Among musicians, apex™ is one of our most talked about technologies, and for good reason. Apex, or Air Pressure Exchange, is a pneumatically interactive vent that alleviates air pressure in a sealed in the ear canal. This venting addresses the most common issues surrounding conventional custom in-ear monitors.
Alleviate Listener Fatigue
Listener fatigue, or ear fatigue, is common for most conventional custom in-ear monitors. When you cover your ears or wear solid earplugs, you might hear a hollow or boomy sound. This phenomenon is called the occlusion effect. When the sound waves from your in-ear monitor start moving that trapped air around, it causes your eardrum to oscillate in an attempt to compensate for the changing pressure.
The apex module releases this pressure and allows your eardrum to sit comfortably in equilibrium. This is especially important if you are practicing or performing for extended periods of time. The longer you can wear ear protection during loud events, the better you can protect your hearing for the future.
Experience an Expansive Soundstage
The occlusion effect can also compromise the quality of sound from your mix. Even in IEMs with ambient vents, the bass frequencies can sound diminished or non-existent. Apex enables air to move freely in the ear canal, which extends the soundstage and allows for a more natural listening experience. A more open soundstage also preserves the bass frequencies and helps the listener distinguish individual instruments. Ultimately, artists are better able to follow their mixes and execute the best performance possible.
Hear Your Audience
In-ear monitors provide amazing isolation and help you hear your mix more clearly and at lower volumes than a wedge monitor or conventional earbuds. However, some artists feel overly isolated from their audience and want to hear more of the ambient sounds around them. In some cases, they might even take out one of their IEMs to better hear the crowd, which can put their hearing at risk.
Apex allows you to hear more ambient sounds while maintaining a lower decibel level. This is also why apex in our Custom Earplugs gives them a high-fidelity quality. Instead of obscuring sounds completely, apex knocks down the decibels while preserving the clarity of the sounds around you.
Comparing the Modules
Apex comes in two variations, m15 and m20. All of our current in-ear monitors contain apex technology, although our tia Trió™ and tia Fourté™ models contain an internal apex module to preserve the tia™ acoustic chambers.
Each of our in-ear monitors are built with a specific apex module in mind. The N8 and tia Trió are designed around the m15 apex module, which offers -15dB of isolation. The m15 allows for slightly more ambient sound than the m20, and tempers the bass a bit. In the bass-forward N8, the m15 module nicely balances the low-end. And for tia Trió, it offers a more relaxed listening experience compared to the ultra-clear tia Fourté.
All of our other custom and universal in-ear monitors are designed around the m20 apex module, which offers -20dB of isolation. The sound signature on these IEMs benefits from the slightly increased bass of the m20 and the increased isolation.
For all our IEMs, except tia Trió and tia Fourté, the apex modules are removable so you can swap out the units for your preferred level of isolation. You can purchase the units separately on our site, or if you order the A12t, U12t, A18t, or U18t, both apex modules come standard.
However, the difference between the two modules is minor, so unless you’re doing critical listening and have the source equipment to support it, we recommend sticking with the original module.