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

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. Even worse than hearing loss is developing tinnitus, which is a constant ringing of the ear that doesn't go away.

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

Vibes Hi-Fidelity Ear Plugs

86
GEARANK

86 out of 100. Incorporating 1150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$24

Vibes made their breakthrough in the hearing protection scene when they appeared on the show Shark Tank. They are primarily tuned towards concert going applications as well as for everyday use. The 22db attenuation caters to people who may use these earplugs for more than just music.

Specifications

  • Noise Attenuation: 22db (15db NRR)
  • Fit: Small, medium and large eartips included
  • Replacable Eartips: Yes
  • Accessories: Carrying case

Pros

The majority of the glowing reviews are from people suffering from noise induced trauma and people on the autism spectrum who need something to prevent sensory overload. They say that the earplugs helped them manage to watch loud concerts without worrying about sudden jumps in volume while retaining the clarity of unprotected hearing.

Cons

Several users note that the build quality could be better. People who experienced close to no reduction may have had fit problems leading to an incomplete sealing of the ear canal. Without a proper seal, the earplugs were said to “not work as advertised”. Because of the design of the eartip, achieving a seal may be difficult for those with ear canals that are shaped too shallow. A triple flange eartip would work better but as of this writing, Vibes does not offer a triple flange aftermarket eartip.

Overall

Many satisfied customers use this set of earplugs for concert and everyday use. Its attenuation rating may bother musicians onstage that want less reduction. Surprisingly, this set’s biggest userbase is those with noise-triggered trauma or anxiety triggers. If you are a music lover or performer who wants more than adequate protection while maintaining clarity, this pair is for you.

EarPeace HD Concert Ear Plugs

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 2000+ 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.

Specifications

  • Noise Attenuation: 26db (19db NRR), 20db (20db NRR) and 17db (11db NRR) filters included.
  • Fit: Standard and petite (Sold Separately)
  • Replacable 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

A number of people had issues with the fit of the eartips. Several lukewarm reviews note that the fidelity of the earplugs are 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 in 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 2800+ 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 it ideal for loud rock concerts.

Specifications

  • Noise Attenuation: 21db (16db NRR)
  • Fitting type: Standard and small eartips included
  • Replacable 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 much 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 onstage due to fit issues.

Westone TRU Universal WM16 Protection Filter Ear Plugs

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 30+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$46

Weatone are known for their custom ear protection. The Westone TRU WM16 ear plugs utilize the same filters as some of their higher end custom models.

Specifications

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

Pros

Westone WM16 earplugs are being hailed by a lot of users as having the best frequency response and fidelity among earplugs they tried. One reviewer stated that even classical music sounded great with them on. This is because of the smooth high frequency response that a lot of users praise.

Cons

While far from muffled, a few reviewers stated that the smooth high end rolloff was excessive for their hearing. This is all down to individual physiologies so if you feel less sensitive to high frequencies, you may want to look elsewhere.

Overall

Westone has a lot of pedigree behind the name in the world of hearing protection. Their value priced offering provides a great listening experience for very few compromises. If you are particularly sensitive to high frequencies but want to preserve intelligibility, these earplugs are for you.

Earasers Musicians Ear Plugs

84
GEARANK

84 out of 100. Incorporating 600+ 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.

Specifications

  • Noise Attenuation: 19db (5db NRR), 26db (13db NRR), 31db (16db NRR). Each sold separately.
  • Fitting type: Medium, Small, XS and L (Sold separately)
  • Replacable 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 makes them easy to misplace. Some feel like the attenuation of the stock filters are 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.

Budget Option

If you're looking for a great entry into high fidelity earplugs for musicians or are curious to see how well they work, the next item is a great gateway. While it didn't make it to our top 5 picks, it's availability, performance and quality deserves a special mention.

Vic Firth High Fidelity Ear Plugs

82
GEARANK

82 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ 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.

Specifications

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

Pros

General 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

Many 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 personally own a pair and have compared it with Etymotic's own 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.

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 are 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 own 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 products usage life in the manual. This information seldom appears on product pages so to be safe, assume that a pair of earplugs has 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 are usually exclusively distributed by the manufacturer. Make sure to check availability of replacement parts before purchasing a model that has them.

Best Musician's Earplug Selection Methodology

We began by creating a short-list 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 most of them in our Music Gear Database.

We then collected and analyzed the data from over 12,300 reviews, ratings and comments and put these into the Gearank algorithm to produce the rating scores out of 100 that you see above that best reflect market sentiment. From here, we selected the highest rated options to recommend in addition to a budget option. For more information about this process see How Gearank Works.

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