To block unnecessary ambient noise, in-ear monitors (IEMs) offer a discrete listening experience as opposed to traditional earbuds. Since they slide deeper into the ear canals, wearing them for an extended period could lead to significant discomfort. Fortunately, IEM manufacturers in recent years have developed ear tips using different materials. They are available in single, double and triple flange shapes, and sized as small, medium and large. However, a proper ear tip material can largely determine a pair’s comfort while creating a barrier from the external surroundings.
Types of materials used for ear tips
To drown the exterior noise, rubber ear tips have hard surfaces. They are uncomfortable and manufacturers hardly used them anymore. Not only can they cause allergic reactions through contact, but are also quite difficult to maintain.
Silicone ear tips are widely used today, as they are soft, easy to maintain, long-lasting and cause no skin irritation. However, they do not completely prevent noise from seeping in. They are best for jogging or walking when the user still needs to be aware of the surroundings.
One of the recent in-ear monitors by PLAY – PLAYGO T20 true wireless earbuds feature high-quality silicone ear tips. They also come with Active Environmental Noise Reduction, allowing the user to enjoy a seamless listening experience. These IEMs’ ear tips also feature single flange silicone tips. While some prefer double or triple flange silicone ear tips for better isolation, the single flange tips of PLAY’s IEMs are softer and highly comfortable for any situation.
In a foam ear tip, a thin rubber/plastic tube lets audio pass through and is covered by a foam material. This material slips gently, sealing the ears according to the shape of the user’s ear canals. They are one of the most commonly used ear tips, Comply™ Foam Ear Tips being the most popular manufacturer in the world.
On the other side of the spectrum, foam ear tips are infamous for reducing the trebles and increasing the bass in audio. Popularly known as the ‘funnelling effect’, it causes the sound to muffle. However, this can be avoided by pushing the ear tips towards the back and rolling only the front end before inserting them into the ear canals.
Another drawback about this material is that it is not considered to be long lasting, as earwax and dirt accumulate over time. Cleaning foam ear tips damages the surface. Hence, replacing it will be the only option.
4. Plastic half in-ear buds
This type of earbud is a great alternative for those who don’t prefer tight in-ear monitors when on the move. Usually made of plastic, these have the benefit of letting the user be aware of the surroundings. However, not all half in-ear headphones deliver a high-quality output and nor do they fit every user’s ears.
PLAY’s latest true wireless earbuds – PLAYGO T44 feature the half in-ear design with a universal snug fit and are assembled with high-quality plastic material for added comfort. These unique earbuds offer significant noise reduction and echo cancellation complementing the on-the-go lifestyle.
The appropriate way to wear silicone ear tips
To enjoy a snug fit, the in-ear monitors with silicone ear tips should be slightly moistened before putting them inside the ear canals. When the IEMs seal the canals, ear wax builds up. Ideally, they should be taken out for 10 to 15 minutes after 2 to 3 hours of use. It is also important to remove the ear tips gently to avoid suction.
When using IEMs, it is essential to keep the volume in check. It should not exceed 85 dB. A high volume (above 125 dB) could lead to ear pain and permanent hearing loss.
The best ear tips
As far as comfort, sound isolation, durability and ease of maintenance are concerned, silicone ear tips effortlessly cover all in a single package and are certainly viable for day-to-day use.