Kyle Kirkpatrick was fed up with headphones and ear plugs that wouldn’t stay in or hurt his ears. Searching for custom-molded options found suitable models, but with a $300 to $2,000 price tag attached. The Olympic-level gymnastics coach and athlete decided to design his own. “The human ear is incredibly diverse; in fact, our ears are as unique to us as our fingerprints,” Kirkpatrick says. “I found the only way to create earphones that fit well is to mold them to the exact shape of the ear.” To realize his design, Kirkpatrick consulted audio engineers, material specialists, and high-level athletes to develop and test hundreds of designs, formulas, and prototypes to create an easy and affordable custom molded earphone.
The result was a thermo-fit earpiece he called Decibullz (decibullz.com), a do-it-yourself custom-molded unit for earplugs, earphones, and more. Decibullz are easily molded by the user to their ear’s unique shape and can be remolded as needed to obtain a perfect fit. The earpieces are made of a unique thermoplastic that softens in hot water. Once heated and allowed to cool for 30 seconds, the softened earpieces lose temperature rapidly while remaining warm and pliable. This allows them to be safely placed into the ear and shaped with a finger. Shaping the earpieces is easy and they can be re-molded as needed. This makes the unit a custom fit shaped perfectly to the ear, creating a perfectly-fit earplug that will never hurt or fall out while providing superior noise isolation. Decibullz are perfect for shooting, traveling, swimming, loud concerts, and musicians.
The basic kit includes two Decibullz Thermoplastic Custom Molds, three sets of triple flange tips (sized small, medium, and large), a set of Max Protect foam tips, and carry pouch. Once fit, the unit offers NRR 31 protection. Suggested retail is $25.99 but kits can be found for under $20.
In addition to hearing protection, the removable Sound Plug can be replaced with audio accessories, turning the Decibullz into contoured custom-fit earphones. Wired units with a standard 3.5mm audio cable are currently offered and a wireless unit is in the works.
Read more in the February 2016 issue.