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 achieve the proper fit.
1. Choose the right size and material for your eartip
The key to a proper earphone fit is using the right size ear tip. So try the various sizes of foam and silicone tips that come with your earphones. Foam tips are more forgiving for size differences, so they are a good option for hard-to-fit ears.
For comfort and a better fit, you can also buy specialized tips. To block out sound and prevent wax buildup, I like the Sound Isolation Plus ($19.99, you can buy them on Amazon). For all-day wear that's maximized for comfort and to prevent wax buildup, I recommend the Comply Comfort Plus ($19.99, you can buy them on Amazon).
Also, one ear may be slightly larger than the other, so you may need to use a different size tip for each ear. Before investing in new tips, check the fit with the tips that come with your headphones to see if you'll need more than one size.
2. 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. (For foam tips, you'll need to compress the foam before inserting your earphones.) Instead, 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.
Some manufacturers, including Amazon, Jabra, and Samsung, have an earphone fit test that checks to make sure that you have a good seal — that you're using the right size eartips and that they are correctly seated. Consult the app from your earphone manufacturer.
AirPods Pro owners can access the Ear Tip Fit Test by going to Settings > Bluetooth and then tap the "i" next to the AirPods in the list of devices. Then select "Ear Tip Fit Test" > Continue > and tap the Play button. If your AirPods aren't fitting properly, you'll be prompted to make adjustments.
3. 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, so check before swapping sides.
Make sure to use any stabilizers that may have come packed with the earphones. These plastic pieces 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 ($9.95, you can buy them on Amazon). For Apple AirPods, there are EarBuddyz 2.0 ($9.95, you can buy them on Amazon), and for AirPods Pro, there are EarBuddyz ($12.95, you can buy on Amazon) that you can attach to help them stay in place. If you prefer a hook, there's also the Elago for Apple AirPods and Airpods Pro ($10.99, you can buy them on Amazon).
If you don't like the idea of stabilizers but are worried about losing your AirPods or AirPods Pro, you can try GOGOSODU Compatible Airpods Strap ($11.95, you can buy them on Amazon). It's a silicone sports neckband with straps that attach to your Airpods, so you won't lose one if it falls out. It's also handy when you want to pop out your AirPods for a few minutes.
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 Sport Pro ($19.99, you can buy them on Amazon) or TrueGrip for True Wireless ($24.99, you can buy them on Amazon), which prevent slipping when you exercise and moisture from getting in your earphones.
Updated on 10/03/2021 with new products and ear tip test instructions
[Images: closeup of woman with true wireless headphones via BigStock, Techlicious