How to fit in-ear monitors in your ears for the best sound

Getting the best fit from in-ear monitors

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Fitting in-ear-monitors in your ears can take some practice. Here’s a step by step guide.

Question: How do I fit my in-ear monitors properly? IEM’s seem a little tricky compared with my normal earphones. 

Answer: Fitting in-ear monitors is something that gets easier the more you wear them. You might be a singer, guitarist or maybe just an audio lover. We recommend you start with the medium foam tips, these usually ship as the standard first-fit on the IEM’s. Squash them a little and insert them in your ear – hold them there for a few seconds to let the foam expand, then:

Step 1: Make sure the cable runs over your ears. The cable can run down your front or back but the cable must first run up, over and behind the ears.

in-ear monitor in an ear showing cable over the ear
Run the IEM cables over your ear for best effect | Make Life Click

Step 2: Don’t be afraid to try a few tips, and don’t expect the one that feels ‘right’ at first to keep feeling right over the following days. Sometimes the tips you try first might feel good, and then after a few days, they don’t seem right. This is normal and you will begin to know what does feel right.

There are different types of tips. Most in-ear monitors ship a selection of them.

Read also: Best in-ear monitors for Singers

Foam Tips – great noise isolation. Good fit and comfortable. Adds a little weight to the feeling in the ear which can be good or bad depending if you are on a plane or using your IEM’s for running.

Flanges – these come in different forms also. Single, double and triple flanges. The offer pretty good noise isolation especially a triple flange. These can be harder for some people to get a good fit with depending on your ear shape. They can also be less stable depending on how well they fit. Flanges can also change the sound of the music – the softer material can soften the sound vibrations through the thin linings of the wall of the flanges. 

Step 3: If you are running the cable down your back make sure you pull the cable slider up so the cables meet at the base of your neck – this helps hold them in a little and feel comfortable. Don’t make the cable too tight on the back of your head though, as this can become uncomfortable over time.

If you are running the cable down your front there is no need to worry about this step. Even if you are only commuting with these we recommend running the cable down your back is the most comfortable.

Step 4: The more you wear them the more you will start to notice what doesn’t feel perfect. e.g. you might find they feel wide enough but not deep/long enough, in which case you would try the Red foam tips which are a more medium width and longer tip.

Step 5: As you put them in and out during use over a few days you will get very good at getting them in right the first time with little fuss. You’ll get to understand what a perfect seal sounds like, and you’ll when you haven’t got a perfect seal. The Bass levels are the first thing to sound missing when you don’t have a good seal in your ear.

Step 6: Rotation/Twisting of the earbud in a circular motion in the ear can help to identify a better position.

in-ear monitors in a mans ear - rotating for a better fit
Rotate the in-ear monitors once they are in for a great fit | Make Life Click

Signs you don’t have a good seal

  • You can still hear low-level ambient noise around you. e.g. There doesn’t seem to be any noise-isolation. You want to feel like your hearing is a little ‘underwater’.
  • The sound is thin, lots of treble and they lack any bass at all.
  • You can’t identify stereo sounds or the soundscape of the music.
  • There is a lot of movement of the IEM in your ear.


That’s the basics of it. As we’ve discussed, fitting in-ear monitors into your ears is something you get better at. We’ve focused on universal in-ear monitors but you can also apply the same principles to custom in-ear monitors if you have have had custom in-ear molds done.

If you’re new to in-ear monitors then make sure you check out our in-ear monitors guide.

Read also: Best budget IEMs

Endless hours of experimentation, professional work, and personal investment in Home Theatre, Hi-Fi, Smart Home Automation and Headphones have come to this.

Former owner of Headphones Canada, a high-end headphone specialty retailer.

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