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Last updated: 20 December 2018

Filtered earplugs (or earbuds) can supposedly drop decibels below damaging levels without compromising sound quality. This makes them particularly popular at concerts, though they can help protect your hearing in just about any day-to-day environment - or so they claim. 

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Our expert testers review filtered earplugs in controlled and real-world environments, to find models that:

  • match the decibel reduction claims on the packaging
  • retain sound quality in environments such as concerts and nightclubs
  • retain conversation clarity
  • are comfortable to wear

Our Recommended models will help you easily see at a glance which filtered earplugs can help you enjoy the sounds of music, without going deaf.

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Brand

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List of brands we tested in this review.

    Price

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    Recommended price as of August 2017.

    enter value/s in increments of 1 between 2 and 75

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    Music quality score

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    53 subjects provided data for the field trials. Each participant was allocated two different earplugs, and asked to wear them at music venues and other locations of their choice over several weeks. Subjects were shown how to fit earplugs prior to testing. Results based on survey compiled by NAL and submitted by subjects after field testing. Subjects noted approximate volume of venue (e.g. quiet, moderate, loud etc.), and duration of use.

    enter value/s in increments of i between 54 and 90

    Conversation quality score

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    53 subjects provided data for the field trials. Each participant was allocated two different earplugs, and asked to wear them at music venues and other locations of their choice over several weeks. Subjects were shown how to fit earplugs prior to testing. Results based on survey compiled by NAL and submitted by subjects after field testing. Subjects noted approximate volume of venue (e.g. quiet, moderate, loud etc.), and duration of use.

    enter value/s in increments of i between 46 and 96

    Comfort and fit score

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    Subjects were asked to use a 5-point scale to indicate how they rated the earplugs in terms of comfort, fit, discreetness, ease of handling, and overall appearance.

    enter value/s in increments of i between 53 and 90

    Single number rating, tested (dB SNR)

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    The SNR rating is comparable to the sound level conversion rating (SLC80) in that it also uses the real-ear attenuation threshold method but there are differences in the test procedures and calculation methods. SNR is attained by calculating an average number from the attenuation results across seven frequencies from 125 to 8000 Hz.

    enter value/s in increments of i between 10 and 24

    Included in this review

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    • Overall score
    • Music quality score
    • Conversation quality score
    • Comfort and fit score
    • Movement score
    • Ease of handling score
    • slc80
    • Tested SNR
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    • Brand
    • Model
    • Availability
    • Price
    • Carry case
    • Neck cord
    • Claimed NRR
    • Claimed SNR
    • Other attenuation claim
    • Sold in Australia
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