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Statistically speaking, if you're using a pair of earbuds, they probably suck. And not just because you've been using the same dingy pair that you got with your iPod Nano back in 2006: even premium earbuds come with the same circular silicone pads (or maybe three or four sets if the manufacturer is feeling generous), none of which are likely to fit you perfectly. There are custom-made options, but most of them require you to visit an audiologist to make impressions, which drives up the cost of hardware that's already expensive.

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Normal hopes to streamline and mass-produce that process (or something like it) by combining some really cool emerging technologies. Install the app, take photos of each of your earlobes along with a quarter for scale, choose from a few funky colors, and Normal will print out a pair of custom forms for their earbuds, complete with a microphone and music controls. Then they throw them in a monogrammed case and ship them to you overnight... for $200. That's pretty pricey, but nowhere near as expensive as the previously mentioned custom-molded headphones.

Thanks, backwards-walking British guy. Way to dial up the creep factor.

Of course, as accurate as Normal claims its process is, there's just no way that it can give the same experience as something that's truly custom made. To start with, the 3D printed portion is simply for fit - it rests on your earlobe and doesn't actually go into your ear canal, so sound isolation is minimal. Still, if you're an audiophile looking for something in between a pair of Sennheisers or Shures and something ten times as expensive, Normal might be a viable alternative. The app is free to download and try; if you're in the New York City area, you can go to Normal's factory and have your headphones made right there.

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • remister

    My JayBirds fit fine and are Bluetooth.
    Maybe if they had a Bluetooth option.

    • Spasillium

      Are they the Bluebuds X? I have a pair and the slightest slip of them makes my music sound like crap. I love them a lot but hate the silicone tips.

      • anonimus

        Nice avatar. ;)

      • remister

        Yes, they are. I brought the Comply Earbuds so they stay stuck in there. I would recommend them with that.

        • Spasillium

          Yeah that's what I've been reading on many reviews and forum threads recently so now it looks like I'll be ordering a pack.

        • Cory S

          Yeah comply is the only tips I use on any pair of phones I buy. I also have the Blue Buds.

  • Sruly J

    I almost couldn't finish this video because I was laughing hysterically.
    On the other hand, I like this idea sorta...

    • black

      it's not that funny...

      • Sruly J

        Odd, bec I like this kind of humor.

  • Jephri

    The naked dudes ducktaped to the wall. No words. That was somewhere between awesome and disturbing.

    • Cory S

      I can't figure out how they thought a fat naked man duct taped to a wall licking your ear buds would leave a positive impression on people looking to purchase their product.

  • David Margolin

    that video was just wow... im a little grossed out but at the same time impressed... tailor seems to be pretty good at his job.

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  • RH

    Or you can just go to http://www.averysound.com/ and order ones for your bluetooth phone, or ear buds. Heck of a lot cheaper than these guys. I've used these guys for years. They make all sorts of stuff. They send you two small tubs of putty. Mix it together, stuff it in your ear for about 10 minutes til it hardens. Send it in and in less than a week, DONE! They keep the mold on file and if you need something different, they already have the mold to make it. Perfect fit because it is an ACTUAL mold of your ear, not some crappy photo.

  • David Spivey

    Or just get radians custom molded earplugs, mold a set from the 2-part putty, drill some holes for your existing earbuds, and you're done. You can find videos on YouTube about how to do it. Costs about $10 if you already have the earbuds.

    • black

      disposable earbuds are disposable earbuds.

      • David Spivey

        I'm afraid I don't understand your point. I am not talking about disposable earbuds. Where did you get that impression? I am talking about good sounding earbuds being made better with a custom molded earpiece. Did you confuse the word earplugs with earbuds? In that case, your comment may have made more sense. In the case you were talking about disposable earplugs, you are also mistaken. Radians are not disposable, they are molded to your ear in a putty form and harden to your ear's shape.

        In case there was some sarcasm I missed here, please let me know. Otherwise, please do a little research. You might find yourself sporting some custom earbuds yourself.

        • black


  • psuedonymous

    They'll fit your pinnea, but that's not the problem that custom earbuds (or foam earbuds) ACTUALLY SOLVE. It's fitting for the EAR CANAL that's the problem. The majority of in-ear headphones don;t even touch the pinnae in the first place.

    They've developed an app to solve a 'problem' that doesn't actually exist.

  • L.

    With 3D printing rising I hope there will be more apps like this.

  • jesuguru

    "in between a pair of Sennheisers or Shures and something ten times as expensive"

    Senn and Shure both have models ranging from less than $20 to well over $1000, for the record. Their high-end stuff is about as good as it gets, and their mid-range ($200) stuff would likely blow these out of the water in both fit and sound.

  • Cory S

    A set of comply tips have excellent isolation, and do a fantastic job of holding the buds in your ear. I don't really see the point of this.