thoughts and decisions for a creative edge


Vibram FiveFingers. Don’t believe the Signa hype.

I was curious about Vibram FiveFinger shoes that keeps popping up in stores and web stores. I own a couple of Vibram-soled shoes. Many which I can swear by. From RockPorts to UGG which have outlasted other shoes I own. If you haven’t heard about the FiveFingers, these are basically extremely light ninja-like shoes like those of the dorky fingered socks.. except made of more durable material and a sole to cushion your feet from the impacts it receives from various form of exercises and activities. They make these for distance running, trail running and just daily use too. In favour of the weightless ergonomic look and since I do tonnes of dragon boating and stand up paddling, I kinda got my eyes set on one of their products which markets specifically for water activities.

There are various kind of shoes you can wear while doing water activities. Most of these would be neoprene based from 2mm to 5mm for various weather conditions. These are good but it usually gets pretty hot and sweaty when you’re wearing them in the peak of summer. This design however are derived from scuba diving or snorkelling as they cool you down when you’re submerged in water. But when you’re staying on ground exposed to hot sun or winter’s weather, it can be pretty unbearable. Then there is the netted top material aqua-shoe that’s sprawling the market with a thick polyurythane sole underneath. Even though they work for its purpose, you tend to however lose your sole senses due to its thick unflexible soles. Despite all the comfort claims, this shoes make your toes and feet completely senseless; like having on gum boots when you want to feel the grass under your feet. If you catch my drift.

When in water, and on a paddle board, you want to feel connected to the water. Many will either go bare feet as it gives you that connection while you’re applying pressure on the deck of the board whilst paddling. On a dragonboat or SUP in summer weather, barefeet feels great but you don’t want to step off the board into old deck splinters or unexpected sharp rocks. And for us who trains on fresh water, these murky water sometimes makes your feet slippery during the power phase of your stroke. You’re transferring the full weight of the paddle to the bottom of your feet and the last thing you’d want it to do is slip.

Less about paddling technique, back about the Signa shoe and its advertising claims.

Whether kayaking, surfing, paddle boarding or simply walking the rocky shores all summer, the FiveFingers® Signa is the shoe for you. The segmented Coral outsole made of Vibram® TC-4 Plus rubber ensures ultimate grip and protection in the water and allows natural foot flexion when swimming. Small perforations in the sole encourage water drainage, minimize weight, and speedup drying time. The upper is built with a combination of synthetic and abrasion resistant fabrics to protect the foot. The Signa is finished off with a structural hook and loop strap for a secured fit. Machine washable. Air dry.

So I bought myself the Vibram FiveFingers Signa in January 17, 2015. I decided on these vs the TrekSport which also claims to be water specialized design due to its breathing sole. Water in – water out. Quick dry. It takes a bit of practise to get these on and off your feet. As advised, you should choose the proper size that allow your heel to firmly seat in the heel cup and for me this was one size smaller than the normal shoe size I wear. So in general, if you’re like me wearing a 44 you’d want to get a 43 to have a proper snug fit. So Jack is happy with his shoe fit. But through time and putting it to its paces, that’s where it becomes less desirable. Jack is starting to not like it.

After less than six months of use (2nd June 2015 at the time of writing) the shoe is starting to break apart. The first to snap off was the rear loop. You have to understand the snugness of these shoes when you try to get them on. The thing just decided it’s had enough and snapped off exactly where the stitches are. It was a perfect rip. Like that of a postage stamp. This was just the first of many other failure symptoms to come.

Broken Loop

The following week during my SUP race here in Netherlands, I thought the shoe had a less snug feel. A closer look unveiled that the rubber seal which connects the sole to the upper synthetic material is also torn. I’m beginning to doubt that this shoe was ever tested on and off water for this length of use. But 3x a week and about 2 hours average each time is not too much I think.

