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Recommendations for quality ear plugs?

SuicideSquid

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So, I'm going on a bit of an adventure over the first week of May that will involve seeing around 20 rock, metal, and fusion bands over the course of five days.

I would like to survive the experience with my hearing intact.

I have a load of standard foam earplugs kicking around, and a set of very cheap (I think they were $10) earplugs that are supposed to preserve more high frequencies for practice sessions and live music, but they're not great.

Does anyone have a recommendation for 'musicians' earplugs that preserve some high frequencies? There are tons of them on Amazon and reviews and prices are all over the map. My budget is up to $50 - otherwise I'd go to an audiologist and have a fitted set of plugs made.

I use a variety of earbud and plug headphones and am always most comfortable with the "medium" or "normal" size so expect the same will be true for earplugs.

Your thoughts are much appreciated!
 

MattHooper

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I'm sorry I don't have a specific recommendation for musicians earplugs. I had mine custom made locally.

But as a general observation from someone who has had bad tinnitus (and hyperacusis) for many years: I've looked in to all sorts of hearing protection, including every type of ear plug you can imagine.

When it comes to simply blocking as much sound as possible - being as protective as possible - there are always newfangled earplugs coming along to make a claim. But I've found the best and most reliable to actually be the cheap, widely available "colored bullet-shaped foam earplugs."

For instance here:


These have among the highest NRR you can find and also, as I recall from some tests I'd read, score among the highest for actual noise reduction in use. To me, nothing I've ever tried in my ears has reduced sound levels as reliably and effectively. So in really loud situations I use those. (Though I HATE the look of bright earplugs - why do I want everyone in the room, from up to 1/2 a football field away, to know I'm wearing glowing orange earplugs? So I actually take a marker and color the outside part that sticks out a bit, making them virtually invisible in most of the scenarios in which I use them).

As to musicians ear plugs, I'd never wear those instead of the foam ones in a really loud situation where I really want to protect my ears (e.g. concert). But then, I'm a bit paranoid about the issue :)

I use my musicians ear plugs in loud scenarios like a nightclub/bar really loud restaurant and maybe the movies if it's loud. They do keep the sound more balanced and clear which is nice. The only problem is they STILL make my own voice sound muffled. I've never found a pair of musicians ear plugs, either store bought or custom made, that got around this problem.
 

DVDdoug

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If you search the forum for "ear plugs' or "hearing protection" there are related discussions and you should find some suggestions.
 

tmtomh

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I've used the orange bell-shaped earplugs @MattHooper recommends, and I can concur that they block a good deal of sound. Plus they are super-cheap and available in various generic brands everywhere, like local pharmacy chains and such.

But a year or so ago I discovered soft silicon earplugs. These are also available under many brands along with cheaper generics, for example:


You roll it into a ball, which also warms it up a bit, then gently push it onto your ear right over the ear canal and hold it for a couple of moments until it molds/sticks to your ear opening. By far the most effective sound-blocking I've ever experienced, mainly because once they seal they don't tend to move around and open up small gaps like the orange ones do, or like most foam ones do.

The downside of all of these, though, is what Matt notes: they all muffle the sound. I've tried the "sound preserving/audiophile" ones that Matt mentions, and like him I find that they (a) still muffle the sound a bit, and (b) give you greater frequency range but at the cost of reduced sound-blocking.

If you're going to try more audiophile-friendly ones, though, I would probably start with the Etyomotics that @staticV3 has linked to above.
 
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SuicideSquid

SuicideSquid

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Thanks for the feedback guys, much appreciated (I actually did a search for earplugs before posting and the first 20 or so results were not relevant).

I use the orange foam ones for sleeping, but I find they block out a bit too much sound for music. I used to use the silicone plugs but they're not my favourite. Most of the shows I'll be seeing are going to be in the open air so they'll be loud enough to do some damage without protection, but not so loud that I need the orange bell plugs to be safe.

I'll check out the Etymotic ones for sure.
 

staticV3

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Here's a graph showing the difference between EtyPlugs and ER20XS:
313103.jpg
Unfortunately I don't know the difference between EtyPlugs High Fidelity, EtyPlugs Motorsport, and EtyPlugs HD.
Etymotic really could do a better job communicating that.
 

MattHooper

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I've used the orange bell-shaped earplugs @MattHooper recommends, and I can concur that they block a good deal of sound. Plus they are super-cheap and available in various generic brands everywhere, like local pharmacy chains and such.

But a year or so ago I discovered soft silicon earplugs. These are also available under many brands along with cheaper generics, for example:


You roll it into a ball, which also warms it up a bit, then gently push it onto your ear right over the ear canal and hold it for a couple of moments until it molds/sticks to your ear opening. By far the most effective sound-blocking I've ever experienced, mainly because once they seal they don't tend to move around and open up small gaps like the orange ones do, or like most foam ones do.

Interesting. I've tried those (in fact I still have some, somewhere). But I never could get them to block out as much sound as the orange foam earplugs. I notice they are rated 22 NRR vs 32 NRR for the foam plugs, so I presume that's why.
 

JSmith

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Does anyone have a recommendation for 'musicians' earplugs that preserve some high frequencies?
Take a look here;





JSmith
 

krabapple

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two of those sites read like they were written by poorly trained AI.

Loudersound at least lists an actual author.
 

somebodyelse

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And not a single 'review' site shows frequency response :facepalm: Do any manufacturers other than Etymotic publish that?
Edit: Apparently Earasers do. This thread has a bit more detail, including some that have been sent in but not measured yet.

I've used both the ER20/ETYPlugs and the ER20XS, but not side by side to compare. Music at least still sounds somewhat like music, which I can't say for the foam plugs. I guess the foam ones might be ok if you're there for the experience of the mosh pit rather than listening to the bands.

It's a use case that noise cancelling headphone hardware should be able to handle, but the manufacturers seem not to have considered, so we're left with passive plugs or expensive application-specific active ones like Etymotic's Music Pro Elite.
 
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