In our latest entry in our ear plug demystification series, we’ll be taking a look at Happy Ears Ear Plugs. Like Loop, the Swedish owned company promise a lot but do they actually deliver? On the sustainability front, absolutely, and we applaud Happy Ears for making some of their ear plugs from ocean plastics and other recycled materials. But when it comes to performance we can’t help but feel they leave a lot to be desired.
As usual we’ll break down the promises and argue what we think you should be using instead.
By far and away the most common problem Happy Ears promote their ear plugs as solving is sleep, e.g. snoring partner or other loud unwanted noises in the bedroom. “So Long Foam Ear Plugs” their ads boldly claim. It’s a neat line, but foam ear plugs are a decades old sleep solution for a reason. They block considerably more sound than a reusable silicone ear plug like the Happy Ears is capable of, plus they’re generally quite a bit more comfortable to boot. In my experience, I start getting irritated by Happy Ears ear plugs in under 30 minutes, which even by reusable ear plugs standards is a low number, not to mention far shorter than 8+ hours you’d be hoping to keep these in for overnight.
What to use instead?
Regular soft foam ear plugs, like the Hearos Xtreme Protection. The Hearos consumer range, which includes the Pretty in Pink for smaller ears as well as the general purpose Ultimate Softness, stands out among competitors for just how soft they are. Coupled with a truly extreme NRR (noise reduction rating) we’re looking at a winner for anyone dealing with intrusive sounds at night.
Looking for something more economical over the long term? The Alpine Sleepdeep combines the best of both worlds, with its gel infused body granting a softness unique among reusable sleep ear plugs.
The next most common purpose we see Happy Ears ear plugs marketed for is live music such as concerts and festivals. We have already mentioned how their comfort levels are on the low side. We suspect this is due to the peculiar ergonomics (this is a non-flanged and strangely very flat ear plug) and rather robust materials used. But perhaps of greater concern is the rather high NRR (it varies between 27db for the Original and Recycled and 25db for the Ocean Plastics model). While not quite high enough to match a foam ear plug for sleep, it’s in our opinion too high for music contexts. Simply put, you’ll be reducing the volume on the music to greatly you’ve likely paid good money to go see. Sure, they’ll keep your ears safe, but at a certain level of dullness you have to ask yourself if you should have just stayed home.
What to use instead?
Our own Earjobs Musicmate sports an NRR (23db) more appropriate for a live music setting and a soft and rubbery triple flange design for maximum comfort. This has helped it land a user review score at the very top of our music range all while costing less than any other music ear plug out there.
Want a premium solution with some added bells and whistles? The dBud from Ear Labs is our pick for best Swedish designed ear plug on the market. It has a volume slider and a magnetic neck chord so you can hang these conveniently around your neck when you’re not using them (which won’t be too often thanks to the nifty volume slider).
Finally, while we are yet to encounter any ads promoting Happy Ears for swimming, Happy Ears’ website does have a page dedicated to just that. While Happy Ears ear plugs fits the bill of being waterproof, we can’t help but feel you’d be taking a big risk relying on Happy Ears to keep water out of your ears. The reason? Unless these fit you perfectly (and let’s face it, that’s not always the case with ear plugs), there’s no failsafe in the design to prevent water rushing in and thus, increasing your risk of pesky ear infection aka swimmers ear.
What to use instead?
A silicone putty ear plug, like the ones from Macks or ourselves. These mold to your ear, creating a watertight seal unrivaled among ear plugs. If you do want to go with a reusable ear plug because you swim a lot or are mindful of the environment, we strongly suggest you go with a triple flanged ear plug like the Macks AquaBlock or the Quies Aquaplug. This sort of design is much more likely to create and sustain a watertight seal, keeping your ears dry and you in the pool or ocean for longer.
That concludes our deep dive on Happy Ears Ear Plugs. Questions? Feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com or on socials @earjobs. We’ll be happy to assist!