Torn sole seam

And the rest just starts to fall apart. The glue adhesive on the bottom of the toes have also started to give way and if you look closely to the upper synthetic material, it has started to tear in various places. It may be made for water, but I think its just not weather-proofed. This shoes dry fast but it feel like the materials used couldn’t withstand the repeated wet-wear and dry over a repeated period – of I say 6 months.

Glue wears off

Synthetic upper layer cracks and tears

So now I am at a loss of whether the shoe was well worth the $90 I paid for when it starts to deteriorate after 6 months of use. I wear them on average 3x a week for my dragonboat and SUP trainings. Nothing extreme like jumping rocks / running distances what so ever. To make matters slightly more complicated, I got these in Florida during my travel and I doubt the retailers in Netherlands would even want to bother with my issue on this shoe even if they stock them here on the shelves. But one thing for sure, I’d be more wary to look for feedbacks on this water-claim Signa shoes before giving them your hard earned money.

If any of you know where I can get this fixed, replaced or warrantied, do direct me to the right pls. I twittered about the torn loop once on Twitter with @FiveFingers tagged on it but never got any response from them. Too busy selling I guess.

Needless to say. It might be the last time I look into FiveFingers as a watersports wear. I was sceptical when I got it, and despite the great feel it gives, the sudden wear and break down on its material and build makes it an undesirable product for its claimed purpose. I guess I’m back to the old smelly neoprene boots when I hit the water. At least they can take the 5 year beatings without a problem. Don’t believe the hype. And don’t fall for false marketing.


Dragon Boat Racing in Olympics Rio 2016

DB road to sochi

Was the first week of the Olympic Torch Relay event televised live worldwide? I don’t know how I could have missed such an event not being spoken or mentioned about on the www. Many passionate dragon boat paddlers would have taken the time to catch this momentous event which took place in mid October. The relay which took 123 days, ends in Sochi Monday 7th October for the grand opening recently.

After Moscow, the Olympic Torch Relay headed to the ancient town of Torzhok, where it was greeted by pilots of the Golden Eagles aerobatic team. Then it visited the city of Military Glory of Russia – Tver, where it traveled by bike and later a dragon boat. Russians are definitely bad ass with the torch bearings. As it approached ancient city Tver, it was there that it was transferred into a dragon boat. There was no details which Tver team was paddling these black-headed dragons. But it led an impressive fleet of 150 kayaks and canoes on the Volga River that Oct 11. The ceremony was welcomed by more than 200,000 spectators whom were eager to witness the Olympic flame escorted by dragon boat down the Volga River. I’ve never seen a procession more majestic than this in dragon boating history.

Following this picturesque event, there’s been lots of chatter about the sport being considered to be included in the following Olympics meet due in Rio 2016. If this is true, that would be fantastic news for many of the teams worldwide. Dragon boat racing is the fastest growing water sport that’s garnered huge interest not just in Asia but have stretched right into the heart of Russia and its European neighbors. In the line of the greek sporting history, the core of the Olympic flame could easily relate the likewise ethics of camaraderie stature which dragon boating brings along with it.

Dragonboat Olympic Torch Sochi 2014


What better sport is there to embrace the ethics of Olympiads, where man work in unison not just in physical strength but also spiritual cohesion to appreciate and show understanding the meaning of sacrifice. This dedication to righteousness through the passage of time, which lives among us have resonated for more than two thousand years. Let Qu Yuan bear witness, that this race will symbolize both man’s struggle against nature and his fight against unforeseen enemies. Flame of Athens would bellow in agreement that this are the the kind of events summoned by the gods; but only this time to be made tradition by humans. Let us show our strength as a team, keeping the camaraderie driven by trust bestowed upon each other. Let it have new beginnings in the waters of Rio. It is the journey that have been long awaited, adding an explosion of colors to the wreath of Olympics. Let this fire breathing myth from the East unite more communities than anything else in this time. 200m to 5,000m races that would see even more participants that Rome would have ever witnessed. Let us beat the drums. Let’s awaken the dragon to the flame of the Olympics!

