In-ear headphones, also known as in-ear monitors (IEMs) or canalphones, are small headphones with similar portability to earbuds that are inserted in the ear canal itself. IEMs are higher-quality in-ear headphones and are used by audio engineers and musicians as well as audiophiles.
Because in-ear headphones engage the ear canal, they can be prone to sliding out, and they block out much environmental noise. Lack of sound from the environment can be a problem when sound is a necessary cue for safety or other reasons, as when walking, driving, or riding near or in vehicular traffic.
Generic or custom-fitting ear canal plugs are made from silicone rubber, elastomer, or foam. Custom in-ear headphones use castings of the ear canal to create custom-molded plugs that provide added comfort and noise isolation.