Healthy hearing is essential to enjoy music and audio to its fullest, though listening at high levels will require protection to keep our hearing healthy. Earplugs are the easiest and arguably the most comfortable method of protecting our ears so that we can better enjoy music now and long into the future.
Because earplugs are crucial protective devices for the ears of musicians and music lovers, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of options on the market. With so many choices, it can be difficult to find the perfect earplugs for your live music and rehearsal needs. In this article, I'll share my take on the top brands to produce these styles of earplugs.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I've done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Performance of the earplugs (decibel decrease and frequency response)
- Longevity of the earplugs
- Variety of earplugs
- Accessibility of the earplugs (how easy they are to find/buy)
- The company must currently be in operation
With all that being said, let's list out the brands.
The Top 11 Best Earplug Brands For Live Music Are:
- Flare Audio
- Etymotic Research
- Alpine Hearing Protection
- Vic Firth
Let's get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11 best earplug brands. I'll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example of a pair of earplugs, and a link to their official website.
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What started as a pro audio company receiving the praise of legends like Jimmy Page turned into a mission to minimize or erase distortion in all audio forms. The leverage of excelling in the pro audio world took the company to release, by 2015, the first pair of filters to critical acclaim.
Nowadays, after tireless innovation and rocking countless stages around the world, the filters made by Flare Audio can be found in the pockets (and ears) of world-class musicians and are distributed to 170 countries around the globe. If you are serious about your ears, give Flare Audio a chance.
Notable earplugs: Isolate Pro Aluminium Earplugs
The Isolate Pro earplugs by Flare Audio represent the pinnacle of their technology. Not only do they make a lighter, less visible body for them, but they've also achieved the evenest frequency attenuation to this date.
Adding the lightweight and sturdiness of aluminum to this amazing design gives you some of the most effective and comfortable earplugs on the market today. Whether you're playing a gig or rehearsing, Flare Audio has the perfect product to preserve your ears while you play your heart out.
To say that need is, in most cases, the mother of invention isn't giving up any scoop. Such was the case of engineer, cold-water surfer, and EarLabs founder Christian Dittrich. He suffered from ear infections often until he decided to design and manufacture the ultimate pair of earplugs that could solve that problem for him and all his fellow surfers.
The company emerged in 2014, and growth was exponential. Soon after the first earplugs for surfers were released, they branched out to the music industry with outstanding results.
Notable earplugs: dBud
The leverage gathered in making earplugs for world-class athletes such as Henrik Heming and Dave Scott allowed EarLabs to reach a different level of understanding about comfort and noise reduction. As a result, the dBud, the company's first musician-aimed earplugs, are all you need for any scenario.
To begin with, you can slide the outside switch to mechanically select between -11 and -24dB protection, making them suitable for a plethora of situations. Also, the acoustic filtering allows musical results, keeping your ears safe even when noise is above 110 dB.
Finally, they are magnetic, include a comfy leash, three ear tip sizes (with memory foam), and come in a neat, modern carrying case.
These are the ultimate hearing protection to enjoy playing loud with no consequences.
Etymotic Research was founded by Ph.D. Mead Killion and MBA Edwin DeVilbiss in 1983. Currently, the company's headquarters can be found in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.
To begin talking about this cutting-edge company, we need to say that their surgically precise designs come from working with the highest standards of the medical industry for decades. Indeed, Etymotic Research is not just another brand; it is a company with the mission of helping those who suffer from ear loss and also preventing it for those who expose their ears to loud volume.
With this core value and over three decades of experience, you can expect some of the best-crafted, most innovative earplugs to protect your hearing while playing your heart out.
Notable earplugs: MP9-15 Music Pro Earplugs
This model by Etymotic Research is the closest you'll get to AI applied to hearing protection. The Adaptive technology applied to these earplugs adjusts hearing levels automatically. Thus, you can leave them on at all times, and they will only block noise when your hearing is at risk.
These earplugs work in two distinct modes: one that offers hearing enhancement and 9dB of noise reduction and another that offers natural hearing and -15 dB protection. This is a great choice for those in search of a tech-driven solution that is as practical as it is effective.
