5 Best Ear Plugs for Musicians


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As a musician, you may have the best gear; including the best pedals and the best amps. You may have splashed out for the finest case to protect your instruments, yet you really should be protecting your ears.

Without being able to hear the music clearly and keep in tune, you will be damaging your music career.

Hearing loss is a real problem for a musician, and you should be proactive when it comes to looking after your ears. Without protection, you could be leaving yourself open to tinnitus or a total inability to hear.

Many of us will experience hearing loss in old age yet exposure to high decibels and loud music can make it occur faster.

There is no easier way to achieving hearing protection than ear plugs. Put simply, you should be wearing these whenever music is being played. Whether playing live or in the studio, even during rehearsals.

A lot of musicians fear that wearing ear plugs will harm their ability to listen to music. That is not the case with the best ear plugs that keep the music clear and reduce damaging sound levels.

Look after your hearing with some ear plugs and let the good times roll.

Best For Drummers – Vic Firth High Fidelity Ear Plugs

Vic Firth VICEARPLUG High-Fidelity Hearing Protection Regular Size

Many drummers should recognize the name Vic Firth. For years, they have specialized in drumsticks and drummer accessories. They know and appreciate the hearing safety of a drummer.

With Natural Ear Canal Replication, any drummer should still be able to hear the music clearly, only quieter. These are also ideal for retaining the clarity of drumming across kicks and cymbals.

For high frequencies, you can expect a sound reduction of 20 dB, and overall there is a 12 dB sound reduction. That is a sizable amount, which goes a long way to protecting a drummer’s hearing.

We really liked the neck cord in our testing of this product, these were ideal for removing the ear plugs without losing them. Great for sessions where you can swiftly remove them when the music has died down.

Pros

  • Natural Ear Canal Replication – These ear plugs are specially designed to reproduce sound as the ear would hear it but quieter
  • Up To 20 dB Sound Reduction – The overall sound reduction is 12 dB but up to 20 dB for high frequencies
  • Music Richness Preservation – Richness of music and individual sounds are retained as well as the clarity of speech
  • Heavy Duty Neck Cord – Ideal for keeping hold of the ear plugs and not losing them during a session or performance

Cons

  • Poorly Sized Container – A container for the ear plugs is provided, but some users have noted that it proves difficult to fit them in
Sale
Vic Firth VICEARPLUG High-Fidelity Hearing Protection Regular Size
  • VICEARPLUG High-Fidelity Hearing Protection Regular Size
  • These High-Fidelity Earplugs from Vic Firth were designed to replicate the natural response of the ear canal so that sound is reproduced exactly as the ear would hear it, only quieter
  • Clarity of speech and richness of music are preserved rather than muffled
  • NRR is a value derived by mathematical formula that underestimates the effectiveness of flat attenuation earplugs
  • These earplugs have an NRR rating of 12 decibels

Best For Fender Aficionados On A Budget – Fender Musician Series Ear Plugs

Fender Musician Series Ear Plugs

We all know how renowned Fender are for guitars. Your first guitar may have been a Fender Strat and since then you have sworn by everything the brand has released.

Now you can protect your hearing with that very same iconic brand. This is also a classic all-black design, which is recognizable and iconic enough for Fender.

At a cheap price too, which makes them great for a couple of pairs in case someone else in your band forgot their ear plugs.

With up to a 27 dB sound reduction, these will prove great value for money. Ideal for musicians or those music fans who want to get up and close to the stage.

Made from silicone, the ear plugs are also really simple to wash and maintain, which we liked in our testing. Once used, take them home and give them a quick wash to use again and again.

Ideal for live performances, practice, and studio sessions; anywhere you would expect a musician and a Fender guitar.

Pros

  • Fender Branding – If you swear by Fender guitars, you will likely want to remain on brand with your ear plugs
  • Value For Money – While they may be very cheap, these will do the job
  • 27 dB Sound Reduction – Great sound protection for that low price

Cons

  • One Size – These are limited to one size, which may not fit everyone
Fender Musician Series Ear Plugs
  • Package includes one set of ear plugs
  • 27-decibel noise-reduction rating
  • Washable and reusable
  • Convenient carrying case
  • Designed for musicians, rehearsals and gigs

Best For Musician-Focused Design – Earasers Ear Plugs

EARasers Noise Cancelling Earplugs - Reusable Soft Silicone Noise Reduction High Fidelity Musicians Comfort US Ear Plugs For Concerts, Festivals, Djs, Drummers, Dentists – 19dB Peak Reduction (Medium)

Earasers ear plugs look out for musicians, which you would expect from a company that has manufactured hearing aids for 50 years.

