Best Ear Plugs for Musicians

Ear Plugs For Musicians

​​If you're looking for the best ear plugs for musicians ​in 2018, ​​this will save you a lot of time.

​We've thouroughly reviewed ​5 mid-priced leading brands ​​to find ​the best ​ear plugs for ​different musical environments​.


For the love of your ears, that's why.

​You're a musician, you know the feeling after a ​loud rehearsal. ​I experienced it recently. The drums had left my ears ​singing and ​I knew they had taken a beating. I realized that if I did this once too often​, there would be a heavy price to pay.

​It led me to imagine what ​life would be like ​without hearing. No music. It's a ​terrifying thought. ​For an avid musician, it is ​​​my worst nightmare. I would be lost.​ Homeless​.

​Even if you escape this, you're still at risk of tinnitus​, ​a condition ​which causes constant ​high pitched sound in the ears​. Trust me, it's not worth it.

​​​I suddenly became very aware of ​my precious ​gift​, and with the room still ​​ringing, I decided to start ​​showing my ears ​some love. I​t was ​time to ​​get a pair ​of ear plugs.

​Finding a good brand was easier said than done - it sent me down a rabbit hole. ​I came across a whole world of stuff ​I had no idea about. ​​NRR? SRR? What features am I even looking for?

I ​did eventually come out the other side​, and​ I believe I now have a great pair. I also hope ​I can ​give you a crash course ​in how to choose the best ear plugs for you​​.

Disclaimer - I''m not a doctor, this is not medical advice.

​Is Loud Sound Really That Bad?

​Yes. Exposure to ​loud music for long periods ​can cause irreparable damage to the eardrums. Did I say irreparable? Forever.

Ear diagram

The​ louder the music, the shorter ​you can ​be exposed to it without sustaining damage.

​Experts recommend you use some form of ear protection if sounds levels go above 9​0 dB.

​For reference, here are ​sound levels in decibels of various ​musical environments​. ​Taken ​from ​this report ​by E​KU:

​Sound Levels of ​Musical​ Instruments in dB


​Level in Decibels

​​Piano, acoustic guitar practice


​A loud singer, no amp


Chamber music, small auditorium 

75 - 85dB

Loud ​piano​

84 - 103 dB


8​2 - 111 dB

​Woodwind & Brass

​85 - 114dB

​Bass drums

​106 dB

​A symphony at peak

120 - 137dB

​Rock band performing/rehearsing


​Concert (E.g rock, dance) at peak

​150 dB

Rocket launcher - Death of hearing tissue


Yes you read that right. Death of hearing tissue​.

It's not all bad. And hopefully you're in time. For starters, get an idea of just how loud the environment is that you play in.​

​TIP: There are plenty of free apps for your phone that will measure sound levels in dB.Try Decibel X for iPhone or Sound Meter for Android.

​Get an app and use ​it at your next rehearsal to test the level of a particularly loud section. Now you know what your maximum level is.

​This can help in choosing your ear plugs.​

TIP: Get ear plugs that only reduce the volume as much as is needed.

​Best Ear Plugs for Musicians Specifically

​As a general starting point, we're looking to meet the needs of a professional or serious hobbyist musician. These are reusable ​hypoallergenic silicone ​ear plugs for concerts​, performances​ or rehearsal - essentially for live music.

These might double up for sleeping and travel, but they are not for ​shooting​. They are not cheap foam ear plugs either.

​As musos we​ need:

  • ​Volume reduction from ​1​0-​​30dB
  • ​​Even noise reduction ​across the frequency spectrum (or close to)
  • Comfort
  • ​​Discretion - hidden​ for performances
  • Easy to use​, durable
  • Reasonable price


We're looking the $20 - $30. range.

As musicians, it's always good to save a buck or two. We're trying to keep the budget tight, but we also realize that your ears are our most valuable asset.

​We're not looking for the best earplugs in the world, but we won't ​bother with the cheapest ear buds either.

Price range


per pair

​Good to Know

​Even the best ear plugs in the world ​will not reduce all frequencies e​venly. ​

Lower frequencies (bass) are much harder to reduce than higher frequencies (treble). ​What this means is that on average, ear plugs ​reduce high frequencies more.

​Good earplugs do a ​decent job of addressing this​, and the brands designed specifically for musicians are ​even better. 

​If you get the right earplugs, this shouldn't be an issue.

​The Contenders

​We've g​athered and compared the data ​for the ​5 best ear plugs for musicians. ​​We collected sound reduction data across a range of frequencies for ​different brands​.

​These are the brands and model​s, along with the Noise Reduction Rating (a sort of average reduction) and prices on Amazon:

​Brand & Model

​Noise Reduction Rating

​Price ​on Amazon

​Etymotic High Fidelity Earplugs, ER20XS

​1​2 dB

​Ear Dial Earplugs

​​12.2 dB

​Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs

​19 dB

​Alpine Musicsafe Ear Plugs

​8-16 dB

​EarPeace HD High Fidelity Hearing Protection

​11-19 dB


Without boring you​, when testing ear plugs​, noise reduction is measured in decibels across various frequencies. Ear plugs are also given an overall rating. In the US this ​is NRR (Noise Reduction Rating). The higher this number, the more sound reduction the ear plugs provide.

In addition to a NRR that fits our environment, we want ear plugs that reduce frequencies evenly. ​This mean the sound will still remain clear.

