I test earbuds for a living, and Sennheiser’s custom ear tips have changed the game

Sennheiser Custom Comfort Tips held in a hand
(Image credit: Future)

I'll get straight to it: if you've been following my quest to jump aboard Sennheiser's trial custom ear tip scheme (which involved a wild trip to High End Munich to get my auricles 3D mapped inside and out) and have been wondering whether it was all worth it, I have the answer, in three words: yes, yes… yes! 

And I'm not just quoting When Harry Met Sally because it turns out that my asking for "Chelsea blue with my name etched on, please" during said appointment in Germany resulted in a set of tips that could, according to various sources, be mistaken for Viagra pills in low light. No, no. They're just that good

Simply put, these little blue lozenges make some of the best wired earbuds I've ever worn even better. Arguably my favorite wired earbuds at the moment are the superlative Campfire Audio Solaris Stellar Horizon, and it's those levels of detail, clarity, agility and insight I'm now getting from some much cheaper Sennheisers. And it's all thanks to the company's unique Sennheiser-specific ear tip pilot scheme. 

Sennheiser Custom Fit ear tip held in a hand, mounted on an IE 600 earbud

Having your name etched on earbuds is fine, right?  (Image credit: Future)

The IEMs I'm using are the Sennheiser IE 600, aka the in-ear monitors that sit just below the firm's flagship IE 900 proposition, but Sennheiser's Custom Comfort Tip trial scheme earpieces will work on the company's IE 200, Sennheiser IE 300, IE 600 or Sennheiser IE 900 audiophile-grade, TechRadar-recommended wired earbuds. 

As you'd expect, the ear tips have a little red dot on them to denote the right tip, which corresponds with the thin red halo on the driver housing of my IE 600s. I cast aside my trusty Comply memory foam small ear tips and quickly pop the Custom Comfort Tips over the nozzle. Easy. 

Once they're mounted on their respective units, a lovely little representation of what Sennheiser's audiologists called my "really short" ear canals on both sides is revealed. Other visual cues suggested by my colleagues at this point include, "I think someone stuck chewing gum on your earbuds", "Is that the end of a chewed Bic pen?" and my personal favorite: "Ah, you accidentally dipped them in sealing wax when sending one of your letters."

Sony Xperia 1 IV and Sennhesier IE 600 wired earbuds with some Sennheiser blue Custom Comfort Tips applied, playing a Tidal Masters file

This simple Sony Xperia, Sennheiser and ear tip setup provides oodles of extra detail and insight (Image credit: Future)

The audiophile in me simply shakes these jibes off. I've patiently waited a month for my excellent little ear bits to arrive – and nobody will even see them once they're in my shell-likes anyway. Also, because these are wired earbuds, there's no moulded battery nest for my kit to no longer fit into.

And that leads me to another reason everybody should get these Custom Comfort Tips if Sennheiser does the decent thing and rolls the trial out globally: wired earbuds differ from the best wireless earbuds in many ways. Honestly, hi-res audio is just the tip of the iceberg. You see, despite my beloved wires offering better security as well as superior analog audio quality, they do present a challenge. You won't lose one earbud to a puddle in the way you can with a wire-free design, but no matter how snag-resistant the cables, and how easily the ear-hooks snake around your biological listening gear, you will pull one on a button or sleeve at some point. And if your earpieces don't fit properly, they might fall out. 

Physical drop-outs happen often with my old EarPods (a cheap option, but one I still think beats any of Apple's AirPods), but they certainly don't occur with my new pricier Sennheiser setup and my Custom Comfort Tips. Far from it in fact – it's worth noting that you'll need to take a moment to carefully extract them from your ears after a listening session. 

Sennheiser's best, but better

Sennheiser IE 600 worn on a balcony by TechRadar's Becky Scarrott

Nobody even sees their beautiful blue hue – almost seems a shame (Image credit: Future)

Having researched Avery's solution to fix my AirPods' poor fit, I've tried UE's excellent heat-to-fit earbuds proposition (called the UE Drops if you're looking for a true wireless option) and my search for the best earbuds for small ears is an ongoing battle that's currently being won by Sony's beautiful bijou LinkBuds S

But nothing I've tried to date has equalled this level of security, comfort and audio fidelity. It stands to reason that achieving a near-perfect seal betwixt the external hardware and your own skin and cartilage will level up the talents of your headphones, and yet it's still quite special when you hear it for yourself. 

Sennheiser Custom Comfort Tips on a set of IE 600 wired earbuds, on turquoise background

Squashed Bic pen? I actually think they're quite beautiful (Image credit: Future)

Zoe Wees' textured vocal in Girls Like Us brims with singularity and angst through her juicier alto registers. The driving beat in Sam Smith's Barbiecore dance romp, Man I Am, feels like it grazes the underside of my brain before chimes greet my left ear and Smith's vocal bursts through the middle. Better than with just the regular Comply memory foam tips then? Across the board. 

How do you sign up for your own set? It's not that easy, only because it remains unclear whether Sennheiser plans on making the trial scheme a global affair – and how much it might cost. I will reach out to Sennheiser and let you know of any updates. Until then, you'll find me with my IE 600s hooked up to my Sony Xperia 1 IV, seeing what this simple audiophile system can do with Qobuz's best new hi-res playlists. I call it my happy place – I hope you also find yours this weekend. 

Becky Scarrott
Senior Audio Staff Writer

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.