I’d like to thank the folks at Comply for sending me samples to review.
When Comply posted that they were looking for reviewers of their foam tips, I jumped at the opportunity to review them. A short while later, I received a package containing two sets of Comply’s foam tips, the Tx-400 and Tx-500 to try on my IEMs, both sets coming in various sizes and including a wax guard filter.
Now, this is, by no means, my first experience with Comply foam tips. By chance one day, I was in RadioShack looking for an adapter for my wired cellphone headset; I came across a three pack of Comply T-400 tips and decided to try them out. Comply foam tips are lauded almost universally around Head-Fi for their comfort so I was eager to try them out for myself and I wasn’t disappointed.
Now, I have a set of Tx series Comply foam tips, which feature an integrated “wax-guard”, a small foam filter designed to protect IEM sound bores (like the open tubes of the Triple.Fi 10) from ear wax. So, with that in mind, read on for my thoughts on the Comply foam Tx series IEM tips.
Comfort and Fit
In my testing, I used the small and medium tips, which were both a good fit for my smallish ear canals.
Made of very soft, open-cell foam, Comply foam tips are lauded for their comfort and great fit and my experience is no exception. The tips compress easily for insertion and expand slowly, matching the contours of your inner ear. The resulting fit is very comfortable for long stretches and is highly secure, making them a good choice for use at the gym or during other particularly active moments. The fit of the Comply foam tips is about as close as you’ll get to the unmatched comfort of custom IEMs without the steep asking price.
Long Tx-400 on HiFiMan RE0
I really, really like this pairing. Not only do the RE0s more or less disappear inside my ear canals, but the Tx-400 seems to be improving the sound quality in its own way, thanks in no small part to the wax guard. The wax guard acts as an acoustic filter and tones down the treble slightly but appears to boost the mids and bass a bit as well, which I found to be really enjoyable. The RE0s take on a bit of a lush and sweet sound signature, rather than the strictly analytical and “thin” signature I’ve come to associate with them. The RE0 gives up a tiny bit of the stellar transparency that it’s known for but still retains very good balance.
As mentioned earlier, the tips themselves are extremely comfortable and are almost unnoticeable in my ears. Even with the deeper insertion levels than I’m used to, I didn’t feel any discomfort whatsoever.
Small and Medium Tx-500 on Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10
The Tx-500 tips were a good deal more comfortable in my testing than most silicone based tips, including Sony Hybrids on the Triple.Fi 10s, a pair of earphones that is notorious for being uncomfortable. Even though I can get a better fit than many who have complained about the Triple.Fi 10s, they’ve never been what I’d call “comfortable”. With the Tx-500s, that didn’t change but they were a big step in the right direction.
This pairing was good but not as good as the pairing between the RE0 and Tx-400 and not as good as I’d hoped. While I do enjoy the Comply’s ability to tone down the treble a bit, the wax filter does these IEMs a bit of a disservice in that it makes the Triple.Fi 10s come off as a bit veiled. This is a common complaint of the Triple.Fi 10s as well as the midrange being recessed based solely on their own merits and the Tx-500 seems to exacerbate those problems. It’s not significant enough that I honestly didn’t want to listen to them with the Tx-500s in place but felt it was worth mentioning, all the same.
Using the original T-500 tips that shipped with the Triple.Fi 10s was a more enjoyable experience for me, as they lack the distinguishing wax filter of the Tx-500s and sound less veiled as a result.
Medium Tx-400 on MEElectronics M11P+
This combination was in line with my expectations in that it accentuated the already massive bass slightly but did seem to bring other frequencies into better balance. The bass was still massive but it was relatively well controlled and the midrange seemed to step forward a bit. Treble performance was expectantly even due to the acoustic filter but the earphones come across a tiny bit veiled overall because of that. Comfort was quite good, as expected, helped by the slender housings of the M11P+. Surprisingly though, I didn’t find the fit to be quite as effortless with the M11P+ as with the RE0.
Final Test Notes
When buying the Tx series Comply foam tips, you have to be mindful of two things. One, the aforementioned wax guard is in place and second, that this filter will alter the sound of whatever earphones you put the tips on. The significance of these differences differs between different earphones and, most importantly, will be more or less desirable than the sound of the earphones with standard silicone tips. Whether or not the acoustic differences in the sound your earphones produce is desirable will ultimately come down to personal preference. I loved the sound of the RE0 and Tx-400 enough to choose them over my RE-262 and Triple.Fi 10 in some instances, two earphones that are both more technically capable and more appealing, sound signature wise but the changes to the RE0’s sound signature might not be appealing to others.
The Comply Tx-400 and Tx-500 tips are an excellent buy for users looking for the maximum amount of comfort for their IEMs. These are disposable tips and will eventually need to be replaced, unlike Sony Hybrids or standard silicone tips but depending on how clean your ears are, you can look forward to getting between 2 weeks to a month of nonstop use out of them or even longer if you use them sparingly.
Now, I fully understand that $20 for three pairs of tips that will eventually end up thrown away and replaced is a bit much to some people but I see it differently. If you listen to IEMs for hours at a time on a daily basis, like I do, you’re going to want them to be comfortable and comfort is something the Comply foam tips excel in. I paid $15 for a three pack of T-400 tips months ago that I still haven’t gone through and I’m pleased that they have offered me a comfortable alternative to Sony Hybrids and the other silicone tips I typically use and I imagine others will be plenty pleased with them as well. That said, if you are wary of the effect the acoustic filter will have on your earphones, go for the standard T series, which lacks the filter and will affect the sound of IEMs less.
Either way, Comply’s lineup of foam tips are a great investment for most folks looking for the maximum comfort from their universal fit IEMs.