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Normal’s $199 earbuds rely on mobile app, 3D printing

A customized Normal earbud.

Normal, a small startup with roots in the US, has launched a new way for customers to get form-fitting earbuds that the company says sound quite good.

Normal’s technology starts first on mobile devices. Customers can download the Normal app on iOS and Android and need only to snap a photo of both ears. The photo should include them holding a quarter against their skin right next to the ear. According to Normal, the quarter is used as the comparison subject to determine dimensions for the person’s ear.

Once the photos are sent to Normal and one of over a thousand color and design customization options are chosen, the company uses 3D printing to craft earbuds that fit into the ear canal.

What’s different about Normal isn’t the design of its earbuds, it’s the startup’s methods. The company has found a way to bridge the gap between mobile handsets and increasingly popular 3D printing to get its devices into customers’ ears.

As with other in-ear, customized earbud systems, like those from Ultimate Ears and others, Normal’s devices aren’t cheap: the company’s earbuds cost $199 including tax, shipping, and a carrying case. For that price, Normal argues, its technology will limit sound leakage and give users a higher-end audio experience. It’ll be up to users (and perhaps the CNET Reviews team) to determine whether it can deliver on that promise.

The first Normal earbuds will begin shipping in early August. The company hopes to fulfill design orders within 48 hours once it gets past initial demand for the device. Interested customers can preorder the device starting now.

CNET has contacted Normal for comment on the news. We will update this story when we have more information.

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