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Ever since hitting the mainstream in 2016, true wireless earbuds have quickly become the go-to choice for many. We were all too happy to wave the extra wires goodbye. But with the prevalence of true wireless earbuds, concerns grew about how well they fit and how likely they are to fall out.
Let’s look at why secure fit is so critical to wireless earbuds, what you can do to keep them in your ears, and how to find a pair that’s right for you.
While you’d expect any pair of headphones to stay in your ears, the issue of secure fit gains extra urgency with wireless earbuds.
First off, wireless earbuds are often used for running and other exercise because of their discreet form factor. This means they’re subjected to more impact and shaking than your average music headphones.
Second, by definition, there are no wires or headbands holding wireless earbuds together or keeping them attached to your phone. As such, having them fly out of your ears runs a real risk of you losing them altogether.
Finally, true wireless earbuds aren’t cheap. The last thing you’d want is to watch them fall out and disappear into a storm drain while you’re out for a jog. Ouch.
While they’re usually specifically designed to sit securely inside your ears, wireless earbuds can certainly fall out. Some classic reasons for this include…
This can cause an otherwise well-fitting earbud to no longer sit properly in your ear. Fortunately, there are ways to remove excessive ear wax (hint: Q-tips are a bad idea!).
Ear proximity to jaw
The hinges in your jaw that let you chew and talk can sometimes dislodge an earbud, depending on how closely it sits.
This is the most common reason, and – thankfully – the easiest to fix. Everyone’s ears are different, and a one-size-fits-all earbud may simply not be a good fit for certain people. Luckily, earbud manufacturers offer solutions to this, which we’ll discuss in a bit.
In addition to falling out, improperly fitting wireless earbuds can also be outright painful to wear. Please, don’t try to stoically survive wearing a pair of ill-fitting earbuds. Instead, pick a pair that fits well and doesn’t hurt your ears. This comes down to…
Picking the right size
This may be the most critical factor. An earbud that’s too big will put pressure on the walls of your inner ear. That doesn’t make for a comfortable wearing experience.
On the other hand, an earbud that’s too small might go deeper into your ear than intended. It’s also more likely to disturb your ear by constantly moving around due to the lack of proper seal.
Picking the right wearing style
The form factor and style of the earbud also plays a role. Some come with earwings or ear hooks that slide into the ridges of your outer ear. This helps alleviate the pressure on your ear canal and also provides a more secure fit.
Similarly, there are many styles of ear gels, from the standard single flange to double- or even triple-flange ones. These seal your ear more completely but may also be more unpleasant to wear. You’d have to experiment with the style that’s right for you.
Picking the right material
Finally, the material itself plays a big role. Most eargels are made with rubber or silicone, but you can find ones that use foam. These may offer a more comfortable fit if the alternatives aren’t doing it for you.
For runners or gym-goers, sweat- and water-resistant earbuds may offer an additional level of comfort. Because they repel moisture, they’re less likely to become loose during strenuous exercise.
The good news is that picking wireless earbuds that don’t hurt will often also make them stay in your ears thanks to the better fit. But there are a few additional things you can do to keep wireless earbuds from falling out.
Put them in correctly
“Obviously!” you may say. This sure sounds like a no-brainer, but wireless earbuds often come with specific instructions on making them fit securely. It could be things like the exact placement of the ear wings or the rotation of the earbuds themselves.
Following the tips from the manufacturer instead of improvising is the best way to eliminate the most common fit issues.
Stretch your earlobe
Sure, you can try cramming an earbud into your ear through sheer force. But there’s a better way. Try to first open the ear canal by gently stretching your earlobe with one finger. Once you place the eargel inside and let go, the ear canal will form a tighter seal around the earbud. This often improves both the sound quality and the fit.
Wear an ear warmer or a sweatband
This one’s decidedly low-tech, but it does the trick. Depending on the weather, try wearing an ear warmer or a sweatband over your ears. This works especially well for true wireless earbuds since there are no wires poking out of your ears to make things awkward.
There’s no shortage of wireless earbuds on the market. Manufacturers offer lots of ways to mitigate the issue of bad fit. Stuff like:
Finding the best pair of wireless earbuds that fit securely comes down to things like your individual needs and brand preferences.
A good place to start are professional roundups of the best running earbuds like this one from CNET or this one from HeadphonesFans. They go through a range of options and give you tips on picking the right pair for you.
We’re especially proud of our latest pair of true wireless earbuds, the Jabra Elite Active 75t. They’re developed with comfort and secure fit in mind, based on scans of literally thousands of ears.
Here are just a few of the things that keep the Jabra Elite Active 75t from falling out of your ears: