stories

by Erica Lomotan

Running a pretty big production where you have to take care of a lot of IEMs? Some are custom fit, and some are universal? Here are some tips on care and storage.

  1. If a production keeps a number of universal fit IEMs on hand for musicians and performers, are there additional steps to be taken for sanitizing the units?

  2. How does the procedure differ for custom IEMs?

  3. How about storage between use, can IEMs be hung?

  4. What can a user listen out for to spot possible issues with IEMs?

  5. What usage, care and handling ideas can share with users to protect their investment?

Most of us only have to look after our personal pair of IEMs. But what happens when you are in charge of a lot of different IEMs, some custom and some universal? 

Let me break each one of your questions into separate answers.

What is the proper cleaning procedure for universal-fit IEMs?

By far the best cleaning procedure is to replace the ear tips (foam or silicone) after every use. If that is not possible you’ll definitely want to change tips for each user. Make sure when handling the tips you have cleaned your hands thoroughly, any hand sanitizer will do.

If a production keeps a number of universal fit IEMs on hand for musicians and performers, are there additional measures for sanitizing the units? 

Keep as many replacement tips on hand as you can. You will be surprised how quickly you will run through them. In addition, keep plenty of hand sanitizer and cleaning cloths on hand.

How does the procedure differ for custom IEMs?

Custom IEMs require a different set of cleaning methods and tools. For everyday cleaning see the below guidelines. Sometimes you need to really get in there and do a deep cleaning.

The mobile cleaning kit is not designed for everyday cleaning. That’s best accomplished by the cleaning tool that ships with the IEMs. However, if your UE Pros are needing some serious attention then that’s when a deep cleaning is in order.

UE is excited to be developing our new UE Pro cleaning kit. In addition to cleaning, the kit will also let you diagnose frequency problems, even if the UE Pros you are testing are not molded for your ears. It also includes tools such as super glue to do an emergency quick fix of the wire connection to the IEM.

Here are a few tips for cleaning your ears after every use:

  1. First rub down your in-ears with wipes. You can order TECH-CARE Wipes from UE here. Be sure to cover the ear canals so no liquid gets in.

  2. Carefully use the wax cleaning tool to remove debris. If you do not have your cleaning tool, a dry toothbrush will work as well. Do not use water while cleaning your ears.

  3. When cleaning the canal, hold the IEM with the opening at the bottom so that wax particles fall out and away (downward from the monitor) instead of into the device.

  4. Use a dry toothbrush to scrub the outside of your monitors.

  5. After using the IEMs, wipe them dry quickly before you put them away. Sweat and earwax are slightly acidic so it’s not great to trap them in the case with the IEMs between each use.

How about storage between use, can IEMs be hung?

We recommend keeping them in the case with the wires wrapped. This not only will keep them neat and organized, but it will lessen the chance of the wires in the cables becoming damaged. You can check out this video from Hack College showing the technique (skip to the 1 minute mark).

What can a user listen out for to spot possible issues with IEMs?

If you feel that your IEMs are delivering lower output sound-wise you are definitely in need of a cleaning. Low output is myth. Drivers don’t go bad; this is almost always a symptom of clogged canals due to excessive ear wax.

Remember that wax does not need to coat the actual drivers to affect the sound. Once it fouls the dampers in the sound tubes, the sound signature will change and there will be lower output. Having the acoustic dampers in place helps to both shape the sound curves and to prevent earwax traveling further up the acoustic pathway and reaching the drivers which would cause irreversible damage. 

What usage, care and handling guidelines can you offer end-users for protecting their investment?

If you treat your IEMs well they will serve you well for years to come. Clean them after every use if they are custom. Replace the tips often if you’re using universals, and after every use if they are shared. Use the “over and under method” to wrap your cables to keep them kink free. Most importantly, keep your IEMs in the case provided.

If you notice buildup or a change in sound, have them deep cleaned as soon as you can. Follow these guidelines and you and your IEMs will have a happy and healthy partnership.

Hopefully this answers your questions. But if hasn’t or has prompted even more, don’t hesitate. We are here to help and educate! 

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