Dragon Boat for Rio Olympics 2016

Water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, but only three Olympic sports take place on it: sailing, rowing and canoeing (well, if you exclude swimming, diving and a few horsey jumps that take place in it). There must surely be room for another sport on water, and one with a rich tradition and a theatrical flourish should surely prove irresistible. An ornate dragon’s head prow, 20 or so paddlers in near-perfect unison, a drummer beating the stroke (think how good Redgrave and Pinsent would have been with that) and a sweep with a 10ft rudder steering the boat. It was good enough for the Asian Games, which adopted the sport in 2010. – The Guardian

May dragons soar in Rio for 2016

Let your voice be heard


Hanging out with Tom Browne in Jazz Festival Delft, NL

Music makes the world go round.

Admit it. You thought it was money all along didn’t you?

It’s taken a decade for me to realize this when Rob Hoogkamer gave me a call a day before Tom’s performance.

Phone rings Friday night at about 9:30pm +2GMT Dutch time. It’s Rob. He always have personal news to tell or ask me. Like the time when he hosted a BBQ in his place, but didn’t have gas to actually light up the Weber. He gave me a call for help. We work our blunders out together well somehow.

“Wassup Hasan! What you doing?” He asked.

I lowered down the TV volume.. Sounded like he’s calling from a very crowded room. Not out of gas again I hope. We were watching Texas Storage War or something brainless on tele. The family cosy together on a weekend night. Pretty rare that I’m seated here with ’em instead of editing or creating something in studio upstairs. But he caught me.

“Just lazin out with the ladies sir. Yourself? What you up to?” I replied.

“Well I’m in JJ Music House watching Tom Browne. Are you coming?” There was excitement in his voice. He should be.

Rob is Artist and Repertoire guy for Jazz Festival Delft. He made the pilgrimage back to NYC with George Onkiehong who spearheads the event. I saw pictures posted on Facebook and Twitter but didn’t realize it was the father of funk they’re after. But now its clear and everyone is excited to have Tom Browne as the event headliner. In the back of my head, I went “Duh!! I should have been there!”

It’s been a while that I met Barry and Aad van Jole, owners of JJ Music House here in Zoetermeer. Last I met them was during the crowd petition to keep JJ Music running due to the Hockey Club expansion into their grounds. That’s a year passed. I have not had the opportunity to see the new venue. Maybe its time I do. But as much as I want to go there right now, I kinda treasure this times doing nothing with the family. Sometimes this nothingness is all that is needed for family time. Anyway I already have my head set for tomorrow’s act in Delft. Thought I’d go there by myself and enjoy some good music with people I’m bound to meet.. but the next thing Rob was about to tell me changed where I would stand on the festival ground.

“I remember you asking about doing the 360 footage for the festival. I think we have enough people doing pictures for the festival.” Now that didn’t sound too good I thought. But he adds, “Would you however be interested to shoot video for the event?”

My head went on a swirl. The reason why I started 360fotoshoot was to get away from the hassle of post production when working with video. For 360 panorama all I need was a Fisheye Lens, a Tripod and Field Recorder with Surround Mic. But video, you need to come prepared with premonitions for the unexpected most of the time. There’s tons of gears that you need to take for a shoot. And it is so easy fuck up and make mistakes both pre-production / on the spot / post. It may sound cool if the tasks were delegated amongst few people; but I work alone most times. If any mistakes were to happen, there’s no one else to blame but myself. Thus I dread to answer the question. But yet I love the challenge and the opportunity with such an event. And c’mon its the funk with Tom Browne! The legend who brought us Funkin’ for Jamaica back in the 80’s. Most importantly, I trust Rob’s instinct for a party. Music experiences with him have always been exceptionally good. It is also with him that I got to meet and know artists like Marcus Miller and Richard Bona. We go way back into NYC days when walking around Bleecker Street and jazz bars was the thing to do on late night weekends.

