Even the best in-ear headphones, or earphones, can sound awful and quickly become uncomfortable if they're too loose, too tight or aren't seated well in your ear. So get the most out of your earphones by following these tips to getting the proper fit.
Size and material matter
The key to a proper earphone fit is using the right size ear tip. So try the various sizes of foam and silicon tips that come with your earphones. Foam tips are more forgiving for size differences, so are a good option for hard-to-fit ears.
For comfort and better fit, you can also buy specialized tips. Comply also makes a 3-pair foam variety pack that includes a pair of sound isolation tips, sport tips (without SweatGuard) and comfort tips in your choice of S, M or L for $14.99 on Comply.com. And Monster makes a 6-pair variety packs with extra-soft gel tips and foam tips in S, M and L for $11.08 on Amazon.com.
Also, one ear may be slightly larger than the other, so you may need to use a different size tip for each ear. Before you invest in new tips, check the fit with the tips that come with your headhones to see if you'll more than one size.
Seat the eartip firmly
To get the best sound, you need to seal your ear canal with the eartip. So simply pushing an eartip into your ear often isn't enough to create a proper seal. Try gently pulling on the outer rim of your ear to ease the tip into a comfortable position. You should notice a drop in ambient noise when the tip is seated correctly. And when you're listening to music, you'll notice more range, especially bass.
Secure the tip for sports
Getting headphones for working out to fit well is particularly tricky. The constant pulling on the eartip as you move can loosen even well-inserted eartips.
Try looping the cable that connects them behind your head and around the top of each ear. For eartips that are angled to fit in the ear canal, place the side marked “L” in your right ear and the side marked “R” in your left ear. Some headphones, like those made by Shure are designed to be worn this way, so check before swapping sides.
Make sure to use any stabilizers that may have come packed with the earphones. These plastic pieces basically wedge the eartip into place to keep it from wiggling as you move. You can also try a generic stabilizer, like the BudLocks Earphone Sport Grips (starting at $8.50 on Amazon). And for Apple Earpods, there are Earhoox for EarPods ($9.99 on Amazon) you can attach to help them stay in place. If you prefer a hook, there's also the Earbudi for Apple Earpods ($9.99 on Amazon)
If your earphones come with eartips that have double or triple flanges, you may find they stay put better than the regular tips. And check to see if your earphones are compatible with Comply's Sport Plus tips ($14.99 on Comply.com) with SweatGuard that prevent slipping when you exercise and moisture from getting in your earphones.
You can also try anchoring the headphone cable to your shirt with a clothing clip so it doesn't flop around as much. I like Bud Button, a magnetic cord holder ($10.99 on Amazon) that anchors your earphone cord to your shirt, or Sport Guppy ($12.99 at Amazon.com), a magnetic clip that also attaches to your shirt and holds excess cord.
Updated on 3/4/2016
[Images: woman jogging with headphones via Shutterstock, Techlicious, BudLocks, Earbudi]