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Music sounds better when it’s turned up, but there’s a difference between being immersed in a song and completely blasting your ears. Whether you need something to help you focus on the music or want to prevent hearing loss, it helps to pick up a pair of earplugs before heading to your next concert or festival.
More and more people are using earplugs these days, and not for the reasons you think. Whereas traditional earplugs are meant to muffle, the best music earplugs won’t completely block out noise, but rather spread the noise out more evenly, to maintain a full spectrum of sound — at way more manageable levels. The best earplugs are designed to let music and voices through, while filtering out background noise. That way, you still hear the singer or track, without say, being distracted by conversation around you.
Musicians also like earplugs to help protect their ears while playing; they’re especially popular with drummers and other percussionists, who don’t want their hearing to be compromised over time.
It’s not just for music though. The best new earplugs also work well for air travel (helping with altitude discomfort), riding your motorcycle and other everyday activities where you want a little noise reduction without completely sealing off the environment around you.
And while those generic foam earplugs will do the job if you want to doze off, they’re often made from a cheap material that’s less durable and prone to falling out of your ears. Foam earplugs are also stuffier and less comfortable to wear for long periods of time. And that neon orange or yellow color? Not exactly subtle.
We’ve rounded up some well-made earplugs constructed from a super soft and durable silicone material. They’re more flexible and form to your ears, creating a tighter seal. They’re less conspicuous too, with a translucent or frosted finish, to make them more discreet. Many of our picks are also washable and reusable, and come with a carrying case for easy storage.
To protect your hearing loss without missing the music, here are the best earplugs to pick up.
1. Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs
With two different sized earplug “shells” included with each set, you’ll be able to find a pair of plugs that fits your ears more effortlessly and comfortably.
These earplugs are made from a soft and flexible silicone, that’s comfortable for prolonged wear (say, at a music festival, or to sleep). The material is also hypoallergenic and won’t cause itching. A waterproof rubber seal keeps out moisture, dust and debris.
This set includes an aluminum case with a keyring for easy attaching to your keychain or bag.
PROS: Hypoallergenic silicone won’t irritate your skin.
CONS: Takes a little while to “settle” comfortably into your ears.
2. Hearprotek Concert Earplugs
Earplugs build up a lot of gunk over time, which is why we like these washable plugs from Hearprotek Music. They’re great for helping to turn down the volume and for blocking out excess noise, while the silicone material is durable and comfortable. An ergonomic shape mirrors the shape of your ear canals, for a more natural fit.
What we like: these earplugs are washable with a little soap and warm water. Pat dry and they’re ready to use again — minus the dirt and grime.
This set includes two sizes of 20db ear plugs, an aluminum case, a carabiner and a user manual.
PROS: Blocks out background noise without muffling voices or music.
CONS: Must remove plastic attenuation filter before washing.
3. Savears High Fidelity Silicone Earplugs
These earplugs are slightly smaller than other models on our list, making them great for those with smaller ears or more sensitive earlobes. Savears says the flexible material forms and molds to the shape of your ears, for a more secure fit. The tight seal blocks out water, dust and dirt too.
These earplugs are made from a non-toxic and hypoallergenic silicone that won’t itch or irritate. What we like: their transparent color means they’re more discreet and less conspicuous.
This set comes with two sizes of earplugs, a carrying case and a carabineer.
PROS: Smaller, more streamlined design makes these plugs comfortable to wear under hats, helmets and headbands.
CONS: Those with larger ears may want to consider other sets on our list.