The 10 Best Earplugs

Updated February 04, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Earplugs
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 39 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. 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 of all styles and price points to provide the best experience wherever you go. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best earplug on Amazon.

10. 3M Peltor Sport

The 3M Peltor Sport aren't the most comfortable option, but they can help protect hearing loss without costing a lot of money. They feature an attached cord for easy removal, plus it helps cut down on your chances of losing them while not in use.
  • can be washed by hand
  • come as a three-pack
  • hard to get a tight seal
Brand 3M
Model 97317-10C
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

9. Howard Leight Honeywell Quiet

The Howard Leight Honeywell Quiet sport a patented one-piece neckband that keeps them handy at all times and elevates the earpieces from dirty surfaces when setting them down. The foam replacement buds are hard to find, though.
  • ideal for the shooting range
  • simple to put on quickly
  • some find them unwieldy
Brand Howard Leight Honeywell
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

8. Etymotic Research ETY

The Etymotic Research ETY make it a piece of cake to hear speech, music, and more with maximum enjoyment. Although they are a bit pricey for one pair, they are extremely efficient at reducing the possibility of damage from constant exposure to loud sounds.
  • fit most ear canal shapes
  • comfortable to wear under a helmet
  • muffle bass frequencies too much
Brand Etymotic Research
Model ER20-SMF
Weight 0.6 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. DownBeats High Fidelity

A pair of DownBeats High Fidelity are a must-have at any loud event, where you want to hear without risking any auditory damage. They are perfect for concert workers and sound technicians, as they can reduce the volume without muffling the sound.
  • low-profile design
  • handy clip on the storage case
  • may be uncomfortable for small ears
Brand DownBeats
Model downbeatsblack
Weight 0.2 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. Surefire EP4 Sonic Defenders Plus

The Surefire EP4 Sonic Defenders Plus carry an impressive 24dB noise reduction rating when their included caps are inserted. The patented retention rings provide customized comfort every time you put them on, plus they don't get in the way when wearing hats.
  • available in three colors and sizes
  • handy lanyard prevents losing them
  • made of hypoallergenic polymer
Brand SureFire
Model EP4-BK-Par
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

5. The Ear Buddy Premium

The Ear Buddy Premium are a good, affordably-priced choice for those who don't want 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 after every use.
  • stay firmly in place
  • reduce noises by 32 decibels
  • comfortable enough for all-day wear
Brand The Ear Buddy
Model pending
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

4. LiveMus!c HearSafe

If you love going to concerts, but worry about impairment from prolonged exposure to loud noise, then the LiveMus!c HearSafe are a good pick. You can get up to a year of use per set and they come in a handy storage case that can be clipped to just about anything.
  • include an attachable cord
  • provide a nice seal
  • hypoallergenic and non-irritating
Model LM001S
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. Vibes High Fidelity

The Vibes High Fidelity 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 quality.
  • virtually invisible when in the ear
  • portable case fits in your pocket
  • appeared on abc's shark tank
Brand Vibes
Model 1399
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. Mack's Ultra Soft

If you travel often, the 50 pairs of Mack's Ultra Soft will last you many long airplane rides and noisy hotels. They are comfortable to wear while resting your head on a pillow and their low-pressure form is gentle on sensitive ears.
  • recommended by doctors
  • made of soft foam
  • economical price
Brand Mack's
Model Mac-6244
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Eargasm High Fidelity

The patent-pending Eargasm High Fidelity includes two different sized shells to give you the perfect fit. Their sleek shape doesn't protrude far out of the ears for a discreet look, and they can be removed easily thanks to small extended tabs.
  • lower noise levels evenly
  • made of soft nontoxic silicone
  • aluminum case with a waterproof seal
Brand Eargasm
Model 1
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 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 loud noises.

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 February 04, 2018 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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