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Last updated: 08 September 2017

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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Recommended price as of August 2017.

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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.

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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 1 between 0 and 0

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 1 between 0 and 0

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.

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Test results

Sound level conversion rating, tested (dB SLC80)

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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.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Movement score

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Participants were asked to indicate whether the earplugs interfered with dancing (did they move or fall out during periods of rigorous movement).

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Ease of handling 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 1 between 0 and 0

Features

Included neck cord

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Do the earplugs include a cord that allows them to hang around your neck? Macks Hear Plugs - cord sold separately

Specifications

Sold in Australia

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Manufacturers that don't sell products locally will ship worldwide.

Included in this review

Members-only access
  • Recommended
  • Overall score
  • Music quality score
  • Conversation quality score
  • Comfort and fit score
  • Movement score
  • Ease of handling score
  • Sound level conversion rating, tested (dB SLC80)
  • Single number rating, tested (dB SNR)
  • Good points
  • Bad points
  • Brand
  • Model
  • Price
  • Included carry case
  • Included neck cord
  • Claimed noise reduction rating (dB, NRR)
  • Claimed single number rating (dB, SNR)
  • Other attenuation claim
  • Sold in Australia
  • Country of origin
  • Contact
  • Availability
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