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.
Our expert testers review filtered earplugs in controlled and real-world environments, to find models that:
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.
List of brands we tested in this review.
Recommended price as of August 2017.
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CHOICE recommends earplugs that have an overall score of 80% or more, and a music quality score of 70% or more.
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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.
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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.
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.
100 subjects completed testing for five different devices, and 20 completed testing for one device only. Subjects had no prior experience with hearing protection devices. The attenuation of each earplug is determined by measuring each subject's freefield hearing thresholds with and without the earplug fitted. The difference between these two thresholds determines the 'real-ear attenuation' of the device.
Participants were asked to indicate whether the earplugs interfered with dancing (did they move or fall out during periods of rigorous movement).
Do the earplugs include a cord that allows them to hang around your neck?
Macks Hear Plugs - cord sold separately
Manufacturers that don't sell products locally will ship worldwide.
A Similar model is identical in most aspects except for a few. This means that a majority of its test results are identical so you can reasonably expect to get the same results from the model we tested, but for those aspects which aren't identical, we'll note these as "Not Tested" in the Compare tables.
A Tested model refers to a model that is still current and available in the Australian market. You should be able to order this model through your local retailer, or find it online.
These models can't be found in retailers or online or are no longer manufactured. You may still find these models on second hand websites, or in second hand dealers. Test methods may change over time, so criteria which can't be directly compared will contain an N/A.
An Identical model is exactly that. Performance characteristics will be identical and the only difference will be something trivial such as colour, which won't have an impact on performance.
These are models we haven't yet tested but that are available.