Eargasm Earplugs Review with Audio Samples
I recently acquired Eargasm High Fidelity and Slide earplugs and measured their performance in the HearingTracker Lab. In the video below, you can hear my overall impressions and a few audio recordings of their performance. Click play now to hear them for yourself and continue reading for my detailed review.
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Eargasm Hearing Protection
Eargasm is a relatively new company offering an array of hearing protection devices. In 2015, they launched their High Fidelity earplug which aimed to provide natural sound attenuation for loud environments where audibility remains desirable. They have a tested Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 16 decibels (dBs).
Eargasm has since expanded their product line including adjustable attenuation, aviation devices, and even a custom line of in-ear headphones and earplugs. Their Ear Scanner App allows users to capture their pinna in 3D for custom orders using only the internal cell phone camera.
What’s in the Box?
Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs come with both standard and small shell sizes and include one set of acoustic filters. The earplugs have a familiar look being triple flanged and are made from a hypoallergenic soft silicone. The filters have a plastic housing and are removable from the earplugs which aids cleaning and size selection. As far as earplugs go, they are very simple and easy to use out of the box.
Eargasm High Fidelity earplugs
The Eargasm Slide is a newer hearing protection device offering adjustable attenuation. By moving a slider to either an open or closed position, users can alter the device's reduction between a reported 12 to 22 dBs, respectively. Slide earplugs differ from traditional silicone earplugs as the device consists of a plastic shell and ridged sleeve. This ultimately allows users to attach the optional connection cord and select between three sizes of either foam or silicone ear tips. This is a nice offering as you will have more options to find a comfortable acoustic seal with your ear canals. Lastly, the adjustable slider is magnetic allowing both devices to conveniently attract for either storage or retention around the neck should the connection cord be used.
Eargasm Slide Earplugs
Both Eargasm plugs included an aluminum keychain carrying case. The High Fidelity plugs come with a standard size which is designed for portability on a keychain. However, a larger size case is included with Slide plugs affording more space for the plastic shell, removable ear tips, and connection cord. Replacement cases can also be purchased separately from their website.
Eargasm large carrying case
Subjective Sound Quality and Fit
I tested the Eargasm High Fidelity and Slide earplugs in a variety of scenarios including loud amplified music, acoustic instruments, and various power tools. The High Fidelity plugs were very impressive having a natural sound quality. They offered one of the most uniform profiles I have experienced from a universal fit earplug. This was confirmed by objective measurements included below.
The soft silicone made long-term wear comfortable. However, I struggled obtaining a good acoustic seal which may be attributed to the shell, or ear tip, size running large. For the record, my ears are pretty average and standard ear tips normally work. I ultimately used the small size and could only obtain a sufficient seal by following normal insertion techniques, i.e. pulling the pinna in a superior posterior (up and back) direction to straighten my ear canal. Regardless, there was more difficulty than I normally experience. Eargasm does offer an extra-small shell size which may have worked better for my ears.
Lastly, I did find it challenging to remove and insert the acoustic filters when switching between sizes. This isn’t necessarily a negative as the slightly tacky shell quality improves comfort, retention, and acoustic seal. The lesson here is to sort shell size before use at a venue.
The Eargasm Slide also offered an acceptable sound quality. The closed position significantly attenuated sound which I found adequate for louder power tool use around the house. With the Slide moved to an open position, more high frequency information was available. However, it did not offer the same level of linear, or uniform, attenuation found in their High Fidelity earplug. The difference in linearity can be seen in measurements below.
I found the adjustable attenuation highly functional. The physical slider is relatively large and outward facing making it easily accessible while in use. I did like that the Slide includes more ear tip sizes though I did find these to run large as well. Even the smallest foam tip was slightly large causing noticeable pressure in my ear canals.
Normal Listening Versus Eargasm Earplugs
In these comparisons, you will hear how Eargasm earplugs reduce sound entering your ear canals.
Next, let’s see what happens when we increase the levels to get a similar volume in all recordings. This will help you hear how the earplugs affect overall sound quality when we take the volume jump out of the picture.
A Deeper Look at Attenuation
To more objectively assess device attenuation, Room EQ Wizard (REW) was used to present pure tone sweeps to a miniDSP Earphone Audio Response System (EARS) via a Yamaha HS5 powered monitor. Several measurements were taken for both the High Fidelity and Slide devices with the earplugs being completely removed and reinserted between recordings to account for insertion variability. The process loosely followed testing procedures outlined in ANSI S12.6-2016¹. However, as a manikin was used insertion loss was calculated based on the difference between the unoccluded and occluded microphone responses.
