Having a career in music is one of the most rewarding things you can do.
But it’s also very dangerous.
Too many people, myself included, have practiced or performed without proper ear protection. And it’s a gamble every time.
That’s because loud music degrades human hearing over time. We lose clarity in our hearing and even get tinnitus.
And at this point, there is no cure for loss of hearing. Once you lose it, you’re stuck with it!
So finding the right pair of earplugs for you is extremely important. By the end of this list, you should have a good idea of where to start in your search.
But if you just want to learn all about Earplugs specifically, keep reading.
The 3 Key Features For Any Good Earplugs for Musicians
Before we start, it’s important to know what makes a good pair of earplugs.
Not all are created equally!
1) Top earplugs have to lower enough volume.
That’s the main point of these things, right? To be able to play with a band and not go deaf?
Each pair will lower volume around you a different amount. How much you reduction you want will depend on your needs.
If you’re playing in a metal band or DJing at a club, you might want as much as possible.
If you’re playing acoustic instruments with some friends in a small room, then you’d want less.
The average range of sound reduction for earplugs is between 15-30dB’s. Try to find a pair that’s right for you and your activities.
2) The best earplugs have to have great sound quality.
This is the number one reason people don’t like using earplugs. They can ruin the experience of a concert or a rehearsal if you’re wearing the wrong ones.
I remember going to a Kendrick Lamar concert last year armed with just a pair of average foam earplugs.
I was miserable.
My hearing was safe, but I couldn’t make out any of his vocals. Just a lot of muddy thumps and muffled yells.
That’s why it’s important to have great concert ear plugs.
You don’t have to sacrifice quality to protect your ears. There are plenty of ear plugs out there that cater to people going to lots of concerts.
Be on the lookout for a pair of earplugs that has a flat response. One that attenuates all of the frequencies equally.
You want a pair of earplugs that turns down the volume of the world around you, the same way you would turn down the volume in a car.
None of the quality is lost, but your ears are safe.
3) Top earplugs have to fit your ears snuggly and comfortably.
Everyone’s ears are different.
Some people have large ear canals, others very small. Some have a straight shot to their eardrum, and others have deep curves.
No one has a one-size-fits-all ear.
So you need to make sure you find a pair of earplugs that’s both comfortable and fully fills up your ear canal. You don’t want it to be too large or too thin.
Otherwise, there won’t be a good seal and sound will leak in around the plug, making it much less effective.
You may have to try few pairs to find one that fits your ears best.
With this in mind, let’s go over the 5 best earplugs for musicians.
The Best Earplugs at Lowering Volume – DeciBullz
This is definitely the DeciBullz Custom.
The DeciBullz have an impressive volume reduction of 31dB. That’ll make any Rock concert feel like an Americana jam at a gazebo in the park.
The trick is that they’re made to be customized to your ears.
By pouring boiling water on them, they become flexible for a few minutes. After cooling them off, stick them in your ears and mold them to your particular ear canal.
You’ll have a pair of earplugs that covers all the crevasses.
They’re pretty firm once they’ve cooled down, so they’re not the most comfortable earplugs in the world.
They also don’t give the best sound quality. Though it’s for sure better than your average foam earplug, it’s still a little uneven.
But if you’re going for sheer noise reduction power, the DeciBullz are the best pair of earplugs around.
The DeciBullz come in at $25.99. Check them out on Amazon.
The Best Sound Quality Etymotic – ER20xs
If you’re looking for sound quality, I’d give the Etymotic ER20xs’s a try.
Etymotic is a renowned audio company known for making high quality earplugs. The ER20xs’s are no exception.
They have a close to a flat response, meaning they don’t turn down certain frequency ranges more than others.
With these, it will feel like you’ve just turned the world’s volume knob, rather than putting in earplugs.
If you’re looking for a good pair of concert ear plugs, these are for you.
The ER20xs’ protect your ears and the quality of the mix. You won’t have any trouble hearing the singer any more!
So check these out for your concert-going needs.
