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The Importance of Getting a Good Seal with In-Ear Headphones

"A poor seal will result in significant loss of audio quality. In this article Steve gives hints and tips on achieving a perfect seal of your in-ear headphones to obtain high fidelity music playback."

This is one of the most important things to consider when using in-ear headphones, but unfortunately it is overlook by a large chunk of the consumer market. We buy things and expect them to just work out the box, but just like your shoe size, we all have different ear canal sizes.

So many times have I seen people comment on lack of bass from models well known for their excellent bass response, the common factor is trying them out of the box with the tips that are pre-installed, and not trying any others. I beg you to try all the different tips to find the one that fits the best.

In-ear headphones will only work if properly sealed, as this will give you the optimal bass response, and also isolate the best from outside noises. If you think about it, if you have a bass speaker in a small room it will sound fuller than if it were in an open space. The same goes for in-ear headphones, if there is a break in the seal the bass will be the first thing you lose.

The bass response of this room is likely to be poor; lower frequencies are the first to disappear given the chance – and forget isolation!

Different headphones come with different types of tips, most come with only standard silicone tips, but some come with a pair of Comply memory foam tips, and also dual and triple flange tips. Using foam tips such as the Comply or Blackbird tips, the tips conform to your inner ear better than regular silicone tips, so it may be worth trying some of them out before making up your mind on the headphones. I also personally find foam tips to be more comfortable, and they isolate from outside noise better, but they do have a tendency to tone down the treble a little.

Everybody's ears are different, and a good play around with the various sizes and types of tips will certainly be worthwhile. Also the placement of the tip within the ear can be experimented with; try a small tip which is inserted into the ear canal. Or perhaps a larger tip placed against the mouth of the ear canal might suit you better.

Personally, I've settled before on a small tip in my right ear and a medium one in my left; it is quite common for our ears to be slightly different sizes so feel free to mix n' match.

The best way to fit your in-ear headphones, is to lift the top of your ear gently as you insert them, as this opens your ear canal a little. Once you let go they should seal fully, and then you can experience the best audio quality from your in-ear headphones.

It's always a shame to receive a pair of in-ear headphones which has been returned by a customer, and to find that they haven't been thorough with the eartips. So make sure you are getting a good seal to get the most out of your headphones. Lack of bass? Try some different tips.

About Shaun Gostelow

Shaun is co-founder of hifiheadphones.co.uk and spends most of his time dealing with the business side of running the store, but still loves listening to music with headphones just the same as ever.
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