Festival season is finally fully back on the agenda, and we’re ready. But if the silence of lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that music booming through speakers so loudly they’re trembling, can’t be doing our hearing any favours.
And indeed, it doesn’t. Earlier this year, for World Hearing Day, the WHO warned that around one billion people between the ages of 12 and 35 risk losing their hearing because of prolonged exposure to loud music and other sounds at bars, clubs, concerts and sporting events. So, it’s not without reason that more and more people are investing in a pair of earplugs before heading to their next weekender.
Normal conversations reach a level of around 60 decibels (dB), and exposure to levels of 70dB or higher for a prolonged period of time can start to damage your hearing. At nightclubs, bars, gigs and concerts, it’s not unusual for music to exceed 100dB, which was reason enough for the WHO to suggest stricter noise limits.
One way to protect your hearing is to wear earplugs to these events. High-fidelity earplugs in particular are designed to even out the music more and filter out the noise, rather than muffle it completely. They’re also made to last, as opposed to generic foam earplugs, as you can remove the filter and wash the ear tips to keep reusing them.
Earplugs can reduce the amount of noise by between 15-30dB, and you’ll want to aim to bring your exposure down to around 75-85dB for a safer experience, while still being able to enjoy the performance of your favourite artists.
How we tested
While we didn’t have any festivals scheduled during the testing period, we took these earplugs out for a spin while listening to live music and can testify that every single pair included in this round-up made a massive difference.
They all came with instructions on how to use and clean them, and for each of these earplugs, we tried changing the ear tips and cleaning (which was quite a fidgety job). We also wore them for at least four hours in a row to make sure they were comfortable enough to wear to a gig or concert, and did a little dance to check they wouldn’t fall out – imagine trying to look for an earplug in a busy nightclub. We gave extra credit for earplugs that came with different tip sizes, as one size usually doesn’t fit all, and who actually knows the size of their ear canal?
- Best overall – Fender professional hi-fi earplugs: £22.49, Fender.com
- Best for style – Loop experience earplugs: £29.95, Loopearplugs.com
- Best for F1 fans – Alpine partyplug pro natrual: £25.95, Alpinehearingprotection.co.uk
- Best adjustable earplugs – D’Addario dbud volume adjustable earplugs: £62, Amazon.com
- Best for invisibility – Vibes hi-fidelity earplugs: £24.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best unboxing experience – Eargasm high fidelity earplugs: £58.95, Amazon.co.uk
- Best foam earplugs – Flare isolate ear protectors: From £12.99, Flareaudio.com
- Best mobile app combination – EarDial hi-fi invisible earplugs: £24.87, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for a rave – Blox xperience reusable earplugs: £36.54, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for those who lose things – Earpeace music hi-fi hearing protection: £29.95, Amazon.co.uk