Best Earplugs For Musicians: Protection Guide 2023

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

That high-pitched hum that seems to go on for a while, you just know it’s 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!

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

Best Earplugs For Musicians

Here you will find our best recommendations for earplugs. There are different sizes and shapes that can fit any ear. There are also different levels of hearing protection.

1. Vibes High Fidelity Earplugs

Vibes High Fidelity Earplugs

Our Ratings

  • Sound Quality: 4.4/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • Washable: 4/5
  • Affordability: 4/5

Specifications

  • Noise Reduction: 22dB (15dB NRR)
  • Size: Small, medium and Large Tips Included.
  • Carrying Case
  • Can be cleaned and are reusable.

Vibes Hi-fi Earplugs come with 3 different tips. This offers the best comfort depending on your canal size. The tips are quite comfortable and create a good seal for good hearing protection. The Vibes High Fidelity Earplugs are our top choice for musicians.

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

But they are not crystal clear, as any hearing protection will muffle the sound. But the Vibes plugs are a great choice for musicians and concertgoers!

PROS

  • Retains decent clarity.
  • Fits most ears.
  • Comfortable.

CONS

  • Doesn’t fit small ears well.

2. Eargasm High Fidelity Plugs

Eargasm High Fidelity Plugs

Our Ratings

  • Sound Quality: 4/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • Washable: 4/5
  • Affordability: 3.5/5

Specifications

  • Noise Reduction: 21dB (16dB NRR)
  • Size: 2 Different shell sizes included.
  • Carrying Case
  • Can be cleaned and are reusable.

Eargasm Hi-Fi Earplugs come in 2 different shells. They will 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. All while maintaining the full spectrum and still protecting your hearing. The Eargasm plugs are a fantastic choice.

PROS

  • Good Noise Reduction.
  • Easy to wear for long periods.
  • Sound is still clear.

CONS

  • Not great for smaller ears.

3. Etymotic ER20XS High Fidelity

Etymotic Research ER20XS

Our Ratings

  • Sound Quality: 3.5/5
  • Comfort: 3.5/5
  • Washable: 4/5
  • Affordability: 4/5

Specifications

  • Noise Reduction: 20dB (13dB NRR)
  • Size: Standard
  • Carrying Case
  • Can be cleaned and are reusable.

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.

PROS

  • Cuts down harmful noise.
  • Comes with case.
  • Lightweight.

CONS

  • Clarity isn’t as good as other options.

4. Westone WM16 Earplugs

Westone WM16 Earplugs

Our Ratings

  • Sound Quality: 4/5
  • Comfort: 3.5/5
  • Washable: 4/5
  • Affordability: 3.5/5

Specifications

  • Noise Reduction: 16dB (7dB NRR)
  • Size: Medium and Large.
  • Carrying Pouch.
  • Easily cleaned and reusable.

Earpeace plugs come with 3 different filters from 17 to 26 dB. They offer a wide range of protection for different sound levels. These earplugs are trusted by pro musicians!

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

PROS

  • Good sound reduction.
  • Clarity is good for musicians.
  • Comfortable

CONS

  • Some people have complained that they are too small.

5. Eardial Hi-fi Plugs

Eardial Hi-Fi Plugs

Our Ratings

  • Sound Quality: 4/5
  • Comfort: 3.5/5
  • Washable: 4/5
  • Affordability: 4/5

Specifications

  • Noise Reduction: 20dB (11dB NRR)
  • One size.
  • Carrying Case
  • Easy to clean and are reusable.

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!

They are a 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!

PROS

  • Increase to sound quality.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Storage container included.

CONS

  • Won’t fit all ear sizes.

6. Eargasm Smaller Plugs

Our Ratings

  • Sound Quality: 3.5/5
  • Comfort: 3.5/5
  • Washable: 4/5
  • Affordability: 4/5

Specifications

  • Noise Reduction: 21dB (15dB NRR)
  • Size: 2 Different shell sizes included.
  • Carrying Case
  • Can be cleaned and are reusable.

These Eargasm plugs come with 2 different size shells. They 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.

PROS

  • Perfect for smaller ears.
  • Great clarity.
  • Comes with case.

CONS

  • Not good for larger ears.

Features Of Good Earplugs

Sound Quality

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

Most players assume they have to put 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 are high-fidelity earplugs.

These types reduce the volume without sacrificing the sound quality. They are the best for musicians by far. It’s like turning down your volume knob to a level that’s safe for your ears. This way you get to enjoy the music like you want to without sacrificing your hearing.

Noise Reduction Rating

Noise reduction rating (NRR) comes before comfort. The NRR rating informs you how much loudness the earplugs block in decibels. 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. I would recommend making that the limit. Normally anything from 15 to 25 dB will do the trick. They will still offer a great experience, with 20 being the perfect number in most cases.

Base it on how much noise you’re being exposed to regularly and select the one that will best fit your situation.

Comfort

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 a different ear and canal size, 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. In this case, you will be subjected to loud noise.

If they are too small, they may not seal properly and allow noise to get past.  Your earplugs need to be a perfect fit and comfortable as well!

Should Musicians 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 this hinges on the fact that we can hear it in order to understand and appreciate it. 

Musicians 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 musicians, including myself, take it for granted. 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 is. 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

Many musicians have come forward with concerns about hearing damage. For the ones who cancel shows because of it, it’s safe to say this should be a priority! A musician from guitar players, and drummers to singers. We all need to consider the loudness in the environment we play in.

It’s said that musicians are four times more likely to suffer from hearing damage! And there are many studies that prove it! 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 musicians will be in a dangerous spot when it comes to damaging volume. It actually doesn’t take much when you think about it.

Sound Levels And Hearing Damage

Sound Meter

Most governments regulate noise exposure for safety reasons. Most of them say that the maximum is 85 decibels. So what can we compare this to, you ask? Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Safe Range

In this range, you will see common appliances you will find in a home. You will also see the levels of noise they produce. These are safe limits.

DecibelsNoise Source
30Whisper
40Fridge
60Conversation
70Vacuum Cleaner

Risk Range

The table below provides sound levels in the harmful range. It also includes the sources of the noise. These are things we are around every day.

DecibelsNoise Source
85Food Blender
95Motorcycle
100Lawn Mower
110Rock Concert
115Chain Saw
130Gunshot

The examples above should give you an idea of how different sound levels are measured in decibels. And for most of them, it isn’t the immediate exposure that does the damage, it’s long-term. Most sounds have been given a period of time that exposure is acceptable. This is the time before the damage really occurs.

How Long Can You Be Exposed?

But we still believe that if you’re 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? The table below will show you how long you should be around certain sound levels. At least before they begin to do damage.

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

Conclusion

We have all tried the foam earplugs and developed a poor impression of hearing protection! 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 so many musicians suffering, I believe this is something we should all consider. 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 technology getting better, the quality of protection continues to improve 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 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!