Many of us, you and I alike probably take our ears for granted. We listen to music on full blast, watch loud sports games and concerts, some of us work jobs where loud machinery is everywhere and of course, there is those that are in the music game that constantly fills their eardrums with high decibels. But what most don’t know is that we are all putting ourselves at risk of some hearing loss and a lot of times we find out too late. The good news is there are companies out there that work day and night engineering products to help people save their ears, to help musicians have a longer career span and be able to hear themselves better on stage and to help those with hearing impairments and elderly have a better quality of life.
One such company is Perfect Seal, founded in 1999 by musician Mike Martinez.
The journey all started at a young age for Mike as he worked for a company whose office was in a small dental lab and was said to be the 2nd CIEM (custom in-ear monitor) company ever, the first being Future Sonics. The lab-made monitors for companies like Sensaphonics and Fireside producing quality dynamic driver CIEM’s. Mike was really passionate about CIEMs, which kept him motivated, and he started playing around with different types of hybrid designs. Unfortunately, none of the hybrids was ever released and the company he worked for went out of business in 1997 due to bad management.
In 1999 at age 22 and undeterred, Mike set out to start his own lab and Perfect Seal was born. Based in Wichita, Kansas, Perfect Seal has become a leader in hearing products, CIEM’s and more, supplying customers and businesses with groundbreaking ear-mold devices that continue to evolve. Whether it’s aiding in the improvement of your hearing, supplying music lovers with portable tunes, or assisting in shutting out unwanted sounds, Perfect Seal’s custom-fit ear-molds are comfortable, unobtrusive and stylish. For 20+ years Mike Martinez and Perfect Seal have prided themselves on his original vision to help customers not only save their ears and improve hearing but also improve their overall lifestyles. They have been at the forefront of innovative ear-mold technology by providing the highest in the quality craftsmanship of CIEM’s, Earbuds, hearing aids as well as direct quality customer service and more. The future seems bright for Mike and Perfect Seal as more and more people worldwide are waking up to the fact that their ears are priceless, hearing loss is permanent and preventive and supportive hearing products are the key to keeping your ears healthy for years to come.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Perfect Seal’s inspiring founder and President Mike Martinez at the Namm Show and talk about his products, what makes his In-Ears and buds so unique and how he’s saving ears worldwide…
Sason Bishope Parry: How is life treating you, you grew up in Kansas?
Mike Martinez: Life can be crazy at times but I would say overall
everything seems to work out for the best. There will always be ups and downs, it’s all about taking it all in and continuing to move forward. My dad was a career marine so we moved every 3-4 years growing up. I was born in Kansas but moved at the age of 6, pretty much grew up in the south then I moved back to Kansas after high school at the age of 18.
SBP: Tell us a little about yourself and your company Perfect Seal?
MM: I have two grown daughters and a 10 month-old boy. I’m a very detail
oriented, hands-on kind of guy. Growing up I always knew I would end up being a fighter pilot or starting a business. I did end up getting a private pilot license sometime after starting Perfect Seal Laboratories. Perfect Seal was officially opened in November of 1999 I was 22 at the time. Though we were making musician products at the time it was special the hearing aid ear-moulds we were making that really gained a lot of attention and made the business really “take off” (no pun intended). We have been making monitors longer than most other companies but they were only sold wholesale to audiologists, in hindsight, that was a huge mistake and kept our name out of the mainstream. About 4-5 years ago we changed that and started dealing direct to right that mistake and up to our brand awareness.
SBP: How did you get into the business of protecting ears and
MM: I used to work in dental labs then took a job at an ear-mould lab since it was somewhat similar. The company I worked for just happened to be one of the only companies in the world making custom in-ear monitors at that time, so that really caught my interest and I just had to get involved in the monitor production. It’s just something about making in-ear monitors that really hooked me and I love it. Unfortunately, this company ended up closing due to management issues so I saw the opportunity to start a new company from the ground up, the rest is history as they say.
SBP: Are you also a musician or just a music fan?
MM: I am a musician and I’m sure that has a lot to do with my passion for building monitors and hearing protection. I play Bass, guitar and even dabble in recording my own stuff.
SBP: Who uses Perfect Seal products and who are your best customers?