They block out 20dB’s of volume, a pretty good amount for a concert or a band rehearsal.
You can also choose between two sizes, regular and large. If you have smaller ear canals, you may be unfortunately out of luck.
The Etymotic ER20xs’s are priced at $19.95. Check them out on Amazon.
The Best Fit – Alpine MusicSafe Classic Earplugs
This is a tie, between the Alpine MusicSafe Classic Earplugs and Pro Earplugs.
The MusicSafe Classics are made of a soft material that collapses inward, so it expands in your ear canal to be soft and snug.
Not only that, it comes with a special “insertion device” that you use to put the earplugs deep into your ear canals. This makes it a little more cumbersome to use, but creates a great seal that prevents
sound from leaking in.
The MusicSafe Classic comes with two sets of filters, attenuating up to 22dB’s of volume. With two different filters, you have more control over the sound around you.
The MusicSafe Pros are made of the same material as the classics and also use their special “insertion device.”
The main difference is that the MusicSafe Pros come with three sets of filters, the heaviest of which taking down 27dB’s of volume. This means you have even more control over life’s volume knob.
Unfortunately, the quality of the MusicSafe earplugs isn’t amazing. It tends to cut the highs and lows more than the midrange, which makes the midrange sound louder in your ears.
But it’s a great pair of earplugs if you’re looking for one to snuggly fit your ears.
The Alpine MusicSafe Classics are $19.99. Check them out on Amazon.
The Alpine MusicSafe Pros are $29.99. Check them out on Amazon.
The Best All-Rounder – LiveMus!c HearSafe Earplugs
Looking for a little bit of everything? The most balanced pair of earplugs on the market are the LiveMus!c Reusable Ear Plugs.
The LiveMus!c plugs are well-rounded.
They come with two filters, cutting up to an impresive 29dB’s of sound.
They have a relatively flat response, meaning that the sound you’re hearing is high definition.
So if you want ear plugs for a concert, this is another solid option.
Finally, when you order a pair you get a choice of two sizes so you can customize it to your ear size.
If you’re worried about reacting with any of the materials of these ear plugs, you can rest easy with the LiveMus!cs. They’re made out of hypoallergenic, non-toxic silicone.
If other earplugs cause your ears to itch, you should be safe with these.
The LiveMus!c Reusable Earplugs land in at a price of $28.95. Check them out on Amazon.
BONUS: The Best Earplugs, Bar-None
Here’s the thing. All of the earplugs we’ve reviewed today are great. I’m a big fan.
But if you’re really concerned about hearing, comfort, and quality (and price is no issue) then you might want to look into getting custom earplugs made for you.
These are earplugs that are made from molds of your ear canal. That means they create a perfect seal, letting no sound leak in.
It also means that the sound is extremely high-definition. There’s very little change to the tone of the music around you.
Not only that, but they come with customizable filters, meaning you can reduce the volume however much you want.
They’re the perfect set of earplugs. They’re entire fit to your specifications.
But they’re a hassle to get. Be aware of that.
You have to go to an audiologist to create a mold of your ear canal. And the price of the appointment plus the cost of the earplugs is usually between $250-350.
So it’s not cheap!
But if you’re a working musician (or an avid concert-goer), it’s so worth it.
Custom ear plugs are perfect for just about every situation. Whether you’re playing in a band or or want the best concert ear plugs so you don’t miss anything, you’ll be covered.
The process of getting these is going to be unique to your location, so I can’t give you a step-by-step process. I’d start with Googling “Audiologists in my area.” Give one of them a call and ask if they can make molds for custom earplugs.
Then just follow whatever steps they give you. You’ll be on your way to the best set of earplugs possible.
You may also want to grab a pair of in-ear monitors for performing. That way you can hear your whole mix perfectly without damaging your ears.
Conclusion: Best Earplugs for Musicians
There you have it. One of these pairs of earplugs is likely the best fit for you.
Don’t forget – you might have to try a few pairs before you find the ones that you like best.
Each pair of ears are different. Be patient and you’ll find a pair of earplugs that you love.