DIY Noise-Isolating Earbud Tips




Introduction: DIY Noise-Isolating Earbud Tips

About: I have an insatiable drive to build, so I will share my experiences with everyone.

I recently found my old pair of Shure e2c in-ear monitors minus the earbud tips.  I prefer the memory foam tips that seal out all outside noise.  The foam tips made by Shure can be uncomfortable -the foam feels like sandpaper in my ears- and they are expensive!  $15-$20 for 5 pair.  I have thought for a while about making my own out of ear plugs used in my workplace for ear protection.  These earbud tips are practically free since they are made from ear plugs found in virtually any high-noise area.  The best part is that when they get old and dirty, just toss 'em out and make yourself some new ones!

Tools Needed:

Utility knife
Metal-tipped retractable pen
Foam ear plugs

Step 1: Cut the Ear Plugs

Cutting the ear plugs is pretty straightforward.  Just make sure your utility knife has a fresh blade in it.  You want to cut the plug a couple millimeters longer than the earphone shaft that will receive the earbud.  That extra overhang won't interfere with the path of the sound, but it will help the earbud stay in your ear more securely.  The ear plug foam is pretty squishy, so you will have to cut them with a sawing motion back and forth, slowly pressing down until you have cut all the way through. 

Step 2: Creating the Hole

Flip the ear plug up on end now.  Center the metal tip of the pen shaft on the end of the ear plug.  Slowly push the pen shaft down, staying centered through the length of the ear plug (see the picture for clarity).  Once you feel the pen shaft is properly centered on the ear plug, give it a couple whacks with the hammer.  Keep in mind you will probably ruin the pen shaft by doing this.  Pull the pen shaft out and now you should have a nice small hole running the length of the ear plug.  The stem on my headphones is pretty narrow, so 1 small hole works perfectly.  You want the fit to be pretty tight so your new earbud tip doesn't fall off in your ear!  But other brands such as Skullcandy have much thicker stems on their earphones, so you may need to repeat this step a couple times to widen the hole so your new tips will fit on.

Step 3: Attach to Your Earphones and Enjoy!

Slip your new earbud tip over the shaft of your earphones.  Slide it up as far as it will go.  Ensure you have the overhang I spoke of earlier.  Not only will the overhang help hold your earphones in your ears, but it also helps keep your ear wax out of the little orifice on your earphones that the sound travels through.  Insert your earphones like you would insert ear plugs:  Roll the foam tip between your fingers, compacting the foam.  Slip the tip into your ear canal and hold it there for a few seconds until the foam re-expands and grips the inside of your ear.  Now you can enjoy your music without any interference from outside noises!



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15 Discussions

This is a really interesting thing to do with your <a href='' > headphones</a>. I always like the ones that have the foam covering, but I always seem to be losing them. It would be nice to be able to make a some extra ones fairly easily.

how funnny, I made the exact same things for my ear buds then used some google-fu to find how other people might have done it and what do you know there are other junk diy-ers out there :)


3 years ago

Stuck out of town with no real tools. Had to MacGuyver it. Used scissors to cut the earplug, and the tine of breakfast fork (yes, it was clean!) to drill the hole. I had to pull, very gently, at the hole to open it up enough to go on the shaft. It ain't pretty, but it works!

This is stupid simple. Why haven't I known such a tactic before! I use these ear plugs all the time, as well as ear buds!

my tips did not hold my earphones but I think these will


Easy to do, and gives amazing isolation.


On my Sennheiser CX300ii, the result was strong but stodgy bass. I like it strong, but the sparkle was gone. May be to some people's taste - YMMV.

Also the standard paper hole punch I used resulted in the plugs slipping off when I pulled the phones out, leaving me fiddling for a bit to get the plugs out. Be careful you get a really snug fit around the posts.

Freezing my earplugs didn't make any difference to the cutting - most likely a different material. I have Hearos Extreme Protection.

Anyway, well worth a try!

5 minutes work! came out great. After year of haggling with bad eartips, this is a relief! For free even! cheers

this worked really well for me. . i recently attempted some diy custom molds that are just difficult to get in. this is a fabulous solution for me.

instead of pen i used a punch that i have for leather working. you can prob find one at a craftstore like michaels or ben franklin. they have assorted tooling punches that you whack with a mallet.

I got so excited when I figured this out I didn't even bother to see if it has been done before. After posting I have found a bunch of other methods of achieving the same goal here on Instructables:

I prefer my method only because it doesn't really require any special tools or glue or anything, but maybe one of the other methods would work for you if mine doesn't.

1 reply

I saw a similar type product already constructed, and for pretty cheap too!

They are called Jamplugs, and they look just like earplugs, but are actually headphones.

Hope this is helpful.

To make the center hole in the foam earplugs, I use a single hole paper hole punch. Just make a small mark in the center of the plug with a pen, press the foam plug together (top to bottom) between your index finger and thumb tightly and then quickly insert the disk in the hole punch centering to the mark and squeeze the punch. Once the plug has expanded back to norma size you will find that the resulting punched hole is the exact size required for most earphones (UE's and Shure). Hope this helps and saves a pen.

guys!! gotta try this out! these are awesome!!!

Clever way to produce the inner hole! Thanks a lot.

I've gone to more extreme ways to help me achieve a better fit in my expensive Shure 535 in ear phones, because the sound tube is short and the body of the phones is not as compact as my old Shure E-1 (which cable succumbed to the copper degradation inside the cable, rendering them intermittent, and, because they are not easily repairable, condemning them to ultimate disposal).

So I went to the local COSTCO store and they made a pair of custom moulds of my era canals in their hearing-aid center... They sell custom silicon ear plugs "for swimming", so I explained how I wanted those "plugs2 to be attached to my new Shure 535's, and they produced much more comfortable tips, custom made to my ear canals shape and size. With them, finally I can tolerate the 535's much better than with ANY of the assorted ear tips, triple flange, "olives" or any of them. amclaussen, Mexico City.