The DMNW Buyer’s Guide to Earplugs and Hearing Protection

Hearing protection and harm reduction have always been a major focus here at DMNW. With the rising popularity of dance music, we’ve found it increasingly more important to provide our readers with enough information to help not only reduce the risk of injury, but help you party through the night. One of the most important items any one attending a festival this summer, or even a night out, is certainly a solid set of earplugs. And with the Festival Season now in full swing, we present the DMNW Earplug Buyers Guide.

Over the past 2 months we’ve had the opportunity to try out nearly every major brand of earplug to give our honest opinion on them. With so many different brands and styles it’s important to find a pair that fits your needs, and offers proper protection. Not all brands are created equally…same as your ears so there are a few key things to look at before picking the pair that are best for you.

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NRR (Noise Reduction Rating)

NRR is a government mandated, regulation label that give the average decibel reduction of earplugs. It’s important however to note that this rating is an average. While 2 brands may give the same reduction, one may provide more protection in higher frequencies, the other in the lower. Sound pressure increases exponentially at just about 3 decibels at a time. Ideally a attenuation response curve will be as equal as possible across all frequencies. While frequency is a risk factor, the major cause of harm is it’s intensity and exposure. As an example dentists are widely known for being prone to hearing loss due to long term exposure to the tools they use. Simply put, just because one brand says it gives a reduction of 12 decibels it doesn’t always mean it gives proper reduction for music events.

Comfort

It’s important to find a pair of earplugs that fit well and are comfortable in your ears. Keep in mind you’ll be wearing them for extended periods of time so if they’re uncomfortable you’re less likely to want to wear them. Most brands feature either a silicone or foam tip to help secure them in your ears. Both styles are acceptable for use, however silicone tips come in variable sizes to help a more snug and proper fit, while foam offered more slightly more protection at higher frequencies. We personally favored silicone for their ease of use, durability and sizing options.

Durability

As stated previously these earplugs will be worn in most cases for hours on end and most times in outdoor settings with lots of dust. While they’re all a rather inexpensive items it’s good to know they’ll atlas last you through the summer. The biggest thing to note here is ear wax will overtime compromise the integrity of the silicone. Heavy use will slowly make the flexible tips rigid, which will also cause an improper fit. We’d suggest cleaning your plugs after a weekend at any festival with a toothbrush and soapy water or hydrogen peroxide.

Now days there are dozens of earplugs to choose from when considering a pair. While we were unable to test out all of them, we were able to try almost every pair we commonly hear suggested in Facebook groups or at events. For reference these are the plugs we tried out.

  • Etymotic – ER-20XS: High Fidelity (Universal Fit)
  • EarAngels
  • EarPeace – HD
  • Earlove – Classic and XO
  • Erasers – Musicians Friend
  • Dubs – Acoustic Filters
  • Vaters
  • V-Moda – Faders

Before we get into our review of these earplugs, we’d like to mention that any of these would be suitable for use at an event. However, we encourage you to do a little more research before making a final decision. We’re not experts, and we’re not always able to give the most scientific data available to help make your decision. We simply want to provide our firsthand experience with these plugs, which will hopefully direct you to the ones you’re searching for.

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