Eartip rolling is perhaps the most crucial part of personalizing an IEM. The difference in sound and fitting are night and day depending on which eartips you use for your ear and your earphones. If we look at the big picture there are two types of eartips – silicone or foam. Silicone eartips are superior in lifespan, durability, and clarity. On the other hand, foam tips are superior in comfort (in both sound and fit) and sound isolation. The positive effects that foam tips have are incredibly strong, yet they are often overlooked due to their nature – the nature of sounding dull, blurry, and wearing out easily.
AZLA is no stranger when it comes to aftermarket eartips. They’re one of the leading eartip and earphone manufacturers from South Korea that have released excellent eartips. Their eartips series include Sedna Earfit, Xelastec, Crystal, Max, and so on. AZLA has now released their first-ever foam tip series, called the “Foamax”. Let’s see what Foamax is about and how it sounds.
Foamax shares the form factor of the AZLA Max series while the outer body is finished in foam instead of silicone. There are 5 sizes available (S/MS/M/ML/L) and could be purchased in either 3 pairs of different sizes or 2 pairs of the same sizes.
AZLA states that Foamax is designed to overcome the conventional drawbacks of foam tips, which are boomy bass and rolled-off trebles. By utilizing proprietary and high-density foam material and carefully designed nozzle shape, Foamax reduces the treble roll-off and promotes the straightness of the sound, leading to a clearer sound.
The foams are also designed to bounce back slower than the average foam tips and take about 30 seconds to fully recover their shape. This promotes a better secure fit and reduces ear fatigue. A special ultra-thin layer of coating is applied to the foam for smoother texture and durability. Lastly, a hexagon wax guard not only serves as a built-in mesh but also as a damper. This rubber mesh is soft enough that doesn’t cause restraint to the ears and is designed to filter out dust while minimizing loss in sound quality.
Lifespan / Fitting
The fit is quite nice. Since it’s shorter than the usual foam tips it allows deeper insertion with less pressure to the ears. Despite the shorter size, the isolation level is just as high as the usual foams if not more, since Foamax goes in deeper. I prefer the Foamax over other foam tips as my ears feel less clogged while being just as secure in isolation.
The longevity of the foam is another concern as these have a shorter lifespan than the sub-permanent silicone ones. To the touch and throughout my experience of using these for a while, I can tell that Foamax is more durable than the average foam tip. The textures feel more smooth due to the coating and the foam feels denser (but not hard). I suspect the foam of these eartips would be more resilient from crumbling down like the usual foam tips. Foam tips usually gain cracks and creases which eventually cause the foam to fall apart. As for Foamax, the foam feels more coherent and strongly adhered to each other. As for now, I don’t expect these to be worn out easily as long as they aren’t constantly abused.
General sound characteristics
Let’s first consider “clarity” which is often brought up when discussing the drawbacks of foam tips. The reason why some people dislike foam tips varies a lot. Some say it’s because the sound gets muffled. Perhaps the crisps disappear and the sound feels like it’s squashed with pillows. The treble gets rolled off. However once consider the similarities between these, all these comments funnel down to one issue: the sound gets blurry. Spoiler alert, Foamax solves it nicely.
Some foam tips create a brighter sound than Foamax, such as Crystalline foam tips or Feaulle foam tips. Yet what Foamax differs from most pre-existing foam tips is the density of the sound. Foamax retains as much density of the IEM’s sound, if not more than your average silicone tips. Foamax doesn’t produce additional air and openness like some silicone tips may do, yet it focuses on delivering the sound coming out of the nozzle.
Next Page: Continuing on sound profile / Comparisons