The Best Earplugs For Musicians - Singers, Drummers, Guitarists & More

The Highest Rated Earplugs for Musicians

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Hearing loss is a very real danger to musicians and audio engineers. This is why hearing protection is an absolute must especially with prolonged exposure to loud sounds.

Long term exposure to the average concert at around 100db or more can permanently damage our eardrums, reducing our ability to hear. There is also the risk of developing tinnitus, which is usually a constant ringing of the ear that doesn't go away.

Even at the recommended mixing level of 83dB, you can only listen at this level for a limited amount of time before hearing fatigue sets in. Giving your ears a rest with some high fidelity earplugs while doing non-critical work like arrangement or editing saves your ears to focus on critical listening.

Concert-goers and musicians alike have long been averse to using hearing protection like earplugs because typical foam earplugs used in construction work diminish the sound quality. What they end up hearing is usually muffled and unenjoyable.

Earplugs designed for musicians, however, attenuate sound as evenly as possible across the entire frequency spectrum so everything still sounds nearly the same, except quieter.

The Best Earplugs For Musicians

Author & Contributors

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

An audio engineer of 20 years who specializes in rock and metal recordings, he also plays guitar and produces original music for his band and other content creators.

Hearos 211 High Fidelity Musician's Ear Plugs

87
GEARANK

87 out of 100. Incorporating 1250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$12
Hearos High Fidelity Musician's Ear Plugs

Being in production since 1992, Hearos were one of the first "high fidelity" earplugs out on the market.

They are available as a pair of triple flange earplugs in regular and small sizes (sold separately).

The Hearos provide over 20db of attenuation (12db NRR).

A tuned resonator enables you to hear highs and lows with equal amounts of attenuation.

Features

  • Noise Attenuation: 20db (12db NRR)
  • Fit: Triple Flange original or small (sold separately)
  • Replaceable Eartips: no
  • Accessories: Carrying case

Pros

Many longtime users of the Hearos attest to the fidelity and attenuation the earplugs offer. After being tested, one user noted that their hearing acuity is that of someone 30 years younger than them.

Cons

Some mild pressure irritation may occur if the earplugs fit too snug. If this is the case, they offer a "small" option. High frequencies aren't as preserved as newer designs in the market.

Overall

Hearos offer great value for hearing protection with very little compromise in sound quality.

Vic Firth High Fidelity Ear Plugs

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 400+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$19
Vic Firth High Fidelity Ear Plugs

At publication time these were the Highest Rated Musician Ear Plugs.

Vic Firth is a brand associated with drum and drum accessories like sticks and cases.

Drums have one of the highest SPL levels of any unamplified instrument and it only seems fitting that Vic Firth offer their own earplugs catering specifically to the volume attenuation needs of onstage musicians.

This led to a collaboration between Vic Firth and Etymotic Research in developing the Vic Firth High-Fidelity Earplugs.

To differentiate from Etymotic's own products, the tuning on the Vic Firth's chambers let slightly more bass in.

Features

  • Noise Attenuation: 20db (12db NRR)
  • Fitting type: Universal triple flange
  • Replaceable Eartips: No
  • Accessories: Carrying pouch and neck cord

Pros

Favorable reviews come from drummers who appreciate the way these earplugs were tweaked to let in more of the kick and cymbals and retain the actual sound of their drum kit.

Cons

Some users rated this pair low because of fit issues. Several negative reviews were from reports of inaccurate attenuation levels on the packaging but these were from the fact that there are two different rating systems. Several of them misunderstand the difference between the manufacturer indicated attenuation rating of 20db and the NRR of 12db.

Overall

I own a pair and have compared them with Etymotic's ETY-Plugs. While both offer nearly similar noise reduction profiles across the frequency range, I felt like the Vic Firth lets in a bit more bass which is essential not just for drummers but all musicians on stage. Having that little extra bass perception helps with singing in tune as well as performing on time to the beat.

EarPeace HD Concert Ear Plugs

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 3550+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$32
EarPeace Music Ear Plugs

Earpeace offers three different models that differ according to purpose. The M designation is meant for motorsport, the S is for safety and general noise reduction and the HD model is tailor-made for musicians and live music enthusiasts.

Various noise attenuation filters are included so you can choose the amount of volume reduction you need.

Features

  • Noise Attenuation: 26db (19db NRR), 20db (20db NRR) and 17db (11db NRR) filters included.
  • Fit: Standard and petite (sold separately)
  • Replaceable Eartips: Yes
  • Accessories: Aluminum carrying case

Pros

One reviewer mentioned he was able to watch a concert by the band My Bloody Valentine with no problem. The band is famous for being one of the loudest bands in the world. Many appreciate the interchangeable filters for different levels of attenuation. Other users noted that the earplugs helped them rest after long mixing sessions while listening to their work.

Cons

Many people had issues with the fit of the eartips. Several lukewarm reviews note that the fidelity of the earplugs is not on par with other offerings on the market. Some reviewers note that the pull tab is too short and that they had trouble taking the earplugs out.

Overall

With different levels of protection, the Earpeace plugs offer customizable levels of protection. While many want to hear more high frequencies to come through, these are best suited for those who may want additional options in their protection. The high-frequency roll-off also benefits those sensitive to shrill sounds.

Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 7650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$40
Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs

Eargasm earplugs have been sold during music festivals as hearing protection.

Having a moderately high noise attenuation, a waterproof aluminum carrying case, and 2 sets of eartip sizes, makes them ideal for loud rock concerts.

