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

The Highest Rated Earplugs for Musicians

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Hearing protection is probably one of the most overlooked types of gear for musicians. 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 a constant ringing of the ear that doesn't go away.

Even prolonged editing and mixing sessions can strain your hearing with the average monitoring level at around 83db. 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 diminish the sound quality. 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

Hearos 211 High Fidelity Musician's Ear Plugs

86
GEARANK

86 out of 100. Incorporating 900+ 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

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$17
Vic Firth High Fidelity 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.

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 2050+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$25

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.

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

86
GEARANK

86 out of 100. Incorporating 5300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$36

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.

Earasers Musicians Earplugs

85
GEARANK

85 out of 100. Incorporating 475+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$40

Earasers are the oddball of this list since they are constructed differently from other earplugs.

Designed and manufactured by a company that makes hearing aids and electronic hearing protection, Earasers offer a different experience when it comes to attenuating volume.

Features

  • Noise Attenuation: 19db (5db NRR), 26db (13db NRR), 31db (16db NRR). Each sold separately.
  • Fitting type: Medium, Small, XS and L (sold separately)
  • Replaceable Eartips: Yes
  • Accessories: Plastic carrying case

Pros

Users rave about the natural-sounding attenuation and great comfort when worn. Because of the design and material, reviewers note they barely notice them when worn. The silicone eartips are also malleable enough to provide a good seal so long as you select the right size before purchasing.

Cons

Users feel like the Earasers are pricey compared to others on the market. Getting the wrong size means you have to purchase a replacement set of eartips. Their size and color also make them easy to misplace. Some feel like the attenuation of the stock filters is not enough for loud rock performances and concerts. They have been reported sometimes to fall out from vigorous movement.

Overall

If normal earplugs irritate your ears and you want natural-sounding and feeling earplugs, the Earasers may be up your alley. Do note that they offer different packages in case you are unsure of the level of protection you need and the fit of your ear canal.

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 June 2019 written by audio engineer Raphael Pulgar who also wrote the latest edition published on September 10, 2020.

We began by creating a short-list of 13 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 who sell music gear - you can see them in our Music Gear Database.

We then collected and analyzed the data from over 17,000 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.

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