He paused for a while waiting for my answer. I think he sensed me thinking. Rob knows that I can shoot Live Events from his last project with this band. Then went on to explain, “We asked some people to do it. But they all asked crazy amount for the fee.” Which I’m not surprised about.. “So if you want to do this, it’s open for you to get all access backstage and tap the audio from the PA.”

I imagine myself flying around the event. Me alone. Which remotely is not possible. I need extra hands to take care of audio and a 2nd camera or maybe a 3rd. To cover the event I need at least two person, an additional camera guy and somebody to take care of audio and logistics. And Rob somehow know I wouldn’t say no.

I have 2 people in mind to help get this done. Rang up my trustable work buds Kenneth for 2nd camera work and Davin to help with logistics. We’re working together on some other projects so I really hope they’d wanna come and have fun with this one. Pro bono. I’ve less than 24 hours to plan this. Not sure about the scale of things; thus we’re working blind. But acknowledging that it’s the headline act, Tom’s bound to be on a big stage in the middle of the square in Delft known as Markt. Thanks to Google Maps and Wikipedia!

As sudden as that phone call, we gathered and met on site the next day. With my perception proven right, the crowd and the response to the whole event made it even more exciting than what I’ve thought it to be. Understanding that our main purpose was to cover an interview; and granted access on stage means its a no brainer to cover the main act itself. And so we did.


I had a great time shooting the event. Quite a bit of a rush here and there setting things up based on instinct on what’s to come. Thus I think we did a pretty good job. We had enough resources to capture both the gigs that Tom Browne played in. One with the Dutch Music Conservatorium students and the other with an incredible band which is cheekily called What The Fonk which energy fits perfectly for Tom’s performance. There’s a lot of work to be done but the interview got a quick release before the final edit. The other clip is a teaser on raw footage captured from on stage. I think it’ll give you a good idea what the final edit would look like. The finale was incredible I thought. Heck it literally blew my ears off on stage! But you’ll have to decide on that for yourself with the exclusive shoots we did on and off stage. So mark this page for the final output!


I’d like to say thanks to Rob Hoogkamer for giving this opportunity to meet and work with such a legend. To partners of Jazz Fest Delft Mirjan and George Ongkiehong who organized this amazing event, I tip off my hat to them both for the success. I had a good oportunty interacting with old friends that was there supporting local music industry. Hope we’ll have the opportunity to work together again in future events. FYI Clint Marana (drummer from WTF) and me go almost a decade back since my SAE Amsterdam days. Met him via Rob after I came to Netherlands.

So why did I start this blog saying that Music makes the world go round? Only coz it literally did here. You see, Tom have a friend that he hasn’t seen from Queens for half their lifetime. And of all places, we learn that she now lives in Zoetermeer. Which happen to be at one of the music venue he’s due to play named JJ Music House. What’s the chance you’d bump into an American friend in Sweet Lake City you’d say… in our case, I’d say very likely. Rob and myself met in NYC back in 2000 and it’s due to this friendship and music did I end up in Zoetermeer too. Thus its no surprise, but a vicious circle that hangs between Zoetermeer and NYC for some bizarre reason. But its a beautiful one none the less.

Complete video edit of John Browne’s performance would be posted on Vimeo on rastAsia’s channel soon. Give us a couple more days to surprise you. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with our next postings. Thanks for visiting my blog! Keep jazzin’ it up people!!

I’ll leave you with the featurette from Dutch website about Tom Browne.

From Delft Jazz Fest website itself (in Dutch) :

Tom Browne

17 augustus 22:00 uur
Categorie: top
Locatie: De MARKT

FUNKIN’ FOR JAMAICA! Jazz en funklegende Tom Browne laat oude tijden herleven! Met een unieke crowdfunding-actie van JazzFestival Delft hebben de fans van het festival zelf hun JazzDream laten uitkomen.

Tom Browne (Queens, 30 oktober 1954) is een jazztrompettist die bekendheid verwierf door zijn vroege werk met Sonny Fortune en zijn twee grote hits in 1980 en 1981, “Funkin’ for Jamaica (N.Y.)” en “Thighs High (Grip Your Hips and Move)”.

