Just like a fingerprint, your ear shape is unique to you. Learn about our patented LIGHTFORM technology and how it’s used to make custom earbuds.
There are almost eight billion people in the world, and nobody has the same earprint. That’s not a typo—your ears are as unique as your fingerprints.
Traditionally, earbuds are built with a one-size-fits-some mentality. While countless earbuds promise a “perfect fit” for everyone, at best they offer little more than a pack of silicone tips that still press into the sides of your ears, causing discomfort. If you really dug around, you might have even found custom-fitting aftermarket solutions that involve putting warm wax into your ears—an uncomfortable process that you’d have to repeat if your earbuds melted in a hot car.
At Ultimate Ears, we’re no strangers to the idea of a custom fit. For decades, we’ve handcrafted custom earphones for musicians and music lovers around the world. But we wanted to make custom earbuds easy and accessible to everyone. That’s why we developed LIGHTFORM, our patented technology that instantly molds the tips of your earbuds to your exact ear shape.
It might sound like magic or futuristic technology, but the process is firmly grounded in modern science. Keep reading to learn more about our revolutionary LIGHTFORM technology and how we harness it to make the world's best-fitting earbuds.
What is LIGHTFORM?
LIGHTFORM technology is a process that uses UV light to mold light-hardening photopolymers into a specific shape—in this case, your ears. That’s a lot of big words, but essentially it means using light to make something harden into a shape we want.
When you first open new, unmolded FITS, you’ll notice that the earbud tips appear to be made of a soft, slightly squishy rubberish material. That’s the photopolymer—a material that changes its properties when exposed to light. The photopolymer we use in FITS hardens (aka cures) when it’s hit directly by UV light.
We always encourage customers to watch their FITS form to their ears in a mirror. That’s because FITS put on quite a show. During the 60-second fitting process, tiny LEDs inside the earbuds light up, causing the photopolymer (earbud tips) to cure in the shape of your ears. Most people say that the process feels warm and that you can feel the earbuds mold.
After the fitting process, your earbud tips won’t feel rock-hard, but they won’t be as soft as they once were. That means they’re fully cured. And, unlike the waxy custom earbuds of yesteryear, FITS won’t lose their shape, even if they’re exposed to more UV light or heat.
Though photopolymers like our earbud tips are used in other industries—they’re not rare in 3D printing—Ultimate Ears is the only brand that’s been able to harness this game-changing tech for our custom earbuds.
Want to learn more about FITS? Check out our previous blog to learn how FITS work.
Why Does a LIGHTFORM Fit Matter?
According to one of our lead engineers, “Fit is the singular most predictive way to deliver the finest sound.” Here’s a list of other benefits you can expect from a LIGHTFORM fit.
Improved Sound Clarity
Though sound quality depends largely on the type of speaker drivers in your earbuds, the fit matters, too. Most earbuds come with large, small and medium-sized tips. The idea is that if you have especially small or large ears, these tips will work for you. But these differently sized tips present a problem—the small tips sound shrill and the big tips sound muddy. At the end of the day, you’ll have to sacrifice comfort for sound, or vice versa.
To get the best sound, your ear canal needs to be aligned with the drivers inside your earbuds. When the fit isn’t perfect, it throws off the alignment, which makes it harder to hear your music accurately.
But that’s where a LIGHTFORM fit makes a huge difference. Custom-molded ear tips help deliver a clear sound because they match the shape of your ear canal. That means you don’t have to worry about finding tips that “sound right.” Just sit back, relax and let FITS’ premium dynamic drivers do the work!
Superior Noise Isolation
When you’re in a noisy setting and you can’t hear your music or your game’s dialog, the only solution may be to turn up the volume. Cranking the volume is really bad for you—even short periods of listening to music too loudly can damage your hearing. Or you may have earbuds with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). While ANC can block out a lot of noise, it will also do a number on your battery life, and some people complain that ANC gives them ear fatigue.
The custom fit created by LIGHTFORM offers excellent passive noise isolation, blocking out ambient noise. So whether you’re studying at a busy coffee shop or playing online PvP with your friends, you’ll hear crystal clear audio without cranking up the volume.
In both music and gaming, there’s nothing like monstrous bass that you can really feel. But if you’re listening through regular earbuds, those deep 808 kick drums might sound like deflated basketballs thudding on pavement.
In addition to blocking outside noise, the perfect seal created by LIGHTFORM enhances low-end frequencies. That’s partly because the lower frequencies aren’t escaping your ears and partly because of the increased surface area contact. And to think, you used to have to jam your earbuds into your ears to really feel that bass (ouch).
That sore, aching feeling you get after wearing generic earbuds is all too common. It’s mostly caused by earbuds that put too much pressure on different points in your ears, and it’s largely unavoidable in off-the-shelf earbuds. Although earbud tips are often made with soft rubber, they won’t match the exact contours of your ears, which means you’re going to have to take breaks while listening to your music or playing your favorite games.
LIGHTFORM ensures a comfortable fit that you can wear all day. Earbuds like FITS allow you to listen to music or play video games in total comfort. They’re so comfortable, you may even forget you have them in.
Get Your Own Custom Earbuds
Thanks to our LIGHTFORM tech, each pair of earbuds is truly one-of-a-kind, made just for you. Shop FITS to hear (and feel) what you've been missing!