looking for supreme comfort, discrete headphones for office use
April 23, 2015 6:12 AM   Subscribe

My ears are very sensitive to pressure, weight, and motion. Also, they are slightly different sizes. I'm looking for some IEMs that do not tug, pull, push, wiggle, rattle, or anything else. The option to have different-sized tips would be useful - so, most earbuds are out. Probably, something that has a plastic hook that goes around the back of the ear would be good - but it also can't be too cumbersome because I wear glasses. Finally, they need to look semi-professional - so, no over-the-head straps, headphones are right out, nothing with skulls or diamonds or silly bling. please help!
posted by rebent to Technology (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Man, these things look like something out of Star Trek.
A 3D scan of your ear gives you custom fitted, wireless earbuds.
At $299 a pair, you better save your lunch money for a while.

These are also custom fitted, but they fit over existing earbuds. At $99 for custom Bluetooth attachments, it might be a bit more feasible.

Finally, there are these at about $49 a pair for something smooshy that you attach to your earbuds.

This is just a cursory Google search for "Custom Earbuds".
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 6:20 AM on April 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just here to say that most earbuds over $20 come with at least three different sizes of tips.
posted by kuanes at 6:44 AM on April 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, you want custom fit earmolds. Etymotic has a custom fit program; the molds you get will work with any of their in-ear headphones. The molds are of your ears, so they'll fit you perfectly.
posted by asterix at 6:44 AM on April 23, 2015

I am sensitive to headphone and ear bud comfort, I found the Bose StayHear tips to be particularly good at staying in the ear without applying too much pressure while also staying discrete. Available in three sizes (small, medium, large), although as the fitment is for the entrance to the ear canal you may find you don't need as much precision.

The Bose headphones that use these tips are reasonable performers too, but it may be possible to combine the tips with an existing or cheaper pair of headphones to save some cash.
posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 6:53 AM on April 23, 2015

These are great; not crazy priced.
posted by modernnomad at 6:53 AM on April 23, 2015

I was never able to use ear buds (how the heck do they even stay in?) and the kind with the over-the-ear wire never stayed put, but these are surprisingly good for casual use and are great for me. Stay in (seem to have the right shape) and come with 3 sizes of tips. Cheap. Maybe worth a try.
posted by BillMcMurdo at 6:58 AM on April 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I recommend the hell out of Comply foam tips for any IEMs/earbuds that'll take them. They stay in comfortably and provide excellent sound isolation. I'm currently using them on my Etymotic Ety-Kids earphones (I got 'em in yellow for safety!), but if you don't want high impedance (it's great if you find devices too loud or are annoyed by hissing/static in audio) try this review for more ideas.
posted by asperity at 8:24 AM on April 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I can't comment on custom IEMs, so I'll defer to others for that. Mine are both consumer-grade and $50 or less on sale - Sennheiser CX300/MM30 and Sony XBA-1.

Note that even not-custom IEMs are more comfortable and stay in better if you loop the cord over the back of your ear, inserting them upside down. This cuts down on microphonic noise from cord rub and prevents minor shirt-snags from affecting the placement as much.
posted by a halcyon day at 10:54 AM on April 23, 2015

I have small sensitive ears. I use these super-cheap headphones. It comes with three different size bud covers (so you could have different sizes for each ear if you wanted). I ended up using the middle size, and it is super-comfortable. I can forget I'm wearing them... no weird pressure or bruised feelings after many hours. Currently $6.25 and comes in lots of colors.
posted by slipthought at 11:43 AM on April 23, 2015

Oh, on preview, my recommended "these" are the same as BillMcMurdo's "these." It is the Panasonic RPHJE120A In-Ear Headphone for those who don't want to click through on everything.
posted by slipthought at 11:46 AM on April 23, 2015

I'm also super sensitive with anything going near my ear canals. I fell in love with the Medis buds by Urbanear. I'm told they're of middling sound quality, but it hasn't bothered me. The little hook braces it against your ear, so it doesn't simply try to balance on that shallow ledge of the ear.
posted by politikitty at 11:49 AM on April 23, 2015

I cannot STAND the hard plastic earbuds. Like, when I use the Apple ones that came with the hubs' iPod, they actually HURT after about 5 minutes. I don't understand how anyone can wear them.

I picked up a pair of these iFrogz earbuds on a whim at my local Office Superstore, and have been really pleased with the sound (I mostly listen to podcasts, so YMMV) and the comfort. They also come with 3 sets of different-size rubber thingies. And the cord is black, so that would be more stealth for office use than "hey-I'm-wearing-Apple-white-headphones!"

Also, the price is right — if they die, I'm only out $10.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 1:01 PM on April 23, 2015

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