As musicians, we’re very quick to jump on new equipment that will help us sound our best. From new guitars to random pedals, there are infinite ways we can shape a tone and call it our own. Usually, it sounds best when it’s loud too. But all too often we neglect the very things that allow us to enjoy our music - our ears. So, with that in mind, we’ve round-ed up some of the best earplugs for musicians.
They may not be the most exciting things a musician or guitarist can invest in, but they’re undeniably one of the most important. Your ears are worth protecting, after all. So, whether you’re looking for a pair of plugs to keep the ringing at bay during a band rehearsal or when you’re playing or attending a gig; or maybe you want a set to help you sleep more soundly or to help tame the noise of your motorcycle, you should find something in this guide to suit.
Best earplugs for musicians: Our top picks
If you’re looking for musician’s earplugs, you’ll quickly realise there are plenty of options that sit firmly in the cheap and cheerful bracket. These are fine and have a place, but we’d always favour something less disposable which is why the Minuendo earplugs are a great choice. The price you pay indicates a degree of quality has gone into the build, while the on-plug control over the level of attenuation you require is a neat touch.
Further down the price ladder we can heartily recommend the Earos One and Earasers, both great sets designed specifically for musicians and both costing around $40.
If it's the disposable type you prefer, we’d point you towards the Fender Musician’s earplugs, which are great value and do what they set out to do brilliantly.
Best earplugs for musicians: Product guide
If you’re looking for a pair of earplugs designed specifically with musicians in mind, and you have a reasonable but not massive budget, then you really don’t need to look any further down this list. Designed with input from a former MIT Acoustic Lab director, there’s musical pedigree behind each pair.
Unique to the Earos One is soundbore technology, which replicates how the inner ear resonates and serves up 17 dBs of noise reduction without impacting the audio quality too heavily.
Considering you’re likely to be wearing these in public, we think they look pretty neat compared with other options, too.
Another set of musician-specific earplugs. The filters are designed to give a flat frequency response that is similar to using studio monitors. This means that you hear the sound accurately, just at a reduced volume, making it easier to keep tabs on your tone and ensure the crowd is getting the sound they deserve.
They’re available in 4 sizes - x small, small, medium, large - so you can be sure to find the right fit for your ears and they’re made using the same soft silicone usually used for hearing aids.
One minor criticism is that the small antennas that protrude from each plug can be a little difficult to grip when you want to remove the plugs. But it's a minor gripe once you get used to it.
While there are plenty of cheap options out there to help protect your ears, there’s always room for a premium option for those who rely on their hearing. The Minuendo are a great example where, for a price that sits just north of two figures, you get a set of high-quality earplugs that will last for many years.
They feature a passive hi-fi filter - ideal for the sorts of high-volume activities most guitar players get up to - and continuously adjustable, battery-free volume attenuation (-7db to - 25 db) without impacting the quality of the sound you’re hearing.
We like the various interchangeable fittings which come with the Minuendos, so you’re bound to find a fit that suits your ears, and the carry case reduces the risk of losing one (or both) of them.
One of the things that put people off using earplugs is that, in days gone by, it meant having a very visible, very distracting wedge of neon foam poking out of your ear. This was off-putting to many people, not least younger players. The Vibes High-Fidelity earplugs are a great option if you’re worried about this, providing a creditable 22dB of sound reduction but in a near-invisible way thanks to their clear design.
Of course, this makes them easy to lose so be sure to keep the included carry case nearby, but as a cheap option that doesn’t draw too much attention, the Vibes high Fidelity plugs are easy to recommend.
If you’re keen to support guitar brands, then there’s even a PRS-branded version of the Vibes plugs.
If you’ve never tried earplugs before, and wanted to dip your toe in the water before committing, then the Fender Musician earplugs are a great first bet. They’re among the cheapest we’ve included in this list, but in terms of value for money they’re probably the strongest on show. In fact, they’re so cheap it’s probably worth keeping a set in your gigbag in case you or a band member misplaces their pricier plugs.
They come in a single size, which Fender claims will fit almost all ears, and are made from simple black silicone. What impressed us was the sound reduction - with a reduction of up to 27dB on offer, they’re ideal for guitarists used to playing in front of larger amps and cabinets.
As with anything, there are cheapo disposable options and there are ultra-high-end pro-grade options. The Etymotic Music Pro Elite sit very definitely in the latter column and are the equivalent of a supercar for your ears. What you’re paying for here is active protection; a microphone sits on each plug and if it recognises dB levels rising above a certain threshold, the attenuation kicks in in real-time. It’s similar technology to noise-cancelling, only it reduces the volume to a specific level and holds it as long as required.
You pay for the privilege, of course, but think of it like having a mini mix engineer right in your ears, working hard to protect your hearing regardless of what you throw at it.
Ear plugs are purely a functional device, right? They’re unglamorous and discreet, and therefore don’t need anything in the way of interesting design. Right? Well, someone should tell Loop, because the Belgian brand has created a neat set of earplugs that go over and above the boring blacks and greys and deliver something which will protect your ears and look good while doing so.
On a functional level, the trademark red loop is great for getting them in and out of your ears, and will help should they inevitably fall to the ground at some point during their service. Bonus points for the variety of foam and silicone tips, which should make them suitable for anyone’s ears.
If there’s one type of musician who could really benefit from ear protection, it’s drummers. Acoustic kits are great, but they lack any form of volume control and over time this repeated assault on your ears can cause problems. The Vic Firth VFEARPLR High Fidelity set are a great option from a drum brand, and they don’t cost the earth either.
We love the included case, which can be added to your keychain, and the neck lanyard so they don’t go walkies in between songs.
Best earplugs for musicians: Buying advice
If you’re looking at earplugs, you’ve likely reached a point in your playing career when you understand how precious your hearing actually is. Whether you’re a professional musician, who relies upon their ears for their livelihood, or a hobbyist for whom music is a release from the mundanity of ‘real life’; without the ability to hear what you’re doing, the task at hand becomes much, much more difficult. Thankfully, there is something you can do to protect your hearing, and give yourself the best chance of enjoying playing, recording and listening to music for as long as possible.
Once the preserve of noisier vocations like construction or engineering, the simple act of covering your earholes with something to dampen out excessive noise levels have long been utilized. It’s only fairly recently, however, that musicians have begun taking them seriously. That’s because musicians face a more delicate balancing act. Where noisy jobs like those mentioned earlier require ear protection that, essentially, blocks out as much sound as possible, musicians still require the ability to hear what is going on with some degree of clarity and accuracy.
Thankfully, the technology behind earplugs used by musicians is much more refined than the classic lump of foam in the ear you may be familiar with. Modern musician-friendly earplugs allow a large degree of attenuation - volume reduction - while still allowing critical frequencies to pass through, just at a lower level. This way the user can still pick out the high and low notes of their bandmates, and be sure to never miss a beat from the drummer. They do this by employing filters, which act to block out the overall pressure, while still allowing specific frequencies to pass through. These filters can be active, using battery-powered internal processing to manage the process, or simply by using specific shapes within the plug to filter the sound.
At the higher-end, it’s not uncommon for serious musicians to commission custom-fit earplugs, where a model is taken of the user’s ear canal and then the plugs are made to fit that exact, unique shape. Understandably, this technology comes at a premium, so may not be for everyone, but there are plenty of other great alternatives you can buy off the shelf. In this guide we’ve selected the best earplugs for musicians available right now.