Interested in the best earplugs for drummers? Protecting your ears is important for everyone, but it becomes extra important for any drummer or musician in general.
If you lose your hearing, you end up losing the connection between you and your passion, not to mention the reduction in life quality that comes with hearing loss.
While some level of hearing loss is expected over a lifetime, more than average hearing loss can and should be avoided.
Some of the things you can do to limit hearing loss include lowering the volume of your headphones and using earplugs when exposed to loud noises, like the ones from a drum set.
Anything above 85dB damages your hearing over a certain period. The higher the volume, the less time it needs to cause permanent damage.
What’s considered a safe listening level?
According to OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Administration, here are the permissible noise exposures:
As you can see, you shouldn’t listen to anything 115dB or higher for more than 15 minutes a day. That includes things like an ambulance siren, loud rock concerts, chainsaws, music players at max volume, and of course, the drum set.
If for some reason you can’t avoid the noise or lower the volume, use the best ear protection you can get your hands on, to avoid permanent damage to your ears.
What are the early warning signs of hearing loss?
According to Mayo Clinic, these are the early signs of hearing loss:
- Muffling of speech and other sounds
- Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd
- Trouble hearing consonants
- Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly, and loudly
- Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
- Withdrawal from conversations
- Avoidance of some social settings
If you can relate to at least one of the signs listed above, seek immediate medical attention. An audiologist can perform a hearing test, as well as any other important exams, to evaluate your condition.
Hearing loss is a serious medical condition that can have a significant effect on your everyday life, so do what you can to avoid it. The sooner you check with your doctor, the sooner you can take steps to prevent further loss.
Hearing Loss vs Tinnitus
Even though hearing loss is already bad enough, it’s not the only problem that comes with long exposure to loud noises.
Tinnitus is another problem many musicians, especially drummers, face during their lifetime.
According to a 15-year-old study by the Percussive Arts Society, 57.6% of professional drummers and 44.2% of amateur players have tinnitus, a rate three to four times higher than in non-musicians.
If you don’t know what tinnitus is, have you ever had the experience of going to a loud concert and your ears ring for the whole next day? Well, tinnitus is similar, except it never goes away.
There’s currently no cure for hearing loss or tinnitus, which means prevention is the best thing we can do for ourselves.
Earplugs are great to avoid both hearing loss and tinnitus, but first, you need to know what to look for.
What’s the definition of good earplugs?
The market is flooded with earplugs thanks to the many different professionals that need them, like airport and construction workers.
The difference between earplugs designed for regular use and the ones designed for a musician is the fact that musician ones need to lower the overall volume without changing the frequency balance between highs, mids, and lows.
Regular earplugs lower more volume than musicians usually need and ignore the frequency balance.
That’s why you shouldn’t cheap out. Invest in earplugs specially designed for musicians, that lower the volume while keeping a perfect balance between frequencies.
Besides reducing between 10 to 30 dB of volume evenly across all frequencies, musician’s earplugs need to be comfortable enough to be used during long practice sessions.
They also need to be durable enough to stand the test of time, and as discreet as possible, to allow you to use them in as many different scenarios as you want.
The price is another important factor since as drummers we already have too much to spend money on, but never prioritize money over your health.
With that in mind, we’ll be looking for good earplugs that check all boxes, without crossing the $50 mark.
Now that we know the importance of earplugs, the difference between regular and musician earplugs, and what to look for when shopping, here are the best earplugs for drummers:
The order includes:
- Pair of Filters
- Pair of High-Fidelity Standard Size Shells / Pair of High-Fidelity Small Size Shells
- Carrying Case (Standard Size)
- Gift Box
- Instruction Manual
My first suggestion is the Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs that attenuate up to 21dB of noise, with an NRR of 16dB.
They are made with hypoallergenic silicone which provides enough comfort for as long as you need, and as a musician, that’s especially important.
The clear design is discrete enough to be almost invisible to others, meaning they won’t stand out when you wear your favorite outfit.
It comes with a waterproof aluminum case to carry them everywhere, and two shell sizes so you can wear what fits your ears the best.
Most importantly, the Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs keep the noise to a minimum, but you’ll still be able to clearly hear your drum set.
The sound quality is preserved by keeping the right balance between all frequencies, instead of filtering out too many high frequencies, as regular foam earplugs do.
The earplugs feature elongated pull tabs so you can easily remove them from the ear canal and if you want to increase comfort, you can opt for the custom-designed version that will fit like a glove.
Each purchase includes:
- 1 pair of earplugs
- 3 interchangeable fit sizes (small, medium, large)
- Pocket-sized hard case for easy storage
This is are my favorite earplugs, and you’ll soon understand why. According to their website, they reduce up to 22dB of sound across frequencies, with an NRR of 15.
Designed with clear outer shells and silicone earbuds that match the format of your ear canal, Vibes bring discretion to the next level.
They were specially designed with musicians in mind, since they effectively lower the volume of every frequency equally, from bass to treble, without sacrificing any of the sound clarity.
What you hear is as clean, clear, and controlled as it should, which is especially important for musicians that rely on sound quality.
