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November 18, 2004

Best earplugs ever

Pay attention, the following may be the only useful thing you ever learn from this weblog. I've been looking for the ultimate cheap disposable earplug for several years and I now believe my search is over.

OTC earplugs can be divided into two main categories: gunk and foam. Intuitively, the gunk technology seems more promising. It sounds smart to have earplugs that instantly conform to the unique shape of the wearer's ear canal. Intuitions are often wrong. Gunk earplugs are messier and less effective than foam plugs. The worst offenders are the greasy pink plugs made of wax and fiberglass insulation. The high-tech silicone blobs are eye-catching, but again it's hard to form a really tight seal.

The major drawbacks of foam plugs are non-ergonomic shape and rigidity. Howard Leight earplugs solve both of those problems. They're tapered and made out of very springy pliant foam. According to the package, their noise reduction rating is 33dB.

Comments

Good call! I've sworn by Howard Leights for a few years now whenever a band's too loud or excessively trebly guitars drown out the vocals.

As an inveterate user of earplugs (our modern world is too noisy for human safety) I thank you!

Right on! I swear by Howard Leights when I play. :)

When I was going to shows a lot, I used a type of foam earplug that you rolled between you fingers to compress, inserted into your ear, and it would slowy expand to form a very tight seal. I just round them: North Ultra Noise Hushers, with a rating of 31db. They come in a package of six pair and can be found at Home Depot.

i use the MACK'S brand of silicone earplugs. they come in a pack of either 4 or 12. i break the rules written on the package tho - they say don't jam them in the ear canal (just cover the hole) but i jam them in anyways. if you push them in a bit extra, and then let it pop out just a bit, a slight vacuum is created inside, and this low-pressure area, being less dense, transmits sound less efficiently, and you get even more sound reduction.

Us old-timey Army types found that cigarette filters work fairly well. Don't smoke? Some tips: (1) bum or buy a couple of smokes from someone who does; or (2) scavenge in the usual places and avoid the skanky looking ones. It helps if you dip the used ones in alchohol... even beer would do in this case.

If you are in a band, listen to a lot of live music (or ride a motorcycle, or fly a lot, etc.), you want to spend 120 bucks and get a set of specially molded musician's earplugs. I know it sounds like a lot of money, but they will pay for themselves over a couple of years. The advantage is (1) perfect seal, because they're made for your ears, (2) swappable filters in 9db reduction, 15db reduction, 25db reduction, and total blockage (great for snoring spouse; don't laugh; saves marriages) (3) the filters reduce noise evenly, so that if you're listening to music you don't get that muffled no high end thing; it sounds like it should sound, just turned down. I had to go to an ear-doctor to get mine, but the same company that makes them now does a home kit where you can do your own mold (who knows if that really works; usually the ear doctor folks will throw in a hearing test, which may or may not be information you want). I would say if you dont have the need of earplugs as often as once a week, or if you don't really care that you're not hearing all the music because of your wad of wax etc., then don't bother. But given how much noise we assaulted with, and how much of it we inflict on ourselves, and how much we really don't want to screw up our ears, these things are worth it. I forget the brand, but a google of "musician's earplugs 15 25" will turn up a bunch of people selling them.

For people who are looking beyond passive earplug but not quite full size noise reduction headphone. Sony MDR-EX51LP isn't a bad option.

This ear canal earphones is surprisingly good as simple earplug. (In fact I hate it how it keeps conducting body noise via jaw bones as typical earpug does)

I wonder if somebody actually try doubling (passive earplug) + low end noise reduction headphone. THat would be an interesting thing to try.

PS. there is nothing to substitude a real quite nite, since ear plug doesn't simulate natural ambient air.

Heroes Extreme ear plugs are more comfortable with an equivalent protection rating.

Don't take my word for it, see:

http://www.slate.com/id/2118800/

http://www.walgreens.com/store/product.jsp?CATID=100217&navAction=jump&navCount=2&nug=
VPD&skuid=sku394694&id=prod394693

I live RIGHT next to the expressway, and i don't have to tell you what a total nightmare it is for me being the SUPER light sleeper that i am...i have tried lots of things, and i think the hearos ones are the best...those waxy ones didn't do it for me. i will have to try this Howard Leight one! Thanks!

Sheila

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