As a piccolo player, I need a good set of earplugs. And not just regular earplugs; I need earplugs for musicians. Yes, there is a difference. I've had other musicians move away from me because their ears hurt. No, I'm not offended. I understand. Whether you play a high pitched instrument like the piccolo or a low instrument like the bass, a solid pair of earplugs should be part of every musician's gig bag.
What's the difference between these and regular, drug store earplugs? Good musician-grade earplugs will protect your hearing and allow you to hear the music and activity around you. Earplugs for musicians reduce the decibels of sounds, but they still offer the same sound quality you would hear if you went without earplugs. But before you rush out to buy a pair, you have to know what to look for.
FAQ: Earplugs for Musicians
Whether you play heavy metal or classical music, there will probably come a time when you will need or want earplugs. While there are many earplugs available on the market, earplugs for musicians are unique.
What are earplugs?
Earplugs are small devices that you can use to keep from hearing loud sounds. Typical earplugs will either block the sound completely, or they will dampen the sound considerably. These earplugs also tend to affect the quality of the sound, and that's something that no musician wants.
What do earplugs for musicians do?
Earplugs for musicians lessen the volume and intensity of the sound without affecting the sound quality. Musicians can use these earplugs to block out harsh sounds from their instrument or other instruments around them. Simply, musicians earplugs take the edge off.
How do they work?
Before we can understand how earplugs work, we have to know how the ear works. The ear senses sound waves and turns them into data that the brain can process. We have the outer ear which includes the eardrum, and the eardrum is what first hears those sound waves.
The middle ear has three small bones called the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup. These bones transmit the sound waves into the inner ear where we find the cochlea. The sound waves activate hair cells of varying lengths that correspond to different frequencies. Those hair cells then cause neurons to fire and tell the brain there's sound.
With all of the stops along the way, it's not unlikely that an issue will occur. Many issues can cause hearing problems and keep sound waves from reaching the brain. For musicians, the most common cause for concern is prolonged exposure to loud sounds.
Earplugs for musicians protect your hearing by blocking some of the harsher frequencies and dampening other frequencies.
What makes them different from other earplugs?
A good set of earplugs for musicians will block the overpowering frequencies but still allow you to hear what's going on around you. You should still be able to hear the music, and you should also be able to hear people speak at normal volumes.
Some "regular" earplugs will plug your ears completely, so you won't be able to hear anything at all. While there are times where you might want that, you need to hear some of what's happening when you play music.
Where can you buy them?
You can buy musicians' earplugs online, in stores, and from an ear doctor. Online and in-store retailers carry a variety of earplugs, but they aren't custom fit to your ear. If you want custom fit earplugs, consult an audiologist or another ear specialist to schedule a fitting.
How much do they cost?
Earplugs for musicians vary in cost depending on the brand, style, and the size of the earplugs. Some earplugs come in different sizes, and some companies have different prices for each size. Custom earplugs usually cost more, because they are custom made for you. In general, standard musicians earplugs cost between $8 and $40, and custom earplugs cost between $15 and $50.
How We Reviewed
To find the best earplugs for musicians, we took to a few music blogs as well as online customer reviews. We compared similar products, and we also drew upon personal experience with earplugs for musicians. There are many great musicians' earplugs out there, but we chose earplugs that had great reviews from customers or music blogs.
The 9 Best Earplugs for Musicians
If you ever play loud music or you play a loud instrument, you should consider a pair of musicians' earplugs. Before you jump down the rabbit hole searching for the best earplugs for musicians, start here.
1. Etymotic Research
Etymotic Research has quite the line of earplugs, but the ones we are focusing on are the ER20 High Fidelity earplugs. These earplugs come in a standard and large size, and they come with a blue tip or a white tip. The earplugs also come with a cord so that you can hang the earplugs on your neck when you aren't using them, and you can use the clamshell case or bag for storage.
Etymotic Research claims their earplugs maintain your ear's natural response, so you still have good sound quality. You can still hear music and speech, and all that the earplugs change is the volume. The standard size should fit most ears, and you can reuse the earplugs. Over time, the tips can come off, so you should plan on replacing them regularly.
These earplugs cost between $ and $$, and they have an average Amazon rating of 4 out of 5 stars. One customer, an audiologist, said that these earplugs do a great job of lowering the sound volume without distorting it. Another customer mentioned the earplugs are so good they would give 10 stars. A third customer said they didn't experience much sound reduction at all, and the packaging they received didn't quite match the product description online.
In my personal experience, these earplugs are great for rehearsals and concerts. As a piccolo player, my right ear has to take a lot of abuse, and these earplugs help. I have had these earplugs for about four years, and I've only had to replace them once due to the tips breaking off.
2. Eargasm High Fidelity
Another popular set of earplugs for musicians is the Eargasm High Fidelity earplugs. You can use these earplugs for a variety of tasks including playing music. The earplugs evenly reduce noise, but it won't muffle the sound like some earplugs. Every package comes with two sets of earplugs so you can choose the best size for you.
These earplugs have a nice tab so you can easily remove them from your ears. They're made of non-toxic hypoallergenic silicone, and they won't cause itching or pain. You can wear these earplugs all day, and then you can store them in the included aluminum case.
