Vic Firth High Fidelity Ear Plugs Review (1 Pair)
The first thing that comes into mind when you hear the brand name are their drumsticks. But how good is their hearing protection?
Before I start this review, some context. I was born with tinnitus which causes me to hear a high pitched ringing sound at around 10khz all the time. It gets perceptively louder when I am in silence hence, me listening to music all the time was my daily workaround. I didn't know what it was until my late teens when I first started playing in bands. One night after a show, the ringing just became unbearably loud. I didn't get any sleep and I went to the doctor immediately after. It turns out, my tinnitus was aggravated by being in a high decibel environment for a sustained period of time. This was alarming to me because of what the doctor said: repeated exposure will lead to hearing loss over time.
Now I hope I didn't put too much fear into what is still a review for earplugs. But this is necessary for me to relay to you why I got these particular ones.
I've always used earplugs during loud concerts. The foam ones you get at the hardware store do an adequate job protecting my ears but with one caveat: They muffled everything. I could hear and feel the rumble of the bass, but the foam earplugs just cut out everything from 200hz above. This made the concert and live performance experience very unsatisfying for me for the longest time. I actually discovered high fidelity earplugs by doing product research for the "The Best Earplugs For Musicians" guide and saw that the highly rated Vic Firth High Fidelity earplugs were available at my local shop. I went ahead and bought them to road test them during a show.
Visible here is the "resonance chamber" of the ear plugs. These are tuned to resonate with the vibrations in the air and let some of the sound into your ears in a controlled manner; not just volume-wise, but frequency-wise as well.
Unlike generic foam earplugs, High Fidelity ear plugs usually don't completely block out sound. They are specially tuned to let through sound as flat as possible to give the sensation of just having lowered the overall volume of the environment going into your ears.
The Vic Firth High Fidelity Ear Plugs were developed by Etymotic based on their ETY-Plugs design except tweaked to let more bass frequencies in; something that is especially beneficial on stage. I also own the Etymotic ETY-Plugs and I prefer the way the Vic Firth plugs sound especially on stage. I need to be able to hear the bass guitar and the kick drum to keep track of my tempo. The ETY-Plugs roll off a bit too much of the low end to my ears and it feels less exciting to perform with them.
I also noticed that cymbals retain their high frequency sizzle and quite a bit of detail compared to standard foam earplugs. This is great if the beat is maintained by keeping track of the cymbals, especially during quieter passages where generic foam earplugs just tune everything above 400hz out.
- Noise Attenuation: 20db (12db NRR)
- Fitting type: Universal triple flange
- Replaceable Eartips: No
- Accessories: Carrying pouch and neck cord
- Have to be replaced every few months for hygienic reasons
- Great attenuation with little compromise
- Retains bass perception
- Includes carrying pouch
Even if you're not a drummer, The Vic Firth High Fidelity Ear Plugs were tuned with performers in mind. It's a great choice to keep the stage volume going into your ears low while retaining some bass perception, making it easier for singers and instrumentalists to hear vital parts of the live mix.