Foam ear bud tips that really make a difference

Why can’t anyone do reporting on great sounding headphones, that stick in your ear AND gives the ambient sound around you?

As someone that exercises outdoors, I need to be able to hear what’s around me.

There might not be such a thing… getting a good sound sort of requires having a good seal, and that precludes hearing ambient.

foam earbuds get greasy too quickly. Silicone buds work far better.

I agree, however, the foam ones do make a much better seal and stay in place better. Trust me, I’ve tried all the shapes and sizes, and after a little jumping rope they wiggle out. The foam ones stay in place.

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I disagree. The seal is required to block out ambient sound, not to give better audio.

You can do both. I think my stock Apple headphones sound good compared to a LOT of the headphones people brag about…however, they are fragile and I replace them every other month. Do they sound great? No. They sound good.

The last in-ear monitors I had (years ago when I needed them professionally) were Shure ECs and they sounded AWESOME…I just couldn’t hear anything but the music within. I honestly thought of getting my ears poured again, but having some sort of acoustic tubes included so I could have a set of tips that I could use for ambient sound and one for stage.

This came up before when i wanted a replacement should my favourite pair die on me. You can’t seem to get them any more but @Missy_Pants offered a useful alternative.


It does both. When using the aforementioned silicone tips, as soon as they work themselves out slightly, I lose all the low end. Jam 'em back in, and they sound good again, ambient notwithstanding.

I had a pair of these before! I liked them. There was a version with the mic as well – hated the mic. No one could understand me. The Apple headphones are PERFECT…except when they aren’t!

I also loved the ones that came with the Amazon phone that they were parting out when it went under. The biggest problem was it used some different media control that didn’t work with the iPhone. Amazon actually had a good design with these headphones…I just wish they weren’t so anti-Apple. They are the internet Walmart…not a competitor to an OS manufacturer.

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Sorry, but I have to agree with @jawevofoy: Put simply, good sound means three things, 1. the IEMs deliver the whole spectrum from about 20 Hz to about 20k Hz, 2. they do so in a balanced way, 3. the noise floor is low, meaning you will be able to hear very quiet sounds along with louder ones. The louder you hear your ambience, the less you will hear of those same frequencies from whatever you’re listening to and the higher your noise floor will be, so you can only hear the louder sounds and miss the quieter ones.

And I don’t mean the quieter parts in a song (you could just turn the volume up for those) but quieter sounds in an otherwise loud piece (think the brushed snare drum in a jazz recording or whatever instrument is less loud in a mix). This is especially a problem for the very high and very low frequencies, that we can’t hear very well to begin with. That’s why so many people love “bassy” head-/earphones because they amplify those sounds that you wouldn’t hear otherwise in a noisy environment. It would be better to get IEMs with a better seal and just turn the volume down.

And I’m saying that I’m willing to compromise so I don’t die.

I was an audio professional for years, I have $300 in-ear monitors that were poured for my ears, I’m looking for some that are a good compromise between not getting killed and sounding good. But if we want to keep disregarding thing NOT GETTING KILLED part, I’ll keep mentioning it!

Honestly, I can’t stand anything that blocks my ears as @politeruin alludes to.

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Well, these foam tips don’t block completely anyway (and neither do most other IEM tips/buds/whatevers, custom-molded inserts being the exception of course) but the better the seal is, the lower you can set the volume, still hear your audio and your ambience and not damage your hearing (or risk your life) in the process. I have been using these exact foam tips for a while now. When I go to work by bike in a very busy city in the mornings I set the volume quite low so I can hear what’s going on around me but still get good sound. If I’m just on foot, I can set the volume a little higher and have even better sound.
For me, it’s the best of both worlds. However, that is probably, like most other things, a case of personal preference.

“I think my stock Apple headphones sound good”

Ah, so you’re the guy! Hurry up and get run over so Apple can start making earbuds that aren’t appalling awful.

The Mrice E300a remains the best thing that has happened in my life in the last two years. Incredible sound at an unbelievable price point.

I honestly prefer my Mrice E300s to my Shure 535s.

I bought two pair. They are ok. They are not my Westone 3s.

I’m with you, being able to hear is one reason I like light, over the ear headphones like came with a walkman back in the day, but they’re really hard to find now. All the over the ear are huuuge emulating Beats.

This is the style I like in corded headphones, the open cell foam pads give good ambient sound and keep your ears cool.

Below is the superlight bluetooth ones I’ve been using, if I wanted better ambient sound I’d cut off the closed pads and replace it with open cell foam.

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They also cost $20 instead of $400. Best in-ear buds under $150 if you ask me.

Honestly the cheap light ones use to be my favorite walkman headsets back in the day. They suffered the same problems I have with my iPhone buds – broke way too easily.

I often wonder about people that can’t stand less quality music…as a musician, I’m use to music sounding nothing like it does in the studio nor on stage. There is nothing like sitting stage right listening to the symphony, or being in the pit at broadway show, or sitting in while a horn section is finalizing tracks for a new R&B track. NOTHING. There will never be a recording that sounds ANYWHERE as close as this.

And I’m fine with it. Maybe folks with no imagination need as close to accuracy as possible in order to hear the music. Me? Whatever isn’t there I’ll fill in on my own. Recordings are shitty broad brushstrokes regardless of how many bits nor how good the hardware is. But to each their own. I love music and I love the fact that I can get just as much enjoyment out of shit recordings as I can great ones. That said…I know I spent probably hundreds of hours getting mic placements for my own piano and after a while I told my audioengineers that part of my contract was that I set this up – not them. So I get it…but I also don’t!

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All the corded ones break, or break the player when the cord gets caught on something and yanks out. Some years back the local dollar stores got a load of Magnavox branded superlight headphones. I bought like 20, and ever since have been keeping them alive with gluing on new foam, resoldering the wires or swapping out dead speakers from another unit.

I’m always startled by the “absolutists” who have to have everything just so or their world crumbles. I argue with colleagues who insist on only buying the best tools. I’d rather have a cheap version of the tool in my shop than wish I had the money for the best. I’m sure you see this with musicians too. A $100 guitar is better than no guitar, and the $100 StarCaster we bought my son when he was 11 actually sounds damn good!

My favorite electric is a Kay Strat rip…it has awesome action, sounds great…it was easy to swap out parts over its 30 years of existence…and has been utilized on at least one nominated album (I happened to have it with packed with me when a friend was complaining about not having an instrument that was cutting through the mix…that said, I will never forgive him for restringing it!!! I pride myself on aged strings!!!)

It doesn’t sound as good as far more expensive instruments, but it sure does cut through a mix.

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