Best Earplugs For Musicians | Protection Guide 2022

You ever play so loud that your ears scream at you for a few days afterwards? Yea, me too, and chances are you are here on this article for that very reason.

That high pitched hum that seems to go on for a while, you just know its a bad thing.

And you’re right, it is! But there are ways to protect your hearing, which you should do from now on and really take it seriously!

Best Earplugs for musicians

There are many players who now wish they would have, you still have a chance!

So, how do you protect your hearing so that in time you won’t regret it like many other musicians who can’t turn back the clock?


Not All Plugs Are Created Equal

But not just any earplugs of course, we need the very best for musicians!

Hearing protection is a rather important subject. So this article is filled with all the information you need to know about it.

I would encourage you to take it all in and make a decision to use hearing protection from now on. You won’t regret it!

For those of you who are in a hurry, here are the earplugs we recommend for musicians that provide a good sound quality and are comfortable.

We explore the pros and cons of each set later in the article. Just do yourself a favor and don’t resort to foam plugs!

Best Earplugs For Musicians

  • Vibes High Fidelity Ear plugs – Offer 22 dB (15 NRR) of attenuation and retain great clarity of sound. They are comfortable and are a great choice for musicians.
  • Eargasm High Fidelity Plugs – Another great choice for musicians or concert goers. They offer 21 dB (16 NRR) of attenuation and still keep a great experience in sound quality.
  • Etymotic ER20XS – Offering 20 dB (13 NRR) of attenuation, these are highly regarded plugs!
  • Westone TRU Universal WM16 – With an attenuation of 16 dB (7 NRR) these earplugs offer a well-balanced sound and a very comfortable fit!
  • EarDial HiFi Plugs – These too are also a great choice. They offer 20 dB (11 NRR) of attenuation and also include an app for your smartphone to measure sound level around you!

Vibes High Fidelity Earplugs


Vibes Hi-Fi Earplugs come with 3 different tips to essentially offer you the best comfort depending on your canal size.

The tips are quite comfortable and create a good seal for good hearing protection.

They have been designed to lower the sound levels without sacrificing quality. We feel they definitely do the trick and still offer great clarity.

They are not crystal clear as any hearing protection will muffle the sound slightly but the Vibes plugs are a great choice for musicians and concert goers!


Noise Reduction: 22 dB (15 dB NRR)

Size: Small, medium and Large Tips Included.

Carrying Case?: Yes!

Can be cleaned and are reuseable.

Eargasm High Fidelity Plugs


Eargasm Hi-Fi Earplugs come with 2 different shells to offer you the best comfort depending on your canal size.

The tips are comfortable as they are designed for long term use.

These earplugs use a patented design to offer the best sound quality while maintaining the full spectrum and still protect your hearing.

The Eargasm plugs are a fantastic choice.


Noise Reduction: 21 dB (16 dB NRR)

Size: 2 Different shell sizes included.

Carrying Case?: Yes!

Can be cleaned and are reuseable.

Etymotic ER20XS High Fidelity

Etymotic Research ER20XS

Etymotic plugs offer great clarity at 20dB of sound dampening protection. They have an identical response through 4kHz, making them great for musicians.

These are another perfect choice as the clarity is great, and they are a very comfortable fit. They also fit in smaller ear canals.

You will almost forget you are wearing hearing protection.


Noise Reduction: 20 dB (13 dB NRR)

Size: Standard

Carrying Case?: Yes!

Can be cleaned and are reuseable.

Westone WM16 Earplugs


Earpeace plugs come with 3 different filters from 17 to 26 dB for a wide range of protection for different sound levels.

These earplugs are trusted by pro musicians!

These are another great choice of earplugs for musicians as the clarity is great and they are a very comfortable fit. This ensures that you hear a natural frequency balance!


Noise Reduction: 16 dB (7 dB NRR)

Size: Medium and Large.

Carrying Case?: Yes! Carrying Pouch.

Can be cleaned and are reuseable.

Eardial Hi-Fi Plugs


Eardial plugs have a Hi-Fi noise filter with a 20 dB flat attenuation for a great experience.

There is little to no distortion while they protect your hearing!

These are another great choice for musicians as the sound clarity is great and they are super comfortable!

Not only that, they come with an app that will measure noise levels with your smartphone and a warranty!


Noise Reduction: 20 dB (11 dB NRR)

Size: One size.

Carrying Case?: Yes! Carrying case.

Can be cleaned and are reuseable.

Smaller Ear Option

Eargasm Smaller Plugs

These Eargasm plugs come with 2 different size shells to offer you
the best comfort for smaller canals.

The tips are comfortable as they are designed for long term use.

These earplugs use a patented design to offer the best sound quality. They maintain the full spectrum and still protect your hearing.

These are a fantastic choice for smaller ears.


Noise Reduction: 21 dB (15 dB NRR)

Size: 2 Different shell sizes included.

Carrying Case?: Yes! Carrying case.

Can be cleaned and are reuseable.

