Many of us admittedly live a large portion of our lives wearing headphones - whether we’re at work, on the bus, or going for a run. The problem is, we’re often forced to listen to our music way above a safe volume level, which can cause long term hearing problems.
The bad news is that consistently listening to loud music to make up for the noise in your surroundings can damage the tiny hair cells in your inner ear, which are responsible for recognising sounds and carrying them to your brain. That’s right, everything your mum told you when you were young is true. You really should listen to music at loud volumes, no matter how good it is!
Music played at 95 to 105 decibels can cause permanent hearing damage after just 15 minutes of listening- so you mustn’t ignore the facts.
So what if we told you earplug/earphone hybrids exist? These earphones work to substantially reduce environmental noise so you can listen to your favourite music or podcast without distraction, while also keeping your volume levels safe. In other words, you’ll be able to hear every note of your favourite song during your commute, without hearing the bus engine.
Hybrid hearing protection is specifically designed for those who need to protect their ears but want to listen to music while doing so. They serve pretty much everyone - whether you’re a construction worker who wants to pass the hours or a traveller who needs protection from the droning noise of aeroplanes. The best options out there, which we’ll discuss further into this article, offer super comfortable noise-reducing earplugs with high-quality built-in audio speakers.
The benefits of hybrid ear protection
- There’s no need to work a full shift listening to the same volume-reduced drone. Plug a pair of hybrids in and sing the day away instead!
- Workplace ear protection is often uncomfortable and bulky, while hybrids can weigh as little as 10 grams and come with various earplug choices so you can find the best to suit you.
- There a fair few budget-friendly options on the market to get you started if you’re unsure.
- You’ll be able to take hands-free phone calls at the click of a button- no more stopping mid-run to talk on the phone (although it is a pretty good excuse for a breather).
Which to buy?
Plugfones Guardian Earplug-Earphone Hybrids
Plugfones first came up with its hybrid products in the late 2000s when it realised those who had to wear ear protection couldn’t listen to music to make the working day a little more enjoyable. The company also recognised the protection they had to wear was uncomfortable and bulky. That’s when the Guardian hybrid was released - these earplugs use SoundSeal™ noise-suppressing technology as well as a tuned speaker to make working a little more comfortable. The earplugs also come with interchangeable silicone ComforTiered and foam ComforTwist plugs for the best fit possible. Check out Plugfone Guardians here.
ISOtunes PRO Noise Isolating Bluetooth Earbuds
ISOtune’s Bluetooth hybrid reduces external sound by 27dB and uses ISOtunes SafeSound Technology to limit the user’s music volume to 85dB, a safe and approved volume meaning the wearer can listen to music for hours on end without damaging their hearing. The noise-cancelling inbuilt mic filters out solid-state background noise while the custom fit memory wire holds the earphones into place to allow for easy movement. There’s no need to worry about charge, either - these earphones have a 10-hour music/talk time and 240 hours of standby time. They’re sweat and waterproof, too, so they’ll work well when you’re working hard. Check out the ISOtunes Bluetooth earbuds here.
ISOtunes FREE Industrial Wireless Ear Plugs
If you’ve been using hybrids for a little while now, then you might just be ready to make the jump to one of ISOtune’s premium products. These ultra-lightweight, completely wireless Bluetooth earplugs make hearing protection so very effortless. Designed to reduce noise while sitting comfortably in your ears, these earplugs are made for use in industrial settings that aren’t strangers to dust and sweat. This particular set reduces noise by up to 22dB and has a music volume limit of 79dB to ensure the user is still working safely and able to listen to instructions. Check them out here.
Plugfones Protector Plus
A step up from the Guardian range, Plugfones Protector Plus earphones cater to heavyweight industries such as mining, maintenance, assembly, and fabrication. They’re built to last, made with a 54-inch tear-resistant TuffCord and double reinforced audio jack to make sure the earphones can withstand days of constant use. The earphones are much lighter than industry headsets, weighing in at just 10 grams, and come with ComforTwist™ foam tips (NRR 23) and ComforTiered™ silicone tips (NRR 26). Inbuilt WorkSafe Volume Limiting Technolgy keeps the speaker level below 82dB. Check out the Protector Plus earplugs here.
ISOtunes Xtra Noise-Isolating Bluetooth Earbuds
ISOtunes Xtra eliminates steady-state noise such as engines, fans, vacuums and saws in loud environments allowing the wearer to enjoy their music safely. The lightweight memory wire neckband is created for comfortable, long term wear, while each set comes with three different sizes of heat-activated ISOtunes foam earplugs for optimal sound quality and noise isolation. Each pair also features a signature ISOtunes mic with noise cancellation for effortless phone calls. Check out the ISOtunes Xtra noise-isolating Bluetooth earbuds here.
Wired or wireless?
Above we’ve shown you a range of wired, Bluetooth, and completely wireless earphones - so which ones should you go for? The truth is, it’s completely up what you’d feel most comfortable wearing, and what kind of person you are.
If you know you’ll forget to charge a Bluetooth pair up, then save yourself the hassle and go for a wired option. On the other hand, it’s also important to consider your safety in the workplace. If you’re going to be left worried about having a dangling wire around your neck all day, then choose a pair that are completely wireless and fit flush in your ears.