there seems to be a lot of confusion about the terms used for audio headgear

hopefully this will make things a bit clearer

What is the difference between a headphone, an earphone, a custom-fitted earphone, an earbud and an earplug?

what are


Headphones go on or over your ears.

They often have a band going over the top (unlike ours*).

Can be wired or wireless. They also come in configurations for gaming and blocking constant sound (like aircraft noise) using Active Noise Cancelling technology.

*Please note: with our headphones, the band goes around the nape of the neck – which is very stable and comfortable while sleeping.

what are


Earphones go in your ears and, in particular, in your ear canal.

Can be wired or wireless.

You can also buy earphones that are capable of blocking out constant sound (like aircraft noise) using Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) technology. This configuration is particularly uncomfortable to wear while sleeping because the earpieces need to be so big to accommodate the ANC components.

Custom-Fitted Earphones

Custom-fitted earphones are earphones embedded in material that takes the shape of your ear perfectly.

The idea is to combine the benefits of passive blocking of sound (associated with custom-fitted earbuds) and the ambient noise generation that comes from earphones … to block “bad” noise and replace it with “nice” sound.


In-Ear-Monitors are a variation on custom-fitted earphones.  They are usually wireless and offer enhanced sound quality. You will often see them worn on stage by musicians, singers and actors.

what are


Earbuds are earphones that sit outside the ear canal.

They are not very effective for dealing with loud external noise.

what are


Ear plugs are things you put in your ears to physically and passively block sound.

On their own they are not very effective for loud noise. We have had lots of feedback to say they are a waste of time for loud snoring, for example.

Custom-Fitted Ear Plugs

Custom-fitted earbuds are specially made to fit your ear perfectly and provide a better seal to block noise.

Custom fitted earbuds are more effective than one-size-fits-all. But, on their own, they are not the answer to loud snoring etc..

Here is an example of our custom-fitted earplugs:

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