What are you using to protect your hearing? (Earplug Reviews)


The world is loud. Real loud.

Since I’ve started measuring (just on my phone), I’ve found myself on streets, bars, and concerts that all have a sound levels that would be considered unsafe work environments. Recently I had a hearing test done, and found that I can’t hear above 16.5khz anymore. Of course some of this is age (37), but I also know that I’ve made choices to stay in situations that were causing long term hearing damage.

For me the answer was to start carrying attenuating earplugs, which I started off using just at concerts and bars, but lately have been using by default when I’m out and about in the city.

I tried an etymotic pair, but right now I’m using Noizezz reds, which are invisible and more comfortable than the etys. They come in a few levels of protection, and a everyone I know that’s tried them has managed to get decent fit.


So-- what are you doing to protect your hearing (and headphone investment)? Any reviews for other protection options? Anyone else wearing earplugs wandering around the earth?


Great topic. Maybe this will help save some younger people’s hearing and avoid any loss sooner than age related.
Funny thing about it for me is loss of some, not much higher frequency in my left ears is cause by very loud listening to music. (How Ironic). Now I know if it’s too loud because my left ear begins to slightly hurt.
All in all not too bad for 68 years old.
(Edit) Sorry I missed the gist of the topic what to use to prevent. I do not use protection during day, only at night with my wife’s snoring. (Seriously)
Sorry I wandered off the topic.


Great topic. Right now I’m using the Etymolic Standard Fit blue High Fidelity earplugs.


What I like about these is that they have a cord. Last year, I used something else. I can’t find the order, but they did not attach to a cord, and I found that I had inserted one rather deeply and it was not easy to get out. The Etys pull out with the attached neck cord.

If you go to live music, it’s imperative to have something. Years ago I used a “sonic valve” that was for industrial use. I think that company started to make protection for shooters and changed their name.

Ordinary foam earplugs protect, but they will not let you hear the music well. A good hi-fi protector does. These Etymolics do tend to cut highs slightly more than lows, but you won’t find perfect. I’ve been told that the blue tip standards are softer than the clear large tips. I find the blue tip standard fit well.

Etymolic’s general hearing protection page is here:

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I am using Hearos Extreme. Not the most comfortable set of plugs, but most certainly very effective in noise isolation. I can even shoot blank .22 cartridge indoors while wearing them and it never hits my “pain warning threshold” which is 85dB SPL at 4kHz,
As for noises outside, yes, I can fully attest to that. Most people don’t even realize how much noise they’re making. My neighbourhood is especially noisy, with doors slamming, airplanes, yelling, industrial noises, motorcycles, …
With Hearos, many of those sources are greatly attenuated. Too bad the tight fit doesn’t make them comfortable for sleeping.

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Actually,this is a very serious question. In the last couple of weeks,I have found that I need to be pro-active about protecting my hearing. I did some yardwork with a hedge-trimmer and used earplugs. I also had to repair smoke alarms “going crazy” and I found out that “hearing” needs to be protected as well as visual(eyes) senses.


If you are looking at yardwork and general noise, not music, it’s much easier. Go to your hardware store and pick out a few foam or whatever they have. I like ones that have a neck strap because you don’t lose them and they are easy to take out of your ear. Or look in an industrial supply catalog like uLine or Granger and you can find a decent selection. Use what’s comfortable for you, because you will wear them. Keep cheap spares handy.

If you shoot, find ones recommended for that. If you are one of those folks with the lit cone lights on the runway in front of jets, I’m sure your work provides some.

But the real question is for music and concerts. You want to find something that attenuates evenly, and you may want ones that permit adjustment of how much they cut. 12db should be very helpful for most rock concerts. If you start to delve deeply into this you will need to know that logarithms are not birth control for Catholic lumberjacks.


I’ve found the best for me is the Radian custom molded ear plugs. It comes in
two parts that are joined together, like mixing putty, and formed into and around
the ear canal carefully. Left to harden in about 10 minutes and you have a set of
ear plugs that will fit perfectly. Costs about $11.

I’ve tried the squishy foam plugs and the soft plastic ones that look like nested
concentric rings. They just don’t reduce the noise level enough for me to feel


I have very sensitive hearing, so I stick to 32/33 dB foam earplugs, specifically ones that meet ANSI S3.19-1974 requirements.


