Last updated: 15 September, 2017
Regularly going to loud concerts and gigs can cause long-term hearing damage. Concerts can be as loud as 120 dB or above, which is well above the recommended safe limit of 85 dB. So if you’re a music lover who regularly goes to gigs, you should really protect your ears with ear plugs unless you want to risk damaging them.
You might be worried that wearing ear plugs will make the music sound muffled, not to mention making you look uncool! However, some ear plugs are designed to reduce sound without affecting the sound quality, and many are discrete and transparent rather than brightly coloured.
Best Ear Plugs for Concerts in the UK
After researching the market we’ve picked out what we consider to be the top 5 best ear plugs for concerts you can get in the UK in 2017.
1. EarPeace HD High Fidelity Hearing Protection
These EarPeace HD ear plugs somehow manage to reduce the volume of the gig without affecting the clarity of the sound. They come with two filters, medium and high, so you can choose to block out more or less sound depending on how loud the gig is.
They’re made from medical-grade silicone which means they adapt to fit the size and shape of your ears. They come in three skin-tone colours, so you can wear them without anyone noticing. You also get a small metal case for keeping them safe and clean, which you can attach to a keychain.
These earplugs are very effective at reducing noise and preventing your ears from ringing the next day. They’re ideal for concerts and music festivals as they dampen the sound down to a safe level without making it sound muffled. Plus they come in skin-tone colours so you won’t feel self conscious wearing them!
2. LiveMus!c HearSafe Ear Plugs
The LiveMus!c HearSafe Ear Plugs come with an aluminium carrying case and are designed to last for 6-30 months of regular use. The filter is designed to reduce harmful frequencies without hindering your enjoyment of music, which means they reduce the volume without changing how the music sounds overall.
The pack comes with two different filters: a white filter with a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 29 dB, and a green one with an NNR of 23 dB. This means the ear plugs can reduce volumes by roughly 23 or 29 decibels.
These ear plugs are great for concerts as they manage to reduce sounds across a range of frequencies without making the music sound muffled. This is in contrast to some ear plugs that disproportionately block out high frequencies. The handy carrying case also makes it easy to take them to a gig or festival without losing them or getting them dirty.
3. Alpine MusicSafe Pro Filter Ear Plugs for Musicians
The Alpine MusicSafe Pro Filter Ear Plugs are designed for musicians but are also ideal for concert-goers. They can be bought in white, black or silver and come with three different filters (low, medium and high). They also come with a compact storage box which will keep your ear plugs safe and clean.
These ear plugs don’t contain any silicone, so they could be a good choice for people who experience an itchy feeling when wearing silicone ear plugs.
The Alpine MusicSafe Pro Filter Ear Plugs are considerably more expensive than regular ear plugs, but they can be cleaned and re-used lots of times, making them a good investment if you’re a regular gig-goer.
4. Alpine PartyPlug 2015
These ear plugs are designed for parties, clubbing and going to gigs, and come in a choice of four colours: white, black, silver and transparent. They use AlpineAcousticFilters which are designed to allow you to still communicate with people around you and not feel disconnected.
Alpine are a highly respected manufacturer of ear plugs who have put years of research into these ear plugs. These ear plugs are discrete so it shouldn’t be obvious to people around you that you’re wearing ear plugs.
One of the best things about these ear plugs is that they come with a very small storage case you can attach to a keyring, so you won’t forget to take them to the next gig you go to. Like the Alpine MusicSafe ear plugs reviewed above, these ear plugs can also be washed so you can reuse them lots of times.
5. 3M E.A.R Clear Earplugs – Invisible Ear Plugs for Concerts
3M E.A.R ear plugs are designed to be practically invisible, meaning you can wear them to a gig without looking silly. They have a SNR rating of 20 dB, meaning that they reduce the volume of sounds hitting you ear drums by 20 dB.
These ear plugs are designed for wearing to gigs, and they work well to protect your hearing. However, they do seem to block out certain frequencies more than others, which means they slightly affect how the music sounds.
These ear plugs are cheaper than some of the other products reviewed above, so you won’t lose much by buying a pair to try out. They’re also made by 3M, who are one of the biggest names in the hearing protection industry, so you can expect them to be made to a high standard.
Ear Plugs for Concerts – Buying Guide
You could buy some plain ear plugs for taking to a gig, concert or music festival, but there are certain features that make some ear plugs better than others for these purposes.
Here are a few qualities of the best ear plugs for concerts:
They don’t completely block the sound: If you use ear plugs that are simply designed to reduce noises then you might find the music sounds too quiet or muffled. Ear plugs specially designed for concerts have filters which block out harmful frequencies without making the music sound muffled. They can actually make music sound better as they give the music a more balanced sound.
They look cool or you can’t notice them at all: One of the main reasons why so few concert-goers wear ear plugs is because they don’t look very good. Some ear plugs are designed to be almost invisible, while others have funky, colourful designs. This will make you feel less embarrassed wearing ear plugs!
They’re comfy: Uncomfy ear plugs could ruin your gig experience, or mean you give up on them altogether. The best ear plugs use soft and comfortable materials that will adapt to the size and shape of your ears.
They offer real protection: You should buy ear plugs that have been proven to offer real protection. You can compare their SNR or NNR ratings to see how much protection they provide.
Concert Ear Plugs FAQs
Where can you buy ear plugs for concerts?
Rather than just going to Boots and buying some plain ear plugs, it’s a good idea to look for some specialist ear plugs designed for concert-goers instead. You can often find them in music shops, though they will probably be cheaper online. All of the ear plugs reviewed above be found on Amazon.
How loud are concerts?
Indoor classical concerts can be as quiet as 70 decibels, but amplified rock concerts are typically over 100 decibels, usually closer to 120 decibels.
Decibels use a logarithmic rather than linear scale. This means that for every 10 decibels (dB) added, the volume sounds twice as loud. For example, 110 dB sounds twice as loud as 100 dB.
If you want to know precisely how loud the concert you’re at is, you can use a decibel meter app on your phone. See this article for some recommendations.
When should you wear ear plugs?
Most experts recommend wearing ear plugs whenever you’re exposed to sounds over 85 decibels for an extended period of time. This is the volume at which the UK government’s Health and Safety Executive require employers to provide hearing protection. This is roughly the same volume as a food blender or a milling machine.
Classical concerts are usually less than 90 decibels, but rock concerts are typically around 120 decibels. Therefore, it’s advisable to wear ear plugs to any amplified concert.
Given that noise-induced hearing loss is on the rise in the UK, it makes a lot of sense to protect your hearing before it’s too late.