I sent my first pair of AirPods Pro back to Apple soon after buying them. Why? Because they were too small for my ears. Even with the biggest silicone tips fitted, I could never get too green checkmarks on the Ear Tip Fit Test. But, thanks to an absurdly simple hack, I’m back in the game. Now my AirPods Pro past the fit test every time. More importantly, noise really is sealed out, and the AirPods Pro are super comfy.
The AirPods Pro memory foam hack
This trick — which via the Reddit thread Leander mentioned in CultCast episode 420 — uses a pair of memory-foam earbud tips as a kind of organ-donor for the AirPods Pro. All you do is remove the hard plastic core from the memory foam, leaving a squiggly foam donut. You then flip the mushroom-shaped canopy of the AirPods’ inside out, roll it up, and thread it through the hole in the donut.
Finally, you flip the silicone canopy back over the foam. You now have a foam filling inside your silicone tips. And this tiny mod is enough to make the AirPods fit way better.
AirPods Pro fit and sizing
The unmodified AirPods Pro are too small for my ear holes. It’s not the size of the holes, so much as the shape. This, coupled with the floppy nature of silicone tips, means that I could never get a tight seal.
And a tight seal is essential for two things. The first is that it seals noise out, and sound in. Background noise is diminished, while bass and clarity are augmented. This is passive noise-cancelling, and, combined with active noise-cancelling, it makes the AirPods Pro sound great.
A tight seal is also essential for comfort. If the pods aren’t tight in your ears, then they are loose, and they feel like they’re about to slip out. Nobody likes that. Even when you’re in a quiet environment, so you don’t notice the lack of good noise-sealing, loose tips are plain uncomfortable.
What tips do you need for this hack?
Ideally, you could buy memory-foam tips made to fit the custom clip-in mount of the AirPods Pro. And in fact, cheap options are starting to appear on Amazon. But until then, you’ll need donor tips that meet following requirements:
- Sized to expand the Apple silicone tips slightly, without making them too big to fit in the charging case.
- Not too tall — you don’t want to cover the vent that lets air pressure equalize inside your ear.
- That’s it, really. Maybe pick a color you like?
Before I picked up a new pair of AirPods Pro to test this hack, I spent far too long browsing Amazon for some tips that looked like they’d do the job. Then, I went through my junk box to see if I had anything suitable I could use. I found a pair of regular foam tips in there. These aren’t memory foam, or anything fancy at all. Just plain old gray spongy foam, doubtless left over from some cheap, crappy headphones I got sent by a PR person back when I wrote reviews.
Fit those tips
These tips were so beat up that one of them had already lost its plastic core. I gently eased the foam away from the core on the other one, and went to work. I used masking tape to hold the rolled-up Apple tips together while threading them through the holes of the foam donuts. Be careful when removing the tape. The silicone tips are fairly tough but if you tear one, then you’re screwed, until you can make it to an Apple Store to pick up replacements.
I can’t recommend any particular tips to buy, because it will all depend on where you start. I went straight for the largest Apple tips, but perhaps you would prefer another size. Instead, I’d recommend choosing a set that has S/M/L tips in a pack. Most of the packs available on Amazon come in six packs like this. Other than that, it doesn’t really matter. The tips will be almost completely hidden by the Apple tips, and you can always trim the foam donuts to fit if they’re too long.
Right now, mine work great with the crappy foam tips I found in my junk box. I have some memory foam tips arriving sometime soon, and I’m interested to see if I can get a tighter fit, while still being able to fit the AirPods Pro in their case. I shall add to this post if I find anything of note.
Third-party AirPods Pro memory foam tips
As I mentioned above, there are already some replacement AirPods Pro tips showing up on Amazon and Ebay. I ordered a set, and I’ll write about that in a separate post when they arrive. I wonder if good-quality third-party tips will become widely available, or if Apple has some kind of patent that locks up its proprietary mount for legitimate manufacturers.
In the meantime, I highly recommend this hack. It’s almost impossible to break anything, it’s completely reversible, and it’ll cost you less than $10 to try it out. If you don’t yet have a pair of AirPods Pro, or you sent then back like I did, then buying a new pair just to test this hack might be a little risky. It worked perfectly for me, but maybe you won’t be so lucky.
Either way, if you do try it, let us know how it goes.