Best Earplugs for Musicians – Eliminate the Risks of Playing Live

It doesn’t take 15 years of playing live to tell you that things tend to get loud on stage. The more aggressive the musical genre, the more at risk you are at developing tinnitus or hearing loss. It doesn’t happen to everyone but that doesn’t mean it’s not a possibility.

While earplugs might seem like something for the elderly, it’s important for a professional musician to understand their importance.

If you look closely at most concerts these days, you’ll often see lead guitarists, vocalists and drummers wearing ear plugs. So, why shouldn’t you protect yourself like the rest of the pros?

5 Best Earplugs for Musicians for Indoor and Outdoor Performances

Professionals deserve the best and they need the best equipment. Here are my top picks in musicians' earplugs.

These earplugs are rated for high protection. They are engineered with layers of special filters which help reduce the volume in order to prevent hearing loss from constant or long-term exposure to dangerous decibel levels that are common during live performances.

They’re also made for musicians first and foremost. While lowering the volume they also use filters to ensure that the sound quality is not lost along the way.

The level of comfort is quite good and you also get three exchangeable acoustic filters. This extends the amount of time you can get full use of the Alpine MusicSafe Pro.

  • Reduce volume
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    Maintain clear sound quality
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    Exchangeable acoustic filters
  • You have to choose your filter for the occasion

If you’re in the business of playing extremely loud you’ll enjoy this pair of earplugs from Crioxen. They can reduce the decibel levels by up to 25dB, which is a lot even by professional standards.

You can get plenty of use out of them for rock, metal, and extreme metal concerts. You can also use them on the airplane or on an adventurous outdoor trip, wherever noise cancellation is useful. It’s always nice to have a multi-purpose piece of equipment as you never know when you might need it.

The sound quality is not the greatest. However, considering that these are designed for extreme situations, you won’t lose too much while wearing them.

  • Superior durability
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    High noise reduction
  • Doesn’t work as well for pop, soft rock, and softer genres
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    Not the most comfortable design

This set is a perfect example of earplugs designed for indoor and outdoor performances. They have superior sound quality retention which makes them great for live performers and DJs mixing in packed clubs.

They also come with a good sealing mechanism to cover the ear and stay in place over a long period of time. This also prevents them from falling out if you dance or move a lot.

You can also choose between medium, high, and maximum protection depending on the genre or power of the stage equipment. You don’t have to worry about storage either as they come with an aluminum case for maximum protection.

  • Superior sound quality
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    Works indoors and outdoors
  • Average noise reduction

These aren’t your traditional foam earplugs. The attenuation filters used in the HearSafe Ear Plugs do a great job of avoiding distortion and muffling the sound of guitars, drums, voice, and any other instrument you hear on stage.

The triple flange design is used in combination with the conical shape. This makes for a secure fit inside the ear canal and reduces the chance of soreness after using them for multiple hours at a time.

The material is hypoallergenic and because of the design, the HearSafe Ear Plugs can be used by a wide range of users. That means you won’t have to measure them to figure out if they fit or not.

  • Hypoallergenic silicone
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    Superior filters
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    Custom fit
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  • Noise reduction not as good as advertised

The ER20XS fits many users. This is partly because you get three pairs of ear plugs that are different in size but follow the same 3-flange design.

These ear plugs enjoy popularity among musicians as they can lower the decibel levels by up to 20dB without losing sound quality. They still offer a good balance between low, mid, and high frequencies.

The ergonomic design is good but some professionals seem to think that the ER20XS can create a bit of unwanted pressure. Regardless, this is a matter of preference or opinion.

You also get accessories such as a carry case, neck cord, and interchangeable eartips and foam tips if you’re not satisfied with the silicone material.

  • Great size variety
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    Ergonomic design
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    Superior sound quality
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    Good noise cancellation
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    Multiple accessories includedo
  • The tight fit can create some unwanted pressure

Choosing the Right Fit

There’s a difference between earplugs for musicians and earplugs for the audience. Professional earplugs are first of all comfortable. They are made so that the musician can wear them day after day while on tour.

Consumer-grade earplugs reduce the volume but they are never comfortable enough to wear for more than a couple of hours. They often leave you with sore ears.

If you are to pick something, make sure you to get a pair you can wear for a long time. It may be tempting to get cheap consumer-grade earplugs that reduce the decibel levels more but your ears won’t thank you for the choice.

How Earplugs Improve Sound Quality for Musicians

When you’re performing live your whole body is trembling. The sound is loud, the vibrations are intense, and the atmosphere gives you a jolt of energy and adrenaline.

Professional earplugs, while they do lower the volume, they don’t really change the sound quality. Not all of them anyway. It’s important that you focus on getting a pair that doesn’t alter the quality at all if possible.

With the volume lowered and the quality untouched, you’ll actually be able to better distinguish the instruments, riffs, and certain tonalities that your band is playing around with.

Lowering the Onstage Volume is Not as Bad as it Sounds

If you’ve been a professional musician for some time then you already know the importance of sound balance and volume balance during live performances. However, you can’t always achieve that just by tinkering at the mixing table.

Some of the best earplugs for musicians are designed to reduce the sound level by at least 15dB. That’s a significant drop from say 120dB that you would get at a rock concert. It’s also not low enough to ruin the sound.

If you want to pursuit a long-term career, you should know that safe dB levels are usually below 85dB. Long-term exposure to absurd sound pressure levels during live gigs and recording sessions will only serve to mess up your auditory senses in the long run.

Wrap Up

If you’re young you’re probably still too brave or too shy to wear proper ear protection during live performances. With that being said, if you get a professional set of ear plugs you’ll only improve your stage experience and extend your career by a number of years.

Hearing loss and tinnitus are no laughing matters. It’s true that loud noises don’t affect everyone the same way but there’s nothing worse for a musician than to develop a hearing condition. Why not just be better safe than sorry?

Gavin Whitner
    Gavin Whitner

    A guitar player, lyricist, composer, and also the lead editor of MusicOomph, Gavin is one of the four musician friends behind this site. Outside of music, he's an avid sports fan and hardly misses anything from football (soccer) to F1.

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