When you first start using ear plugs, a simple foam or silicone set can be a one size fits all solution to keep your ears safe. At a certain point, however, it’s time to upgrade. A set of use-specific ear plugs, plugs for music, for work, for motorcycling, or for shooting, is always going to provide superior performance. A few reasons for this:
- Specialised filters protect the sounds you want to hear. A person attending a concert has different needs to someone on a shooting range. Specialised acoustic filters can allow you to hear certain noises, while still protecting your ears. Foam and silicone disposables have no filters, the dampening is sometimes excessive.
- The level of hearing protection is optimised for your chosen activity. All plugs don’t protect equally, plugs designed for shooting or industrial work will always block more sound than plugs for sleeping or concerts.
- Reusable means stronger components and a more custom fit. Because a reusable plug is designed to be worn many times, the components are stronger with a more ergonomic design. In general, reusables provide a more comfortable fit over long periods when compared to foam.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at five great reusables to purchase for our End of Financial Year Sale.
A medium strength plug with high fidelity acoustic filters, the MusicMate Pro is the new upgrade of the beloved MusicMate and boasts great comfort and strong performance. Rated to 23 SNR, it’ll lower ambient volume by about 23 decibels, keeping your ears safe while you enjoy live music. They’re a great solution whether you’re raving or rehearsing, with a clear colour transparent body for subtle wear.
The design has been upgraded with a narrower tip and slightly flared base, allowing it to fit a wider variety of ear shapes comfortably and consistently. It won’t wiggle out while you’re having a boogie.
Because of the high fidelity filters, the MusicMate Pro is appropriate as a medium strength solution for working from home, cutting noise when out and about, or even just for study. It’ll block a good amount of sound while still allowing you to remain aware of your surroundings.
Comes with a keyring attachable hard carry case.
$39.95 (Aluminium) - $59.95 (Titanium Pro Model)
One criticism of Flare’s earlier sleep plugs was that the dense body could be sometimes a little uncomfortable, particularly for side sleepers. Flare went back to the drawing board and have produced an entirely new designed plug that’s subtle, comfy, and flexible — it’s a great sleep aid however you sleep.
When worn, the tips are comfortable and the stem small enough that it can tuck down (like Airpods) or be directed in any direction that’s most effective for how you sleep. This joystick-style approach to fitting effectively assists side sleepers by letting them tuck the plug away without compromising the fit of the foam tips.
It comes with two sizes of universal memory foam tips, ‘standard’ and ‘large’. The tips are softer and more pliant than the previous model tips, they fit a wider variety of ears and are wipe clean due to the glossy skin. There are two models available, the standard aluminium and a pro model made of titanium. The Pro has an even smaller physical profile than the standard, through the superior material strength, so should be the choice for the smallest and subtlest wear.
Alpine’s ear plugs are among the most popular in Australia thanks to the flexibility and comfort of the ThermoShape tips, as well as the strength and clarity of their filters. The Alpine WorkSafe is their industrial solution, designed to protect workers ears when using power tools, while riding a lawnmower, or while working with engines.
The Alpine ThermoShape material is hypoallergenic and contains no silicone. It works by flexibly adjusting to the unique shape of your ear canal, allowing it to create an air tight seal without exerting pressure on the sensitive ear canal. If you’ve worn foam or silicone plugs in the past that have felt like they’re expanding and causing pain, the ThermoShape is the answer.
The WorkSafe comes with filters that far outperform the sets they include in their Music, Sleep and Motorcycling plugs. They’re expected to block up to about 27dB when properly fit but should be combined with ear muffs if you expect to be in environments as loud as a Class 5 under the AU/NZ standard.
While a lot of people use a simple set of foam plugs for motorcycling or motorsports, they have to deal with imprecise fit and hearing less sound than would perhaps be safe, particularly when they’re speeding down the highway. Answering this, the EarPeace Motorsports plug promises an ergonomic shape (coming in both Petite and Standard Sizes) that allows for a snug, comfortable and secure fit when properly worn. You won’t have to worry about making adjustments with your helmet on!
In terms of sound protection, the EarPeace model comes with three interchangeable filter sets, each with different levels of noise protection (SNR 17, 20 and 26) allowing you to select the degree of protection most effective for your helmet and the strength of your engine. The filters, in contrast to a dampening foam plug, allow you to hear enough to remain aware and safe in your surroundings.
Somewhat uniquely for a set of reusable plugs, the EarPeace comes with THREE ear plugs, rather than two. Recognising that sometimes a plug can be misplaced or lost, the third plug gives you a useful spare, great for when you’re cross-country riding and you can’t find one.
Safety is the most important thing when you’re shooting: we take so many precautions to ensure safety around our guns, but what about our ears? SureFire are one of the most highly regarded providers of reusable shooters plugs for all types of shooters (you can see the whole range here). The EP4 is considered a jack-of-all-trades shooters plug, with a removable stopper to allow you to block at different volumes depending on what you’re doing.
With stoppers open, it’ll only block 9dB — great for having conversations and listening to your surroundings without having to remove your plugs. When it comes time to prepare to shoot, you put the stoppers in and the sound blocking jumps up to 24dB — more than enough to protect your ears from the fire sound.
The SureFire EP4’s tips use a triple-flange design made of a hypoallergenic polymer. They’re ergonomically shaped for the majority of ears and fit comfortably and suitably, particularly over long shoots. Colour coding makes it easy for you to quickly distinguish right from left, while the narrow and subtle shape of the unit makes it appropriate for wear beneath a helmet or mask.