By August 5, 2011

Comply Foam Tip For Earphones or Canalphones Review

I enjoy listening to music and my GPS while riding my motorcycle. I also enjoy protecting my hearing while riding at highway speeds. Trying to balance the two has been an ongoing project of mine since I reviewed the Etymotic Research ER6i canalphones over two years ago. I’ve tried varying canalphone tips of varying size, material, and shape. I’ve determined that my right ear canal is slightly larger than my left, yet they both curve slightly upward so that longer (and more protective) tips are uncomfortable for longer periods. I even tried making my own tips out of Howard Leight Max earplugs, a leather punch, and aquarium tubing.

For my riding conditions, physical requirements, and usage, the Comply foam tips have become my best solution.

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Comply Foam makes tips for a ton of earphone / canalphones. Chances are, your low- to mid-range ‘phones came with at least a set. My Skullcandy TiTAN canalphones came with two pair.

The Comply foams are sort of a cross between limited- or single-time foam earplugs and reusable silicone based tips. The Comply tips are foam, and expand to fill your ear canal, similar to foam plugs. They also have a rigid center so putting them inside your canal is easier than just a typical floppy tip.

I experimented with the gray Comply tips, and liked them a lot. They didn’t block as much low-level sound as true earplugs, but they were an improvement over the silicone tips. When properly inserted, I could pass the “hear yourself talk” test at highway speeds inside of a full-face helmet and behind a windscreen.

The problem with the gray Comply tips was that they didn’t last very long. The Comply site’s FAQ suggests replacing the tips every three months; my gray tips didn’t last more than two weeks. I wasn’t too happy about how well they were holding up, but I considered the cost of replacement a good trade off for fit and noise reduction. I ordered another three pair from Amazon.com for $15 shipped via Amazon Prime.

Options

Comply has a lot of options for something that seems as simple as foam canalphone tips.

The S series seems to be lighter-weight foam, is probably designed more for comfort than noise isolation, and is available in many more colors than the other series.

The T series is the set that came with my Skullcandy TiTANs. They appear to have an exterior coating the S series lacks, and may be made of a denser foam.

The Ts series appears to be identical to the T series, except the tips are spherical in shape. They are only available in small and medium sizes.

Lastly, the Tx series has an added wax barrier between the tip and your canalphones. As far as I know, black is the only available color for the Tx line.

There are different tips for different canalphones. I call these “sizes,” and they are denoted by number. I linked to the 400 size, which fits my Skullcandy TiTANs and their modern equivalents like the Full Metal Jacket. There’s a sizing guide on the Comply site.

For the T series, you have your choice of red, blue, black, and “platinum” (gray). You can also select small, medium, or large diameter tips. There is a multi-pack available if you don’t know what size will work the best for you. Most Comply tips that come with canalphones are platinum in size medium. I knew that these fit me, so I bought a set of T-400 tips in blue, size medium.

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Usage and Durability

There is something different about the replacement Comply tips. I don’t know if Comply changed their construction since I bought my TiTANs in 2009, but the replacement tips are a lot, lot more durable. With limited cleaning (water only!!) I have ran a single pair of foam tips for about two months. I wore the tips for about an hour a day, five days a week, for about 90 days. I’ve worn them as long as three straight hours while doing yard work in 90+°F heat. They have held up much better than my stock gray pairs, and were just as comfortable.

Conclusion

At $5 a pair, the replacement Comply tips aren’t cheap. However, they do perform well, and I’ve been very happy with their increased durability compared to the pack-ins that came with my Skullcandy canalphones. If you are a motorcyclist or are looking for moderate noise reduction, you should give the Comply tips a try.

Strongly recommended

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