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Reduce annoying microphonics from your in-ear headphones

In-ear headphones are prone to microphonics, the annoying rustling and thumping sounds caused by the cord. We'll show you a couple of ways to help reduce microphonics from your in-ear headphones.

In-ear headphones
Etymotic hf5 in-ear headphones
Ed Rhee/CNET

In-ear headphones, also known as IEMs (in-ear monitors), have become very popular in recent years, replacing the old-style earbuds. One of the annoyances with IEMs, however, is microphonics. Microphonics refers to the rustling and thumping noises you hear when you tap the cord or when the cord brushes up against something.

The old earbud style isn't susceptible to microphonics because it rests just inside your ear, whereas IEMs go in the ear canal. To reduce microphonics, some manufacturers have tried braided cords and other custom solutions. If your in-ear headphones didn't come with these modifications, there are a couple of things you can try to help reduce the annoying noises.

Shirt clip
Some manufacturers include shirt clips with their in-ear headphones. They not only help to keep the cord out of your way, but they reduce microphonics. When the section of the cord below the shirt clip rubs up against something, the clip and your shirt will absorb most of the thumping and rustling noises you'd normally hear. The higher up you place the shirt clip, the better. If your headphones didn't come with a shirt clip, you can buy one on Amazon for about $6.

headphone shirt clip
Ed Rhee/CNET

Wrap cord over ears
Another method of reducing microphonics is wrapping the cord over your ears. Instead of letting the cord dangle straight down, turn your in-ear headphones up and wrap the cord over and behind your ears. This may not work well with all headphones, depending on how they're supposed to be inserted in your ears. Some headphones, like those from Shure, are already designed to go over your ears.

Loop headphone cables over the ears
Ed Rhee/CNET

That's it. If you have other tricks for minimizing microphonics, let us know in the comments below.