Musicians Should Wear Ear Protection

For every musician, playing is one of the most rewarding things this life has to offer. We are inspired by what we hear and appreciate good melodies.

We are driven by powerful songs that shape what we believe. But all of this hinges on the fact that we can hear it in order to understand and appreciate it. 

Musician’s seem to perceive sound in a totally different way. It’s something that we sort of pay close attention to in and around us. It’s a very special gift to have!

But most musician’s, including myself, take it for granted and you may not be aware of the fact that you’re losing one special gift!

The gift is our hearing, and if you are not quite aware of the volume levels you play or rehearse in, you might be losing more than you know!

And one thing you do not want to lose is the clarity that makes music as sweet as it it. So wearing hearing protection is a must if you play music in loud venues or practice spaces.

Guitarist Using Earplugs

Musicians Are More Likely To Experience Hearing Loss

With the number of musicians that have come out with concerns about damage, and the ones who cancel shows because of it, its safe to say this should be a priority!

Musician’s from guitar players, drummers to singers, we all need to consider the environment we play in.

Its being said that musicians are four times more likely to suffer from noise induced hearing damage! And there are many studies that prove it!.

While some people play instruments that are not as loud as others, in most cases you will play in a band with someone who is cranking an amp!

Or maybe a drummer who plays quite loud. In some way or another most musician’s will be in a dangerous spot when it comes to damaging volume pressures.

It actually doesn’t take much when you think about it.

Hearing Damage Is In The Decibels

Any noise above 85 decibels (dB) can damage the fine hair cells in your ears that pick up sound.

And once they are damaged, they can’t heal or grow back. Its permanent!

And so if 85 dB can do damage, think about what is happening when a guitar amp puts out so much more.

Or your drummer who is pounding away at 100 dB without much effort. Did you know most concerts will push around 120 dB on average.

Do this regularly for a few years and it will catch up with you, history proves this to be true.

Most people just assume it can’t happen to musician’s. It only happens to people who use jackhammers everyday all day. Truth is, those people are normally wearing earplugs.

Performers That Have Hearing Damage

I made mention earlier that there are many musicians who have hearing damage. So let’s look at what history tells us about the reality of this.

Many Musicians can attest to this truth, lets look into a few cases.

  • Brian Johnson of AC/DC had to postpone a tour back in 2016. His doctors were so concerned about his hearing that they told him to stop touring immediately or risk losing it completely!
  • Pete Townshend of the who commented about his experience. ”I have severe hearing damage. It’s manifested itself as tinnitus, ringing in the ears at frequencies that I play guitar. It hurts, it’s painful, and it’s frustrating”
  • Chris Martin of Coldplay said: “I’ve had tinnitus for about 10 years, and since I started protecting my ears it hasn’t got any worse—touch wood. Looking after your ears is unfortunately something you don’t think about until there’s a problem. I wish I’d thought about it earlier.”
  • Ozzy Osborne and Lars Ulrich (Metallica) have also commented on hearing damage and warn other musicians about it.

Sound Levels And Hearing Damage

Sound Meter

Most governments regulate noise exposure for safety reasons, and most of them say that the maximum is 85 decibels (dB). So what can we compare this to you ask? Lets take a look at a few examples.

Safe Range

DecibelsNoise Source
70Vacuum Cleaner

Risk Range

DecibelsNoise Source
85Food Blender
100Lawn Mower
110Rock Concert
115Chain Saw

So those examples should give you an idea of how different sound levels are measured in decibels (dB).

And for most of them it isn’t the immediate exposure that does the damage, its long term. Most sound levels have been given a period of time that exposure is acceptable before damage really occurs.

But we still believe that if your playing music you should put in earplugs from the start.

So how long can you be exposed to sound levels on a regular basis before your hearing begins to suffer?

Sound LevelDuration (Daily)
908 Hours
954 Hours
1002 Hours
1051 Hour
11030 Mins
11515 Mins
130Zero Mins

Hearing Damage Is Something To Consider

So as you can see, its no wonder that there are so many musicians losing their hearing or worse from high sound levels!

Tinnitus is a common result of being exposed to loud noise over the long term. Tinnitus is sound in the head with no external source.

For many, it’s a ringing tone. While for others it can be a whistling, buzzing, chirping, hissing, humming, roaring or even shrieking.

Bob Seger said it best in the song “Turn the page”. He sang “Later in the evening as you lie awake in bed, with the echoes of the amplifiers ringing in your head.” 

Sounds like hearing damage to me, maybe even tinnitus.

Hearing loss is next in line. While it can also be caused by aging and genetics, over half of all accounts are from exposure to loud noise. Loss from exposure can begin by losing the clarity of sound.

For anyone who plays music, this is a rather large deal breaker and an excellent reason to start using protection.

How To Measure Sound Levels

There are 2 quick ways to measure the noise level wherever you are that most musicians have easy access to.

Use A Mobile App

Measuring sound levels on the go is very easy with an app for your phone.