You will have to shell out about $$ to $$ for these earplugs, but they have an average Amazon rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars. One customer said they received great customer service throughout the ordering and shipping process, and the earplugs were perfect for a Metallica concert. Another customer said they could still hear everything from music playing to people talking. A third customer said that the silicone in the earplugs caused them to get slippery and that they would fall out.
3. Eargasm Activewear
The Eargasm Activewear earplugs are a great alternative to the high fidelity pair. Instead of the tabs, these earplugs have stems and a neck cord to connect them. Other than that, they're the same as the Eargasm High Fidelity earplugs.
At $ to $$, these earplugs are also the more affordable choice from Eargasm, but they only have an average Amazon rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars. Multiple customers reported that the earplugs didn't change the volume at all, and one negative review only focused on the difficulty of removing the earplugs from your ears. Another customer said they thought the earplugs weren't in correctly because they could still hear the quality of the sound. Fortunately, the earplugs did the job.
4. Alpine MusicSafe Pro
Unlike the other earplugs we've mentioned, the Alpine MusicSafe Pro earplugs were designed especially for musicians. They have special filters that maintain your hearing without sacrificing sound quality. You can even switch between three different filters to get the best protection for you. The Thermo Shape material conforms to your ear canal so that you get a comfortable fit.
With a price of $$ to $$ and an average Amazon rating of 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon, these earplugs are sure to please. One musician said these earplugs are comfortable, and they come with a helpful tool for placing the earplugs in your ears. While they're small, they don't do the best job in maintaining the sound quality when listening to music. Other reviews said the earplugs were great at reducing decibels.
5. EarPeace HD
The earplugs from EarPeace are an excellent choice for musicians. They're professional grade and great for blocking loud noises. You can clearly hear what's going on around you, and they're comfortable enough to wear all day. There are three different filter settings that you can choose from, and it even comes with an extra earplug in case you lose one.
If you want the storage case, these earplugs cost $ to $$, but you can save a bit of money and go without the case for $ to $$. These earplugs have an average Amazon rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. Many customers said these earplugs are great for protecting your hearing, and one customer said the earplugs are a necessity for every musician regardless of genre.
6. LiveMus!c HearSafe
LiveMus!c's HearSafe earplugs protect your ears from lasting damage due to loud sounds, but you can still hear music and conversation. You get two sets of earplugs, so you can choose the best ones for you. The earplugs are comfortable, and they can fit most ears.
The LiveMus!ic HearSafe earplugs cost $ to $$, and they have an average Amazon rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars. One customer said the earplugs are perfect for their daily life from working as an airline pilot to walking down the street. Another customer said the earplugs work for more than just concerts, but the plugs can be hard to take out of your ears.
7. Decibullz Custom
The Decibullz Custom earplugs aren't custom, but you can mold them to fit your ears. To fit them, you have to boil the molds, let them cool, and then mold the earplugs to your ears. If they don't fit the first time, you can reshape them. With the earplugs, you get two molds, three sets of triple tips, one set of medium foam tips, and a carrying pouch.
These earplugs cost $20 to $30, and their average Amazon customer review is only 3.5 out of 5 stars. Despite this, multiple blogs recommended these earplugs. One blog post said they are great at reducing the sound. Many customers love the earplugs, too, but you have to get the perfect mold for the earplugs to work well.
8. Earasers Plugs
If you're looking for earplugs specifically for musicians, look no further than Earasers. A musician designed these earplugs, and they're great for anyone who is regularly exposed to loud music. These earplugs filter out loud noise, but they still let you hear. The plugs also allow you to hear the individual musical instruments in your group.
You can buy these earplugs for $ to $$, and they have an average Amazon rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars. One customer said they hated how these earplugs ruined other earplugs because these are so good. Another customer mentioned there was little to no sound distortion, and the earplugs are also very comfortable. One customer reported that the earplugs didn't sufficiently dampen lower frequencies, and the customer ended up with ear fatigue.
9. DownBeats High Fidelity
These earplugs from DownBeats provide great hearing protection for concerts. They reduce the sound ever so slightly, but you can still clearly hear speech and all frequencies in music. The plugs come with an aluminum case that you can hook onto your keys or bag.
These earplugs cost $10 to $16, and they have an average Amazon customer rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars. One customer prefers the comfort and sound of these earplugs over the Etymotic Research plugs we mentioned. Another customer said the opposite because the DownBeats plugs muffle rather than reduce the sound. A third customer didn't believe that these earplugs could be that good, but they do live up to the hype.
Your Hearing Is Eareplaceable
Whether you're a musician or a fan of music, you need to be able to hear to enjoy it. Earplugs can be a nuisance, but many earplugs are small and comfortable to wear. While some earplugs for musicians cost more than others, they're all worth it. No amount of money saved is worth risking your hearing.
We think that all of the earplugs on our list are great choices, but the best earplugs for musicians are the Earasers earplugs. They cost more than some other options, but they last for a while, and they're built just for musicians. The Etymotic Research earplugs came in second, and we recommend them for anyone on a strict budget.
If you lose your hearing, it probably won't come back. The sooner you invest in a good set of earplugs, the sooner you can get back to the music.
Featured image source: Pexels