Especially when these ear plugs have been developed by Earasers’ lead engineer, who has been a musician for over two decades.

Earasers have been designed to offer a flat frequency, similar to when you use a studio monitor. You will still be able to hear your tone, the outgoing sound, and the music accurately, but at a lower volume.

Few ear plugs are available in more than one size, let alone four, which we liked in our experience of this product. That is a huge benefit of ear plugs that come from a company that has developed hearing aids.

They appreciate that only 4% of the population require very small or very large, but these are designed for a comfortable fit.

Pros

  • Specific Design – These ear plugs filter out loud noise, so you can listen comfortably
  • Comfortable Fit – Earasers are shaped like an oval, just like your ears
  • Four Different Sizes – Few ear plugs come in extra small and extra large sizes, as these only cover 4% of the population

Cons

  • Small Antennas – The antennas used to fit the ear plugs may be tricky to handle at first but become natural over time
EARasers Noise Cancelling Earplugs - Reusable Soft Silicone Noise Reduction High Fidelity Musicians Comfort US Ear Plugs For Concerts, Festivals, Djs, Drummers, Dentists – 19dB Peak Reduction (Medium)
  • Premium Hearing Protection - EARasers High Fidelity Earplugs reduce damaging decibel levels to protect your ears in noisy areas without hurting sound quality. These are designed to block harmful noise while retaining sound quality; whether playing the guitar, drums or visiting a music festival musicians have to be able to focus on the different layers of instrumentation. Kill the noise hear the voice.
  • 19 dB Peak Musicians Comfort Filter - The world's first flat frequency response best earplug that reduces up to 13 dB average -19 dB Peak filtering of dangerous sound. EARasers do an adequate job of bringing down the overall volume, blocking background noises, snoring at a comfortable level while preserving sound clarity and sharpness. Hearing protection that delivers the full spectrum of sound!
  • Ear Fit Design - Earplugs soft silicone design is based on one of the market's most widely used hearing aid tips. The Smart Seal technology conforms to the shape of your ear canal for a more comfortable fit that you can wear all day. The open canal shape and filter placement are specifically designed to allow sound to travel closer to the eardrum before being filtered, creating a more natural and clear sound that keeps the musical layering intact. These are also reusable and virtually invisible.
  • Tested & Certified - Made in the USA under rigorous quality control protocols for noise reduction you can rely on. Thoroughly tested and proven with US regulations. Manufactured by a 50-year-old hearing aid company and developed by their lead engineer, a musician for over 20 years. EARasers patented design filters out loud noise while still allowing you to hear at a safe, comfortable level.
  • Only 1 For All - EARasers utilize a unique attenuation "V filter" to provide an overall 5dB EPA protection rating. These earplugs are for noise sensitivity conditions, concerts, musicians, drummers, Dentists, sporting events, Nightlife, and many other uses. It's great fun for the whole family and the bridge club. No sweat, tickle, or itch, made for all-day comfort at home or work. Won't muffle music or voices as foam plugs do.

Best For Contemporary Design – Earos One Ear Plugs

EAROS ONE High Fidelity Acoustic Filters for Musicians, Motorcycles, Productivity, Noise Reduction, Concerts | Reusable, Medical Grade Alternative to Ear Plugs | Made in The USA

Several occupations have an impact on our hearing. From construction to shooting while many take ear plugs to help them sleep easier.

The Earos One has been specially designed for musicians and those who want to listen to music. That largely comes from patented passive technology to retain the music’s rich resonant sound with a reduction of 17 dB.

They should do the job, given a former director at MIT’s Acoustics and Vibratory Lab was consulted during the making of them.

A unique Concha tab and an ergonomic design also means a snug fit with little danger of these falling out, which we liked in our testing of this product.

The natural contour of the ear canal is covered, they also look attractive given the medical-grade materials they are made out of.

