Apr 16, 2024

How to find the best fit for your true wireless earbuds

Earbuds not feeling quite right? We've got you covered

High-end true wireless earbuds are starting to give over-ear headphones a run for their money on audio quality and ANC effectiveness, but even the best earbuds can sound crummy with a poor fit. While hard plastic earbuds like AirPods are a one-size-fits-some option, most pairs of earbuds that sit fully in your ears have customizable fits that can be adjusted to suit your specific ear shape. Looking to get the best fit you can? Here are AP's top tips.

First, and most obviously, if your earbuds don't fit your ears well enough with their pre-installed tips, experiment with the other size options that were included in the box with your buds. Most pairs come with three sizes, some even more — if your earbuds feel too loose, try a larger pair. If they feel too tight, see what smaller ear tips feel like.

Klipsch recommends trying to get a good seal using your fingertips, starting with your pinkie and progressively moving up in size, then choosing the ear tip size that most closely matches the finger that got the most thorough seal in your ear. That seems a little extreme; you can probably just try the different sizes of tip available and see what works. If no one size feels right, consider trying a different size in each ear.

Some earbuds also come with other swappable bits, like the "stability bands" included with Bose's QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, or the wing-shaped parts on many athletic-focused earbuds. These parts won't affect your earbuds' seal much when you're sitting still, but they help them stay put when you're on the move.

Even with the right hardware installed, it's possible your earbuds might not be optimally positioned in your ears. Many earbud manufacturers recommend gently pushing your buds into your ears, then twisting them a little to push them in the last little bit. Specific guidance will vary from pair to pair, but the instructional literature that came with your earbuds should have specifics. If you threw that literature out (without reading it, like a normal person), you should be able to find a copy online with a quick Google search.

Sony also has a hot tip: when inserting an earbud, use your opposite hand to gently pull up on the top of your ear, opening up your ear canal. Once the bud is in, let go of your ear so it returns to its normal shape. The procedure might sound a little involved, but it really can help with getting your buds situated just right.

If you've tried the above steps and you're still stumped, depending on the earbuds you have, you might not be out of options. Many earbuds that come with companion mobile apps offer fit test functionality that walks you through getting a good fit with your earbuds.

The Headphones Connect app used with Sony earbuds labels its fit test Determines Optimal Earbud Tips; the Bose Music app calls it Earbud Seal Test; the Google Pixel Buds app has an Eartip seal check option for Pixel Buds Pro. Specific implementations will vary, so if you can't find a fit test option in your earbuds' companion app, you might need to do a little research to find out whether your specific earbuds support this type of feature.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 feature dedicated processors for both noise cancellation and regular audio processing while being lighter and smaller than their predecessors, but the premium quality comes with a price tag to match.

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra earbuds offer great audio quality, the best ANC you'll find in earbuds, and a highly customizable fit.

With nice audio, strong ANC, and excellent battery life, the Pixel Buds Pro deliver a premium earbud experience in ways that Google's past attempts could not. If you are an Android user with $200 to spend on earbuds, these are a great pick.

If your earbuds feel too loose in your ears and frequently fall out, you should start by trying larger ear tip sizes. If you've exhausted your options for differently sized parts and your earbuds still feel loose, you might need to consider buying a new pair that'll work better with your ears.

Many athletic earbuds offer more robust stabilizing hardware than general-purpose buds. Considering they're made to stick in place even with heavy activity, this route may be your best bet to get earbuds that stay in place, even if you don't intend to work out while wearing them.

The Soundcore Sport X10 earbuds from Anker have a classy, stylish look most people will dig. They provide a secure fit via a unique rotatable ear hook. Their sound is on the bassy side, but hey, a lot of people are into that.

The Skullcandy Push Active are made for athletes, but they're also good for anyone who has a hard time keeping true wireless earbuds in their ears. They look pretty sleek, too.

A mild sensation of in-ear pressure isn't unusual with earbuds that are properly sealed, but if you're finding it to be uncomfortable, you might need to make an adjustment. Start by trying smaller ear tips; if you can't get a fit that feels comfortable while also creating a thorough seal, you may need to try a different pair of earbuds altogether.

Some buds, like the Pixel Buds Pro, are advertised as having features that mitigate the feeling of in-ear pressure. You could also try hard plastic earbuds that don't insert as far into your ears, like the Nothing Ear Stick. There's also the Pixel Buds A-Series, which have a "spatial vent" to make sure there's no added pressure in your ears. By design, the latter two options can't thoroughly seal your ears off from the outside world, so you'll hear a lot of background noise while wearing them. But if you hate the pressurized feeling of fully closed earbuds, they might be your best bet for comfort.

The Nothing Ear Stick are a pair of fashion-focused earbuds from the company behind the Ear 1 and the Nothing Phone 1. Other than offering the signature transparent look and a lipstick-formed case, they offer a few smart features and promise to give you a great audio experience.

For $99, the Pixel Buds A-Series offer good audio quality and a comfortable, lightweight fit, plus a unique vented design that mitigates in-ear pressure and lets in some environmental sound for better situational awareness.

We hope this guide has helped you get a better earbud fit. For more about earbuds, check out our guide to Android fan-favorite feature Fast Pair, where you can learn all about what Fast Pair is and how to use it. If you're in a technical mood, we've also got an explainer that breaks down how active noise cancelation works — and it's fascinating stuff.

Taylor was an amateur phone nerd for the better part of a decade prior to joining Android Police in 2018, where he's since authored more than a thousand articles about all things Android. Taylor serves as Gadgets Editor, and you'll see his byline on editorials, reviews, comparative buyer's guides, and technical explainers, as well as the occasional piece of breaking news. He's got soft spots for personal audio, wearable tech, smart lights, and mobile photography. There's a good chance he's carrying a Pixel phone right now. In his time away from AP, you'll probably catch Taylor hanging out with his two dogs, playing Xbox, or out shooting with his beloved Fuji X-T20. Send him memes and fan mail at [email protected].