help me find comfortable earplugs for clubbing
October 11, 2009 2:37 AM   Subscribe

I want to start going clubbing, but I also want to keep my hearing intact. Earplug selection help needed!

I can't find any earplugs that are comfortable.

I bought some musicians earplugs (these sonic valve ones or something like them), but they seem to form a suction seal in my ear canal, and the suction is painful. Should this be happening? Does it happen with other flanged styles (like these) too?

I've used a few models of the more standard foam earplugs before and find them uncomfortable as well - I don't like the sensation of the foam against my ear canal, and they also make sound that filters through sound funny in that way that musicians' earplugs don't.

So - ideas for something that will be more comfortable? Ideally they'd be reusable and not over, say, $25 (but less is better). Earplugs that will still allow me to hear (almost) as much of people talking as I'd be able to hear in a noisy club to begin with would be especially good.
posted by needs more cowbell to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Mack's Silicone Earplugs are the best I've found, by far. They're moldable, and once they heat up to body temperature, you can't even feel them in your ear. About $5 at drug stores.
posted by Acacia at 2:49 AM on October 11, 2009

I've been using the ER20s you linked for years at gigs and clubs and find them very comfortable. The first few times you use them they'll feel a little weird because it's not something you're used to, but I've never found them painful...
posted by Cantdosleepy at 3:01 AM on October 11, 2009

I carry these on my keychain, and use them at band rehearsal, dance clubs, and live rock shows:

etymotic ER-20

They don't provide insanely high noise reduction, but they let me hear my vocals in a rehearsal as well as conversations in a bar, while reducing noise enough in the club that my ears do not ring when I leave. Also they are small enough that people don't always notice them in my ears, which I cannot say about the orange foam plus I used before. Provided they fit your ear (they are one size fits "most") I highly recommend them.
posted by thedaniel at 3:34 AM on October 11, 2009

Ah, I see your second link was to the ER-20s. There's no pain or suction - the opposite - I have to carefully insert them to make sure they are well seated, otherwise the noise reduction can be insufficient.
posted by thedaniel at 3:35 AM on October 11, 2009

I highly recommend at least trying the ER-20s. They seem to have a smaller size called the Baby Blue, which could be worth a shot if you find the normal size uncomfortable. Personally, I find that they really increase my enjoyment of the music by cutting out some of the boominess that dominates in small gig venues.

It is possible to get custom moulded plugs, but they're not cheap. It's definitely worth saving your hearing though, so do what you have to.

Good luck!
posted by Magnakai at 3:44 AM on October 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're serious about comfort and sound quality, you could opt for custom-molded musician's earplugs. Those are actually individually cast into your particular ear and provide a decent level of protection (I think -20db SPL), while still giving you a decent sound, too. They'll probably cost you around 200 USD, though. They look like these (quick google only, no recommendation).
posted by oxit at 5:49 AM on October 11, 2009

Other people have better recommendations than I for the earplugs. But if you are concerned about hearing loss, might I suggest the ACE-magnesium combo?
posted by adipocere at 6:02 AM on October 11, 2009

About a year ago, I bought a grab bag of earplugs, and found even styles that looked very similar felt different. For ~$20, I got a pair or two of about eight different kinds. (My favorite is the Moldex Rockets, but your ears likely differ.) Not all good earplugs are expensive. While it makes sense to try some designed for music rather than industrial noise, you could also try a wide selection of the latter for relatively cheap. (I haven't tried the ER-20s, but I wasn't getting them for club noise.)
posted by silentbicycle at 6:22 AM on October 11, 2009

Response by poster: Do the Moldex Rockets do the suction-seal thing for you? I think that's really the #1 thing causing my discomfort with the non-foam pair I tried.

(And I'd love to find out if other people get the suction seal on ANY other earplugs--maybe my ears are just strange? Or I'm doing something wrong? I don't think I'm inserting them too far. Besides being painful, the suction seems like it might be dangerous.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:49 AM on October 11, 2009

Hearos are available at most music stores, and definitely at Guitar Centers. I bring them to every potentially loud concert, just in case. There was an awful, and awfully loud opening act for NIN once where these really came in handy. NIN were not so loud that I needed them. Anyway, I find them comfortable, and I have issues with many in ear phones etc. and they allow you to hear the music in full fidelity, just softer.
posted by caddis at 7:17 AM on October 11, 2009

If the suction feeling is bugging you, you could try the Hocks Noise Brakers which have a hole in them, which, among other things, allows air in. The Sonic Defenders are based on the Hocks design and have a 2 flange model... may be worth checking out - I plan on getting some for playing with my band.
posted by MesoFilter at 10:03 AM on October 11, 2009

@needs more cowbell - They don't for me, though I think I know what you mean. Of course, your ear canals are different from mine - you may just need to just try several styles.
posted by silentbicycle at 11:34 AM on October 11, 2009

When using the ER-20's, you can try pulling your ear towards the back of your head when putting them on. It helps straighten your ear canal when putting them in so they fit better.
posted by adamwolf at 1:06 PM on October 11, 2009

I think Hearoes are just rebranded Etymotics.
posted by MesoFilter at 3:55 PM on October 11, 2009

+1 the custom moulded option. Any audiologist should be able to do them and as long as you don't think you'll lose them, the cost is worth it (I only paid AUD$100 for mine, maybe 10 years ago).
posted by m1ndsurfer at 4:02 PM on October 11, 2009

« Older I just want my stupid games to be silent   |   Help me stop stomach sleeping. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.