Pros

  • Contemporary Look – Medical grade TPE tips give them a swish look that looks great
  • Patented Passive Technology – These ear plugs will still let you hear the music clearly with a rich, resonant sound
  • Unique Concha Tab – No danger of these ear plugs falling out with a smooth fit
  • Expertly Designed – An ex-Director of the MIT Acoustics and Vibratory Lab was consulted in the design

Cons

  • Requires Practice Sealing In – The well-made design can take a while to seal in, so take the time to practice
EAROS ONE High Fidelity Acoustic Filters for Musicians, Motorcycles, Productivity, Noise Reduction, Concerts | Reusable, Medical Grade Alternative to Ear Plugs | Made in The USA
  • FILTER THE NOISE | Experience sound as you normally would -- just at a lower decibel level. Rather than muffling and distorting the listening experience, EAROS are specially tuned to reduce noise while maintaining sound quality for a natural listening experience.
  • EXPERTLY ENGINEERED | Developed with the former Director of MIT's Acoustics & Vibratory Lab, EAROS are designed to reproduce the sound curve of your natural ear -- delivering a unique combination of sound clarity and hearing protection.
  • PATENTED DESIGN | Our proprietary, patented soundbore replicates how the inner ear resonates while providing a Noise Reduction Rating of 17 dB and preserving audio fidelity. Sleek, ergonomic design offers a low profile and comfortable fit.
  • HEAR THE DIFFERENCE | EAROS ONE is designed to fit and feel differently than earplugs by forming a seal deep within the ear, enabling better protection and sound fidelity than other products that have shallow insertion. Two sizes of tips included.

Best For Sound Reduction And Custom-Fit – DeciBullz Custom Molded Ear Plugs

Decibullz - Custom Molded Earplugs, 31dB Highest NRR, Comfortable Hearing Protection for Shooting, Travel, Swimming, Work and Concerts (Black)

For a custom-fit, you simply cannot beat DeciBullz Custom Molded Ear Plugs. With a moldable plug that becomes soft in warm water, these are designed to match the shape of your inner ears.

After a few minutes drying, they should be a comfortable fit that you will barely notice. The exceptional design uses natural pressure points to ensure all-day comfort and hearing protection.

These are a superior, low-profile way of protecting your ears. However, if you did want to stand out, then take your pick from six colors.

The ear plugs come in a standard black variation, yet you could branch out to green, red, purple, orange, or blue. Whatever the color, by boasting a 31 dB protection rating, you can be assured that your ears will be looked after.

Pros

  • 31 dB Protection Rating – Few ear plugs can come close to provide such sound reduction
  • Moldable Plug – These ear plugs come with a custom-fit and a moldable plug to ensure they remain in place
  • Warm Application – To ensure a pliable shape, simply warm up the ear plugs in warm water for a few minutes then let them mold to the shape of your inner ears
  • Re-Moldable – Easily washable, you can also let someone borrow them, and they will re-mold to their inner ears too

Cons

  • Reduced Sound – The sound reduction works so well, it may be too quiet in some scenarios
Decibullz - Custom Molded Earplugs, 31dB Highest NRR, Comfortable Hearing Protection for Shooting, Travel, Swimming, Work and Concerts (Black)
  • CUSTOM MOLDED EARPLUGS: Easily and quickly fitted to the exact shape of your ear. This creates a perfect fitting earplug that will never hurt, never fall out and provide superior noise isolation.
  • EASY SHAPE SYSTEM: Simply heat the Decibullz thermoplastic molds in boiling water, let them cool for a bit, and shape them to your ears. That's it, and If you don't get the perfect fit the first time Decibullz are the only custom earplugs that are re-moldable.
  • PERFECT FOR ANY SITUATION: Decibullz are perfect for shooting, traveling, working, loud concerts, and safety.
  • INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE: Two Decibullz Thermoplastic Custom Molds, Three Sets of Triple Flange Tips S, M, L, One Set of Max Protect MEDIUM Foam Tips, Earplug Carrying Pouch with Decibullz Logo
  • HEAT SHAPE REMOLD : Get superior sound quality and noise reduction with custom ear pieces for radio. Simply heat the earpiece mold in a cup of boiling water, cool, then insert into your ear. It shapes around your own ear as it cools. Reheat and remold these reusable ear pieces whenever you need to.

Buyers’ Guide

You should think of your ears as another instrument in your arsenal that are worth protecting. Just as you use a case for your guitar or drums, you should buy a pair of ear plugs.

Once you begin to suffer hearing loss, the damage is already done. Ear plugs can provide the sort of reliable protection you need as a preventative measure, without disrupting your enjoyment of the music.

As the dangers of hearing loss and tinnitus have become more well-known, so the technology has advanced. You could still use a pair of foam ear plugs, though remember that you could be getting much more adequate protection.

