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How to Get In-Ear Headphones to Fit Properly

by on April 13, 2017
in Phones and Mobile, Headphones, Music and Video, Tips & How-Tos, Tech 101 :: 24 comments

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 makes Sound Isolation Plus tips in S, M and L designed to blockout sound ($19.95 on Amazon), a 2-pair pack of Sport Pro tips with SweatGuard to keep our sweat and debris ($12.95 on Amazon) in S, M or L, and a 3-pair pack of Comfort Plus tips ($21.95 on Amazon) in S, M and L. And Monster makes a 6-pair variety pack with extra-soft gel tips and foam tips in S, M and L for $12.96 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 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

woman wearing earphone

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.

EarBudi Clips


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 ($9.95 on Amazon). And for Apple Earpods, there are EarBuddyz ($9.95 on Amazon) you can attach to help them stay in place. If you prefer a hook, there's also the Earbudi Flex for Apple Earpods ($10.99 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 with SweatGuard that prevent slipping when you exercise and moisture from getting in your earphones.

Bud Button

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 ($11.99 on Amazon) that anchors your earphone cord to your shirt, or Sport Guppy ($10.95 at, a magnetic clip that also attaches to your shirt and holds excess cord.

Updated on 4/13/2017

[Images: woman jogging with headphones via Shutterstock, Techlicious, EarBuddyz]

Discussion loading


Just received an iPhone 5

From Dot on February 15, 2013 :: 12:07 pm

Just received an iPhone 5 ans actually hate the earphone that came with it. They hurt my ears sooo much, I needed to go back to my older pair.

Do you know of any way, I can do anything with them so I can wear them?



For a more comfortable fit,

From Suzanne Kantra on April 04, 2014 :: 1:51 am

For a more comfortable fit, you can try the EarSkinz EarPod Covers ($10.95 on Amazon). I’ve used the version for the EarBuds and the thin plastic cover is soft and comfortable.



Mine hurt my ears too

From Matt on May 06, 2014 :: 8:08 am

Make sure that they are in the right ears, for me that was the problems



You have...

From Mike on December 15, 2017 :: 7:18 pm

...more than one right ear???


hurt ears sooo bad

From JC Mac on December 29, 2017 :: 9:34 pm

I have the same problem and I am not happy that we paid good big money for a high end product and the only recourse is not a company solution like options for a better fit BUT to spend more $ for after market fixes from a new string of companies that figured out the OEM feels consumer issues with fit does not effect the overall sales after market companies see the problem and the $$opportunity. ..



Thanks ... very helpful

From Mark Trencher on April 04, 2014 :: 10:41 am

Thanks, Suzanne. I just ordered the Earbudi clips; they sound like exactly what I need. Keep uo the good work.—Mark



muito bom

From mauro on April 04, 2014 :: 12:37 pm

onde posso comprara esse fone de ouvido




From Mike on December 15, 2017 :: 7:20 pm

On the compromised possum is an egg phone



other options

From teejayeff on April 04, 2014 :: 12:53 pm

Check instructables or for some ideas on making a custom-fit pair using your buds and some surgical-grade silicone. There’s also a tip for using a single small bead of silicone in the cup area of earbuds that already fit; this creates a semi-custom fit for you, seals against noise relatively well, and don’t flex around much.

My best fit so far is with the Bose earbuds, not cheap though. These have a fitting just like the BudLocks, helping keep them in place and still very comfortable.



Clip is the best way

From Imran Hunzai on November 24, 2014 :: 4:59 am

Clip is the best way if buds don’t settle.



Millimeter size PLEASE!

From Mel Fee on July 15, 2015 :: 5:16 pm

I just put a “small” pill in my ear; it fit. Size of the pill?  10mm. Now, that was easy. But I still don’t know which headset, buds, whatever to buy.
Am I clear here?




From Shawn on December 22, 2015 :: 7:24 am

+1 for standardized mm. It’d be like buying a new pair of shoes. You’d learn your size like shoes or pants.



