Best Ear Protection for Musicians (UK 2017)

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If music is your passion, hearing is your most important sense. You should start protecting it now before it’s too late. Many musicians find that their hearing deteriorates significantly as they get older, and many develop tinnitus (permanent ringing in the ears).

Thankfully, there are is a wide range of affordable hearing protection options musicians can use, from cheap basic ear plugs to expensive custom-made ones.

Won’t it affect my ability to play live?

Many musicians avoid wearing ear plugs as they believe ear plugs will affect the levels of the sounds they hear and make it harder for them to play live. This can be true if you use regular ear plugs rather than ones designed for musicians.

If you get a high-quality pair of premoulded ear plugs designed specifically for musicians, however, this won’t happen. A good pair of ear plugs will protect your hearing without affecting the clarity of the sound you hear. Some come with interchangeable filters that offer different levels of protection. You can also get custom-moulded ear plugs which will provide a better fit, but will cost you more.

Do I really need ear protection?

Ear plugs are recommended for all kinds of musicians, not just stadium rockers. If you regularly practice or perform in a band or orchestra, your hearing is at risk unless you use ear protection.

Whether you’re a singer, drummer or violinist, investing in professional ear protection is an excellent idea.

Recommended Ear Plugs for Musicians

Below are some of the best ear plugs designed for musicians and vocalists.

Alpine MusicSafe Pro Filter Ear Plugs for Musicians

These musician’s ear plugs are made by Alpine Hearing Protection and come with three different acoustic filter sets in three colours: white, black and silver. These ear plugs are nice and soft and should adapt well to the size of your ears, even if they’re smaller than average.

You get three ear plugs rather than two, which is great as it’s easy to lose an ear plug. They also come with a travel box for keeping them clean and safe.

These ear plugs are excellent value for money. They aren’t the cheapest ear plugs available, but they offer a comfortable and effective way of protecting your hearing while gigging or practicing.
>>> See price and read reviews on Amazon <<<

EarPeace HD High Fidelity Hearing Protection

These ear plugs are designed for people in the music industry. They come in a choice of three skin-colour tones to make them as discreet as possible. Like with the Alpine MusicSafe Pro Filter Ear Plugs, you get three ear plugs rather than just two, so there’s a spare ear plug in case you lose one.

These ear plugs have been endorsed by Metallica and the music festival Lollapallooza. They reduce the volume of sounds without distorting them or changing the balance of frequencies. One of the best things about these ear plugs is that they camouflage very well with your ears, unlike other ear plugs that stick out like a sore thumb.
>>> See price and read reviews on Amazon <<<

DownBeats Reusable High Fidelity Hearing Protection

These ear plugs are designed for concert-goers, but are great for performing musicians as well. They come with a small aluminium case that can be easily attached to a keyring, wallet or bag, meaning you won’t forget to take them with you to gigs or concerts .

DownBeats Reusable High Fidelity ear plugs have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 18 dB. They are relatively discrete as they’re made from clear plastic, but they’re more noticeable than the EarPeace HD ear plugs reviewed above.

>>> See price and read reviews on Amazon <<<

Ear defenders for drummers

The drums are one of the loudest instruments, so it’s a good idea to use ear protection when practicing as well as performing. While you will probably prefer to use discrete ear plugs for gigs, ear defenders that go over the ears are comfier for using while practicing.

Vic Firth Drummer’s Ear Defenders

These ear defenders reduce the volume of the sound hitting your ear drums by 25 dB, which offers a good level of protection for practicing. The fit can be adjusted to suit the size of your head, and the ear pads feature broad foam cushions for added comfort. These ear defenders are effective at reducing harmful volumes without undermining your ability to hear detailed and clear sounds.

>>> See price and read reviews on Amazon <<<

FSL Decimate Safety Earmuff

These earmuffs have an impressive Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 34dB. They’re designed not just for drummers, but for outdoor sports like shooting as well. This means they’re built to be very durable, so you can take them with you on the road without worrying about them getting damaged.

>>> See price and read reviews on Amazon <<<

GVDV Ear Defender

These ear defenders have an NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) of 30 decibels. They have a comfy padded headband and are very light, so you’ll hardly notice you’re wearing them.

>>> See price and read reviews on Amazon <<<

See more recommended ear protection for drummers here.

Noise-cancelling headphones

With noise-cancelling headphones, you can listen to the track you’re playing along to at a safe volume. These are especially useful for drummers who have no control over the volume of their instrument. One advantage of using noise-cancelling headphones over ear defenders or ear plugs is you can use them to listen to music when you’re not playing your instrument.

Some of the most popular noise-cancelling headphones among drummers and other musicians are reviewed below.

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones

These wireless noise-cancelling headphones aren’t cheap, but they offer an impressive combination of effective noise reduction and high sound quality. Bose are famous for their superior sound engineering, and these headphones are really state-of-the-art.

These headphones can be used with or without wires. When you use them in wireless mode you won’t get your instrument tangled up in wires, meaning you can focus on playing your instrument without worrying about cables getting in the way.

If music is a major part of your life, these headphones are worth the high price tag. However, Bose don’t provide an NRR (Noise Reduction Rating), so it’s hard to know exactly how much protection these headphones provide.

>>> See price and read reviews on Amazon <<<

TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones In Ear Earphones

These in-ear headphones are much cheaper than the Bose headphones reviewed above. They are wired, but you might not mind this if you’re playing along to music on an MP3 player or phone in your pocket. They reduce outside noise by up to 30 dB when you’re playing music through them.

These earphones are comfy and affordable, and much safer to use than regular earphones if you listen to music while practicing.
>>> See price and read reviews on Amazon <<<

Custom-made ear plugs

Your ears are unique, so custom-made ear plugs are a good way to make sure your ear plugs offer a comfortable fit.  Getting ear plugs custom made will take longer and be more expensive than buying some online or in a shop, but will usually offer better protection and more comfort. You will usually need to see an audiologist who will make impressions of your ears in order to create ear plugs to fit the size and shape of your ears.

Several companies offer custom-made ear plugs, including Musicians’ Hearing Services and ACS.

Conclusion

There’s no single best pair of ear plugs or ear defenders that will work for everyone. The right ear protection for you depends on your unique needs and budget.

Unless you get custom-made ear plugs, you might just need to try a few different pairs of ear plugs to get the best fit and experience.

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