Find out why your earbuds are falling out and how to keep them in place.
In this article, we discuss several reasons why earbuds keep falling out. Some involve a user error, whereas our anatomy causes others. Knowing which one applies to you is key to successful troubleshooting.
Thankfully, there are many solutions to get your earbuds to stay in place. With these tips, you should get your stability back in no time.
How to Properly Insert Earbuds
Before we start, you first have to master inserting earbuds properly.
Many users push them into the ear canal. However, that doesn’t ensure your earbuds are all the way inside. They’re bound to fall out if they don’t have enough surface to grip.
If you want your ears to grab the earbuds, try this method:
- For example, when placing the left earbud into the left ear, use your right hand to reach over your head. Then, grab on top of the left ear’s earlobe. By pulling it up slightly, you will open the ear canal.
- With your left hand, place your earbuds into your ear canal. Release the earlobe.
When the earlobe settles, it should grab your earbuds firmly.
How to Keep Earbuds from Falling Out?
Once you insert your earbuds the right way, consider these steps:
1. Wearing Earbuds the Right Way
All earbuds are designed to fit in a specific way.
- Classic earphones are the easiest to wear. You simply place them in your ears, without worrying about orientation.
- For example, Apple Airpods nozzles should face the ear canal.
- Many in-ear headphones have slighlty upward tilted nozzles. Basically, in the same direction as the ear canal.
- If your earbuds have an over-the-ear cable design, use them that way. And don’t wear them with a cable straight down since they won’t fit properly.
2. Choose the Right Ear Tips
Picking the correct earbud tip size is crucial.
If none of the ear tips that come with your earbuds fit you, try some third-party solutions.
Some people can have different-sized ear canals. For example, they might need small ear tips for the left ear and medium ear tips for the right ear.
How to know if you’re using the right ear tips?
- When you place earbuds in your ears, you should hear a noticeable drop in ambient noise.
- Weak bass means poor seal. Bass quantity is also a good indicator of a proper fit.
There are 5 major types of ear tips, with all having their advantages and disadvantages.
Silicone Ear Tips
These are the most common and come with all in-ear headphones. However, there are many sub-types of silicone tips.
Starting with regular silicone tips, their best qualities are:
- Durability: They can last for years and are easy to clean if they get dirty. Usually are quite sturdy, but they can tear if you pull them too hard.
- Comfort: Regular tips don’t go that deep, which creates less pressure in your ear canal.
- Isolation: Isolating properties are great but not the best.
- Fit: Regular silicone tips aren’t the grippiest out there. Some perform better than others, but they tend to slip out when you mix them with ear wax or sweat.
Multi-flanged Ear Tips
These normally come with swimming or isolating earbuds since they offer high levels of noise isolation.
However, they can be very tricky to use since they go pretty deeply into your ear canal, creating a strange sensation.
You have to get used to this type of ear tips. Many users find them too awkward.
They’re also not the best idea for clumsy users who regularly tuck the cables. Since they’re deep in your ears, pulling them too hard creates strong pressure, which can damage your eardrums.
Foam Ear Tips
- Comfort: In general, foam tips are very comfortable. They perfectly contour your ear canal and are soft, so you don’t feel pressure.
- Fit: Memory foam tips improve the stability of your earbuds a lot. Since they contour your ear canals, they offer superior grip.
- Isolation: Foam eartips are also great at blocking ambient noise. Sony even decided to put foam tips in their new true wireless earbuds WF-1000XM4 for improved active noise cancelling performance.
Durability: They’re the least durable. You have to be especially careful when taking them off the earbuds since they tear easily.
Since they’re made of foam, you have to squeeze them constantly. And as you know, the foam does lose its shape after a while.
- Sound: Another problem is a change in sound. Some call it “funneling” since foam tips can add more bass and make higher frequencies a bit smoother.
How to insert memory foam tips
When placing the left earbud:
- First, squeeze the foam in the ear tip.
- Use your right hand to reach over your head. Grab on top of left ear’s earlobe. By pulling it up slightly, you will open the ear canal.