This is assessed by measuring ​each ​brand's sound reduction at various frequencies.

​The sound reduction ​of each brand at 7 frequency ​points was compared - 125, 250, 500, 1000, 2000, 4000 and 8000 Hz. ​​

The Data

​This was provided by each of the manufacturers. Tests are usually conducted by an outside agency.

​If it looks complicated, don't sweat it​. We'll do the hard work.



​125 Hz

​250 Hz

​500 Hz

​1000 Hz

​2000 Hz

​4000 Hz

​8000 Hz



























































​The Results

Best Ear Plugs for Musicians - comparison graph

​The first thing to notice is that all the ear plugs have the same basic shape​, a downward slope, ​which is ​as expected. They all reduce on average more​ high​ frequencies. ​​

There are ​ enough differences to warrant a closer look.

​Note: T​he EarPeace ​Medium and Max (pink and black lines) are ​​two settings for the same product​.​

  • Some brands ​reduce ​a lot of volume and others less​. This does not make them better, it just means ​they suit different environments. 
  • Some brands reduce certain frequencies more than others. This means ​that some are closer to a horizontal line than others.

Using this, we have worked out which ear plugs are best for ​various levels and musical environments.

Our Recommendations

​We chose 3 winners​ in these categories

  1. Medium Volume
  2. ​High volume
  3. Very high volume

#1 Best earplugs for ​​medium ​volumes

For​ 85 - 120 dB: ​Loud piano, strings, woodwind & brass, bass drums, symphonies 

Best ear plugs banner - 85-120 dB

Etymotic High Fidelity Earplugs, ER20XS

In our minds, these had the most even frequency response. They are ​our best choice for medium volume levels - piano, chamber music, acoustic guitar and voice.

Fantastic ear plugs, highly rated, performed well.

They ​have a reduction of 1​2 dB, which is good for medium volume environments, but would not suit loud music ​over 115 dB.

What We Like

  • Strong test results

What We Don't Like

  • Not specifically designed for musicians - although they perform very well
  • ​They are slightly visible


  • check
    ​The most even ​frequency and volume reduction
  • check
    C​lear sound​
  • check
    ​Well established company


  • ​Can be fiddly to remove
  • ​More visible

#1 Best earplugs for ​high ​volumes

For ​1​10 - 125 dB​: Drums, ​amplified electric guitars, ​bass, hi-hats, amplified music, symphonies

Best ear plugs banner - 110-125 dB

Ear Dial Earplugs

These are our best choice for amplified music.

What We Like:

  • They are small, transparent and have an ​even frequency reduction
  • They are also a Kickstarter project which is kinda cool. 5% of profits go to charity.
  • They come with an app that measures the sound level and tells you how long you can safely stay at that volume. I thought it would be gimmicky but it's actually quite useful.
  • They also come with a keychain holder to attach it to your keys, instrument or bag.

What We Don't Like:

  • The keychain holder ​is small​ and it can be tricky to get the earplugs out. ​​Someone suggested putting a piece of tissue in the case so the ear buds don't ​get pushed too far down.
  • ​A few people have struggled to get them out of the ear. Manufacturer urges you to follow the instructions carefully when inserting them.


  • check
    ​Even ​frequency and volume reduction
  • check
    ​Almost invisible
  • check
    ​Comes with an app​


  • ​Can be fiddly to remove from holder

#1 Best earplugs for ​​​very high ​volumes

For ​​125 - 140 dB: Loud concerts, heavy metal, EDM, dance music, heavy bass

Best ear plugs banner - 125-140 dB

Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs

What We Like:

  • These provided the most reduction and still maintained good frequency response
  • A good all round heavy duty pair of ear plugs too
  • Product has been improved in 2018

What We Don't Like:

  • More visible


  • check
    ​​Heavy duty sound reduction
  • check
    ​Company is innovating
  • check
    ​Well established company


  • ​More visible


The competition was tough and all the earplugs we tested are of decent quality​. ​These 2 great earplugs may suit your needs better.

Alpine Musicsafe Pro Ear Plugs

What We Like:

  • T​hree ​filters for low, medium and high protection

What We Don't Like:

  • You need an attachment (supplied) to insert the ear plugs
  • ​Changing filters at a show is tricky
  • ​The carrying case​ ​is a bit flimsy


  • check
    ​Interchangeable filters 
  • check
    ​Almost invisible
  • check


  • ​Can be ​tricky to ​insert
  • ​Case and small parts make the job fiddly

​EarPeace HD High Fidelity Hearing Protection

What we like:

  • Three settings for low, medium and high protection

What we don't like:

  • Can be fiddl​y to remove
  • More visible than some of the other choices


  • check
    ​3 interchangeable filters
  • check
    ​Good general purpose ear plugs


  • ​Some users have struggled to remove them
  • ​Sound quality not as good as the Eargasm
  • ​​More visible

​Final Thoughts

​I hope this review of the best ear plugs for musicians helped you to ​choose a great pair​.

Whatever you decide to do, look after your ears. Even if you play only occasionally, you should ​have a pair to give your ears a rest from ​overuse.

It would be good to see a specialist every now and then for an assessment of your hearing​.

​Tip: Look for colleges or universities that give free 6-month check-ups from Audiology students (part of the Linguistics Department).

​Be wary of damage and if you experience any deterioration consult an ear specialist immediately. 

Your ears are worth it!


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