While the microphone on your phone isn’t completely accurate, it’s a great way to get a rough idea of what kind of volume you are being exposed to.

There are many different apps for all major smartphones. So finding a decibel meter app is quite easy!

A couple of great examples are:

  • Decibel meter pro for apple devices
  • Decibel meter for Android

Use Your Computer

Most players today normally have a computer for either recording or just carrying around music and information.

If this is the case, your laptop or computer will have a microphone that can be used by the program to measure the sound level.

This is another great way to test the level you are being exposed to. There are free and paid downloads available. Select the one that best suits your needs and keep it handy.

Key Features Of A Good Earplug

Sound Quality

One of the main reasons musicians don’t use hearing protection is because the sound quality is terrible!

Most players just assume they have to put construction grade foam plugs into their ears and as a result lose all clarity in the music!

It’s basically a lack of knowledge about what options are out there for musicians.

What you want to look for is hi-fidelity earplugs.

These types simply reduce the volume without sacrificing the sound quality and are the best for musicians by far.

It’s like turning down your volume knob to a level that’s safe on your ears.

This way you get to enjoy the music like you want to without sacrificing your hearing.

Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)

Noise reduction rating (NRR) in my opinion comes before comfort. The NRR rating basically informs you how much loudness the earplugs block in decibels.

Depending on how loud your environment might be, you may want to find the average with an app and then select the NRR that will offer you the best protection.

Anything over 30 dB is overkill and will greatly affect your quality of sound so i would recommend making that the limit.

Normally anything from 15 to 25 dB will do the trick and offer a great experience with 20 being the magic number in most cases.

Just base it on how much noise your being exposed to regularly and select the one that will best fit your situation.


Every person has different ears. While most ear plugs will work for a majority of people, some people will not have the same result.

Because everyone has different ear and canal sizes, you may have to do some extra research on what will work for you.

But you will want to make sure that whatever you choose is a comfortable fit. 

You are going to be using them for a good amount of time. If they are too big and create discomfort, then you are more than likely going to take them out and be subjected to loud noise.

If they are too small, they may not seal properly and allow noise to get past. 

Just like making sure you are playing the perfect instrument that best fits you, your earplugs need to be a perfect fit and comfortable as well!

Custom Molded Earplugs

Another thing to consider is custom made earplugs specifically molded to fit you.

When you choose to get custom ones made for you, they take a mold of your ear.

This way they fit perfectly for your ear alone. You also get to select the type of filter that they will be designed with for optimal sound quality and attenuation.

The downfall to this is that they are very expensive and take time to make.

So when you go this route you might pay up to $250 or more and wait a few weeks for them to be made.

You also have to make sure that you have selected the right filter as you will be locked in at this point.

But the results will be amazing if you have selected the right pair for you!

In Ear Monitors

In Ear Monitors

One common misconception is that simply wearing In-Ear monitors is a good form of hearing protection.

And while they are a good form when used correctly, the truth is they can also cause damage if they are not.

Most In-Ear monitors are fitted to a musician and offer a pretty tight fit. Some musicians then use them quite loudly and the sound cannot escape from your ear.

This pressure then proceeds to do damage as it hammers your ear canal! The sound pressure has no where to go because of the tight seal.

So if you are going to rely on your in-ear monitors for hearing protection, you best get the levels set right! Otherwise your injecting loud noise right into your ear and doing damage.

But if your levels are set correctly, you will benefit from hearing protection and a better quality of sound.

When To See An Audiologist

As a musician it can be beneficial to visit an audiologist or doctor annually to have your hearing tested and ears inspected.

If your subjecting yourself to loud noise or have so in the past, this might be a good idea.

At the very least you can see how well your hearing is and create a plan to begin protecting yourself.

An audiologist can also recommend tips, tricks and products that can help you take care of your hearing if you play music in loud environments regularly.

This can be so important if your serious about your music! Its like an athlete who has injured himself and can no longer play sports.

If you have loss because of loud noise, your ability to play music will suffer and maybe even need to stop!

If you already have any kind of ringing in your ears or notice anything different about your hearing, it can be a good idea to see a doctor or audiologist.

While your hearing will change with age, it’s not a bad idea to take care of it before you get to a point where it’s just simply too late!

Don’t Put It Off Any Longer

While we have all tried the foam earplugs and developed a negative impression on hearing protection as a result, there is a better way!

There are many great options out there for musicians. The quality of sound can still be enjoyed at practice or gigs while protecting yourself.

With as many musicians that have suffered damage, i believe this is really something we should all consider and take seriously.

Music is our passion and to lose the ability to hear and create it would be a very terrible thing. Not to mention the consequences of normal everyday life with bad hearing or pain.

With the technology in our gear getting better, the quality of protection continues to improve for musicians as well.

And so i do hope we were able to encourage you to use hearing protection and take it seriously. It would be better to wear the earplugs today instead of aids later on!

Photo of author

Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear.I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!