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What are the best ear plugs for comfort and noise protection?

Audiologist in West Hampstead

30 October 2018 - 1.53K Views

In my experience custom solutions work far better for most people than off the shelf solutions. 

Sure the initial investment is a little higher but if you factor in the fact you keep them several years rather than constantly trying throw them away & replace this cost can eventually swing the other way.

I have always used ACS earplugs personally & for my patients.

An 👂 impression is used to get a precise fit & their noise reduction plugs allow for the fitting of noise filters allowing for different levels of noise reduction for different environments ie a different level would be used in a music venue compared to pit crew for a formula one team.

I was also able to use them as custom made headphone sleeves to insert headphones they supplied me. This gave a secure fit & blocked out a lot of external noise.

You cannot use the same plug for sleeping with a snoring partner/to cut out other noises that might disturb your sleep but there is a specific product which is scooped out & low profile allowing them to be worn in bed.

Whereas an off the shelf plug can kill the sound quality of music as it reduces different frequencies by differing amounts their custom plugs can offer a flat reduction so turning the music down not ruining the quality. Well worth the investment.

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Sarah Chipman

Professional Member

29 October 2018 - 1.53K Views

It depends entirely on what you are doing. Custom earplugs from an audiologist are made to the exact contours of your ear and are very comfortable and will last for a year or longer, but are pricy compared to drug store or hardware store options. 

Foam earplugs are the cheapest and will fit most ears, but you have to roll them small enough to get at least half of the plug into your ear canal or they aren’t protecting you properly. They also don’t come in and out easily if you move in and out of noise through a work shift, and they make it almost impossible to understand people talking if you already have a significant hearing loss. Tree tip plugs are easier to get in, but won’t fit comfortably or protect properly if they aren’t the right size. Earmuffs work well and are easily visible to safety supervisors, but they can get in the way of a rifle and can be hot and sweaty.

For extreme noise, double protection of earplugs plus earmuffs is required - not comfortable, but necessary for preserving your hearing. If someone needs to communicate in very loud areas and has hearing loss, amplified muffs (like 3M Peltor) might be reasonable. 

For sleeping, custom earplugs, foam earplugs, or moldable earplugs are great options, but expecting to have them block 100% of the sound of someone snoring or construction noise is unrealistic. 

For concerts or clubs, custom musician’s plugs or tree-tip musician or concert plugs are great, depending on how much music fidelity you need and the size and shape of your ears. For performers or directors, custom musician plugs are better (and sometimes musician monitors are needed), but for casual concert goers, anything that keeps your ears from ringing and fits comfortably will work. I like the $12-15 ETY-plugs because they come in a “baby blue” smaller size that fits my ears and also a large size for more normal adult ears. I also like the Westone Tru Universal because they are a little more flexible in the ear than the ETYplugs with no plastic stick handle and they come with both sizes of sleeves. Some people swear by EarGasm plugs, but I haven’t personally tried them. 

Come see an audiologist. We can evaluate your hearing protection needs and recommend the correct plug for your ear shape and noise environment. I stock plugs in my office, so many people leave with them on the day of their appointment, although many customs have to be ordered from a lab which takes up to 2 weeks.
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John Coverstone, AuD

Board Certified in Audiology

29 October 2018 - 1.56K Views

Honestly, the best ear plugs will be custom fit ones from your audiologist. They will always be the most comfortable and will also have the best noise protection, short of finding a cement mixer and tilting your head underneath it (as a licensed audiologist, I can not recommend this approach).

Other than that, a combination of ear muffs and ear plugs is the most protection you can possibly have. I find that ear muffs are difficult for many people to wear for extended periods of time.

The soft foam ear plugs probably have the single best noise reduction when used properly (and that's big "if" - there's your next video, Dr. Olson). This is because the foam expands to fill your auditory canal, almost regardless of shape or size. Other off-the-shelf ear plugs, such as the Christmas tree type, may not work well for some people whose canal is not very round.

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Angela Lederman, MS


28 October 2019 - 947 Views

The best earplugs are the ones that are used correctly!  This could be off the shelf foam plugs, earmuffs or custom made hearing protection, from your audiologist.  Correct use is critical.  All earplugs have a NRR (noise reduction rating) associated with them, but that number is with CORRECTION insertion.  Learning how to use whatever protection you choose should be left to the hearing professional.  That being said, typically custom fit earplugs will give better noise reduction and generally better comfort.  While custom hearing protection costs a bit more, it is well worth the benefits.
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Maggie Robertson, AuD


30 October 2018 - 1.52K Views

The best ear plugs are the ones that are inserted properly and fit the best. The fit is essential for comfort and proper noise protection whether that is a custom or non-custom plug. Our patients seem to prefer custom plugs, most often due to the fit and comfort. Visit your audiologist to discuss your options, do your research, and talk around to others who already use noise protection to see what they have liked or disliked. 
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Sheri Gostomelsky, AuD

Doctor of Audiology

29 October 2018 - 1.53K Views

The best protection is any plug, custom or non custom that fits correctly and is inserted properly.  An audiologist can guide you through choices for fit and comfort and they can check your ears for wax.  If hearing  others talk while wearing ear protection is a must, there are filtered earplugs, allowing for adequate protection and the ability to communicate.
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Joe Perez

Hearing Healthcare Provider

29 October 2018 - 1.54K Views

It all depends on the circumstances!

Foam plugs offer very blunt, indiscriminate sound blockage, which makes them great for sleeping and blocking environmental nuisance.

Flanged ear plugs are the next step up in price, quality, durability, and sound fidelity. Where foam ear plugs will only last a handful of times, flanged ear plugs will last anywhere between one and six months. Because they are cleanable, reusable for a longer period of time, and have much better sound quality than foam, there’s a significant leap in price to $20+ per pair.

Disposable moldable ear plugs typically come in individual pieces packaged in a protective plastic case. To use, shape a piece into a ball and push to fill the outer ear around the canal. Most popularly known for use while sleeping (for blocking out city noise and snoring), these ear plugs also work well for preventing water from entering swimmer’s ears.

Custom ear plugs are one of the best options available. earplugs offer maximum protection and a comfortable fit that is designed specifically for your ears. They offer more security in knowing that your ears have the best possible protection against hearing loss.

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Audiologist in Irvine

29 October 2018 - 1.56K Views

The fit of the sound protector is key to providing both comfort and protection. Those that are custom fitted for your ears are likely to provide more comfort and protection than general earplugs and earmuffs for extended use.   Talk to an audiologist about the type of loud environments in which you need protection and he/she will be able to help you select the most appropriate protectors.   

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Lori Esposito

Hearing Healthcare Provider

30 October 2018 - 1.51K Views

The best earplugs for comfort and and noise supression would be a full shell silicone earmold custom made in my office.
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