I use the Etymotic ER-20XS. I think they sound great. I used them at the movies and they were comfortable throughout the film. I removed them during the end credits and was really bowled over by how loud movie theaters are these days. And don’t forget - kids need them too!

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Yes! I measured close to 100dbs in an AVX theater, which seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.


This topic inspired me to order a pair of ETY 20XS. I have noticed many environments get uncomfortably loud, and I would much rather protect my hearing in the long run.

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I’m considering modding my Ety 20s with some hair extension pull-outs. At my age, I’m used to clipping my ear hair, but I’ll be going to some concerts this month, and may feel like channeling my inner Balin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Dori, Dwalin, Gloin and Gimli. I’m sure I’ve left some out.


After trying multiple such devices, I wound up settling on the Etymotic ER20XS (with triple-flange tips). They’ve proven so effective and usable that I have a pair stashed in the pockets of every jacket/sports-coat I’d ever wear to an event that needed them.

I keep a set in my camera bag, my boat-bag, and my default carry-on as well.

I’ve tried others …

Maybe the next best, especially comfort-wise, were “Dubs”. Like the effect of the Etymotic’s better, but the “Dubs” worked well enough when I first got them.

My fiancé seems to like “Downbeats”. Though she refuses to routinely add something to her purse, so in most cases she winds up with her ears stuffed with paper …


I bought a couple of pairs are these off Amazon-- really like them. They aren’t as comfortable (for me) as the Noizezz, but I think that the attenuation is better, and they’re less money (and primeable). Solid option for anyone interested in protecting their audio investment.


In the last two weekends, I’ve been to two Journey/Def Leppard concerts, one at the Wells Fargo center in Philadelphia and one at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore. Sat in VIP section in both (you only live once, avoid the cheap seats). At both I used the standard size Etymolic ER-20s.

At the Wells Fargo concert, the sound seemed overall muddy. However, even if I removed the Ety’s for a short while it was not much better. Journey’s sound people later commented that there was a problem with sound at the venue, which we suspected when seeing Journey personnel checking output with an iPad and some analyzers after some heated discussions with the event personnel that were supposed to have done setup.

In Baltimore the sound was much clearer. I experimented a bit and found that the ER-20s sound a bit crisper when you do NOT use the convenient cord. Perhaps it is just that you then more directly control insertion into the ear. I found the ER-20s to be much easier to use than some other high-fidelity earplugs, and the center post/tube was long enough that I was never in danger of needing tweezers to remove the plugs (which happened to me a couple of years ago in Vegas with a brand that used a rubber grip tab for removal).

All in all, I was able to enjoy the concert and not increase tinnitus or have ringing afterwards.

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When I really want to make sure my hearing is protected, I use Surefire Sonic Defenders. With in-ear protection, depth of insertion of the plug in the ear canal is so important to ensure efficacy…these have a concha ring that enables deep depth and secure placement… Think you can get something like 29 NRR protection with these babies…


I bought a pair of the Ety 20XS and have been testing them for about a week. Insertion comfort for long periods is still something I have to work on / get used to, but they are very effective in sound reduction.

I wore it on a flight this past weekend (both ways), and the airplane noise was practically a nonfactor. Conversations, babies crying, etc. were going on, but were quiet enough to my ears that I felt no disturbance.


I use standard earplugs for yardwork. Otherwise,I want to hear it all.


From my experiences: bone conduction headphones are excellent choise and this headphones really have so many benefits. User can avoid hearing damage from prolong usage of the headphone as bone conduction bypasses the eardrum. Furthermore, with the open ear design, user can observe the surrounding while using the headphone. Like somebody already said: Bone Conduction + Open Ear = Healthy + Safe

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Campfire Audio Cascade Closed-Back Headphones - Official Thread

I was going through a drawer today and found the “Ear Peace HD” musician’s ear filters that I used a year or so ago when I went to concerts.

These worked just fine, and had the advantage of allowing changing the amount of sound reduction by using removable filter. They are softer than the Etymolics, and I’m sure some people will like them better.

I, however won’t wear them again except if I can’t find the Etys. I have big fingers, and these filters have only a small rubber tab to pull them back out. Push them in securely, and you may find yourself in need of tweezers or a spouse who can pluck them back out.

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