Browne speelde oorspronkelijk alleen piano, waarop hij al vanaf 11-jarige leeftijd lessen volgde. Later leerde hij ook omgaan met de trompet. Op 21-jarige leeftijd speelde Browne zijn eerste officiële concert, van de Amerikaanse componist Weldon Irvine. Rond die tijd leerde hij Sonny Fortune en Lonnie Smith kennen, waar hij mee ging samenspelen. Later ontmoette hij Dave Grusin en Larry Rosen bij GRP Records. Via Arista Records werd Browne gecontracteerd bij GRP Records door Grusin en Rosen en in 1979 bracht hij zijn instrumentale jazzalbum uit, “Browne Sugar”. Zijn echte doorbraak kwam echter twee jaar later met zijn zelfgeschreven nummer “Funkin’ for Jamaica (N.Y.)”, dat verscheen op zijn tweede album, “Love Approach”. De single stond vier weken lang op nummer 1 bij de Billboard-lijst en was ook een hit in het Verenigd Koninkrijk. Brownes volgende album, “Yours Truly”, verscheen in 1981, nog steeds in samenwerking met Grusin en Rosen. Hierna verscheen al snel, in hetzelfde jaar, zijn volgende album genaamd “Magic”. Dit album bevatte het nummer “Thighs High (Grip Your Hips And Move)”, dat #4 bij Billboard bereikte. Met zijn volgende album ging Browne iets verder en maakte hij een nummer in electro-jazzstijl, “Rockin’ Radio”. Dit (gelijknamige) album bevatte tevens het laatste nummer dat Browne zou maken in samenwerking met GRP Records. In 1984 maakte hij het laatste album in samenwerking met Arista Records, “Tommy Gun”, waarbij Siedah Garrett optrad als leadzangeres. Ook nam hij met Fuse One, een band met jazzmusici, het album “Ice” op.

Marantz’ CD Recorder. Old dog. Same good tricks.

Besides the Mackie 1402-VLZ Pro mixer that we occasionally use for quick drum mix in the studio, Marantz’ CDR-630 is probably another studio hardware that’s been with me since the hay day.

The Real Plug & Play
Does Exactly What It Says On Box


Unsurprisingly though, it’s still a worthwhile investment today considering it’s now more than 12 years old. (And still running great!) Comes handy in a recording studio for both quick demo mixdown, mastering and duplicating. If you don’t have time to boot your PC or can’t afford for it to hang while recording “on the fly”, simply switch on the CDR-630, put in a CD-R/W audio disk, select your input option and press record. No waiting for a window to open, no egg timer, no colored beach ball – just press a couple of buttons and you’re off!

Works awesome for duplicating CD demo or transferring DAT / MidiDisc audio with the CD Sync function from the built-in optical input with selected digital player. Multiple of these units can be “Daisy Chained” optically if you need to produce large numbers of demos. All in all, a good investment for the amateur recording musician or professional alike.

Now go hunt for one on eBay quick! Best be generous on your bid. There’s still some folks who adore this old tech. Especially after reading this blog. 😉


Sounds we hear..

Finally found time to experiment the use of head-worn binaural earphone CS-10EM with static directional sound in a visual mix. Its very sensitive and highly susceptible to wind noise thus the fluffy beanie helps well in winter as a windjammer. You should notice how it captures the low rumbles coming from the school at a distance and cars driving by. Quiet pre-amps from the R-26 surprised me again here. Mind you these are connected to the Plug-In mic I/O, not the XLR. The XLR connections are much quieter. CS-10EM picks up a full range of 20Hz-20KHz well but I’d only trust the built-in earphone solely for level monitoring and nothing else. And for that, the big gain knob on the R-26 helped greatly to dial in the right level.

For those who are new to Binaural Audio, the next paragraph is a brief introduction about it. If not just skip to the video to hear it for yourself. WAIT!! Before you get to that, grab yourself a good headphone.

