Even though I’ve spent years testing the best wireless earbuds, I never thought that swapping out the silicone ear tips for another type would have such a big impact on how I consume wireless audio. Everything you need comes bundled with your earbuds when you make your purchase, including multiple pairs of silicone ear tips. Sometimes you get a selection of foam ear tips to choose from, too, but I wouldn't mind betting that the majority of us default to the silicone variety as this is usualy the type that's fitted.
AirPods Pro 2 don't come supplied with foam ear tips, but I recently got a pair to try out and was impressed by the audio and comfort benefits I discovered.
Noticeably better sound
Foam tips are designed to funnel sound directly into your ears, giving the soundscape an immersive presence, while keeping ambient noise from entering it. Those with detailed hearing may notice stronger bass presence. Others may find sound to be neutral. Every listener’s ear will be different.
Some forum users on audio enthusiast sites like Head-Fi claim that foam tips bring out more bass. My testing saw a minor boost in bass when listening to EDM, hip-hop, and rock tracks.
Movies made a greater impression. Aerial effects and explosions did sound more authentic. I would have loved for the tips to enhance the acoustics, but the fact that they maintained vocal quality was impressive.
Snug pillows for your ears
The spongy, expandable material used to make foam tips molds to the shape of your ear canal, essentially creating your own personalized tips. Silicone tips don’t do this, nor do they have a solid barrier that keeps the sound port and cavity from pressing up against your ears.
Foam tips have superior cushioning that relieve the concha of soreness and absorb moisture much better to achieve optimal fit.
I’ve been using foam tips with some of the best running headphones, including the AirPods Pro 2, which has delivered a surprisingly positive running experience. Apple’s new ear tip kit reduces slippage by forming a tighter seal around the ear. However, ADV’s foam tips demonstrate stronger grip control and sweat absorption.
Additionally, JLab’s Cloud Foam tips, which are packaged with the Epic Air Sport ANC (2nd Gen), kept the buds in place during outdoor runs.
Foam tips have also increased my casual listening time. My pain threshold for wearing earbuds is usually around 2 to 3 hours before fatigue sets in. Using foam tips has upped it to 5 hours.
Better noise isolation
Some people find noise-cancelling earbuds uncomfortable from the pressure caused by active noise cancellation (ANC) technology.
Foam tips are an excellent alternative that reduces noise passively at a higher level than silicone tips. The material fills any gaps where ambient sound might sneak onto the soundscape. I’ve recently started using the Sony WF-1000XM4 (completely forgetting they come bundled with foam tips) and found the buds useful for diminishing external sounds with ANC turned off. Landscaping noises were silent from my balcony. Even indoor disruptions like loud TVs and my son’s cries were brought down a few notches.
ANC is still the better option for eliminating ambient sounds. But if ANC isn’t for you, foam tips do a formidable job of keeping disruptive surrounding noises from reaching your ears, as well as preventing sound from leaking out of the buds and disturbing others.
Improve your ear health
Worried about earwax buildup? Foam tips will help mitigate the problem. According to Dr. Jason Abramowitz, earbuds “affect the airflow in the ear canal, which can lead to wax buildup.” Furthermore, earbuds push wax deeper into the canal, which blocks the ear canal and affects hearing. Brands like Comply have developed something called WaxGuard, said to prevent earwax and debris from entering the sound port to keep the sound path clear.
Foam vs. silicone tips: Which one is right for you?
Pros and cons exist for each type of ear tip. Silicone tips are easier to clean and last longer, but easily slip out and create an uncomfortable suction sensation when plugged into your ears. The performance and wearable enhancements offered from foam tips make them the better true wireless add-on.
If you’re looking for a new way to get more out of your wireless earbuds, then I strongly recommend buying foam tips. You can purchase a set for as low as $18, depending on which buds you own.
Next: How to clean AirPods Pro safely
Where to buy foam ear tips
Foam ear tips can be found for several different earbud models. Check out these links below to find foam ear tips designed to fit some of our favorite earbuds.
- ADV Foam Tips (AirPods Pro Gen 1 & 2) for $19.99 at ADV
- Comply Foam Tips (AirPods Pro Gen 1 & 2) for $24.99 at Amazon
- Comply Foam Tips (Beats Fit Pro & Studio Buds) for $21.99 at Amazon
- Comply Foam Tips (Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro) for $20.08 at Amazon
- Comply Foam Tips (Sony WF-1000XM4/XM3) for $18 at Amazon
Next: I bought the Beats Fit Pro — and I actually like them better than AirPods Pro 2.