MM: We have a wide range of people who use our products, from people with normal hearing who want to protect it to people with profound hearing loss. We do communications moulds for newscasters, surveillance, race car drivers, shooters, audiophiles, etc.. The funny thing is, there are a lot of people who use our products that don’t even know it. As for who are our best customers, all our customers are great. Whether it’s for hearing protection, earphones, hearing aids, we put everything into making them the best out there and I think people realize that.
SBP: Hearing loss, especially for musicians, is a big deal, how does Perfect Seal help musicians and regular people protect their ears?
MM: We are all guilty of not properly protecting our hearing when we should, whether we realize it or not. So the first step is to try to make people more aware. Musicians should at least wear musician earplugs, using in-ear monitors are great at reducing stage noise but we advise people that care has to be taken and avoid throwing everything into the mix and turning it all up. For the general population, awareness is key, mowing lawns using power equipment, wind noise on motorcycles, there are just so many things we do or positions we put ourselves in that warrant using some kind of hearing protection. We make several different types of earplugs and even offer noise isolating earphones (what we call Sportbuds) for
protecting hearing while listening to music.
SBP: What does a typical day at Perfect Seal look like?
MM: Every morning we pick up new orders from UPS and the Post Office. From there we begin processing, some are made by hand which requires adding wax in certain areas to create the perfect seal, others are made digitally by scanning the impressions and modelling them on a computer before 3D printing. Its work but its also fun, we take our work seriously but the atmosphere is relaxed and playful which is a major plus. The majority of the day is either spent on grinders or soldering tiny wires and electronics. At the end of the day, we find ourselves packaging up the finished products and sending them through the mail or UPS.
SBP: What inspires you most and what would you consider to be the most
rewarding part of your job?
MM: I love it when people are happy. We get praise all the time, it never gets old, it does wonders on keeping the creativity flowing and making us strive to provide the best looking, best fitting products available. One of the most rewarding parts of the job is actually helping people, especially in situations where other companies were not able to help them because of the size or shape of their ears. That’s
when you know you got the “secret sauce”!
SBP: You have multiple products, which do you think is the most unique? Which is the most popular?
MM: Of our in-ear monitors, the Fusion 11 would have to be the most unique. It is a hybrid unit, meaning it has a dynamic driver and a
balanced armature driver combined in one unit. More companies now offer hybrid units but the Fusion 11 was the first and is the only one made in a silicone material. It has been a very good unit for us. It’s kind of difficult to say which is the most popular but it would be either the PS3xb or the PS4. The PS3xb is excellent in the price to performance range, the PS4 is a touch more expensive but adds extra bass slam through a dedicated subwoofer.
SBP: How do you see Perfect Seal or your products evolving?
MM: We have been 3D printing since 2007, I’m sure that’s longer than any other CIEM manufacturer. It has taken a while and still progressing but the materials are getting much better and more colours are being added. I see a higher number of units being 3D printed. I also see us making universal units for those who do not need or want a custom fit mold. Though I prefer custom, I can see how universals can be of benefit to some. We are also always playing with new technologies and gauging whether or not they make any real-world difference in our products. Though our product is pretty solid as is, its never a bad idea to keep at it and see what, if anything, can be improved.
SBP: If you could only sell one Perfect Seal product what would it be and why?
MM: I’m not sure if that is a fair question, we have so many products for so many different people and applications but I’ll take a stab at it anyway. I think I would have to go with our in-ear monitor called the Deca. It is a 10 driver (10 speakers) per ear unit that has such a natural sound to it. It could be used on stage or just listening to music. Since it is custom fit, you could even use it for hearing protection (which I do). Another good reason to choose it in this hypothetical question would be the fact that it has 10 drivers, it would offer up more of a challenge to fit it in smaller ears than a lesser driver count would. What can I say, I love working on challenging fits.
SBP: Is Perfect Seal available Worldwide?
MM: Yes, we will ship anywhere that the post can be delivered.
SBP: What is your ultimate dream?
MM: I would say the ultimate dream is to keep the dream alive! My youngest daughter, Jayden, is a part of our team and knows the product line very well. She accompanies me on shows and has proven knowledgeable in product design. It would be a blessing to still be around when my baby boy is ready to start working. Perfect Seal is a great place to work and it has been a dream come true to still be around in our 21st year!
For more info on Perfect Seal go to: www.perfect-seal.com