As musicians, we love anything that will help us sound our absolute best. From new guitars to random (but absolutely necessary) pedals, we continuously explore different avenues in pursuit of tonal excellence. However, there’s a critical aspect we overlook – the very tools that allow us to savour our music, our ears. So, with that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the best earplugs for musicians to help you protect your most valuable assets.
Earplugs may not be the most exciting or cool things a musician or guitarist can invest in, but they’re undeniably one of the most vital. Consider it an insurance policy for your auditory well-being. 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 in a tiny room, 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 motorbike, you should find something in this guide to suit.
If you'd rather get straight to our top picks, you'll find those in the next section. For more guidance on the right musician's earplugs for you, head to the buying advice section at the bottom of the page.
Chris Corfield is a journalist with over 12 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands including Guitar World, Orange Amplification, MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Dawsons Music. Chris loves getting nerdy about everything from guitar gear and synths, to microphones and music production hardware.
Best earplugs for musicians: Product guide
Best earplugs overall
Material: Foam or silicone
Noise reduction: 7dB - 25dB
+ Contemporary look
+ Two tip sizes supplied
+ Medical-grade materials
- Expensive enough that you’d miss them if they were lost
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. We think they look pretty neat compared with other options, too.
Best for size options
Noise reduction: 19db
+ Designed for musicians
+ Great fit
+ Easy to clean
- The antennas aren’t the easiest to grip
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.
Best premium option
Material: Foam or silicone
Noise reduction: 7dB - 25dB
+ Comes with lots of adapters
+ Nice carry case
- Definitely not disposable at this price
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.
Best for discretion
Noise reduction: 22dB
+ Near-invisible while you’re wearing them
+ Great for kids too
- Easy to lose the plugs
The Vibes High-Fidelity earplugs are a great option if you’re worried about it being obvious you're wearing plugs, 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. There’s even a PRS-branded version of the Vibes plugs.
Best on a budget
Noise reduction: 27dB
+ Very inexpensive
+ High levels of attenuation
- Only one size
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, are made from simple black silicone and deliver a reduction of up to 27dB.
Best active earplugs
Material: Foam or silicone
Noise reduction: 9dB - 35dB
+ Premium build quality
+ Charging case
- You wouldn’t want to lose one!
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 recognizes 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. Think of it like having a mini mix engineer right in your ears.
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Best 'plugs for design
Material: Foam or silicone
Noise reduction: 20dB
+ Easy to put in and take out
+ Lots of sizes included
- Draw attention more than others on the list
Earplugs 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 loop is great for getting them in and out of your ears. Bonus points for the variety of foam and silicone tips on offer.
Best for filter choice
Material: Medical-grade TPE
Noise reduction: Mild (10dB) through to Full-block (25dB)
+ Different levels of attenuation via filters
+ Full-block filter allows silence
- Changing filters is fiddly
While the Sennheiser SoundProtex Plus aren’t marketed specifically as musicians' earplugs, we liked the variable levels of attenuation on offer and could see a variety of situations in which this would be useful. Starting from a light filter which cuts out just 10dB, and running all the way up to full-block filtering which does a tremendous job of blocking out pretty much everything, the SoundProtex set could easily cater for live performance – both spectating and performing – while also allowing for quick changes as you move from one space to another.
Best for accessories
Noise reduction: 12dB
+ Keychain case
- Not the best for volume reduction
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
How to choose best musicians earplugs for you
If you find yourself considering earplugs, it's likely you've reached a stage in your music journey where you deeply value your hearing. You should do it anyway, but being good at something that requires good hearing will certainly help sharpen the focus. Whether you're a professional musician whose livelihood relies on your ears or a passionate hobbyist who turns to music as an escape from the routine of everyday life, the importance of being able to hear clearly cannot be overstated. Without the ability to hear accurately, the tasks at hand – playing, recording, or simply listening to music – become significantly more challenging. Fortunately, there are simple, inexpensive steps you can take to safeguard your hearing and ensure a long-lasting enjoyment of your musical pursuits.
Traditionally associated with professions involving high noise levels, such as construction or engineering, the practice of using ear protection has been around for a while. However, it's only relatively recently that musicians have begun to take this seriously. Musicians face a unique challenge in that they require ear protection that doesn't just block out all sound but allows them to hear with a certain degree of clarity and precision.
Thankfully, the technology behind musician-friendly earplugs has evolved far beyond the basic fluorescent foam plugs you might be familiar with. Modern earplugs designed for musicians offer significant noise reduction while still permitting essential frequencies to pass through at reduced levels. This way, musicians can still discern the high and low notes of their fellow bandmates and never miss a beat from the drummer. These earplugs achieve this by employing filters that block out overall pressure while permitting specific frequencies to pass through. These filters can be either active, using internal processing powered by batteries to manage the process, or passive, utilizing specific shapes within the earplug to filter sound.
In the higher-end market, serious musicians often opt for custom-fit earplugs. These are crafted by creating a mold of the user's ear canal and then producing earplugs tailored precisely to that unique shape. Understandably, this advanced technology comes at a premium price, so it may not be suitable for everyone. However, there are plenty of excellent off-the-shelf alternatives available to meet your needs.
How we choose the best earplugs for musicians
Here at Guitar World, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything guitar related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides.
When choosing what we believe to be the best earplugs for musicians available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.
First and foremost, we are guitarists, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best earplugs for musicians on the market right now.
Read more about our rating system, how we choose the gear we feature, and exactly how we test each product.
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