A concerned reader emails me:

Hi

You got a page or any info on eartips?  different kinds, shapes etc and what the difference is between them all?

many thanks

The name of the game is isolation. You are looking (or at least you should be) for the tip that can isolate the most sound, yet is still comfortable to wear.

If you value your hearing you would stay away from these

First off, cheap earbuds often do not have any tips on them. You are exposed directly to the plastic. They are not designed to go inside your ear canal, just stay slightly outside. This is the worst possible option. Unless you ear accommodates the shape of the tip, these will not be comfortable to wear and will always fall out (an over the ear method might help). Secondly, these do not isolate well so you will have to turn the volume up and since these earbuds are quite close to the ear canal – you risk hearing damage. If there is anything you should take away from this article, it is this – stay away from earbuds that do not have some sort of tip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next we go on to foam earbuds. There are two types of foam earbuds:

  1. Foam that is not designed to go into your ear canal. Looks like this:

 

These may look nice, but they have no place on your earbuds

 

I’ve never had luck with these. I would recommend you stay away from these; there is little that separates these from the earbuds without tips. Note, that this is because I couldn’t get them to stay in my ear – if anyone has any positive experiences share them in the comments!

 

The best choice for earbud tips

2.Foam that is designed to go into your ear canal. This is a tricky case: You get what you pay for. The cheaper foams do not provide much isolation and fall out of your ears. The more expensive ones are more reliable. A more expensive foam tip is the BEST option (in my experience). They provide better isolation and are more comfortable to wear. I can recommend the: Complfy Foam Tips. Once you go with good foam you can’t go back

 

Another benefit is that a foam tight fit will improve the bass signature of your music. This is true of both the higher end foam in-ear tips and the lower end in-ear foam tips

 

 

 

 

A triple flange silicone tip. A bit excessive for my taste

Lastly we have Rubber or silicone tips. This is the budget solution, and at one point in time used to be my favourite one. A silicone tip provides a good seal and a good isolation – No matter what the price. They are the most neutral option – no (or minimum) effect on sound.  There is a con – they could get uncomfortable. Some people find them uncomfortable right at the start; others find them uncomfortable after prolonged use. Luckily I belonged to neither group and was fine with using these earbud tips

These also exist in the bi/triple flange variety. Apparently this helps improve isolation. I found minimum difference

 

 

 

 

To summarize here are my recommendations in order of most recommended to least recommended: Comply foam tips (or other higher end foam tips), any generic silicone/rubber tip, lower end foam tip and that’s it – the no tip or the foam tips that don’t go inside your ear canal aren’t even an option. Don’t risk your hearing

 

Whichever case you choose, make sure that you buy earbud tips that will fit your ears. Earbud tips that are too large won’t fit your ears and earbud tips that are too small won’t cause the proper seal. Ideally you’d want to buy a set of different sized tips. If that’s not possible look at your current earbud tip size and buy a set that matches those. However, be warned, as far as I know there is no standard: One company’s medium is another company’s small

 

 

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4 comments until now

  1. Great article!

    So If I understand you correctly, A triple flange ear tip is suppose to provide better isolation than a double or single flange ear tip and that’s all.

  2. Thats right. Note that it may be uncomfortable as it goes deeper into your ear canal (compare the length of a single flange to a triple flange)

  3. I personally prefer the single flange as the triple flange seems to extend to deep into my ear, but everyone has different ears. They generally aren’t too expensive so investing in some different style flanges isn’t a bad idea.

  4. Hey i read your page related to frequency response and impedance in earbuds. But i am having a doubt that some companies have same specs but the price range has huge difference. Is it only because of brand values are different or some others things are also need to be checked up.

    In short, only price or brand creates good music or same specs in lower price with cann do as well ???

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