The Alpine MusicSafe Pro earplugs are comfortable to wear (they are universal fit) and come with three different levels of protection (up to 27dB depending on your choice of attenuator, which is pretty high). They are easy to set up, put in and take out. The only real downside is that the “new” carry box is quite bulky; however, it is an improvement on the plastic cylinder that these earplugs previously came with. Having tested several other pairs of hearing protection, these are the best in the price range.
First Impressions / Setting up
Hearing protection might seem a boring topic but it should be one of the most important considerations for any DJ or performing musician. Many DJs have a scare – ringing ears and then decide that they better start looking after their ears. However, once the damage is done, unfortunately, it is irreversible. You have to start protecting your hearing before you need to.
You have the options of using cheap foam earplugs that can be bought for pennies or having custom moulded plugs made but that can cost hundreds. The alternative is something in the middle like these at US$29. Unlike foam plugs that block everything and leave you with a muddy sound, these have plastic attenuators that you put into the earplugs. These attenuators have tiny holes that let a little bit of sound through, giving you the full spectrum of sound at a much lower volume and no ringing ears the next morning.
As with anything you would put into your ear, they take a little getting used to but once that is out of the way, you won’t notice them at all.
The earplugs come in an easy-to-open package, no scissors required – good start. The ones I am reviewing are black but they also come in white and silver. You get three plugs and three pairs of attenuators, each offering a different level of protection. While is it great to have a spare bud, if you did lose one, you would either have to mismatch your attenuators or choose a different level of attenuation. The rated level of noise reduction is up to 27dB (depending on your choice of attenuator).
You also get a sturdy hard plastic carry box which can be customised with your own picture insert, a tool to help you put the earplugs into your ears and also a neck string to attach to the plugs to help prevent you from losing them when you take them out. There are also detailed instructions on how to get the earplugs ready for your needs and how to customise the carry box.
Having already owned a pair of these in the past (the old plastic cylindrical carry case fell off my keychain and I lost them), I found it easy to put the attenuators into the plugs. That being said, it seemed generally much easier this time around, although I’m not sure whether anything has changed. If you follow the instructions properly (which I did this time), you are going to be ready to use these within minutes. I opted for the highest level of protection because I was going out to test them in a club setting.
Alpine has certainly improved on the previous carry case – you are less likely to lose this one. However, this new one is a bit bulkier than the old case and it doesn’t have a keyring attachment, so you will need deep or baggy pockets. Alternatively, you could ditch the box and clip the neck string to the plugs instead and have them hanging around your neck when you aren’t using them. I plumped for the first option because the clips that connect the string to the plugs didn’t seem to be reliable enough for my liking.
For the test, I took along some standard foam plugs to offer me some contrast. When the volume in the club picked up, I put the normal foam ones in for a bit and then after a few minutes, put the Alpines in. Having used them before, I wasn’t majorly surprised. I knew what to expect; they are awesome. Overly loud sounds coming from the speakers are brought down to a manageable level, and you are left with a warm sound to dance to.
They fit really easily into your ears: I have small ear canals and these universal fit earplugs are a dream. Importantly, they sit discreetly in your ears regardless of the colour you choose and they are easy to get back out too. It’s worth repeating that I had the highest level of protection in and I was still able to hear everything perfectly. Even chatting on the dancefloor was fine.
In the end, it was late, we had had enough and it was time to go home. Walking outside and taking them out is such a lovely feeling. The difference between these “professional” earplugs and the cheap foam ones is night and day. When listening to loud music with the Alpines in, you can still hear the music clearly. The sound isn’t muffled like it is with the foam plugs and when you take them out you have no ringing in your ears whatsoever.
These are quality earplugs. Coming in at US$29, they might seem expensive but this is your hearing we are talking about! When you put things into that context, US$29 is not a lot of money. Two bonuses with these are that they are a universal fit (as I mentioned earlier, I have tiny ear canals and these fit like a glove) and that you get a spare plug as well.
The only negatives that I can find with this product are that you don’t get a set of spare attenuators to go with the spare earplug, the neck string clips don’t seem reliable enough and that the box is a little too bulky. A better idea might be a thin metal cylinder with a carabiner clip. These are only minor complaints though and shouldn’t detract from what is an all-around excellent option for hearing protection.
If you are frequently working in a loud environment and need to hear the sound around you clearly, foam earplugs are not suitable hearing protection. Custom fitted plugs are the best you can buy but they come at a considerable premium. For the price, I find it difficult to fault the Alpine Musicsafe Pro earplugs.