Kyle Kirkpatrick, an extreme athlete and high-tech fiend, was fed up with headphones that didn't sound right, fell off his ears, or cost a fortune. Thus, he teamed up with notable engineers and fellow athletes to create the kind of headphones he would like to have.
As a result, he released the first thermo-fit custom earphone the same year the company was founded: 2012. The critical acclaim for his products took this inventor and his brand to the forefront of the stage, granting him numerous awards and an avalanche of sales.
Drawing inspiration from the headphone world, Decibullz created some of the most effective earplugs you can find in the market today. Manufactured in Fort Collins, Colorado, and sold worldwide, they offer the perfect balance between price and quality to keep your ears safe and your volume knob always at ten.
Notable earplugs: Custom-Molded High Fidelity Earplugs
The ultimate hearing protection is the one made for the exact shape of your ear. After all, the human ear is as unique as our fingerprints. Thus, Decibullz developed a thermoplastic mix that softens with hot water. Thus, once you receive yours, just submerge them until they are soft, let them cool for 30 seconds, and then insert them in your ears, shaping them with your finger.
As a result, you'll get state-of-the-art hearing protection that feels like having nothing on. Moreover, the musically-tuned attenuation can go -12dB with an emphasis in the mids and highs. Hearing protection never felt so comfortable and performed so effectively before.
DJ, sound consultant, night club guru, and music lover Ronnie Madra founded Earos to prevent others from getting the same problem he has: tinnitus. He grew up playing in apartments, bars, and nightclubs, and things got louder as time went by. Suddenly, he started hearing a buzz in his ear.
Far from getting depressed, this nightlife legend decided to help others prevent it by creating the best earplugs on the market. Moreover, he wanted to develop the hearing protection he would have liked to use when he was growing his reputation in the music scene.
As a result, Earos is a synonym with quality, endurance, and perfect craftsmanship helping musicians prevent hearing loss in every corner of the planet.
Notable earplugs: One
The Earos one was designed specifically to fit 90% of the ears. In this sense, the semi-custom design featuring small and large ear tips feels comfortable and is utterly effective, giving the user protection of -17dB.
Although they can filter noise and volume for you, they are high-fidelity earplugs that retain the magic quality of music and allow you to communicate with others. Straight from the heart of the Big Apple to your ears, the Earos One is the ultimate solution to a common problem.
The motto of the company is that musicians aren't born but made. Following that core belief, they decided to become the best companions a musician could have during those hard years honing the craft in rehearsal studios, jamming sessions, and classes.
Thus, they joined the best of German precision, cutting-edge technology, and their will to help come up with a line-up of amazing products. They were received with critical acclaim by students and professionals in every corner of the planet.
Nowadays, their lossless filters are among the best-designed on the market and have become the go-to option for musicians and music lovers alike.
Notable earplugs: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs
The main highlight of this pair of earplugs is that they offer a 100% flat response. This means that you can attenuate the audio without losing any of its qualities. Moreover, a variable hi-filter allows you to dial in exactly the amount you need when you need it.
Although some people find it amazing, the Minuendo earplugs need no battery to operate. This is because it is all in the design and the patented membrane technology. If you want to protect your ears and enjoy every frequency floating in the air, these earplugs with up to -25dB protection are your best choice.
Alpine Hearing Protection
The company Lisette and Peter founded is 100% dedicated to hearing protection across a broad range of activities. From motorcycle riders to pro musicians, you can find Alpine Hearing Protection products everywhere sound gets loud. They have gathered enough knowledge and know-how of the human ear to be the go-to choice of professionals in a plethora of disciplines around the world.
Indeed, after more than two decades of building protection for the most demanding professionals, they established their name as a synonym for performance and reliability. Perhaps they can help you become the best musician you possibly can without losing any hearing ability on your way to stardom.
Notable earplugs: MusicSafe Pro Earplugs
Sold in over 50 countries, this pair of earplugs is made of AlpineThermoShape material, ensuring a comfortable fit and an effective action. In other words, you can wear them for long periods without suffering any interference with your playing, sound and comfort-wise.
But that's not all; with the exchangeable high-fidelity filter sets, you can easily go from -22dB to -16dB, depending on the scenario. This is, of course, attenuating volume and preserving tone quality at all times. If you are looking for quality earplugs that can adapt to every scenario, these are a serious contender.
