Everyone who has ever been to a concert, rave or any other loud music event will have experienced their ears “ringing”. This is an indication that you have damaged your ears. For many, this ringing wanes after a few hours and it’s not a big problem because they rarely submit their ears to such punishment. DJs, club staff and clubbers spend a lot of time in high-volume environments and without proper precautions, the risk of permanent hearing damage is very real.
Thankfully, this can be avoided fairly cheaply and without diminishing your musical experience. As far as budget options go, earplugs that “attenuate” the overall volume are your best bet. These earplugs are specially designed to reduce the sound pressure reaching your ear drums while letting the musical frequencies through. In effect, you are turning the volume down without muffling the overall sound (which is what dirt cheap foam earplugs do).
So, let’s take a look at some of the affordable options for looking after your ears…
6 Budget hearing protection solutions…
Rated level of noise reduction: 11 or 14dB (depending on which attenuators you use)
Pros: Once they’re in your ears, they are pretty much invisible. They come with a spare plug in case you lose one and a metal keyring carry case is a huge plus. You can also customise the level of sound reduction.
Cons: If you want “high” sound reduction, you have to use the red attenuators (the fitted flesh-coloured ones are for “medium” sound reduction) and the earplugs become more noticeable.
Buy them on Amazon: EarPeace HD
Read our full review: EarPeace HD Ear Plugs Review
Rated level of noise reduction: 35dB
Pros: High level of protection. For those that like a customised look, there are several coloured finishes to choose from. They also come with a carry pouch and three pairs of three different sized (and replaceable) “Earfoams”, allowing for a snug fit.
Cons: These plugs are already the most expensive in the list and if you do need to replace the buds, a set of three retails for US$9 a pop.
Buy them on Amazon: Flare Isolate
Rated level of noise reduction: 18dB
Pros: These are the cheapest plugs on the list and for the price have a good noise reduction rating. Their “low profile” and neutral colour makes them suitable for discreet use.
Cons: There are some reports that these earplugs can be difficult to get out if you push them in too far.
Buy them on Amazon: DownBeats
Rated level of noise reduction: 20dB
Pros: High noise reduction level and have a discreet profile, a slight improvement on Etymotic’s popular ER20 earplugs where the stems stick out of your ears. The eartips are interchangeable and replaceable.
Cons: There is potential for confusion because they come in different sizes and you have to pick which one you want when you order. Unless you know your size, it’s best to play it safe and pay the extra US$5 for universal fit version. You can’t return them once you have tried them on.
Buy them on Amazon: Etymotic ER20XS
Doppler Labs Dubs
Rated level of noise reduction: 12dB
Pros: These earplugs look pretty snazzy with a nice minimal design and they come in four different colours.
Cons: Compared to the others in this roundup, they have a low level of noise reduction. They only come in one size and the plastic carry box doesn’t look very convenient to carry around in your pocket either.
Buy them on Amazon: Dubs
Alpine MusicSafe Pro
Rated level of noise reduction: Up to 27dB (depending on your choice of attenuator)
Pros: The The Alpine MusicSafe Pro are very comfortable to wear (universal fit) and come with three different levels of protection. I used to have a pair but the old plastic cylindrical carry case fell off my keychain and I lost them. Alpine have improved on the carry case in the new version.
Cons: They are on the expensive side and getting them into position can be a bit fiddly at first.
Buy them on Amazon: Alpine MusicSafe Pro
Of course, the earplugs listed in this article are not as effective or comfortable as the (much) more expensive custom-fitted protection options. However, they are many, many times more effective than cheap foam earplugs (or stuffing torn off pieces of napkin into your ears).
Whatever you do, do something! I can’t stress the importance of earplugs and how much they have improved my club experiences enough. It took me a while to get round to buying them (don’t make this mistake!) but I haven’t had ringing ears since. Everyone who works in and around the club scene should own and use them.
Which ear protection are you using? Which is the best you have used? Have we missed any in this roundup? Let us know in the comments below…