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Home / Features / Foam tips for earbuds: are they any good, and should you buy them?

Foam tips for earbuds: are they any good, and should you buy them?

Better noise isolation? Superior comfort? Improved fit? What’s not to like?

Sennheiser IE200 review buds with cable

You may have come across foam tips for earbuds and wondered why you’d ever want to use them. After all, why spend more money replacing the ones that came with your tried and trusty wireless or wired earbuds? Well, there are a few good reasons, and we’re going to go through them all now. Oh, and if you’re in the market for some new headphones, feel free to check out our guide to the best wired headphones.

What are foam tips for earbuds?

Sennheiser IE200 review ear tips

Foam tips for earbuds are, well — they’re foam tips. For earbuds. Or, to be more specific, they’re replacements for the (often) silicon tips that your standard earbuds came with. There are countless offerings out there, but one of the more popular ones are from Comply

As for why you’d want to consider them, there are a few key reasons. The first one, is noise isolation. Foam earbud tips are meant to be squeezed before being inserted into your ear. Hold the earbud in place for a few seconds, wait for the foam to expand, and voila — enjoy the superior seal. This expansion blocks out far more external noise compared to regular silicon earbud tips, which has the benefit of not only creating a more peaceful listening environment, but also lets you enjoy music at lower volumes.

Most higher-end earbuds come with active noise cancellation or ANC tech, which uses built-in microphone tech and algorithms to cancel out external noise, but this tends to have a pretty substantial impact on battery life, and the results aren’t always perfect. Physically creating a solid seal and isolating the outside world with foam tips can ensure that you’ve got a super-solid baseline to start with. Throw ANC on top of that, and you’re in isolation nirvana.

Another reason you’ll want to consider foam tips, is for their more secure fit. Their aforementioned expansion makes them create a borderline-custom fit for your ear, providing a more stable fit in the process. If you’re the type to run around and jump while listening to music on your daily excursions, then this extra security will be a very welcome upgrade. Also, if you find yourself unable to get on with any of the various-sized silicon tips that your earbuds came with, chances are that foam tips will provide a much higher chance of success, thanks to their expansion powers.

Foam tips vs silicon

There are, as with most things in life, a few downsides. Having used foam tips over the years, our main gripe with them is the fact that they can get rather… waxy. Even if you’re on top of your ear hygiene, they inevitably pick up wax and can go harder over time, requiring a little extra cleaning. It’s not a dealbreaker by any means, but there’s no denying the fact that silicon tips manage to avoid this issue.

Some people might also find foam tips a little more uncomfortable. This tends to happen if the tip they’ve chosen is too large for their ears, which can cause uncomfortable pressure. As with silicon tips, foam tips for earbuds are often available in multiple sizes, though this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. 

Ultimately, foam tips aren’t too expensive, and are definitely worth a shot if you’re looking to breathe new comfort and life into your earbuds. You could transform the comfort and sound of your daily commute for the price of a few cups of coffee, so we recommend trying them out to see how you get on.

Profile image of Esat Dedezade Esat Dedezade Contributor


Esat has been a gadget fan ever since his tiny four-year-old brain was captivated by a sound-activated dancing sunflower. From there it was a natural progression to a Sega Mega Drive, a brief obsession with hedgehogs, and a love for all things tech. After 7 years as a writer and deputy editor for Stuff, Esat ventured out into the corporate world, spending three years as Editor of Microsoft's European News Centre. Now a freelance writer, his appetite for shiny gadgets has no bounds. Oh, and like all good human beings, he's very fond of cats.