Noise Reduction EarBud Headphones




About: "I always thought I was too late for everything, so I didn't do anything"

Poor mans noise reduction ear-buds. Many advantages over ($200-$300)Bose: cheaper (pennies on the dollar) and smaller, allows mobility, no batteries required. Using existing (JVC) noise canceling Ear-buds, use Flents (or other manufacturers) spongy-type earplugs in place of the JVC plug. If you have heat-shrink, you can replace and elongate the JVC tube to allow inserting the Flent's plug better into your ear.
Great for planes, bus/car, mowing the grass, loud work environment, etc. Your mp3 player will only require 1/2 volume with these - thereby extending battery life.
Also - See my short 'Video Instructable' for the very same thing.

Step 1: Buy a Pair of (supposed 'noise Canceling') Earbuds

Get some earbuds similar to those shown.

Step 2: Take Them Apart

Pull the blue cushion off the earbuds - this'll be replaced using regular foamy-type earplugs.

Step 3: Trim to Desired Length

If you have some heat-shrink, you can make the tube long thereby using more of the foamy-type earplug. If no heat-shrink, cut to length just exceeding the earbud tube. If the plug is too long, it will squeeze shut where the sound must travel through.

Step 4: Use Heat-Shrink

If you have some heat-shrink, cut to desired length and shrink around existing earbud tube. A longer tube allows more use of the earplug thereby eliminating more external noise.

Step 5: Hole Punch

You must punch a hole thru the earplug, in order to pull it over-top the heat-shrink (or earbud tube). Get a cheap hole punch kit from any hobby store. Squish the earplug into a pancake, place the hole punch on center, strike once with light hammer. Allow earplugs to expand.

Step 6: Assembly

Once the foam has expanded and the hole is thru the middle. Pull the plug over-top the heat-shrink tube. It should fit snuggly so as to not slip off. Some trial and error may be required using different size holes.

Step 7: Insertion

Squeeze the plug to compress foam and slide into ear canal. Plug into mp3 player and Enjoy.



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26 Discussions


7 years ago on Introduction

WORKS GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!! the only problem was putting the tips on the speakers :D i had to stretch them out with scissors and at the same time insert the earbuds D:


That's not how noise-cancelling headphones work. Do you really think they charge $200-$300 for some extra foam? It's a nice idea, but it should be labeled "Quieter Headphones."

See Wikipedia for more.

5 replies

You're right tuis is commonly called noise reduction because you are trying to reduct the amount of sound that comes into you're ear
Noise cancelling is about cancelling the incoming soundwaves by "adding" the inverse soundwave so you won't hear anything
Noise cancelling is much more difficult as noise reducing because you need knowledge of electronics
If you want to build a real pair of noise cancelling headphones, I found a scheme on
But it Will Cost more time and money because t
If you want to build some real noise cancelling headphones. i found a scheme on homepage.ntlworld.Com/Nigel.gough/noise.htm

If you have, I found a scheme for a real pair of noise cancelling headphones on
But you will need more time and the components are more expensive as this little piece of foam

Granted low end cheap ones are called all kinds of things to make them sound like noicse cancellers, though sony walkman ones for phones are amazing quality, the plugs works perfectly due to the size variety, using these buds and some form of sound canceller would probably work for those that don't like using overhead ones... Such as my big haired self...

For quite a while, I used the following combo on turboprops:

1)  Rat Shack in-ear isolating headphones, which gave better isolation than the JVC Marshmallows you used but with effectively no bass response.  I used Marshmallows everywhere else - less isolation but superior sound.

2)  Philips HN100 circumaural active noise cancelling headphones

I'd put the buds in, and the HN100s over them.  Music to the buds, HN100s disconnected but with power on.  ANC works better than isolation at very low frequencies (jets/turboprops), and passive isolation tends to work better for highs.  Best of both worlds, just looks a little funny.  :)

I tried to do what you did here 3-4 years ago but failed as I couldn't figure out a decent tubing solution.  I never thought of using heatshrink, it's a perfect idea!  Note that due to the form factor of the Marshmallows, it may not work with the old HN100 + buds combo.  (I don't remember it working comfortably before, the Rat Shack buds stuck out from the ear less.)

Couple of tips from my experience:
1)  Make the heatshrink extra long and trim it down later, after you've put the foam on to determine its required length.
2)  Before trimming heatshrink or trying to put foam on, MAKE SURE it's cool.  Freezer for 15-30 sec works well to ensure this.
3)  After punching the hole in the foam, slide it over something that it fits over easily and is solid and squish it down around that item.  Believe it or not this will actually make the hold larger as soon as you remove pressure.  It makes it easier to slide it over the heatshrink, especially the base where it's shrunk over the end of the bud.


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

It doesn't appear to be possible to edit my post:

I think I used a 1/8" punch.  I'll need to check.  I got a "hammer style" punch set at an arts and crafts store.  It had three sizes of punch, ???, 1/8, and 3/16 I think.  3/16 proved too loose, 1/8 was perfect if you used the trick in my previous post to get it to go over the base of the tube.

I now have better isolation than the old Rat Shack buds, AND they sound better than the Marshmallows did before.


7 years ago on Introduction

I have done the same thing with both some less expensive Koss and my decidedly more expensive Shure in-ear phones. I have found the easiest/cleanest way to make the hole is with heat. It doesn't take much. Get an appropriate sized piece of metal for your 'buds (a nail, nailset, punch, soldering iron tip) and heat it up. A lighter is messy (carbon build up) but works. I like a small electric soldering tip (or put the nail in your iron if yours has a removable tip). I make a bunch of spares at a time.

I wish I'd thought to 'ible this !!


8 years ago on Introduction

i was lazy, paid a little bit and got these!!! they are awesome!
unfortunatly an ebay item...


Thanks, I've been having the problem of my ear buds falling out constantly, this idea saved me from having to buy a new set, they stay in much better now. Cancelling, isolating, who gives a $!@# what its called, they help them stay in and give good bass response that's all that counts. Nice Instructable, I love anything that saves me money. You could have been a little more clear on the use of the shrink tubing, but I didn't use it anyway, and I super glued the foam directly to the post, works like a charm.


Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

It's a mini-leatherman tool. you can get them with pliers now too. I wouldn't be surprised if Walmart had them in their sports dept. very handy.


10 years ago on Introduction

Damn, beat me to it. i was thinking about doing almost the exact same thing that you did.


10 years ago on Introduction

Their earphones not headphones. Earphones are what you have there and headphones are what you put on your head and not in your ears.


11 years ago on Introduction

This should be labelled, "Noise Isolating" instead of "Noise Cancelling". "Noise Isolating" earbuds are passive -- they block-out ambient noise by sealing out sound "Noise Cancelling" earbuds and headphones use active electronics. In simple terms, they detect ambient sound with one or more microphones and create the inverse frequency of that ambient sound to cancel-out the ambient noise.

2 replies

Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

It's sort of a joke: "...Poor Man's" . Since we all wish we could afford the nice Bose noise 'canceling' headphones the best we can hope for is to at least be able to call these one's 'noise canceling earbuds' - can't we? Your right though - there are not active components or 90deg out-of-phase stuff happening with these.


Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

I can see where he's coming from, only problem is hardly anyone knows the difference and what term to use where.