Features

  • Noise Attenuation: 21db (16db NRR)
  • Fitting type: Standard and small eartips included
  • Replaceable Eartips: Yes
  • Accessories: Waterproof aluminum carrying case

Pros

Reviewers generally like the earplugs for loud rock concerts as some of them got them as merchandise during a festival. One review mentioned that the earplugs still sounded great for live sound mixing as they don’t filter out too many high frequencies, unlike regular foam earplugs.

Cons

Most negative reviews were from issues with fit and some from user error or misuse like using them in ultra high volume situations (construction work, airport runways, machine shops).

Overall

These are great earplugs for concertgoers. They may not stay in place for more energetic performers on stage due to fit issues.

Westone TRU Universal WM16

87
GEARANK

87 out of 100. Incorporating 90+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$45
Westone TRU Universal WM16 Protection Filter Ear Plugs

The Westone TRU Universal WM16 reduces incoming sound by 16dB without altering the frequency response, keeping a natural sounding experience -- just quieter.

Westone uses environment-friendly and hypoallergenic materials to ensure no skin irritation and discomfort while wearing.

The low profile prevents accidental movement and keeps the plugs from being accidentally pushed in.

Features

  • Noise Attenuation: 16db (7db NRR)
  • Fitting type: Medium and large eartips included
  • Replacable Eartips: Yes
  • Accessories: Carrying pouch

Pros

Users are amazed at the clarity compared to other earplugs with others saying it's the best pair they've ever worn. Guitarists liked the amount of attenuation and frequency response since it lets them hear their own guitar tone where other plugs muffle the sound so much that they lose track of their own instrument.

Cons

Some felt that -16dB reduction wasn't enough for louder concerts. Another complaint was about bad lanyard design. The high end roll off / smoothness still felt excessive for some.

Overall

If you need clarity with your attenuation, the Westone TRU Universal WM16 is an excellent choice for concertgoers and musicians that still need to hear more of their instruments.

Things to Consider When Buying Musician Earplugs

Buying your first pair of earplugs may be confusing especially when you can’t try them before you buy them. Below are some things you might want to keep in mind when selecting a pair.

Type

There is a multitude of options on the market when it comes to earplugs in general. When selecting a pair to buy, make sure they are specific to your needs. Different types have different frequency and volume attenuation. Using musician’s earplugs for construction purposes might not give you enough protection. On the other hand, using industrial-grade earplugs commonly found in hardware stores affects the quality and clarity of the music you hear. For hearing protection during live performances or listening, high fidelity musician earplugs balance attenuation and clarity. Good earplugs make it seem like your surroundings just got turned down a couple of decibels like lowering the volume knob on speakers.

Sizing and Fit

Fit determines how effective the earplugs seal out noise as well as how secure and comfortable they are when worn. Many manufacturers offer a “universal fit” for their earplugs. These usually cover 75% of the population. Ear canals vary but for those on extreme ends of the spectrum with unusually large or small ear canals, you may want to consider special sizing. Too small and they might not seal properly and fall off, too large and they may put too much pressure on your ear canals leading to soreness and inflammation.

Attenuation & Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)

Attenuation measures the number of decibels that are reduced when wearing earplugs. Each item has two numbers in the attenuation category. The first number is a manufacturer specified reduction rating in decibels based on their studies while the Noise Reduction Rating is a more conservative number derived from a standard formula. Many manufacturers believe that the NRR is not an accurate representation of the actual amount of reduction offered but they are required to indicate it on their products.

A typical rock concert is around 106db to 110db. According to research done by Etymotic, you can only be exposed to those levels for no more than 5 minutes before hearing damage can occur. Typical musicians' earplugs attenuate 12db to 25db which brings the levels low enough for safe prolonged exposure.

Usage Life

High fidelity earplugs are generally reusable. However, materials like the silicone used for eartips degrade over time. Manufacturers usually indicate their product's usage life in the manual. This information seldom appears on product pages so to be safe, assume that a pair of earplugs have a usage life of 3 to 6 months before the eartip material starts to degrade. When the eartips start to show signs of wear like microtears, discoloration, or a change in pliability or texture, the product may need new eartips or be replaced entirely.

Reusability

Along with usage life, another thing to consider is whether the contact points of the earplugs are replaceable. Some manufacturers design their products to have replaceable eartips and filters. Other manufacturers intend the entire earplug to be disposable once the eartips show wear. The ones with replaceable parts tend to be more expensive and the availability of the parts is usually exclusively distributed by the manufacturer. Make sure to check the availability of replacement parts before purchasing a model that has them.

Best Musician's Earplug Selection Methodology

The first edition was first published in 2019 and the current edition was published on August 18, 2021.

We began by creating a short-list of 14 sets of earplugs that have been designed or reported as working well for the needs of musicians and which are available from major American retailers that sell music gear - you can see them in our Music Gear Database.

We then collected and analyzed the data from over 31,300 reviews, ratings and comments and put these into the Gearank Algorithm to produce the rating scores out of 100 that you see above that indicate market sentiment about each one. From there, we selected the highest rated options to recommend. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

An audio engineer of 20 years who specializes in rock and metal recordings, he also plays guitar and produces original music for his band and other content creators.

Aside from endlessly window shopping and watching hours of gear reviews for leisure, he enjoys playing competitive FPS games, MMORPGs and caring for his 5 cats. He is primarily influenced by guitarists like Kurt Ballou and Paul Gilbert. His favorite pieces of gear are his Ibanez RG550RFR, Orange Brent Hinds Terror amplifier and EQD Acapulco Gold fuzz.

Contributors

Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Created by Gearank.com using photographs of the Vibes Hi-Fidelity, Earasers and Vic Firth High Fidelity.

The individual product images were sourced from their respective manufacturers' websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation.

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