Binaural hearing has been emulated in sound laboratories by using mannequin heads with built-in microphones. Except this time, I’m the living breathing head. 🙂 From these signals, human beings can determine characteristics such as inter-aural time and level differences and—based on the listening experience—information about the spatial origin of the sounds being heard. Are they coming from in front or behind, from the left or right, or above or below? This ability to perceive where a sound originates from is referred to as binaural hearing.

Interesting? Read more about binaural audio.

Also noted, that GoPro WiFi app does not work well in snow somehow. It was -5ºC that morning and the range was somehow drastically reduced. My iPhone sees an connect to the GoPro ad hoc WiFi connection but buttons initiation does not relay well even at this rope length. It could be either the iPhone or GoPro. But phone is warm in my pocket while GoPro is close to the freezing floor.

Oh well, only the sound matters here..

Tech specs:

Binaural Mic
Roland CS-10EM

Field Recorder
Roland R-26 which also powers the binaural mics internally.

GoPro Hero2 + Wifi BacPac + Dive Housing

Manfrotto Super Clamp

Velbon Alu Mini Ball Head QHD-51Q

Super Sennheiser September

It’s been a great month of getting new toys in this September. After a quick projection on the work in progress, we’ve acquired a list of mics needed in the studio to get the field job done. And you’ve read it – all of them happen to be from Sennheiser.

Sennheiser EW122p G3

We started our month with the Sennheiser wireless lavaliere EW122p G3 series. The frustration from not being able to mic up an interview clearly due to the fact that that last project was in a crowded space helped us make this decision to pick up a wireless lav. The main difference with the EW122p is that it comes packaged with a cardioid ME4 mic. Some folks reckon it might be a hassle to use a directional mic on a lavalier system, but I want to be able to direct the capsule to the talent in a controlled space. If I know that I will be capturing audio from the talent in the open but not in a sit-down-interview situation, then the ME2 mic (an omni) would do best. We got in the T+R packs along with spare BA 2015 batteries and the optional L2015 Dock Charger that should enable us to transmit continuously.

Sennheiser MKH 416 p48

This one is the industry standard. The go to mic that Hollywood or ADR studios would use to make overdubs. It’s a phantom powered hyper cardioid shotgun mic thats been used for over 2 decades and trusted by many ENG works.

I’ve heard so much about it and in fact never planned to buy this mic. Never thought I’d be able to afford one really.. But I got really lucky and found somebody here in Holland that was selling it at a pretty affordable price after giving up an old hobby of sound collecting.. Pretty strange I thought that he used the MKH416 which is mostly best suited for collecting dialogue for TV. No rules in audio they say..

I tested the mic thoroughly when I was there to collect it. I had my Roland R-26 close to be sure that it is able to power the 416.. This way I’d also be sure that my R-26’s circuitry works fine with the mic. It’s the only way that this mic can be powered. Interestingly the guy selling it had a Fostex FR-2LE CF Field Recorder, so we’re happily comparing gears over microphones and tea.. yes microphones.

One conversation led to another, so I asked I asked since he was into ENG and EFP, what else does he have in his collection. At this point he was reluctant, but he finally said he has this vintage shotgun that he is actually didn’t intend to sell. Didn’t intend to sell?? What does that mean.. What was it he had? A pristine 20+ year old combo still-in-box Sennheiser ME80+ME40 with a working K3U preamp.

The ME80 have been a workhorse for some documentary producers. The newer version of this mic is the ME66 which uses the K6 preamp instead of the K3. Click on picture to see what folks of Gearslutz think about it.

Sennheiser K3U pre with ME80 + ME40 Capsule

Wait. Isn’t that the original electret that’s replaced with the new ME66+K6 module?? Yep. That’s the holy grail… I’ve actually read about these. I didn’t know I’d stumble into one.. while purchasing the MKH 416.. what luck. But was he planning to sell it or not was the better question.

