Hearing loss is a musician’s greatest fear.
That’s why choosing the best earplugs is SO important when you’re a touring drummer or musician.
The loud volumes and extremes of frequency at gigs and concerts put musicians at high risk of sustaining hearing damage and developing conditions like tinnitus.
Unfortunately, being around loud noises is kind of our whole thing, so we need to cope best we can.
What’s the solution? (Hint: It’s using the best earplugs!)
Since hearing loss is a common problem among musicians, wearing earplugs while playing is a must!
But although ear plugs protect us from loud noises they also tend to take away from the experience of a gig by muffling and distorting sounds.
This puts loads of people off using hearing protection, mainly because they’ve been using the wrong types!
Here’s the good news:
I’m going to share the five best options for musicians on the market today. These ear plugs will make sure you hear what you need to, clearly and quietly.
How to choose the best earplugs? 3 things to look for.
Research suggests that virtually all musicians are at an increased risk of developing hearing disorders.
In order to reduce this risk, hearing protectors with high fidelity and custom fit are recommended.
Here are the three things to look for when buying ear protection.
1. High-fidelity: Getting quality sound to your ears.
Fidelity is a fancy way of describing the accuracy of sound reproduction.
You might have heard about ‘high fidelity’ speakers, this just means these speakers produce clear sound, i.e. it’s not ‘muddy’ and doesn’t sound garbled.
Similarly, we want whatever ear protection we use to keep the original sound as clear as possible.
This is incredibly important to musicians as we need to be able to hear the details in what we and others are playing on stage.
Normal Ear Plugs vs. High Fidelity Ear Plugs
After placing an ordinary earplug in your ear, the ears natural resonance is diminished, which results in muffled and unclear sounds.
A high-fidelity earplug reduces the volume, while maintaining the quality of the original sound wave as much as possible.
2. Material: Choose durability & comfort!
Silicone is the best material for musician’s earplugs as it does not shrink or change size.
How the plugs are moulded is also an important factor when it comes choosing the best ear protection.
Look for the use of careful impression technique and good manufacturing to find an optimal earplug that protects your hearing without disturbing the sound quality.
3. Fit: Make sure it’s just right.
Making sure there is no sound leakage in your ear protection is crucial to make sure that the sounds pass through the plug and don’t go around the plug.
When it comes to earplugs, there are three different types available in the market:
- Custom moulded plugs
- Off-the-shelf plugs
- In ear monitors
Among these three, custom moulded earplugs have been the hearing protection accessory of choice of professionals for decades.
But… they’re also very expensive for 90% of people out there.
The off-the-shelf options available now tend to mimic the shape of the ear canals using a flanged design and work almost as well as the pricey custom option… for a fraction of the price!
Our top picks for best ear protection for musicians
Now that you know what features to look for in the perfect pair of earplugs shopping around will be much easier.
To make the task even simpler, we have outlined five best ear protection for musicians.
A lot of these ear plugs are in a similar price range so I’ve highlighted their best features in each case to help you choose.
Take a look.
Alpine MusicSafe is deemed Europe’s best ear protection for musicians. (It’s also a best seller!)
It is specially designed to provide sound protection and maintain sound quality.
Plus it comes with three exchangeable filters that enable you to adjust the volume of the sound that reaches your ear.
- Three filters to choose the level of protection you want.
- Made using ThermoShape material to offer a comfortable and snugly fit (and they clean easily too!)
- Virtually invisible when worn
Next up, the staple choice for hearing protection in the music industry…
Ear Peace are a huge name in the game, used by the likes of Metallica and Redbull!
As with the Alpines above, these are designed to be discreet then worn and even come in 3 colours if you want them to match your skin tone… or hide the ear wax stains when you take them out!
- Backed by big names: Metallica / Lollapallooza / RedBull all use Earpeace gear!
- Made using soft, medical grade silicon that ensures a snug and comfortable fit
- Available in multiple skin tones to make it disappear in your ear.
- Cheaper than the Alpine Musicsafe Pro!
- Comes with a spare ear plug.
LiveMus!c Reusable ear plugs take a slightly different tact than other manufacturers.
They give you two sets of ear plugs rather than filters. This can make them them a hassle to swap out but it does give you a full spare pair, unlike some others.
They also tend to be a little more expensive than the other ear plugs mentioned in this list!
- 2 sets of earplugs instead of swappable filters.
- Triple flange design and cone shaped tip for better fit and noise canceling – this doesn’t make them that discreet however.
- Sturdy aluminium carrying case.
Eargasm are the first company on the list that give you two, different sized plugs to ensure you get the correct fit!
The plugs come with built-in filters so you can’t adjust the sound to your liking, one to consider if you’re planning on using them in a variety of places.
- Compact aluminium carrying case so you can have them with you when you need them.
- Comes in two sizes to fit every size and shape of ear!
- Easy pull tabs make it simple to remove them from your ears, no more panic situations if they go too far in!
- Made using hypoallergenic soft silicone that is non-toxic
And last but certainly not least (+ it’s also the cheapest in the list!)
DownBeats are fairly new to the scene and have managed to land on their feet.
Creating an affordable set of ear plugs that have been well received by musicians and others online!
Like the Eargasm set, you can’t adjust the sound, you get what you’re given but seeing as they’re designed for a wide range of uses and not just for musicians – I’m confident these will do the job.
They’re definitely worth a try considering they’re 33%-50% cheaper than the others on the list.
- Handy carrying case made from aluminium!
- Reduces sound moderately and evenly for delivering music at safe levels
- Noise reduction rating- 18db
What do you use on stage and at concerts? Let me know in the comments below.