The AirPods Pro is already an excellent pair of wireless earbuds. But when I found a problem it seemed incapable of solving, it was a $25 ear tip that kept it from becoming useless.
I was late to the AirPods Pro party, only buying mine during Black Friday last year. Nonetheless, I quickly fell in love. The sound quality is balanced just right so it works for anything you want to listen to; they’re easy to use; and the active noise cancellation (ANC) is surprisingly powerful for a pair of earbuds.
Due to working from home a lot more for the past few months, I’ve often worn my AirPods Pro while sitting at a desk writing. Here it works brilliantly, providing unobtrusive music while also keeping the noise of housemates and neighbors out. What I didn’t realize at the time was how limited the buds’ effectiveness could be.
The problem came when I took up running again, after taking a hiatus due to, well, laziness. As with all relationships, a change in routine brought with it a new source of stress, as I discovered that running with my AirPods Pro made each stride a potential disaster.
A cheap but huge AirPods Pro upgrade
While the fit of the medium-sized gel ear tips included in the AirPods Pro’s box was good for sitting around the house, they easily worked themselves loose. There was never much time between moments I needed to jab at my ears to make sure they were still in properly, making the AirPods Pro its own form of interval training.
Not wanting to lose the AirPods Pro, but also not wanting to give up running again, I started investigating custom ear tips. And I eventually landed on the Comply AirPods Pro 2.0 eartips.
This accessory costs $25 for a pack of three. You can buy three pairs of the same size — small, medium or large — but only owning a single pair of the AirPods Pro, I instead went for the variety pack, which sends a pair of each size for you to try out.
Installing the tips was surprisingly simple. The AirPods Pro has a proprietary clip mechanism to fit the ear tips, in true Apple fashion, but the Comply tips snapped on and off as easily as the originals.
A better fit for running (with some trade-offs)
Wearing the buds again, the sound was just like the AirPods Pro I already knew and loved. Now, however, the foam tips made sure the buds stayed secure inside my ear, meaning I could now focus on improving my running technique and speed rather than making sure I didn’t lose an AirPod Pro to a nearby drain.
Swapping away from the standard ear tips does come with some small costs. They’re less convenient to pop in your ears, since you have to squash the foam between your fingertips to fit them in. The color scheme changes as well, since the Comply tips add a lot more black to the nearly pure white basic AirPods Pro. These are quite easy to forgive though.
Apple has some of the best industrial designers in the business, but no designer can make a product that fits everyone. Besides, Apple has a bit of a reputation for pursuing its company goals whether that makes its products more usable or not. Yes, we’re looking at you, Lightning port.
Fortunately, the huge ecosystem surrounding Apple means that more people are able to enjoy its products to the fullest. You should of course take care when swapping parts, lest you damage something you can’t repair yourself. However, if it goes well it can prevent a $249 pair of the AirPods Pro from becoming an expensive waste.