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Author Topic: Noise reducing ear plugs.  (Read 764 times)

Roland Clarke

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Noise reducing ear plugs.
« on: September 18, 2017, 07:41:14 am »

I'm looking for ear plugs that are both comfortable for relatively long term wear and also reduce level by say 10db without noticeably changing the sound, at least too much.  Any recommendations?  I'm in the uk so availability is also a consideration.
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Keith Broughton

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Re: Noise reducing ear plugs.
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2017, 07:49:53 am »

I'm looking for ear plugs that are both comfortable for relatively long term wear and also reduce level by say 10db without noticeably changing the sound, at least too much.  Any recommendations?  I'm in the uk so availability is also a consideration.
I went to a hearing aid place and got some custom molded ear plugs that have inserts that come in a variety of reduction.
The 12 db works great for audio and the 30 db for motorcycle riding...or very loud bands.
I am able to mix with them in.
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Roland Clarke

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Re: Noise reducing ear plugs.
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2017, 09:18:46 am »

I went to a hearing aid place and got some custom molded ear plugs that have inserts that come in a variety of reduction.
The 12 db works great for audio and the 30 db for motorcycle riding...or very loud bands.
I am able to mix with them in.

That's the sort of thing I was looking for.  Any guideline to a ballpark price?
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Jamin Lynch

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Re: Noise reducing ear plugs.
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2017, 10:04:39 am »

I'm looking for ear plugs that are both comfortable for relatively long term wear and also reduce level by say 10db without noticeably changing the sound, at least too much.  Any recommendations?  I'm in the uk so availability is also a consideration.

I have some custom molded Westones. They came with 3 different interchangeable filters for -9db, -15db or -25db cut. I usually wear the -15db filters. I had the molds done at a local audiologist who was familiar with these. She did custom molds for several musicians around town.

The best part is they don't effect the sound quality. I can still hear everything clearly, just at a lower volume. I often wear them.

Highly recommended.
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Dan Godwin

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Re: Noise reducing ear plugs.
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2017, 11:23:56 am »

That's the sort of thing I was looking for.  Any guideline to a ballpark price?

When I got my pair of custom earplugs (nearly 20 years ago) I opened up the phonebook and called around to all the local audiologists in the area and asked for prices.  The prices ranged all over the place but I was able to get a pair of Westones for under $200 if I remember correctly.   
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George Friedman-Jimenez

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Re: Noise reducing ear plugs.
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2017, 11:48:46 am »

Are you a musician or strictly a sound guy? The hearing protection technology required if you have to play and/or sing is very different from that needed if you have to mix, and this is different from what you need to just be around loud music.

I am a musician and do sound as well, and have been using ACS Pro 17 and Pro 10 hearing protectors for about 5 years. I play congas and other percussion in a Cuban rumba group, just percussion and vocals. I also have substantial high frequency noise-induced hearing loss. Playing unamplified congas and sitting close to other percussion, performing in a small club, the Leq (average sound pressure level) runs 105-115 dBA at my ears, depending on how hard we are playing. Projecting the sound unamplified is actually much louder at the musician's ear than playing with a mic and PA. Also, this is mostly impulse sound and the loudness is likely underestimated by my OSHA Class 2 sound level meter.

With that background, the ACS Pro 17 hearing protectors work ok for playing, when we are really loud, but make it much more difficult to hear the timing cues of the other players, or the vocals. Playing in time and singing in key are much more difficult than without hearing protection. Part of this is due to my hearing loss, and part is due to the much higher attenuation of the earplugs above 8 kHz, where a lot of the impulse sound of the timing cues is found. The Pro 10 are a bit better, but still not easy to use while playing or singing. The cost of these earplugs is $185 including the custom ear molds (if you can get them done in NYC or LA).

To try to solve that problem, I got the ACS IEMs with an ambient mic in each one, and the Live! Ambient Processor. This setup can be used without any monitor mix, with only the ambient sound from each ear mic, and functions as a noise-attenuating hearing aid. The ambient mics work reasonably well, allowing some localization of sound and good loudness control both above and below ambient sound level. It works better than the passive ACS Pro earplugs but it is still harder to hear the other instruments' timing cues and the vocals than using nothing at all. Even so, I usually use this IEM setup because I can leave a gig without my ears ringing, and be able to hear reasonably well the next day. With no protection, I have a noticeable increase in my hearing loss and tinnitus for the next few days. The IEM setup costs $525 to $1200 for the IEM with mics plus $700 for the processor. To put that in perspective, hearing aids cost $2000-$6000 plus batteries and replacement costs over the years, and are usually not covered by medical insurance. Not needing hearing aids is worth a whole lot more than that.
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Keith Broughton

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Re: Noise reducing ear plugs.
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2017, 01:05:57 pm »

That's the sort of thing I was looking for.  Any guideline to a ballpark price?
I paid around $150 CDN.
Well worth it!
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: Noise reducing ear plugs.
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2017, 06:30:31 pm »

The ER 9.5 or ER15 custom molded plugs are somewhere between $150-200.  I really like my Sensaphonics, softer and more comfortable than the Westones I had.  The Sensaphonics audiologists are musician oriented.  Most others are just hearing aid techs.

How well they are molded will affect the sound quality as well.  The ports between the reducing filter and your inner ear are just as critical as the ports inside a microphone.  I also find the 9.5dB filters to be more neutral than the 15dB ones.  Although that's not a lot of protection.  The 25dB are better, and I need to get another set for my Sensaphonics.  I traded in the ones that came with my old Westones as performing with them was too weird.  It sounded like the rest of the band was outside.

With any of them, bone conduction will make the bass sound much louder than it really is.  It's not that the highs are muffled, but where there is strong bass it will appear to be 6-10dB louder than it really is in relation to the highs.

There is one budget alternative.  Earasers.  https://www.earasers.net/  These are $40 and are 90% of my custom plugs.  They're even more innocuous as well, fitting down inside the ear canal with only a tiny pull thread hanging out.  Because they involve the entire pinna they sound very natural, and are a world apart from things like Hearoos and such.  I have a set of these as spares and have convinced several fellow musicians to get some.  All have loved them after messing with various other "musicians plugs".
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Steve Loewenthal

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Re: Noise reducing ear plugs.
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2017, 08:52:27 pm »

When playing in our band I use these with foam ear tips.
https://www.etymotic.com/consumer/hearing-protection/er20xs.html

I usually use these in 1 ear with my IEM in the other ear.
Our stage volume is also relatively low for a rock band.
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Steve Loewenthal

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Jay Barracato

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Re: Noise reducing ear plugs.
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2017, 10:06:36 pm »

I use the custom molded westone with the 15 db filter.

Just under $200

Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk

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