Tired of losing an AirPod every time you run for the bus? Frustrated that Apple’s AirPods Pro design doesn’t offer as much sound isolation as you’d like, to the point where the inherent leakage affects its effectiveness as some of the best noise-canceling headphones on the market?
You are not alone – and there is help.
Meet Avery, an American company that makes custom buttons to simply slide over the headphones’ driver housing, transforming and customizing the fit, security, fidelity and isolation of Apple’s AirPods lineup.
And that’s not all! The button specialist can provide the same solution tailored to the Beats brand offering from Apple, Audio-Technica, Bose, their Sony WF-1000XM4 True Wireless Headphones, Jaybird, Dr. Dre, Klipsch, Jabra, Skullcandy… just about any in-ear headphone is (literally) covered and on the menu.
How it works?
For the uninitiated, (don’t feel bad, we hadn’t heard of the company until today either) Avery has been in the business of providing quality custom molded headphones for over 35 years, initially for airline pilots and now for the rest of us too!
It goes like this: once you place an order (there’s a drop-down menu asking you to confirm which headset you currently have and color preference – you can even add glitter) Avery ships a home print kit. You can also choose to get in-depth impressions from an audiologist for high-fidelity displays and aviation headsets. Then just send your prints back and Avery produces a custom-made headset to fit both your ear and your headphones.
When fitted correctly (and Avery guarantees the fit – if you don’t like them, the headphones can be redone for free), your old headphones will be more comfortable, secure, and with vastly improved sound isolation.
Avery explains that the custom earbuds will keep your headphones securely and comfortably in the ear, without any additional loops or hooks on top of the ear. The headphones will substantially increase the volume of the caller and also block out more ambient noise, allowing you to listen at lower volumes and save on battery life.
Opinion: A lifeline for those with smaller (or larger) ears – but there’s always a catch
As someone who suffers from smaller ears, I am well aware of the sonic gains that can be made by achieving a decent (and painless) seal between the ear canal and the earpiece. Also, I know that the three sets of S/M/L tips that come with most headphones just don’t do that.
I get emails from readers who have the opposite problem to mine. These music lovers sometimes find Apple’s AirPods (and other headphone designs) so loose that they actually leak sound to the point that listening in crowded environments, regardless of noise-cancelling profiles, is a futile endeavor.
And that’s a shame, particularly when Apple’s top-of-the-line AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro are the only Apple headphones capable of granting access to Apple Music’s innovative Spatial Audio with head tracking from an Apple device – aka. Immersive Dolby Atmos processing plus directional audio filters alter what each ear hears as you move.
And I think any chance of enhancing this mind-blowing experience should be seized with both hands.
But there is a problem. Avery explains that when custom earbuds are placed on AirPods Pro, for example, they may need to be manually turned on and off on the iPhone and the “auto ear detection” setting turned off. This is because the sensors will be covered by the headphones, making your expensive, feature-rich headphones a little less, er, nifty.
Then there’s the practical consideration, because you’ll need to remove those custom tips every time you want to fit your headphones into the charging case – try doing this one-handed while running to the bus.
Finally, there is the topic of currency. The trade-off for headphones that sound better and can be enjoyed at lower volumes if customized to the shape of the ear isn’t just some user detection and fast pair features. These headphone tips are priced at $163 (about £134 or AU$234) so they’re hardly a budget upgrade.
Now Avery will even make custom buttons for his $30 Apple EarPods, and while I still claim EarPods are better than AirPods for a variety of reasons, I don’t think bulking up Apple’s cheap EarPod drivers with tips that cost more than five times headphones itself is an economical solution.
The problem you need to present is a product much further up the food chain – Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (pictured above) or Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay E8, let’s say – that doesn’t fit as well as you’d like, despite its sonic brilliance.
Here, Avery’s solutions can change your relationship with music and headphones. And this is not something I declare lightly.