You’ve packed your sunscreen, you’ve got your McLaren merch — isn’t there something you’re forgetting? If you’re a motorsports fan, be it Formula 1, Rally Cars, even the Monster Trucks, you owe it to yourself to own an effective, comfortable piece of high powered hearing protection.
The average Formula 1 Grand Prix can expose fans to up to 140dB of noise! This can cause permanent hearing damage after even short exposure — let alone across 58 laps. In this guide, we’re counting down the best hearing protection for use at the Grand Prix. In the interest of safety, we’re erring on the side of the strongest levels of hearing protection for this one. We’ll even include some solutions for the younger Verstappen fans in the family.
Let’s get started!
Ear Muffs for Formula 1
Starting with the strongest, the X5A is a set of Class 5 hearing protection under the Australian standard — meaning the strongest level of protection, suitable for industrial exposure. Under the SLC80 rating system, it blocks a whopping 35dB when properly fitted. Great for taking the edge off the loudest exposures and ensuring comfort across an entire day at the races.
The level of sound protection is achieved from unique high-density foam in the ear cups. Don’t be fooled by the size, the X5A remain comfortable and lightweight when compared to other Class 5 muffs thanks to the wire headband, which alleviates pressure around the side of the head. The ear cups tilt when fitted, good for fitting according to a variety of head shapes and sizes.
The X5A are the strongest muffs in the Earjobs range, if you wanted to level them up further whack a set of soft foam plugs underneath. The strongest is the Spark Plugs. When wearing ear muffs as your primary protection, ensure that the seal is flush against your ear and don’t lift them up – particularly when it’s noisy! The sound protection is only as good as the seal with your ear.
Reusable Ear Plugs for Formula 1
If you’re looking for a solution that’s slightly lower profile than muffs, we recommend a strong set of filtered ear plugs. Those targeting industrial work or motorcycling are both great options. The two most popular and effective are below.
If you’ve attended Formula 1 events overseas, it would be impossible to avoid Alpine. They’re a highly regarded, highly effective solution for wear at motorsports. We’ve chosen the Alpine WorkSafe for this guide: a comfortable, high strength ear plug with Alpine’s signature thermoshape tips.
When properly fitted, the Alpine is expected to block out up to 27dB of sound. Less than a set of muffs but still substantial. The AlpineAcousticFilters will pass through the ambient noise at a lower, less confronting volume. Great for maintaining the ambience and vibe at the GP, with less ringing ears afterwards!
Unique to Alpine’s brand is their ThermoShape tips. These tips comfortably conform to the shape of the ear, using the natural heat of the ear canal to fit snugly in the ear. In comparison to a regular set of foam plugs, the hypoallergenic material means less irritation and easier all day wear.
The MotoSafe also comes with an included cord, great for keeping the ear plugs safe around your neck between wears.
If you’re a fan of the Earjobs MusicMate Pro, you can’t go past the MotoMate as a comfortable and effective hearing solution at the races. Like the Alpine, it’s also rated to block up to 27dB of sound when properly fitted.
The MotoMate incorporates all of the design optimisations we developed since the original MusicMate. The tip is slightly narrower than previous models and the base is slightly more flared. In practice we find this creates a secure fit for a wider variety of ear shapes, ensuring consistent hearing protection even when you’re moving around.
Like Alpine, these are made with a hypoallergenic tip. They’re washable and reusable, just use a damp towel and allow to air dry. They fit fairly flush against the ear so would also be a useful solution to be worn under ear muffs, for someone looking for maximum protection.
Included with the MotoMate is an attractive, small aluminium case. Attachable to your keyring, it means you’re always going to have your ear plugs with you. Great for whether you’re at the races, riding on your own, or even just working with tools around the house. The filters are pretty adaptable to noise and make for a great ‘jack of all trades’ reusable plug.
Electronic Earphones with Hearing Protection for Formula 1
If you’re traveling to the races solo, or want to just blast your preferred Drive To Survive soundtrack to add some extra tension to the races, a set of bluetooth enabled ear phones can protect your ears, while still letting you listen to music or take calls. Our choice here is the IsoTunes Pro Aware, the latest upgrade to the IsoTunes Pro range with the latest audio codecs and the powerful ‘Aware’ function.
It comes with a variety of different sizes for both foam and silicone tips, giving you maximum flexibility and versatility when sizing for your ears. The tips protect up to 26dB when properly fitted, and a secure sized tip close to the true size of your ear is always going to protect better than a set of one size fits most.
The main upgrade for these models is the Aware function. When ambient sound is low, it’ll pass through your surrounding environment to your ear, allowing you to hear conversation and remain aware. This is great for those (brief, exciting) moments of quiet — you can talk and compare notes without having to remove your hearing protection. The battery lasts for up to 10 hours when fully charged, so they’re reliable for all day wear, and the unit is IP67 durable for water, dust and sweat. You don’t have to worry about drowning these on a hot day at Albert Park Circuit!
The latest model of the ISOtunes, it comes with Bluetooth 5.0, is enabled for Siri and Google Voice, and includes a noise isolating microphone. We can’t guarantee the microphone will work compared to Red Bull’s engines — but it’s worth a shot!
Children’s Hearing Protection
If you’ve got the next Max Verstappen in nappies at home and you’re getting them acclimatised to the world of motor racing, we recommend you get a strong level of hearing protection. Kids' ears are super sensitive compared to adults, so we always recommend a combination of disposable plugs and reusable ear muffs. For the disposable, wear something like the Putty Buddies. They’re soft, hypoallergenic and block a good degree of sound. Sitting flush to the ear, you can then wear the muffs on top.
For children’s muffs, we can’t go past the Muffy, a set of effective hearing protection that includes all of the comfort and usability optimisations that Alpine are famous for. Recommended for kids aged 5 to 16, the Muffy is lightweight and collapsible for easy travel, with telescoping ears allowing for the widest variety of children’s head sizes. They block noise up to 25dB when properly fitted (part of why we recommend the plugs as well for the Formula 1) and are made of skin-friendly hypoallergenic material. As these are a smaller sized muff optimised for children, they’re lightweight and low pressure — unlikely to cause excess weight on the sensitive sides of the head. They’re effective for all day wear — good for ensuring ear health over a long outing.
Available in a variety of colours, it’s easy to distinguish between pairs for multiple children. The included carry case both protects the muffs while also making them easily transmittable, whether it’s the little one holding it or you. For parents who have suffered through food and beverage stains, these are made with an easy to clean outer layer — you can wipe them fresh and have them ready to go again!