Based in Casselberry, FL, this is a subsidiary of Persona Medical, a company dedicated to the design and manufacturing of hearing aids from a medical perspective. In pursuing that goal, they have sold over a million hearing aids in over 50 years of experience.
This rich background in the medical industry and profound understanding of the human ear allowed the company to put together hearing protection among the best in the market. It is not only because of the degree of protection it offers but also because of its comfort and durability.
Decades of working with the highest medical standards gave this brand a competitive advantage that can help you chase your dreams without risking your ears.
Notable earplugs: Earasers Earplugs
The Earasers are a dream come true for Don Campbell, the president and founder of Persona Medical. He has been a musician for over 20 years and made it a personal challenge to design the kind of earplugs he would like to wear.
After helping so many with hearing aids, he believes that noise-induced hearing loss is the only type that is 100% preventable. Thus, his creation is the ultimate response to that need.
While pursuing this ambitious goal, he created one of the most sophisticated and effective designs in the market. They are light enough (and virtually invisible) to be worn effortlessly and effective enough to help prevent hearing loss in every scenario.
Vic Firth bears the exact name of his founder, who created it in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1963, where the company's headquarters remain despite being bought by Zildjian in 2010.
During all the times Vic was alive, and since he passed, in 2015, Vic Firth became a synonym with performance in every aspect of drumming. Although they are best known for making the drumsticks pros use to make radio-ready hits across the globe, they own a rich catalogue to help every musician in all facets of their journey.
This holistic approach to music allowed this company enough insight to create some of the best earplugs in the market today.
Notable earplugs: VFEARPLR High-Fidelity Earplugs
Vic Firth teamed up with Etymotic to create some of the best non-custom earplugs in the market. They are capable of taming the sound by -20dB while retaining all the original sound characteristics. This way, you can enjoy the entire frequency spectrum without sacrificing your ears.
Vic Firth is a company you can trust; they have been making state-of-the-art drumsticks and accessories for decades and apply the same sky-high standards to this line of utterly comfortable yet very effective earplugs. Plus, they come with a comfy case and leash.
They started with the clear mission of manufacturing and selling the best earplugs in the market. Their definition of such an earplug is that it should filter the sound instead of blocking it. In other words, it shouldn't behave like the foamy earplugs that muffle all frequencies and ruin your musical experience.
Although they set out to make the best earplugs for musicians in the market, they ended up achieving much more: a rich catalogue with a product for each scenario. In that sense, what started as a simple idea became a sky-is-the-limit endeavour that is still growing to this day.
Critical acclaim, passion for a job well done, and profound love for music drives this company to a bright future. The time to try them is now.
Notable earplugs: Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs
This particular model by Eargasm has already surpassed 250,000 sales worldwide and is still going strong. This unit's success can be partially awarded to the hypoallergenic, premium soft silicone capable of sealing outside noise, reducing it to -21dB if needed.
In the same vein, it is a very musical aid since it only blocks the frequencies that can hurt your ears, maintaining the natural quality of the original sound source. You can protect your ears with these earplugs, maintain a conversation and enjoy music simultaneously.
Fender is the creation of Leo Fender, who founded it in 1946 in Fullerton, California. The current headquarters are in Los Angeles, California.
Although a brand like this needs no introduction, it is safe to say that no other brand in music history has created such a revolution in terms of gear.
Indeed, from the first Telecaster and P-Bass models to the best-selling guitar of all time, the Stratocaster, to some of the most iconic tones on the planet with the Fender Rhodes, this company changed the way we play and hear music for good.
Such is their understanding of musicians and their everyday problems that when they set out to make earplugs, they made some of the best in the market. If it has the Fender logo in it, you know you can expect uncanny build quality, reliability, and performance.
Notable earplugs: Musicians Earplugs
These washable, reusable earplugs by Fender can provide up to 27dB of noise reduction while being lightweight and comfortable enough to be used the entire gig/rehearsal time. Moreover, they come with a handy carrying case featuring a neck cord. Finally, they are 100% latex-free.
The quality craftsmanship, performance, and reliability you can expect from a brand like Fender live in each of these earplugs. You're not ready for the next gig unless you have this case in your pocket.