The 9 Best Earplugs

Updated December 28, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

9 Best Earplugs
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
It seems you can't escape noise anywhere you go these days. At least these earplugs will preserve your hearing while you are at the firing range, a concert, a noisy worksite, or even at a playground full of screaming children. We've included models particularly helpful for DJs, concert hall staff, or music arena workers, since they don't block out speech. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best earplug on Amazon.

9. Eargasm High Fidelity

The Eargasm High Fidelity have a slim design that doesn't protrude far out of the ears, so you won't look like a fool when wearing them. They can be easily removed by a small tab that sticks out and are made from hypoallergenic soft silicone.
  • reduce all noises evenly
  • don't cause itching or pressure pain
  • don't render a good flat attenuation
Brand Eargasm
Model 1
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. The Ear Buddy Plugs

The Ear Buddy Plugs are a good, economically priced choice for those who don't want to have to worry about keeping tabs on more expensive, reusable ones. The jar comes with 50 pairs, so you can just wear them and toss them out.
  • stay firmly in place
  • high noise reduction rating
  • slow to return to original size
Brand The Ear Buddy
Model pending
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

7. 3M Peltor Sport

The 3M Peltor Sport have a triple flange design, which is effective at blocking loud noises and also ensures a snug fit that shouldn't fall out. But in the slight chance they do, there is an attached cord that rests on your neck.
  • can be washed between uses
  • come with a storage container
  • uncomfortable to wear under a helmet
Brand 3M
Model 97317-10C
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

6. LiveMus!c HearSafe

If you love going to concerts, but worry about damaging your hearing from prolonged exposure to loud music, then the LiveMus!c HearSafe are a good pick. They come in a handy keychain storage case and don't affect music integrity.
  • can get over 2 years of use per set
  • includes two sets for varied ratings
  • have to push them in really deep
Model LM001S
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

5. Etymotic Research ER20XS-SMF-P

The Etymotic Research ER20XS-SMF-P make it easy to hear speech, music, and more. Their power is focused on blocking only big, louder noises, so they are great for gun ranges where it is vital you can still hear people talk.
  • highly discreet design
  • comfortable to wear under a helmet
  • somewhat uncomfortable to insert
Brand Etymotic Research
Model ER20XS-SMF-P
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Surefire EP4 Sonic Defenders

The Surefire EP4 Sonic Defenders carry an impressive 24dB noise reduction rating when their included stoppers are inserted. Their triple flanged design makes them comfortable enough to wear all day long and they are suitable to pair with hats.
  • great for use on loud worksites
  • handy lanyard prevents loss
  • made using hypoallergenic polymer
Brand SureFire
Weight 0.6 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. Delta Track

If you travel often, a box of Delta Track will not only last for years, but they are comfortable to wear even when resting your head on a pillow. They are ideal for airplane rides and noisy hotels, and their low pressure design is gentle on sensitive ears.
  • box contains 100 pairs
  • waterproof for swimming use
  • have a classic bullet shape
Brand Delta Track Products
Model pending
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. DownBeats High Fidelity

A pair of DownBeats High Fidelity are a must-have at a loud, live music event, where you want to hear while still protecting your eardrums. They are perfect for concert workers and sound technicians, and are also useful at sporting venues and air-shows.
  • clear design for discreet use
  • protective storage case included
  • filter sound without blocking it
Brand DownBeats
Model downbeatsblack
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Doppler Labs DUBS

The Doppler Labs DUBS represent the next generation of earplug evolution. Rather than just blocking out sound, they respond to it by using dynamic attenuation to reduce the overall volume while continuing to preserve phonic fidelity.
  • sleek design fits flush to the ear
  • polymer foams and silicone
  • perfect for djs and musicians
Brand Doppler Labs
Model DUBS00008
Weight 14.1 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

A Few Words On Ear Protection

Your hearing is the sense most susceptible to long-term damage based on the external factors to which you expose yourself. Hearing acuity will often decline with age just as will a person's sense of sight and even taste, but so too can hearing be damaged and reduced prematurely by too much exposure to too much noise.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, sometimes abbreviated to NIHL, is a condition suffered by millions of Americans (government estimates place the figure at near 15% of the population aged 20 to 69, in fact), with more joining the unfortunate ranks every day of the year. This condition can come on suddenly, with exposure to an extreme sonic event such as an explosion or car crash, or it can develop over time, becoming a chronic issue. NIHL can affect one ear or both at the same time.

