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May 3, 2012 11:33 PM   Subscribe

How do I find out what earbuds don't hurt my ears?

I tend to use 'backphones' (the ones that go around the back of the head), but the problem with those is that if I need to take them off, it's a bit difficult.

I've been looking at getting some earbuds, but I'd like to not go through three or four finding a pair that fits my ears. For information's sake, the Official Apple Earbuds cause me significant pain (enough that I can no longer stand to have them in) after about an hour's use.

I also don't have the money to have custom ones made.

I've googled, and the usual response is 'try them and see how they feel' but I would feel REALLY weird taking them back after an hour and a half.
posted by mephron to Technology (13 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I also can't wear the Apple ones and they fall out anyway. I've always found the 'in-ear' ones to be pretty comfortable and every pair I've bought has come with variously-sized soft bits that go in your ear, so I've been able to make them comfortable.
posted by dg at 11:51 PM on May 3, 2012

Best answer: I have the same problem with regular earbuds, but find that in-ear silicone earbuds are very comfortable. I look for the ones that come with three different sized sets of silicone sleeves because I always need the smallest size. I've tried the "marshmallow" style earbuds with the memory-foam-like sleeves, but they pushed their way out of my ears as they puffed back up, and they got really hard in cold weather. Plus they got kinda nasty and couldn't be washed like silicone sleeves can.
posted by keep it under cover at 12:52 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you heard of Westone? They produce some of the most comfortable inner earphones I have ever used. The braided cables cancels out the cable movement sound that often plagues inner earphone users. The product comes with a bag filled with foam and silicone ear pads of various sizes so you can decide which ones are the best fit. I currently use the UM3X, though I previously owned the Westone 3 which was my faithful companion until I lost it at a hostel in Montreal. My repertoire included the Etymotics Research ER-6i (which I used until it no longer could output in stereo) and the Shure E4C (my least favorite in terms of comfort).

Warning: Westone earphones are a bit above the price range for a typical consumer.
posted by vnvlain at 1:04 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I had the same problem with Apple earbuds - really painful after about an hour and my ears would ache for a few hours after taking them out. I googled around and Skullcandy earbuds were recommended for people with small ears. I tried them and they rock. I can even sleep with them in. They usually come with a few different size little rubbery outer things. They're not super-expensive, I think the last pair I got was $20. They're not as durable as the Apple ones, I don't think. If you get them, don't wrap the cords around your iPod. This is apparently really bad for them as I discovered when they died on me during a plane ride.
posted by Aquifer at 2:10 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, silicone is the way to go.
posted by clorox at 2:18 AM on May 4, 2012

I have weird ears (small ear canals) and normal earphones always fall out within minutes. I like to use marshmallow earphones. I am currently using Sennheiser earphones (which are very good) but I have fitted them with the marshmallow padding that come with JVC earphones. They're very comfortable. You could try that.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:10 AM on May 4, 2012

Bose IE2 earbuds were the solution for me, particularly because there are three sizes of earbuds, plus there is also a silicon attachment that keeps the earbud in your ear.

Bose IE2s
posted by kuanes at 3:53 AM on May 4, 2012

Sennhieser in-ear phones normally come with three different sizes of silicon pads and some of the better models, like the CX 400, also provide all three in two different styles.

I recently convinced my wife to get a pair after she had problems with normal ear buds causing pain in her ear and so far she's had no problems
posted by fatfrank at 4:13 AM on May 4, 2012

I love my Koss in-ear earbuds. They are soft, squishy, and give good quality sound (they do exclude sound a bit, but it's not total, and I find bass sound particularly good with them). The regular apple earbuds are painful after about 30minutes but I can wear my Koss all day. They deform to fit your ear canal and I find that they hand in even during fairly vigorous movement. They're not particularly expensive and they come with spare foam.
posted by ninazer0 at 5:18 AM on May 4, 2012

hand=hang. Typing with cat on keyboard.
posted by ninazer0 at 5:20 AM on May 4, 2012

Agreed with the Bose IE2s. By far the most comfortable earbuds I've ever owned. Plus, they fit securely and the sound is very good.
posted by tkerugger at 5:34 AM on May 4, 2012

A number of the in-ear (canalphone) variety come with different sizes of the foam or rubber parts. I find I need the smallest tip I can get. I have some Shure SE-215s (I think).

On the plus side, if you can find some with removeable tips, you can buy the small versions of other kinds online.
posted by bookdragoness at 8:10 AM on May 4, 2012

Best answer: I came here, bascially, to post what dg did in the very first comment. Sized to fit, what's not to love? Specifically, though, I have enjoyed how these (amazon) fit. The first review there is also suspiciously full of exactly the sorts of things I would say on the subject.
posted by mce at 9:49 AM on May 4, 2012

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