Use Coloured Earbud Tips To Tell The Right From The Left

It's a tale as old as time: how do you easily tell which headphone goes in your right ear and which one goes in the left ear (without reading tiny text)? You could always mark them with some tape or nail polish, but Lifehacker reader animatorgeek has another clever solution.

Picture: Jeff Wright/Flickr

I have a lot of old earbuds and a lot of them seem to have the same shape of silicone thingy that fits inside the ear. You can take that silicone thingy and swap it around between different-coloured earbuds and end up with a set with two different colours. Now it's much easier to know at a glance which side is which. For instance, on my set I can easily remember that grey is left and black is right.

Just a small tip for those that have a number of different (coloured) pairs.


    Uh. Most earphones have a small plastic pip on one of the buds, similar to the way keyboards often have a pip on the F and J keys. That's how you tell which one is which.

      Erm... not that I've seen, or maybe noticed? :)
      I do however have a tip, just look in those $2 shops for kiddies stickers and see if they have small easily seen dots of different colours, letter packs are usually good for multicoloured fullstops. They seem to stick better than tape and are brighter and tidier too.

        It can be hard to find photos because a lot of publicity pictures are rendered, but here's an example, these are the earphones I currently use: . Notice the pip on the 'L' earbud next to where the cable enters the housing. The location of the pip differs but I've had one on nearly every set of earphones I've owned, I assume(d) it's a standard design.

          Yeah, I've had many sets and never noticed but then the few good sets I have now only go in one way. Strangely enough all the ambiguous ones that may have had the pip, were all atrocious sounding so they got ditched. Not that they all are mind. :)

            These XBA-1s are decent, they're balanced earphones. My only complaint is, as with every set of earphones I've had, the cable where it connects to the 3.5mm plug starts to wear and give dropouts or crackly audio after an amount of time I would describe as 'far too short'.

      I've never seen the pips you mention before. But I have always seen an L and R.

      I think I prefer the idea of squinting at a small letter on each headphone for a few seconds before popping them in than walking around with mismatched colour ear buds - it's like wear odd socks!

    You can just tie a small knot on one side of the earbuds. Now you can not only see, but you can feel which one is which. :)

      Putting a knot in the cable is a bad idea - can lead to the wire breaking.

    Eh, all the headphones I buy are typical designed to fit into one ear or the other, so are noticeably uncomfortable to use incorrectly.

    The canalphones I've been using for the last couple of years by Soundmagic are colour coded (Red, bLue). Very handy. Very good 'phones too for the price.

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