Minuendo’s Lossless Earplugs are designed to not only let all frequencies through, making DJing while wearing them possible, but also to let you adjust the amount of audio that gets through. The filtering is passive (ie no batteries are involved), and they are supplied with everything you need to do the job. They’re expensive, but unique.
First Impressions / Setting up
This product is a first: We can’t think of any other brand offering this type of earplug (ie one that allows all frequencies through, just at a lower volume), that you can also adjust. So we were keen to find out how it’s all been implemented.
They come in a nice box, but the plugs themselves are unremarkable-looking little pieces of dark moulded plastic, with a stem on them where you attach your choice of tips, and a small, plastic “volume slider” on each.
They don’t feel particularly high-end or “designer”, but they’re not badly made or flimsy – just utilitarian. One nice touch is magnets built-in to each earplug, so they snap together when not being worn, making them a bit harder to lose.
Also in the box is a wide array of tips to attach to the earplugs. Anyone who’s ever used in-ear audio of any type will have a preference for what they like, and you get all popular types here – a very smart move and a nod to the seriousness with which the makers have approached this product. After all, it is vital to have a snug, acoustically sealed fit for this concept to work, and all of our ears and comfort requirements are different.
Finally, there’s a little zip-up storage pouch, that has a neck string in it that you can attach to your earplugs if you wish, and a little cleaning brush.
So, all you have to do to get ready to use them is choose the type of tips you want (each of the types is supplied in three sizes), experiment to make sure you get a snug, noise-tight fit, and head to your loud venue!
Again, these are designed to let audio in, just “turned down” – literally in this case, as the little sliders on each earplug let you choose your level of attenuation.
They are quite small so they fit reasonably unobtrusively in your ears. Whether you’ll feel comfortable using standard DJ headphones with these in will depend upon both the headphones you use (I feel over ear would fare better than on ear), and how it all feels to you. I found them fine.
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The USP here is, of course, the ability to turn then “up” or “down”, to get the volume at a level that works for you. There are no markings or anything like that to guide you, it’s just a case of setting them to where you feel comfortable.
So how does it work? Minuendo tells us that the lever on each earplug adjusts the tension of a membrane six microns thick, and there is a further function between the lever and a secondary slit, to deliver natural sound across the full adjustable dB range.
And it does work! In all honesty it’s not something you’ll likely find yourself urging other people to try (remember the first time you tried active noise cancellation, for instance?) but equally it is something you’d definitely find useful if you regularly play venues where the volume is too loud, but where how loud it gets varies considerably.
The adjustment here is from -7dB, which is quite subtle, to -25dB, which is extreme, but it has to be reiterated that the effectiveness does rely on your getting the fit right (which is why some professionals spend a lot of money on custom-made “fixed attenuation” models).
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An interesting idea from a company that knows what it’s doing in this area. Ultimately whether this is right for you depends upon the variety of venues you play in, how much you care for the idea of volume adjustment, and how much money you have.
You may well be fine with just “standard” musician’s earplugs, some of which can be adjusted to reduce the volume by varying degrees by swapping components over. You’d save a reasonable amount of money this way, so the question is whether it’s worth paying more for the ability to make these changes easily, quickly, and without removing them.
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Also, remember there are other ways of protecting your hearing when DJing. Some DJs choose to DJ with IEMs in order to control their audio environment when playing, which has its own plusses and minuses. As mentioned above, you can get custom-made protection – but that can get very expensive. And more still are simply militant about volume levels in the DJ booth, never wearing protection at all.
Overall, if you’re a DJ who cares about your ears, who is often in varied loud environments, is happy to DJ with earplugs in, and who wants the ability to quickly adjust the volume level of what you’re hearing, the Minuendo Lossless Earplugs are the only ones of their kind out there, and are definitely worth considering – if you’re happy to spend the cash needed to get them.