Collin’s Lab: Custom Fit Earbuds

Music Technology
Collin’s Lab: Custom Fit Earbuds

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What do you get when you combine DIY custom-molded earplugs with a pair of in-ear headphones? Isolated Hi-Fi that fits like a glove but won’t break the bank.

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Collin’s Lab: Custom fit earbuds

I’ve used quite a variety of sound-isolating personal audio gear; around-ear cans, in-ear buds, as well as active noise-canceling models. All of these posed problems for me in one way or another. Most often, it came down to issues with comfort and how well each design could maintain a good seal on my substantial noggin.

I was excited to find out that there are custom-fit headphone services out there, but my enthusiasm withered upon learning the price for such a thing. Thankfully, I did find a DIY custom-mold earplug kit available for relatively cheap. So, I dug out my old pair of Shure E2C earbuds, ordered myself up a kit, and then put together a very simple but satisfyingly effective project.

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Also – for those who prefer more static imagery in their tutorials, I added this project to the very excellent Make: Projects site. Check the relevant step-by-steps here.

See all of Collin’s Lab videos

20 thoughts on “Collin’s Lab: Custom fit earbuds

  1. weendex says:

    I have a pair of custom fitted IEM’s which cost me only:

    There are a few companies that will refit your universal earphones (shure, westone, UE, sennheiser, whatever) into a custom mold. The process is irreversible for obvious reasons, so you have to be committed if you are refitting a $300 pair.

    I had mine done by Fisher Hearing in Florida.

    1) I bought a pair of slightly used Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10’s for about $100 (these have a low market value due to Amazon pricing them at $100 a little while back and crashing the resale market, look around).

    2) I picked up a much improved cable from Westone’s website. You can get a replacement cable for their ES series custom headphones for $32 on the website. This cable is incredible. No microphonic noise, light, zero-memory.

    3) Get your ear molds done by an audiologist. This is generally $15-$40. Fisher did mine for free since I was paying them for the remold.

    4) Remold for around $90 + shipping

    Total cost: $222 + some shipping.
    End result: Triple driver, professionally made custom IEMs. Comparable to most $700-$800 custom IEMs you can get from Westone/UE/JH.

    As a humorous aside, I had an additional related cost: $129 speeding ticket while on the road to Fisher’s lab :(

    1. weendex says:

      Following up my previous comment with a picture:

  2. BurningPanda says:

    Order some Silpression 2 part silicone from a moulding supplies store. I paid $17.50 for 200gm. Follow the above instructions.

  3. Aaron Goselin says:

    I only recently found your videos (haven’t exactly seen all of them but you know what I mean.) Forgive me if you have already done something like this, but have you considered doing a video explaining how to make in-ear headphones from scratch (or a video explaining how they work from which we could infer how to make them)? This sort of thing (shown in this video) is great for customizing headphones we already have, but it would be even better if we (or at least I) made them ourselves.

    I would love to have all of your instructional (and anything else interesting you have done related to electronics) on a disc (or at least available as a single download). Do you have plans for any such thing?

    My ADD seems to adhere to your personality, so I must thank you for making such fantastic videos. Ok, that concludes lips to rump. :)

  4. Paully says:

    On the weekend… brilliant, The only reason I haven’t had custom moulded earphones is the price, the kit allowed me to make 2 sets of moulded earphones, one set from my etymotic er6i’s and another from my Ultimate Ears metro-fi.

    Thanks for this how-to… It has most definitely improved my music listening!

  5. John Stoner says:

    Great, easy little project. Low effort, low cost (for me), high satisfaction. I had a pair of fancy in-ear headphones/torture devices lying around that I stopped using years ago, and now they’re useful again. Thanks!

  6. Anonymous says:

    can you fill your own teeth too? audiologically speaking, that’s a really dangerous thing to do. you took a long- second bend of the ear canal- impression without a block or dam to prevent the silicone from hitting your eardrum. that may have been a thud you heard when it did. puncturing your eardrum would cost you a lot more than the price of getting impressions professionally made. swimming, showering, hearing- all become issues with broken eardrums- not to mention the possibility of dizziness, ringing in your ears and there’s also that little facial nerve that runs along the eardrum.

    really bad idea.

    1. Collin Cunningham says:

      I understand your concern, but I believe it’s a bit of an alarmist reaction in this case.  I believe any potential damage here would need to be caused by trapped air pressure.   If I felt any excessive pressure during the curing process, I would’ve removed the silicone immediately.

      and no, I can’t fill my own teeth … yet at least.

  7. Jess Mason says:

    Thanks for the idea !!!

  8. João SimÕes says:

    You should have used cotton to stop the silicone flow!

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