Audio Custom In-Ear Monitors IEMs The Biz Thoughts

The Biz: CIEM Companies in China & Hong Kong

Heir Audio (a.k.a. Micro-DSP)

Based in Chengdu, Heir Audio is quite a bit of distance away from the prime Guangzhou-Shenzhen beltway of electronics manufacturing. Heir Audio was founded by a Texan audiologist, John Moulton (aka ‘Wizard’), and a family friend, David Tao Jiang, under the Micro-DSP umbrella. Micro-DSP is a Canadian company known for its SpeechEasy product, a stuttering-assistance device developed in conjunction with the Janus Development Group, the company responsible for Gorilla Ears, a North Carolina-based CIEM company.

With unique, inimitable aesthetics and aggressive pricing, Heir Audio quickly took the audiophile market by storm in 2012 and ushered in a group of (sometimes rabid) fans that loved the Heir Audio look. While its universal-fit models have been hit with mixed reviews (click here to read thoughts on the Heir Audio Tzar 350), its flagship model, the 8.A, has been praised as a wonderfully rich, bass-forward model that pleases audiophiles with its enveloping presentation. These qualities led CYMBACAVUM to include Heir Audio in our Best in the Biz: The Top CIEM Companies in 2013 list.

However, Heir Audio is currently undergoing a dark period of transition. Amidst rumors of labor disputes, company founder John Moulton abruptly left the company, along with a small cadre of his trusted staff members in late May of 2013. The new, “Wizard-less” Heir Audio will have a lot to prove in these coming months, on whether or not it can sustain the momentum it built up in 2012. The verdict is still out on whether or not it can recover from the loss of its core team members, and its main art direction in the Wizard. Only time will tell.

Heir Audio 4.A
Heir Audio 4.A, shell and engravings by Dr. John Moulton a.k.a. ‘Wizard’
(Photo Courtesy of: Mr. T)

LEAR (by Forever Source Digital)

Proudly waving the Hong Kong flag, LEAR and its parent company Forever Source Digital lay claim to being the Cantonese port’s first wholly domestically researched and produced custom in-ear shop.

LEAR is headed by Tatco Ma, a main with a thirst for audio knowledge, as he’s been credentialed as a THX-certified professional and inducted into the AES (Audio Engineering Society). Their flagship model, the LCM-5 has already garnered very positive reviews from users across the net, and LEAR isn’t stopping there, announcing their first universal model, the LUF-4, in August 2013.

Website (LEAR):

Discussion Forum (Forever Source Digital):

LEAR‘s first custom-drived universal-fit IEM, the LUF-4. (Picture from: head-fi)

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