A concerned reader emails me:
You got a page or any info on eartips? different kinds, shapes etc and what the difference is between them all?
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.
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:
- Foam that is not designed to go into your ear canal. Looks like this:
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!
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
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