Paying £199 for a pair of £35 headphones might seem crazy, but it makes a lot of sense. It’s very hard to describe the difference custom moulds make to someone that’s never worn them, but trust us, it’s a huge difference. And if you’d prefer, you can choose your own headphones and have Snugs made up for them instead. Plus, compared to the price of professional custom-fit headphones, Snugs look very affordable indeed.
Depending on which in-ear headphones you buy, you usually get a selection of tips in the box. This is because one size isn’t suitable for everyone. For some people no standard tip offers a good fit: they either search for better-fitting earphones or switch to over-ear headphones. However, poorly fitting in-ear headphones can be solved with custom moulds. Best headphones you can buy right now
Snugs is a British company based in Somerset and produces tailor-made ear buds for the range of headphones it sells, or you can order tips for your existing set. They’re the same silicone custom-fitted moulds which professional musicians, TV presenters and racing drivers use.
There are many reasons to spend money on custom-fitted headphones. For one thing, they’re very comfortable. Some people hate having anything in their ear, but unlike standard tips, custom moulds don’t use pressure or friction to stay in place. Instead, they’re created to fit exactly into your ear, a bit like a tailored suit.
This also means they don’t fall out, so you can go running without having to keep pushing your earbuds back in.
Another reason is sound isolation. If you want to block out ambient sounds – air conditioning on an aeroplane, noisy commuters or even your kids – custom moulds do a fantastic job. The same isolation stops your music from bothering anyone else.
Finally, they’ll improve sound quality. Most in-ear headphones rely on a good seal for good bass. With custom moulds that’s exactly what you get. And because they block external noises as well, you’ll hear a clarity and detail to music and spoken audio that you simply couldn’t hear before.
Snugs review: price
As pricing can be a little confusing, here’s how it works. If you have headphones you already like, then custom tips can be made to fit them, as long as they have some kind of mounting point as in the photo below. That means Apple-style headphones are no good.
It costs £119 to make up what Snugs calls “half shells” for these. It’s an extra £10 if you want “full shells”. These are deeper than half shells and enclose the earphone itself, but it’s most suited to semi-pro or pro in-ear monitors, such as Shure’s SE 425.
If you don’t have headphones yet, you have a choice between wired or wireless. While the price on Snugs’ website is £159 and £259 respectively, this doesn’t include the £40 cost of having moulds made of your ears. This brings the totals to £199 and £299 respectively.
There are also other options: custom-fit ear plugs for £149, a full-shell waterproof set for £159 and ‘Pro modular in-ear monitors’ which are suitable for using with crash helmets: these are £259. Again, add £40 for a fitting session.
Snugs review: fitting
There’s a choice when it comes to fitting, too. You can either visit your local audiologist at a Boots, Specsavers or other High Street store. You’ll find https://snugsearphones.co.uk/fitting-locations/ fitting locations on Snugs’ website.
Alternatively, you can arrange for a VIP fitting where one of Snugs team will come to you (home, work or somewhere else suitable). This costs an extra £50.
The actual fitting appointment involves wearing what look like a pair of over-ear headphones with large holes in the middle. The audiologist then uses a clever gadget which works in tandem with the head-piece to produce a 3D model of your ear. This is very different from the ‘old’ way of creating moulds by pouring a quick-setting liquid into your ear and waiting for it to go hard. It’s also completely painless and – for the most part – comfortable.
It takes around 15 minutes to take impressions of both ears and the digital file can then be sent to Snugs HQ for the shells to be made up. It takes a few days before they arrive, but it can take longer if you need to send your own headphones. Snugs has a long list of headphones which it already has moulds for, so if yours are on the list you won’t have to let Snugs borrow them.
Snugs review: SoundMagic E10 and quality
When ordering your Snugs, you can choose a different colour and style for each ear – this can be a good idea as it makes it easier to see at a glance which is left and right. We went for half shells with a clear-plus-glitter effect, but the Snugs logo is engraved in red on the right ear and blue on the left to avoid confusion.
They come fitted to a pair of SoundMagic E10 headphones which have a clever switch that lets the remote button work with iPhones as well as Android phones or tablets. These headphones cost around £35 and offer decent sound quality for the price. As well as the Snugs hard, zip-up carry case, they come with a mic/headphone splitter cable for headset use with a PC, and an aeroplane adaptor (though most planes now have a single 3.5mm minijack anyway).
They have a twisted cable which looks identical to the one Rock Jaw uses for the Kommand IEM and a one-piece machined metal body which houses a single dynamic driver.
They’re a touch bass heavy, but most people will be pleased with them. You’d have to pay twice as much to get a noticeable jump in audio quality.
Crucially, the custom moulds themselves are a perfect fit, and are well made. The silicone is initially a bit ‘sticky’ but Snugs provides a tube of lube along with some fitting instructions which you’ll need until you’ve mastered the knack of inserting them into your ear canal. And – disgusting as it sounds – over time the silicone gets a little waxy which really makes it easier to get the buds in and out of your ears.
Snugs Solos: Specs
- SoundMagic E10 Driver: Dynamic 10mm Neodymium Frequency range: 15Hz – 22kHz Impedance: 16? Sensitivity: 100dB at 1kHz/mW Cable length: 1.2m Connection: Gold-plated straight stereo 3.5mm Earphone body material: Aluminium Weight: 11g