Do Eartips Affect Sound?

Do Eartips Affect Sound?

Before this whole audiophile thing really resonated with me, the concept of eartips having any real impact on the sound of my IEMs sounded ridiculous. How could something that felt so miniscule in the grand scheme of things impact my listening experience as drastically as so many audiophiles made it seem? Well, it didn’t take more than just a few A/B listening tests to find out that the sentiment of different types of eartips making a difference in the sound signature of your earphones is indeed true, let's discuss it. 

The Different Types of Tips

Silicone: With their durable and easy to clean design, silicone tips are a great long lasting option for your IEMs. While fit and seal is easily the first and foremost important characteristic of a good eartip, sound isolation is not far behind. Although silicone may not be the most isolating out of its competition, it does provide adequate levels of isolation that will most broadly satisfy the needs of the listener. 

Foam: Foam tips provide the listener with a soft, cushiony material that gives the best levels of isolation when properly seated. With most foam tips, the soft and flexible nature of them create a mold that is able to contour to your ear. With this fit filling in a lot of empty space, this allows the best sound isolation achievable for a universal IEM, drowning out any outside noise that's taking away from your listening session.

Do Eartips Affect Sound?

Hybrid (foam inside, with a silicone lining): Although this style of tip is a bit more rare, they are still worth noting as they offer a versatile fit that allows for the same expansion of foam to fill in space for your ear, with that silicone lining creating a smooth finish. They’re easy to clean and able to fit into the ear canal with ease. They are certainly worth checking out if you like the feel of silicone, and also the complete isolation that foam is able to provide. 

(Subjective) Sound Differences

Even with a proper rig for taking measurements, it is challenging to measure the specific sonic differences in eartips. And while we don’t have a coupler to take measurements, I can try my best to articulate what each tip provided my listening sessions with in terms of detail, bass extension, and treble performnace.

With silicone tips, I’ve found their ability to maximize the performance in the treble region of bass heavy IEMs simply incomparable to foam or hybrid tips. With the bass being so prominent in the 64 Audio Nio, I often pair the superb IEM with a set of silicone ear tips to get the most shimmer in the high frequencies to meet my ideal sound signature. This combo not only accentuates the hard hitting and well extended bass, it gives natural timbre to instruments that I believe foam doesn't do justice. With foam, I found the treble regions to be just a tad metallic for my taste, while silicone allows for that resolution to go deep with a natural roll off. A tight fit and seal has always been easily obtainable to me with silicone tips, so I’ve actually gotten solid isolation with silicone tips. But what often comes with that tight fit is fatigue, which will and always has been my biggest complaint of silicone tips. 

Do Eartips Affect Sound?

Silicone tips do have various versions that can change the sound signature of your IEM quite a lot. You’re not going to get the same performance from a Spinfit tip as you are a Final E series tip. As bore size increases, or narrows, the higher frequencies of the IEMs are going to be highlighted more, making wide boar tips maybe overly bright to the listener. Similarly, a filtered tip, like the ones included with the Sennheiser IE series, are going to dampen the bass and let that treble shine through. Depending on which sound signature you’re aiming for, it is definitely worth going through different forms of tips to achieve your desired sound. 

Although the silicone tips pair well with an IEM that leans more warm, I found that with a highly technical and resolving IEM, such as the Noble Audio Ronin, the same cannot be said. While I’m not saying that the sound is objectively bad, it just didn’t give me that sound signature I was looking for in an IEM. Well, that wasn’t until I put foam tips on. That resolving treble took a small step back, and that well bodied midrange and detailed bass took a step forward, and the complete sound signature of Ronin truly shined. I fell in love with the technical capabilities that the Ronin provided across the board, rather than only getting to experience that shimmering treble, and not other bodies of music. With the sound signature being much improved in the Ronin, I also found the ergonomics of the nozzle to be much more comfortable as it no longer had that silicone wrap. The foam took away that feeling of fatigue, and instead replaced it with comfort and superb sound isolation.

Do Eartips Affect Sound?

Now the hybrid tips are tricky, as this idea definitely hasn’t gotten that mainstream attention like foam and silicone always will, but it is picking up momentum, and FiR Audio decided to include their take on the hybrid tip with their new frontier series. I took them for a spin with the Radon 6, but I found the Andromeda Emerald Sea to really take advantage of the expanding foam fit. My ears were filled with impactful low end dynamics, and the foam molding so well into my ears created a very full listening experience. Even with the comfort not being as good as regular foam tips, the hybrid fit and seal, to my ears, is much more natural than that of regular foam. With the silicone allowing for a deeper insertion, I found the sound isolation to be amongst the best I’ve experienced, making me think the hybrid ear tip may just become a new norm in the IEM space sooner than later. 



Sound Characteristics


Usually the easiest, most comfortable fit. Easy to clean and sweat resistant.

Since it’s less porous than foam, some variations can provide a tight seal, but typically isn’t as isolating as Foam.

Silicone tends to sound brighter than other tips, but designs like Final E-Series and SpinFit offer stronger bass


Molds to your ear shape. Can be the most secure fit.

Provides an excellent seal, but it can take some work to find the right fit to achieve that.

Foam’s strong seal accentuates bass and provides strong impact. Can be great for balancing out brightness in IEMs.


Combines the comfort of silicone with the more secure fit of foam.

The combination of materials can make it the most challenging to achieve a secure fit, but the end result can be the best seal achievable.

Presents a balanced sound with the ear molding seal of foam, but the less porous outer silicone shell.

Finding Your Daily Driver 

Finding my preferred eartip took awhile. I was constantly shifting through tips that I thought at the time gave me the best seal, but that's drastically changed since I first got into the hobby. Although as of late I’ve found the Spinfit W1 to be my go to, I’m sure it won’t be long until I stumble across another ear tip that creates a rich and full sound, while still creating a comfortable fit and seal. CanJams are certainly the best place to try out a variety of tips from both dealers and manufacturers, allowing you to gauge whether its foam, silicone, or hybrid that you find gives both the best sound and fit for your taste. 

Do Eartips Affect Sound?

The Bottom Line

What seems so small, actually plays such a critical role in getting the best sound possible out of your IEMs. Eartips can play a big role in your audiophile journey, and while it’s always fun to unbox a new IEM and hear its sound signature and unique sound characteristics, it can be just as exciting to hear that sound signature turn into something completely different through tip rolling. With eartips being quite inexpensive, I recommend trying some different tips on each IEM you have in your collection, as you may be surprised by how significantly they can change the experience.