Regular and protracted exposure to sounds measured at more than 85 decibels can cause hearing damage. For a bit of context, that's about the noise level of a busy city street: walk down the sidewalk of downtown Chicago or Washington D.C. in the middle of the afternoon and you'll be hearing about as much noise as your ears can safely handle. Add in a passing siren, and you might experience a noise level as high as 120 decibels. Brief, infrequent exposure to a siren is not likely to damage your hearing indefinitely, but now consider this: a standard industrial-grade jackhammer produces a noise level near 130 decibels. Anyone working on a bustling construction site, therefore, is frequently subjected to enough sound to cause serious hearing issues.

While permanent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss can't be reversed, fortunately hearing loss caused by noise exposure can arrested at its current level by a change in a person's approach to life. While reducing exposure to potentially hazardous sounds may be implausible due to a person's living or working arrangements, it's easy enough to protect your precious hearing by committing to the regular use of earplugs.

Choosing The Right Ear Plugs

To open our discussion of earplug selection, let's begin with a sweeping albeit not inaccurate generalization: there are two basic categories of earplug, which are those designed simply to block out noise, and those designed to reduce and filter noise while maintaining sonic fidelity. At first blush, one would think no contest existed, then, and that the latter category is the superior choice. While indeed an earplug that permits its wearer to hear much of the sound around himself or herself can be a boon in many situations, such as at a music concert or while conducting a tour of a factory floor or lively city, there are also many times when it behooves one to block out as much sound as possible.

Take for example the earplug used for slumber: whether lying in one's own bed at night or trying to catch some rest en route during a business trip, the person trying to sleep is not interested in the high fidelity filtering of the sounds around them, they are interested in having some peace and quiet so they can sleep. So too might the marksman working on his aim at the rifle range be interested in the lack of distraction afforded by overall noise reduction, and of course he (or she) will appreciate having ears that are protected from the loud crack of the gun. (Some big-bore rifles can create a report rated at 175 decibels, enough to cause immediate hearing issues without proper ear protection.)

So before you choose your earplugs, consider how and wear you are likely to use them and how much -- or how little -- you really want to hear. Then you can move on to considering options that maintain frequency fidelity, that block loud, deep waves of sound but let in speech and melody, and so forth. And know that even the most expensive pair of earplugs around will be affordable for anyone truly committed to aural safety.

Proper Ear Plug Maintenance

Many cheaper earplugs, such as those made of PU foam (polyurethane, that is) are designed to be worn a few times, or a singe time, and then discarded. These earplugs are perfectly effective so long as you take the time to properly insert them, and their maintenance is blissfully simple: toss them out and grab a new pair as needed.

With more permanent earplugs, maintaining cleanliness and hygiene becomes a more important issue. While most modern earplugs are made with hypoallergenic materials such as silicone or polymers, the build-up of earwax or natural oils on the plugs, or the accumulation of dirt and dust that comes with regular use, especially on worksites, in the woods during hunting, or in other outdoor applications, means you will have to clean your earplugs from time to time.

The easiest, most reliable way to clean a pair of reusable earplugs is to use a dishwasher or a washing machine. Just send them through a cycle of either unit, but make sure you have placed them in a dishwasher safe basket for the former and in a mesh bag for the latter, for fear of losing the earplugs and potentially damaging your machine. You can also hand wash your earplugs with mild soap and a clean toothbrush. After any washing method, wipe them down with isopropyl alcohol, and then make sure to thoroughly dry them before use or storage.

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Last updated on December 28, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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