Crystal Tips by Crystalline Audio are intended to replace the regular silicone or foam ear tips that ship with earphones. The company make a range of claims about their product, stating that they provide greater comfort, 300 per cent more noise isolation than standard tips, twice the durability, enhanced bass, reduction of hearing damage and also anti-bacterial properties. We tried out the memory foam tips to see if they live up to the hype, and the results were pretty satisfying.
Crystal Tips cheaper than competition
The Crystal Tips are available for £10, which comes to $14 or $15 at current exchange rates. The company only offer one product. The pricing makes Crystal Tips cheaper than most of the product range offered by their main competitor Comply. The Comply Sports eartips costs $14.99, while their Isolation and Comfort eartips cost $19.99 and $21.99 respectively. The Crystal Tips look quite similar to the Comply Isolation series.
Crystalline Audio offers two core sizes (small and medium) and three tip sizes (small, medium and large). Which core size you select will depend on how large the earpieces are on your model of earphones. There’s a compatibility page on their website listing dozens of brands and corresponding models to help you determine which core size you should use.
The memory foam tips have viscoelastic properties which allow them to act both viscously and elastically. Therefore when placed in the ear, the tips will conform to the shape of your ear canal, providing a tight fit and increasing comfort. The Crystal Tips definitely do provide a tighter fit than the standard tips on my Sennheiser CX 300-II earphones. The medium-sized tips are slightly larger than the corresponding medium tips on the Sennheisers. They fill out the ear more, which is presumably part of the reason why they have increased performance. I agree they provide a tighter fit and are less likely to become misplaced. Whether you find them more comfortable or not is a matter of personal preference. When I first used them I found they take a bit of getting used to as because of the tighter fit I was aware of their presence in my ears.
Improved noise isolation
Crystalline Audio state that the passive noise isolation technology provides the same results, if not better than the electronic noise cancellation technology used in high end headphones. I’m not sure if I’m quite convinced that it’s 300 per cent better than the isolation offered by my standard eartips. However there’s certainly a noticeable improvement. If I had to quantify it, I would say the noise isolation is about twice as strong as my standard eartips. If I was seeking to improve the isolation of my earphones and didn’t want to sink money into a new pair, buying a pair of Crystal Tips would definitely be a good way to go about it. The increased isolation would help if you found you had to drive your earphones harder than you wished while while flying or on public transport.
Better bass response
The tighter fit and better noise isolation do produce a better bass response. It’s a little hard to assess because the improvement is subtle but it’s definitely there. My earphones are a bit lacking in the bass department and the Crystal Tips do compensate for that by moving the bass up to a more agreeable level. It’s just a natural enhancement of the existing sound of the earphones, not over the top or unpleasant at all. The tips have specially designed cores which minimise distortion as well. I can’t say I noticed that but perhaps a hardcore audiophile would be able to appreciate it.
The eartips have an ultra-thin protective film to increase the durability over normal foam eartips. The film is constructed of biologically inert plastic designed to avoid negative effects on noise isolation, rebound time or comfort. That all seems to be believable. The eartips are quite thick and sturdy. I don’t imagine they would have any issues with durability. Silicone eartips tend to be quite thin and would be susceptible to tearing, but the thicker build of the Crystal Tips would prevent that. I mentioned about the rebound time. The eartips do fill out the ear quite quickly. There’s no real issue with a delayed rebound and you are ready to go after putting them in. The tips also have an antimicrobial coating that eliminates 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and fungi and inhibits their growth. Personally it’s not something I’ve ever been concerned about with regard to earphones but I suppose it’s a nice touch.
Crystalline Audio delivers the goods
Crystalline Audio’s Crystal Tips are a fairly cheap way to boost the performance of your earphones. They would also be very attractive purchase if you damage or misplace your existing eartips. The subtle benefits provided by the Crystal Tips come together to create a more satisfying listening experience overall. The increased noise isolation and stronger bass response were the most noticeable improvements over the standard tips I use.
They look and feel just like Comply tips to me. And they sound just as good.
I have been extremely impressed with the durability of the Crystal Tips.
I was able to listen to my music at half volume on a busy plane and was unable to hear any background noise.
In terms of sound, I actually prefer them to the Comply set supplied with the R2Pros as there is no wax guard; this appears to open the treble up a bit to my ears.