Six of the best earplugs for hearing protection at gigs and festivals
As a musician and producer, your ears are your most valuable asset, it’s time to protect them with our round-up of hi-fidelity earplugs
Are you keeping your hearing in check? The World Health Organisation reports that over 1 billion people (aged between 12-35 years) are at risk of developing hearing loss due to noise exposure. When you’re young, it can be easy to overlook the issue of loud noises at gigs and big events, but often the long term effects aren’t felt until later in life.
The quality of your hearing is vital if you’re working in music and production, so it’s important to take care of your ears. It’s easy to see why people might be put off, as using those cheap, foam earplugs results in a muffled, unsatisfying sound – that’s hardly how you want to experience your favourite band.
However, certain brands have invented more sophisticated earplugs that let you enjoy a full, balanced spectrum of sound at a more sensible and sustainable level. And some aren’t too badly priced, either. We’ve rounded up some of the top earplug products available to help protect your most valuable asset.
Vibes – Vibes High Fidelity Earplugs
Vibes are smart, no-nonsense earplugs that filter specific frequencies to provide the best listening experience and sound quality. They reduce harsh, damaging sounds and deliver an average of -22dB noise reduction. The minimal design with clear outer tube means that Vibes are easily accesible and nearly invisible in use.
They come with soft, durable and washable ear tips in small, medium and large sizes, plus a pocket-sized carry case. As a nice touch, each purchase also includes a donation to Hear the World Foundation, which provides hearing healthcare and hearing aids to children in need around the world.
Minuendo Lossless Earplugs
Custom moulded earplugs often come with several filters with different levels of dB reduction, and changing them out on the fly to meet the needs of a changing audio environment is time consuming and fiddly. Minuendo Lossless earplugs have a variable passive Hi-Fi filter with a unique slider on the top that lets you achieve step-less adjustment from -7 to -25dB.
There are no electronics or batteries needed and the patented adjustable membrane is a bit like a second ear drum, resulting in a transparent, natural and flat frequency response at all volumes. They come with 11 ear tips including triple and double flanged silicon, plus foam in several sizes so you can find the perfect fit. They are also magnetic and come with a neck cord which helps to keep them safe.
If you like the idea of having a volume control but want a slightly cheaper option, then EarLabs’ dBud earplugs could be worth considering. Like the Minuendo earplugs, you can change the attenuation amount, but this time it’s a switch that flicks between -11dB and -24db. The settings are slightly different in their response, with the closed -24dB offering a flatter attenuation, and the open -11dB providing a weighted response that reduces harsh higher frequencies more than the lows.
They come with a neck cord and are magnetic so click together, and they also have three different sized foam tips and come in two colours.
Loop Earplugs – Loop Experience Pro
Arguably the most stylish earplugs in this list is Loop. These earplugs come in your choice of black, gold, silver and rose gold finishes, alongside a slick and compact carry case. They’ve been specially designed to keep speech and music sounding crystal clear, while offering -18dB reduction.
If you opt for the Loop Experience Pro package, you get an additional set of foam ear tips, plus Loop Mute. This is an easy to use insert that adds an extra 5dB of attenuation, so you can switch between -18 and -23dB noise reduction. Although the sound isn’t as balanced and clear, they also offer Loop Quiet for £12.95, which are made of soft silicone and block out 27dB.
64 Audio – High Fidelity Earplugs
These premium earplugs are constructed using the same 3D-fit technology that go into 64 Audio’s pro-grade in-ear monitors. You’ll need to get an ear impression done to send to the company but, as they are custom moulded to the exact shape of your ear, they’re more naturally comfortable and give a tighter fit so can potentially be worn for longer.
The exceptional sound quality comes from the interchangeable Apex modules, with patented Apex technology and pneumatically interactive vents to alleviate stress on the eardrum. There are four options that can be switched out and include -10dB, -15dB, -20dB or a solid plug offering -26dB reduction. You get one module with the base plugs, but can purchase additional ones for different uses. You also get a zip case, cleaning tool and removable lanyard.
Etymotic – Music Pro Elite
For a more high-tech experience, the Music Pro Elite takes things to the next level. It’s the only set of earplugs on this list that requires battery power, but the internal battery lasts between 16 to 20 hours and can be charged direct from the snazzy, water-resistant case.
Like the other products in the list, you get clear and natural reduction with a choice of ear tips. The impressive function of these earplugs though, is that they let all sound under 90dB pass through naturally, and when the volume goes above the threshold, you get 15dB of reduction. It has a super-fast attack and release, so if you had a loud snare hit for example, it would just reduce the snare without affecting the rest. There’s also a second mode, that gives a 6dB boost to any sound under 90dB, and then a 9dB reduction to anything above.
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