Average attenuation characteristics for all recordings can be seen in Figure 1. The blue line corresponds with the standard Eargasm High Fidelity earplug and can be seen offering a very respectable uniform attenuation. This remains true for the higher frequencies, where only a minor slope is observed. This suggests that their acoustic channel is accurately restoring resonant effects of the ear canal that would otherwise be lost due to earplug insertion.
The Eargasm Slide can be seen in both the open (black line) and closed (gray line) positions. I was surprised by these measurements as my testing indicated that the Slide (open) and standard High Fidelity plug offer a very different attenuation profile. This suggests that the devices do not share the same acoustic filter system. The Slide (open) can be seen having a more sloped attenuation profile with greater attenuation of the higher frequencies. For example, my measurements indicated an average 13 dB of attenuation at 250 Hz compared to roughly 37 dB of attenuation at 4000 Hz. With the Slide moved to a closed position, a significant increase in attenuation was observed across the frequency spectrum.
Figure 1: Average attenuation characteristics of the Eargasm High Fidelity and Slide earplugs. Both the open and closed slider positions are available and can be seen offering different amounts of attenuation.
Figure 2 shows the effects of possible user error regarding the acoustic filter. The response under normal conditions can be seen in blue for reference. The black like corresponds to insufficient insertion of the acoustic filter within the earplugs rear silicone sleeve. As previously mentioned, insertion can be difficult. Based on my testing, shallow insertion decreased sound attenuation below roughly 2000 Hz.
A second test was performed with the acoustic filter inserted backwards. As there is no front/back indicator, I can see the filter being accidentally reversed when switching between the standard and smaller ear tip sizes. This nearly occurred organically during my testing. This is depicted by the gray line and variance from the expected profile, i.e. blue line, can be seen in various regions.
Figure 2: Attenuation of the High Fidelity earplug in normal use can be seen. The effects of (1) insufficient filter insertion and (2) reversed filter insertion within the silicone earplug are juxtaposed to illustrate possible effects of user error.
Do Eargasm High Fidelity Plugs Offer 16dBs of Attenuation?
Tests with the Eargasm High Fidelity plugs indicated a NRR of roughly 17dBs which is consistent with their 16 decibel rating. However, measurements with the Eargasm Slide amounted to a range from 21 to 40 dBs. This is considerably more than their 15 to 22 dB rating and it is well beyond the maximum ratings we can generally expect for this style of hearing protection device, i.e. 33 decibels.
This can be attributed to the test manikin my measurements arise from. Metal and plastic hardly approximate the physical properties of a human head and therefore do not account for the roughly 40 to 60 dB attenuation limitations observed when testing on humans². Furthermore, the miniDSP EARS may not meet international standards for anthropomorphic head and torso simulators. However, these numbers support that the Slide in a closed position may offer near the maximum amount of attenuation possible from an earplug style hearing protection device. This is notable and an important consideration for those with greater sound sensitivities and for those with exposures to extreme acoustic environments.
My experience with Eargasm devices was favorable. Their High Fidelity plugs offer remarkably linear attenuation. Though I struggled initially obtaining a good seal, the sound quality was worth it. The Eargasm Slide is also a useful device offering adjustable attenuation for a modest price.
I would have expected the Slide to function more similarly to their High Fidelity plugs when in the open position but regardless, it has a lot to offer for a variable style device.
For those interested in Eargasm products, it may be worth ordering a size down from what you would normally need. I also recommend looking into their keychain cases even if you prefer another earplug manufacturer due to the quality, size, and low cost.
Where to Buy
Purchase Eargasm: https://hearingtrack.com/eargasm
Get 10% off Eargasm with promo code HEARINGTRACKER10.
My Rating: Eargasm High-Fidelity
Eargasm’s High-Fidelity plugs offer fantastic sound quality for a universal fit earplug. My biggest complaint is the seemingly larger shell, or ear tip, size which made getting a good fit difficult. However, the included case is unrivaled and a nice addition.
All ratings on a 5-point scale with 5 being the best.
My Rating: Eargasm Slide
While they don’t sound as good as Eargasm High-Fidelity plugs, they are a strong contender. The adjustable attenuation means they are highly versatile and with the array of attachable ear tips you can further customize your fit. The enlarged keychain case is a fantastic inclusion.
All ratings on a 5-point scale with 5 being the best.
- ANSI (2016) (R2020). American National Standards Methods for Measuring the Real-Ear Attenuation of Hearing Protectors. ANSI S12.6-2016 (R2020). Acoustical Society of America, Melville, NY.
- Berger E.H., Kerivan J.E. (1983). “Influence of physiological noise and the occlusion effect on the measurement of real-ear attenuation at threshold." J Acoust Soc Am. 74(1):81-94.