I've been using earphones exclusively for years, either IE or those conventional earphones that look like miniature stethoscopes. And the main thing that affects the sound the most is the tips (for IEs) or the foam for conventional earphones. With the right tips, with the best seal, you get the best sound and response. Go one size smaller or worse, foam-less (on conventional), and you lose 80-90% of the bass response, mids get pumped and treble becomes harsh. Tip material also makes a huge difference.
Recently, I got myself a Westone 4R and to my surprise, they came with a whole bunch of tips. Triple flange, spongy grey tips, hard and soft silicone. I started with the one's installed, the small spongy grey ones and I was already blown away with the sound, very flat and even. Today though, I decided to try the triple flange ones and, although a bit uncomfortable, the bass was suddenly more full, though a tad muffled. Then I tried the large soft silicone ones and I was amazed by the sound. Not only did separation improve, bass response went from flat to fantastic! I could hear the precise decay of with the kick drum, I could hear the power and clarity of the trance beat, I could identify more precisely where the bass was. Amazing. It made me want to really jack up the volume. The sound gave me goosebumps to say the least.
Again, I'm amazed how much tips can alter the sound. They should really be given more attention and credit. At first, I was all into looking at the specs of the earphone itself but now I'm gonna mind the tips just as much.
My Westone 4R with large soft silicone are the best sounding I've ever heard. Some have suggested Shure Olives or comply tips and I hope to give those a try as well. For now though, I'm definitely glad I swapped those tips.
What tips do you use?
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