- With your left hand, place your earbuds into your ear canal. Release the earlobe.
- Wait a couple of seconds for the foam to expand.
You will gradually hear less ambient noise, confirming optimal seal.
Hybrid Ear Tips
Hybrid tips come in different mixtures. There are:
- Silicone tips with foam underneath for better durability and added isolation
- Silicone tips with stiffer or softer cores for different sound characteristics
Custom Ear Tips
These are the best solution for achieving a perfect fit. Custom tips are made for you and you only, so your friend can’t use them afterward.
Some brands are selling custom-made earbuds. There’re even wireless earbuds called Ultimate Ears Fits that let you do the molding at home.
ADV Sound also make custom ear tips. On their site, you get the location where to take your ear impression and which earbud models are supported (they don’t make custom tips for all earbuds).
Earphones either use rubber sleeves or foam covers to grab your ear lobe better.
Foamy covers do a better job for comfort and stability but aren’t as durable. They tear up easily if you aren’t careful.
Which are the Best for You?
FOR EARBUDS: Memory-foam ear tips. They’re by far the best since the foam contours to your ear canal perfectly.
Just make sure you buy tips that are compatible with your earbuds.
FOR CLASSIC EARPHONES: foam covers. Durability can be an issue, but they better grab your ears.
3. Get Extra Stability Accessories
If you tried everything above and earbuds keep falling out, you might need other accessories. Some activities call for specific models.
You might need earbuds for running or specific sports headphones to stay in place during a rigorous workout. Alternatively, if your ears are tiny, you might need to look for earbuds that fit small ears.
Some circumstances call for new earbuds. However, there are aftermarket products available to use with existing headphones.
Best Accessories to Keep Earbuds From Falling Out
- Ear Hooks
Some earbuds come with ear hooks in the package. Usually, they’re a piece of flexible silicone that can shape to your ears. You can also buy ear hooks separately as an aftermarket product.
A lot of ear hooks are designed to be generic but don’t fit all earbuds. The best aftermarket ear hooks are usually made for the Apple EarPods and AirPods.
Ear wings are similar to hooks, except they sit within the ear. A lot of people mistake these for ear hooks.
Many sport-oriented and true wireless earbuds use wing design.
4. Choose the Right Earbuds
The best way to avoid future problems with earbuds falling out is to choose the right ones in the first place.
Right of the bat, avoid classic earphones since they’re the least stable of the bunch.
Instead, get earbuds with ear hooks or ear fins
Hooks and fins ensure greater stability when performing rigorous movements. That’s why many active users like using them during workouts.
Consider true wireless earbuds
Having no wires to dangle around is genuinely refreshing. Suddenly you don’t have to worry about the headphone cable getting stuck on a doorknob.
True wireless earbuds connect via Bluetooth, with each bud working independently.
Don’t mix “true wireless” with “wireless” earbuds since the latter still uses a wire to connect both earbuds.
Look for ergonomically shaped earbuds
While it’s tough to differentiate an ergonomic design from an uncomfortable one, checking reviews can help you narrow down your search.
Ergonomic earbuds are touching the larger surface of your ear’s skin. That ensures a more optimal grip, preventing earbuds from moving too much during usage.
Opt for earbuds with custom ear tips
As mentioned above, you can either purchase them from a manufacturer (like Ultimate Ears) or get them made out of your existing earbuds.
When ordering from a manufacturer, they will send you a putty to make an impression of your ear.
Use waterproof earbuds
By that, we mean earbuds you can use for swimming. They have specially designed ear tips for maximum grip.
Most of them also come with multi-flanged tips, which are more secure, albeit awkward to use.
If possible, try them before purchasing
Sadly, many stores don’t offer in-ear headphones to try out, only over-ears. The reason is hygiene.
If everyone that comes in the store tried the same earbuds, they would be full of ear wax and gunk. Imagine putting other people’s dirt in your ears.
But if your friend owns a pair that he/she paise, you might give them a try.