There are ear plugs that can mold to the unique shape of your inner ears or are specifically designed for placing in ear canals. Others that have use ergonomic designs for a great seal which still retaining the rich, tonality of music but with the volume turned down.

Particular manufacturers have also noted that there is a growing market for musicians who require ear plugs.

Not only for sound clarity through accurate filtering, but also looking good on stage while seeking out hearing protection. Do not worry too much about standing out with a pair of garish ear plugs, as this has been taken into account.

Though you could still opt for your favorite color in several cases. There are subtle designs available that still do a great job and are only visible at close quarters. Whether it be a neck cord for drummers or Fender branded ear plugs.

Hearing the music you are playing clearly should still mean protecting your hearing. You should opt for ear plugs that act as a pair of in-ear monitors.

The ear plugs you decide to get should be also comfortable enough to be discreet for the longest of sessions. Invest in a pair of reusable, reliable ear plugs, and you will be looking after your ears for years, even decades to come.

The Fear Of Sound Distortion

There is a distinct fear amongst musicians that using ear plugs will ruin their enjoyment of music. That simply is not the case, as long as you are wearing the best ear plugs for you.

That does not just mean protecting your hearing, but making sure you can hear the music too. No-one wants their hearing to be distorted, and that can happen with the incorrect ear plugs.

You should be looking out for ear plugs that can offer a flat response. These will attenuate every sound frequency equally, so you still hear the music with all the clarity, yet with the volume down.

The best ear plugs should act as a volume knob to turn down the decibels, not an equalizer that tunes out various frequencies.

Noise Reduction Rating/Decibel Protection Rating

A Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is a measure of how good ear plugs, and other hearing protection, can be in blocking out noise. This works with the decibel as the measurement of how loud noise can be.

For instance, ear plugs with an NRR of 20 should reduce the noise by around 20 dB. A musician should still be able to hear the music, just quieter.

The best ear plugs will be superb at significantly lowering the volume. That is the main purpose of wearing ear plugs after all. You should still hear the rich, resonant sound, the tones, and the outgoing music.

However, all this should be clear and at a much lower volume. How much sound reduction you need largely depends on how much volume you usually endure.

For someone in a heavy metal or rock band, you should be looking at a higher Noise Reduction Rating. Any acoustic musicians should still invest in some hearing protection, though you certainly will not need as much.

The range of sound reduction that ear plugs can offer tends to be between 15 and 30 dBs. Depending on what music you play, you should be able to find the best ear plugs.

Custom Ear Plugs

If you had a sizable budget and truly wanted to get the best pair of ear plugs then consider seeing an audiologist. With an appointment, you can get a set of ear plugs that are molded exactly to your ear canal.

That means a perfect seal so that no sound can leak in. You would also hear the sound in exceedingly high definition, with an almost imperceptible change in tone.

Depending on how much sound reduction you wanted, you could opt for a customizable filter.

These are aimed at professional musicians who see their ears as instruments to look after, just as much as their guitar, drums, or voice.

Seeing an audiologist is also a more personal experience, far different from going to a shop or clicking ‘add to basket’ on a pair of ear plugs.

A working musician may also consider buying a pair of in-ear monitors to hear the whole mix and not worry about hearing loss.

Comfort

Sure, protecting your ears and hearing the music are two factors that will be high on your list. However, wearing your ear plugs should not be a chore.

They should fit your ears snugly so that you barely notice they are there, and they become a good habit to get into. Believe it or not, we all have different shaped ears.

Some subtle differences here and there that means finding the right ear plugs can mean shopping around.

This factor has not been missed by manufacturers, who have come up with innovative designs to ensure that ear plugs can be moldable.

The material is key in that if they are pliable enough, you can simply warm them up and let them mold to the natural contour of your ears. That really makes a difference if you have a large or small ear canal.

Also, you may have deep curves that lead to your eardrum, or a direct shot.

There are also ear plugs that come in different sizes, which may be a surprise. Several manufacturers boast that their ear plugs only require one size.

Yet around 4% of the population can claim to have either very small or very large ears which need to be catered for. Some ear plugs also come with insertion devices to ensure they go deep into your ear canals for a better seal.

If your ear plugs are not a comfortable fit, that can affect the efficiency of the earplug. Should sound leak in, then you may still suffer from many hearing conditions despite believing that you are protected.

Also, your enjoyment of the music may suffer if you cannot make out certain frequencies. Imagine going to a rehearsal and not being able to make out the vocals, or the bass. It does not bear thinking about, so ensure that the ear plugs let the music in, just at a lower volume.