Since it was there, I asked his permission to test both mics (or 3 mics considering that there’s the ME40 cardioid capsule there too). And I loved them both!! Instantly with the ME80 you could tell that its got a long throw of pick up. Not as warm as the MKH416 but its clear, crispier in its higher end peaking at 8KHz thus giving it that brighter response. But if you’ve seen the difference in this mic to the newer ME66, that’s where it gets interesting.

With the ME66 you need to use it in close proximity or the mic is not going to pick up frequencies from 2Khz and above. But that’s not the case with this ME80 which has an even response throughout the 10dB difference. SO which one is better you think? Well depends.. If you need sound rejection from the rest in the crowd, keeping this mic close to the voice will keep it isolated while rejecting the background noise further away from the mic. But for Field Recording, the ME80 will give you a gorgeous response in all registers.

The accompanying data sheet (published in 1987) reports the following specifications:

Electrical impedance: approx. 130 ohms

Frequency response: 50 – 15 000 Hz
Sensitivity at 1 kHz: 5 mV / Pa +-2.5 dB
S/N ratio according to DIN 45 405 and CCIR 468-2: >67 dB

The most important difference between the K3/ME80 and the K6/ME66 is the much higher sensitivity of the ME66 (50 mV/Pa vs. 5 mV/Pa). Thus, the ME80 would require a quieter preamplifier. The equivalent self-noise level of the K3/ME80 is about 6 dB higher than the K6/ME66. The specified S/N ratio of 67 dB corresponds to an equivalent (CCIR
468-3 weighted) noise level of 27 dB (which would be about 16 dBA)

Why yes, you guessed it. I ended up coming home with a bunch of mics. I have to thank Han for trusting me to take over his precious collections. I’m sure he had more in there but I wouldn’t be ready for Schoeps CMIT 5 U. This is bad enough for now.

I’m looking to see if we should enable customers to rent out this mics.. But if you really do need them while in Holland for your shoots, do drop us a note about it.

Next blog will be about our new upgrade for a friendly mixer for both Audio and Video – Avids MC Control v2, the Artist Series

Fix that Faulty Shure E3c – No soldering needed!

My broken Shure E3c’s been sitting in its case for more than 2 years now. It’s been my ticket through audio engineering class in ’04 before I owned my decent Genelec nearfield monitors. Yeah, that makes it an 8 year old vintage piece. I usually fix small electronics myself, like my Canon EF-S 17-85 lens, thus I thought this thing should be no biggie unless if its the connecting cables that snapped in their rubber shieldings. Heck I don’t mind giving it a surgery if it needs to. It got tucked away in the dark cold cabinet instead.. almost forgotten.

Fast forward today, I thought I give it another go before I toss it off into the bin.We all know Shure makes great audio gears. I own a couple of SM57s and they’ve survived being thrown onto brick walls. But for this in-ear, I almost mailed it back to Shure, with a NO THANK YOU NOTE for suggesting buying a new pair of in-ears. They claim that its ‘irreparable’. Or.. was it some EU70 to have it fixed. Well you get the drift.

The Symptoms

You first notice that the audio from either side of the in-ear begins to become softer or certain frequency range seemed to be ‘filtered’ off. I instantly thought, ok cable is slowly getting busted. Thus I kneaded some parts of the cable wire to see where that fault might be. I couldn’t find the ‘breakage point’.

Next thing I thought, maybe one of the audio drivers’ gone faulty. There’s 2 microdrivers in the E3c, similar to that of your HiFi speaker but in miniature sizes, lower registers and the tweeter. Listening to it, I only hear bits of highs, but its intermittent, thus the thought of DIY repair got a little bit trickier I thought.

Crack It Open And What Do I see. Oh What Do I Hear!

Shure E3C earphones - Cracked open.

Shure E3C earphones – Cracked open. The black rubber is the driver coil. This reverberates air / sound which is channeled into the extended tube that was twisted open.