Wear Ear Warmers for Extra Stability
Using headbands for sports or ear warmer doesn’t look cool but at least your earbuds stay in place.
However, using ear warmers can have its disadvantages.
- By tucking them under the band, earbuds remain secure no matter what you’re doing.
- The band can push earbuds further inside, making them uncomfortable.
- Earbuds can change position, slightly altering their sound performance.
Wired earbuds with over-the-ear cable
Over-the-ear wiring offers many advantages when you want to stop earbuds from falling out.
Firstly, it ensures better stability since the weight of both cable and earbuds is distributed on the ears. It’s also harder to push earbuds out of your ears if the cord gets tucked.
Secondly, it reduces cable noise (microphonics) since your earlobes catch cable vibrations.
5. Don’t Use Cotton Swabs to Clean Ears
Cotton swabs (Q-tips) can push earwax further into your ears, making you susceptible to ear conditions such as the swimmer’s ear.
In addition, the wax can make it very uncomfortable to wear earbuds and push wax up against the eardrum.
You might hear ear syringing is a more viable alternative, but that’s not true.
First, consult with your doctor what type of ear drops are best for you.
Why Earbuds Keep Falling Out?
There are several reasons why earbuds don’t stay in place. Sometimes you can fix it, other times you can’t.
Here’s a list of what can be the problem.
The best example are classic earphones. For some people’s ear shape, earphones stick well, but many are not that lucky.
The main problem is the outer ear design (pinna). Everyone’s ear is unique, just like a fingerprint.
When designing earbuds, manufacturers have to take that into account. And even then, some products are incompatible with some users.
Wrong Size of Ear Tips or Other Accessories
Even too small tips can hold earbuds inside to some degree, but the sound is noticeably worse than expected.
Try out all the included tips to see which ones fit best.
Also, don’t resort to too big ear tips. While they can isolate well, they don’t reach as deep and will make your earbuds pop out.
Excess Ear Wax or Sweat
Ear wax naturally accumulates in your ears for protection from debris and lubricating eardrums.
However, when warm, it can be very slippery. Also, most earbuds push ear wax back inside, meaning you have to clean your ears more regularly.
Of course, the same goes for earbuds. They act as a cotton swab, picking up wax and attracting dirt.
When ear wax covers the mesh that protects the driver, earbuds start sounding worse.
Read more on how to clean earbuds.
Earbuds Too Close to the Jaw
Your lower jaw has muscles that are connected close to your ears. As a result, when you chew, yawn, or talk, those muscles also move your ears.
In practice, the closer your jaw is to your ears, the more ear movement they cause. That can affect how earbuds behave when in your ears.
Exaggerated facial expressions, like smiling, can also cause earbuds to lose their seal.
Ear Cartilage Deficiency Syndrome
The lack of cartilage in your earlobes can occur before birth (when an embryo is developing) or as a result of an accident.
There are various types of cartilage deficiency syndrome. Some only have differently shaped outer ears, while others have a small ear canal, or in some cases, no ear canal at all.
Why It’s Important to get a Stable Fit in Earbuds?
Using earbuds that you constantly need to readjust is annoying.
Fit can also affect other things that can change your whole listening experience.
Lack of Full Sound
Since earbuds can’t produce a room-filling sound, they have to create a small, sealed environment. Without a proper seal, the sound doesn’t get as full.
Stability plays a crucial role here, preventing your earbuds from jumping too much, thus breaking the seal.
No matter how great your earbuds sound, you will hate using them if the comfort is off.
If something is pressing against your earlobes, it can start causing pain. A little pressure at the beginning can become unbearable after a while.
Sometimes, you might have inserted earbuds incorrectly. However, in most cases, the housing is just too big.
Improved Passive Isolation
Small details in music are easily masked by loud external noise. Therefore, blocking ambient noise is essential for improving sound quality.
Good passive isolation is also crucial for active noise cancellation to work correctly. It’s the combination of both that yields the best results.
Otherwise, you end up with something like Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, open-ear earbuds with terrible ANC.