From Sky Du on October 09, 2015 :: 4:30 am

I also bought the same watch as long as a $9.99 in Getone APP



Best Headphones Under $50

From The Sound Fusion on April 23, 2016 :: 8:58 am

Thanks, Suzanne. I just ordered BudLocks Earphone Sport Grips after your recommendation and it seems like the buyers are happy after having them. Thanks for great info. Keep it Up.



Well most of the time

From BrownLee on October 11, 2016 :: 11:01 pm

Well most of the time you just need to seal your ear canal with the eartip to get the best sound. 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. I just found these tips too at After I read one of their articles, I personally tried and noticed 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. Try it.



What should I do

From Omni Gonach on December 09, 2016 :: 7:42 am

I have ear buds and the right one fits perfectly and never loosens but the left one just wont stay in and I’m wearing them right right in right ear left in left ear.I’ve tried the rap around the top of the ear trick but that doesn’t work.And I dont know what to do.Have any suggestions



Switch the ear sides.

From BlazingFennekin on August 14, 2017 :: 4:58 am

I don’t know if the title says it but when you wrap the earbuds over top put the right on the left and the left in the right.



Very useful ... thanks

From Afshin Hoseini on December 10, 2016 :: 1:21 pm

Very useful ... thanks



Nice story title.

From Steve on March 02, 2017 :: 9:36 pm

The first authoritative instruction i read told me to fit them the “right way.”  Your intro works Thank you.



Ear anatomy

From Tsuri on April 15, 2017 :: 12:10 pm

There is a common variation in people’s ears is never discussed but dramatically affects how earphone fit. Check out

For some people the tragus and the antitragus are flat and form a pocket in which to put the ear piece. The iPhone standard earphone slips right in and stay put. In my case they both stick straight out and I cannot handle the earphones that do not insert into the canal.



a new, individual solution ...

From Tom on May 20, 2017 :: 6:20 am

... is AuricleFits that I just developed. (patent pending)
They are individually produced earbud-adapters, fitting into your ear like an in-ear-monitor but do not touch your ear canal. Thus, you do not hear every step or your breathing. They have a holder for your earbuds keeping them safe in place. Check it our at
All the best,


Ear health is important too

From facebook10213162275795932 on May 26, 2017 :: 11:38 am

Sealing the ear for a couple of hours each day will make them sweat,  but in ear fitted buds will block the flow of air and its possible to get fungal infections or mouldy ears. You’ll know by the distinct damp old towel smell. I wipe the ear gels and buds daily with a quick dry antiseptic and clean entrance to ear daily, drying properly and wiping with a cotton wool (do not insert inside the inner part of the ear canal though) that has a couple of squirts of Caneston spray to prevent candida/fungal infections.

I use the Samsung In Ear type with silicone tips and find the fitted outer part is too large so I trim a minute amount off the outer edge with sharp scissors, then smooth it. But you have to take care you don’t cut too far. The outer gels do get softer, you can try wearing them without your headphones in until they’ve softened a but.

Avoid pulling earphones in and out of ears repeatedly while using as that can cause abrasions and soreness. If I want to pop to the bathroom without my device, I just unplug the earphones but leave them in, tucking the lead away safely. That saves my ears getting rubbed from constantly pulling earphones out.



What about AXUM? finally, someone

From michal on December 23, 2017 :: 1:56 am

What about AXUM? finally, someone is making wireless headphones for RUNNERS!!!! and not just another gaming/Netflix earbuds… to be honest, I really doubt that there’s a better pair of this completely wireless earbuds - can’t wait to get mine


Samsung Level U Pro wireless headphones

From JC Mac on December 29, 2017 :: 9:12 pm

My DNA got me a cute nose with matching sized ears. ears are literally 2.5 inches from top to bottom of the lobes (1 might think freaky small but I am a petite 5’ 4”) the painful issue with ear buds is the cartilage at the canal and the short neck between the hard plastic housing of the speakers and the stem. you can’t find a fix to get to big to fit into too small these ear buds are hard wired


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