The problem with mine lay on the Right in-ear.  I noticed there’s a small possibly glue-joined crevice on the ear-piece from where the ear-funnel protrudes. I held it carefully with rubber gloves and twisted it anti-clockwise with some force. Be careful not to snap the elongated ear tube. It was my lucky day! Probably due to age, the glue might have worn down. It seems to be designed with a 3 point snap-on bayonette mount (look diagram above). There’s no wiring from that front tip, now if you plug in the earphone jack voila! You’d gloriously hear full frequency audio again. It was working all this time!! SO what caused the audio to be ‘blocked’ then? That was the clue.. Too much ear wax?? No. Stopping is blocking the audio out.

THE PROBLEM? Faulty design of the ear-wax filter itself!! 

The small green cellophane diaphragm less than 2mm wide may have got pushed a little bit too far than its supposed to that it blocks the auditory canal. This explains the the higher frequency leaks, but no bass. Bass frequencies will only be re-produced when the bass-ports are wide open as they need more room to travel.


After multiple cleanings with supplied cleaning pick tool, one might have pushed the diaphragm a little too far from its nestling space causing audio blockage. Originally, the diaphragm should be on the brown grilled section, where air / audio is allowed out and simultaneously keeping debris (ear wax) out from the speaker chamber.

What’s the ULTIMATE Shure E3C Repair?

You got to thank me for this!!

Since that filter is plunged too far blocking the audio canal tube, there’s only one thing to do, take it out and place it back it to its proper position.


Using a fine blunt object carefully push the diaphragm out completely. Careful not to tear the diaphragm. It’s your golden ticket for this fix.. Once you got the filter out. Place it back in again from the front port and stop when you feel it resting on the metal grill. It should be something like what’s shown in the last illustration below.

I used a blunt-edged copper wire. A paper clip might work too but make sure it doesn’t have a sharp end. Push it completely through the audio tube and you’d see a tiny small green plastic cap. That’s your golden ticket. 😉 You should now be able to see through the audio canal now without anything blocking your sight of path. The grill or spring coil would still be intact in the tube. Now here’s your opportunity to clean those audio grills! I used a cylindrical interdental brush and gave it a good spin and even a quick wash and self-dry before replacing the green ear wax filter.

Once clean and dried, now its time to place the diaphragm back in place. Very gently push the filter into the tube again. I can’t tell you exactly how far it should go. But comparing the visual distance from the working in-ears, I’d say it’s good as long as you have it seated on the grill. Do A-B monitoring between the Left and Right in-ears. I’d suggest using a Mono Signal of various audio frequency to to be sure that all frequencies are coming through on same amplitude on both Left and Right side. If you did it right. Voila! You’ve fixed your expensive in-ears with a paper-clip. Next – the glue.

Correct Position For SHURE E3C Or E2c Ear Wax Filter


There’s a spring-like material that rails half the inner length of the ear tube. The green diaphragm (ear wax filter) should sit on this rail blocking debris from entering the speaker chamber. This grill allows air to be pushed through. At the same time it serves as a resting space for the ear wax filter. Smart design Shure!! NOT

Right, the glue. I used quick drying industrial glue. Even if you’re an expert on glueing, I’d suggest applying the glue on a toothpick first before dapping the plastic directly onto the glue tube. You don’t want excessive glue on this in-ear. Any added material weight would increase the mass of the reverberating unit and may cause faulty frequency re-production. Keep it as minimal as possible. Dab a tiny bit of glue, twist in back on and away you go. Let it cure fully over couple of minutes. And if all is placed correctly, you should be ready to blast off those good in-ears again.

There you have it! Tell your mama you fixed your hundred of dollars worth of in-ear yourself and be proud of it!

So how you should care for your in-ears matters. Drops or sudden shocks could shake the movable driver magnets, or possibly in this case re-locate the ear wax filter to a point that we think is irreparable. That cleaning pick that Shure provides should not be used.. or if necessary, only used minimally.

You don’t need no screw drivers to fix this. And I don’t understand why Shure say it’s non-self-reparable. Well look at what I just did today. And look what you can do today with your ‘bad’ Shure E3c.

Hasan Ismail