Introduction: Jaybird JF3 Custom Molded Earpieces
I sweat a terrible amount when I work out and when I first saw the Jaybird JF3 Freedom headset, I thought it was the answer to my prayers. Don't get me wrong, it is a great headset and it was designed with the running (or extreme cardio) athlete in mind. The main thing with this headset is their "secure fit ear cushions". These are soft-plastic crescent-shaped pieces that attach to each earpiece and fit inside of your ear. The goal is to give a bit more grip and they work great until soaked with sweat. As long as they are dry you can bounce, weave, do whatever you like and the earpieces will not come out. Keep in mind that this headset is cordless Bluetooth and each ear unit is a bit heavy to start with. Once they get sweaty, they will come out--or at least they do for me. When I am in the middle of an 8 MPH sprint on a treadmill, I do not want to be fiddling with my headset. The other thing about the JF3's is the fact that the two ear units are connected by a short cord that lies on the back of your neck. The plastic that the cord is made of tends to grab to skin instead of slide. The cord tugs at the earpieces and make them want to pull out. The molded earpieces solve this issue completely with some added bonuses.
Even though the JF3 headset is incredibly comfortable, nothing matches custom molded earpieces. The other thing about custom molds is that the sound isolation is superior. What is really great about this headset is the fact that it lends itself so nicely to custom molding. My cost for the custom molds was $10. I did a 1000+ calorie, hour long, extreme cardio workout the other day and became pretty much sweat-soaked--the headset earpieces never came close to coming out and my ears were not sore when I did remove them.
One last item before we begin, the sound quality has jumped significantly. If you read the Amazon reviews (yeah, have to take those with a grain of salt) you will note that this headset does not get any high scores for sound quality. They are good, but no one was saying how they replaced any Shures with them. Of course, you have to keep in mind that this headset is for working out and not enjoying your digitally remastered copy of Dark Side of the Moon. I will say that the improvement in quality after I made my custom set was significant and substantial. Between the improved sound,the comfy fit and the noise reduction my workouts have moved to a higher level.
Step 1: Materials
- EasyMold Silicone Putty
- Single-edge Razor Blade
- Work Surface
The toothpick is used to keep the putty out of the earpiece.
The tweezers may be needed to grab the piece of toothpick out of the molded piece.
The razor blade is useful for trimming.
I used a plastic "cutting board" sheet from the Dollar Store to keep things neat. It's the turquoise you see in the background of the pictures.
Step 2: JF3 Bluetooth Headset
This is what a JF3 looks like. I actually made a set of molded earpieces, but I did not like how large the right side was, so I decided to remake it and create an Instructable about it. The left-side is fine, just the right size. The two sides are made the same way and my guess is that the $10 worth of EasyMold could easily make 10, maybe 15 sets of molded earpieces. It is so easy to do you can screw up as much as you like, just keep at it until you are satisfied.
Step 3: 1st Attempt
Here you see the first attempt on the right side, the one I did not like because it was too big (A). The molded inserts are easily removeable and replaceable. Later, if you decide you want to sell your JF3's or give them to a buddy, you just pop the molds off and put the original earpiece parts back on.
(B) shows the JF3 without the "secure fit ear cushions". This is just a perfect base for the silicone--the ball shape creates a socket in the mold.
(C) shows the tip of the toothpick, use the "cocktail style". I pushed the toothpick into the hole of the earphone (A) then guesstimated how much to cut off. The tip is used to position the mold in your ear canal as well as keep the opening free of silicone.
Step 4: Sound Hole Plug
Here you see the hole plug, just a tiny bit sticks out.
Step 5: EasyMold
Here's what the EasyMold looks like. The two components are thick and viscous and as long as you don't mix them, they will stay semi-fluid.
Step 6: Parts Ready to Mix...
Here I've removed the two parts ready for mixing. You need far less than you realize to make an earpiece!
Step 7: Mix Well!
I found that if I flattened the two balls before mixing I got a better, faster mix. According to the package, you have three minutes to work the mixture before it sets. I found it to be a bit longer, but three minutes is more than enough time.
If you do not have fairly equal amounts and if you don't mix them very well, the silicone will not set up and it will crumble. You have been warned, don't ask how I know.
Step 8: Ready to Mold
Here's the putty applied to the earphone and ready to go into the ear. I've highlighted the plug, you can just barely see the end of it.
Press it into your ear and move it around until it is snug. I could feel the end of the toothpick plug against the side of my ear canal and I used that to position it in the center. Keep your mouth open and press the putty around the outside of your earlobe so that you get a good seal into the ear. Also, have the other side in your other ear with the cable around the back of your neck, just like it will be when you are wearing them normally.
Sit back and relax for about five minutes. The putty will get warm as it sets, but nothing at all uncomfortable. It will also make "popping" sounds, not to worry, it just a chemical reaction. EasyMold is FDA safe. I've made a couple sets and worn them as well and my ears have not fallen off and I haven't noticed any rash or anything. If you are sensitive to things, don't do this.
Step 9: Finished
Here you see the finished earpiece. Use the tweezers to pull the toothpick plug out. Let the piece rest until it hardens.
After it hardens you can trim it with the razor if you like. Test the sound. Believe it or not, you just need that tiny hole. You can slice off the end if you like to make the edges of the hole cleaner.