In-ear headphones nowadays offer an extremely immersive audio experience packed in a tiny bud. Although they are small, the quality they can offer is comparable to that of on-ear and over-ear headphones. Many models from hi-fi audio brands like Onkyo and Sennheiser offer impressive noise cancellation features and a balanced range of frequencies for hi-fi surround sound listening.
It's common for listeners to complain about the quality of their in-ear headphones, or report that they fall out often. If you're getting a lackluster experience from your in-ear headphones, it's probably because you don't have the right fit. Getting buds that are the right size and properly setting them in your ears is extremely important to get the full experience from your in-ear headphones. They should produce an immersive surround sound experience and sit snugly in your ears even during physical activity.
Many people don't realize that in-ear headphones are not the same as traditional earbuds like the classic AirPods. They are not designed to simply hang on the crevices of your ears -- they are meant to be fully inserted into your ears. The soft tip will mold to your ear and form a tight seal in your ear canal. Without a proper seal, the audio frequencies will not be transferred properly, so you'll likely experience a lower quality sound and hear more noise from your environment.
So, how do you know if you're getting a proper seal? It's important to confirm two things before chalking up your in-ear headphones as a waste of money: you are inserting them correctly, and you have the right tip size. If you experiment with both of those things, you might see a marked improvement in the audio experience.
Try the following method to insert your in-ear headphones. If you've ever worn ear plugs, the process is similar to that:
If you hadn't been wearing your headphones correctly, you'll probably notice the volume get louder and you'll be able to hear more bass frequencies. You'll also notice better blockage of the noise around you, and there should be no chance of them falling out. If you can't get the headphones to seal properly, you might have the wrong tip size.
Most high-end in-ear headphones will come with multiple sets of tips in different sizes so you can get the perfect fit. Many also come with two material options: rubber and foam. Start by trying the medium size rubber tips. If you can't get a comfortable seal, move down a size and try the smaller ones first. Often times, a smaller bud can offer a better seal. If there's still no luck, try the large ones. Keep in mind that each of your ears might need a different size. If you don't like the rubber tips, try a foam variety.
If none of your options work for you, you can find replacement tips from the headphone brand's website for from an external company.