I'm probably not the only one who thought this, but when I saw the magical material that is Sugru, this is the ONE project that I absolutely had to do. My trusty Shure E4 in-ear headphones are great performers, but I'm never happy with any of the earpieces - the foam inserts are OK but after losing them well beyond visual range in my ear canal a couple of times, I'm a bit hesitant to push them too far into my ears anymore. Aside from this, the rubber strain reliefs on both earpiece cables have long since fallen apart, and this leaves the cord vulnerable to breaking free internally.
Custom earpieces are the obvious answer to problem 1, but this is generally a somewhat expensive 2-step process - have an audiologist take molds of your ears, then send those molds off to have your earpieces cast for you. This looked like it would cost me approximately as much as the E4s did originally, and I'm not honestly sure how much life these things have in them anyway...
Enter Sugru! I've seen that a few people have already used it to enhance their earphones, but I wanted to do more than any I've seen so far. Sugru sets quickly and stays soft, and it's adhesive enough that I hope it will stay attached to my earphones (but is still removable if one makes a dedicated effort to peel it off). If this works right, I can cast my earpieces in a one-step process with just a few dollars worth of material. I hope that this general procedure will translate well to other makes and models of in-ear monitors, but I obviously can't be sure.
DISCLAIMER - Sugru's documentation warns that it may irritate skin, and prolonged skin contact is essential for this project. If your skin is sensitive, test the product first. This project involves sticking things into your ear which you may never see again. Try to remember what went in and make sure it comes out.
BE CAREFUL STICKING THINGS IN YOUR EARS.
Step 1: Preparations...
- In-ear headphones/monitors - ideally ones that are oriented to point directly into your ear canal
- Sugru! Pick your favorite color, I used 1 5g packet for each ear, and set some extra aside for reinforcement / alterations afterward.
- Some kind of human-compatible lubricant (petroleum jelly, etc.)
- Vinyl or latex gloves
- Cotton swabs
Clean well... I would suggest cleaning your ears and your earphones because stray ear wax may corrupt your earpieces. I used rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs to clean the plastic parts of my earphones, to give the Sugru a good chance of sticking in place.