The same doesn’t happen with regular foam earplugs. They were designed to deaden all sound without considering sound quality, and they aren’t the most comfortable or discreet earplugs either.
Speaking of comfort, Vibes has one of the softest and most durable ear tips, made with carefully selected materials.
With every purchase, you get three different ear-tip sizes to guarantee a great fit for all ear types, and a hard portable case to travel anywhere with them.
If the name rings any bells, that’s because Vibes appeared in season 8, episode 14, of the worldwide popular TV show “Shark Tank”.
- 1 pair standard fit ETY Plugs
- Neck cord
- Carrying case
Etymotic Research was the first to produce high-fidelity non-custom earplugs back in the ’90s.
They are still one of the leading manufacturers of noise-isolation high-fidelity ear plus, and a good option for any drummer, or musician in general.
Etymotic Research ETY reduces up to 20 dB of sound at all frequencies, preserving sound clarity, unlike foam earplugs that focus on reducing mid and high-range frequencies resulting in a muffled sound.
It achieves that with a proprietary tuned resonator and acoustic resistor that replicates the natural response of ear canals.
The earplugs are available as a single pack, two-pack, and two-pack combo and come with different fits. You can opt for the standard size, large, or even both if you’re not so sure about what will fit in your ears the best.
They sell the tips in a few different colors, including blue, frost, white, and a mix of blue and white.
To make sure you don’t lose or break them while traveling, the package includes a black neck cord and a storage case.
The Etymotic Research ETY High-Fidelity Earplugs are not recommended for sleep or to be used with any impulse noise, like shooting.
They are reusable but should be replaced every 6 months if you use them constantly. Thankfully, they’re very cheap when compared to other brands currently on the market.
Vic Firth also sells similar ones, under the Vic Firth High Fidelity Earplugs name, developed in conjunction with Etymotic Research.
Content of the package:
- Two earplugs
- Two interchangeable filters (gold & silver)
- Luxury travel box
This is another good set of earplugs developed by one of the biggest brands in the world of hearing protection.
They come with two interchangeable filter systems, with different attenuation levels, that reduce up to 19 (silver) or 22 dB (gold).
The Alpine MusicSafe Classic Earplugs reduce the volume to a safe level while maintaining the sound quality throughout the different frequencies. That allows you to reduce ear fatigue while playing and at the same time, hold a conversation with your bandmates.
It’s made of a hypoallergenic, sustainable, and flexible material that adapts to the shape of the ear canal.
For convenience, the earplugs come with a travel box to store all the earplugs and filters. You can easily attach the tube to a keyring making it easy to always have your earplugs nearby.
Proper maintenance can be done using Alpine Clean spray, or just the good old warm water and soap. Maintenance extends the lifespan of the earplugs and keeps them clean, but Alpine advises you to not use them more than 100 times.
The Pro version comes with three filters, with the extra one being white and reducing up to 16 dB. It also includes a storage case, carrying cord, cleaning spray, and an extra earplug.
- Two earplugs
- Compact aluminum case
- Luminescent sticker
- Companion mobile app
My last suggestion is the Eardial Earplugs that reduce up to 20 dB and have an NRR of 11.
They are almost invisible, since their transparency in both the shell and the filter meshes well with any skin color, thanks to their low-profile design.
EarDial’s attenuation is flat across all levels, meaning the sound that reaches your ears is clear and not distorted.
The earplugs themselves include a grip indent and a pull tab with a grip bump so you can easily put them on, or remove them.
On top of the plugs, there’s a wear wax protection net that helps keeping them clean, by preventing wear wax from building up inside the earplugs.
They are made of soft, hypoallergenic silicone, making them comfortable enough to use during long hours, no matter how sensitive your skin is.
EarDial also created an app that tells you the sound levels around you, as well as how long it is safe to stay, with or without the EarDial Earplugs. The app is available for free, on both Android and iOS devices.
To complete the package, you’ll also get one of the most compact aluminum cases that is both easy to store and carry around, as well as an (optional) luminescent sticker to find them on the darkest of the nights.
Here you have it, these are the best earplugs any drummer can currently get.
In the end, whichever earplugs you choose, or even you if don’t choose any of the ones listed above, just use them.
It doesn’t matter if they’re $20 earplugs, or $300 ones, they only work when you carry them around and use them when you need them the most.
Hearing protection is important because once you damage your hearing, there’s no way to reverse it, so it’s better to prevent it while you can.
For musicians, hi-fi earplugs are the best option considering they preserve the balance of the sound frequencies while lowering the volume at the same time.
If you don’t want to spend $20 – $40, just buy a pack of regular foam earplugs. $10 buys you dozens, but they reduce up to 50% more dB than hi-fi earplugs.
They are also disposable and distort the sound by blocking certain frequencies more than others.
With that in mind, it’s still much better than not wearing anything, especially if you are on a budget and don’t mind the muffled sound.
Other alternatives are in-ear monitors and isolation headphones. You can read more about headphones for drummers HERE.
Hopefully, this article was useful enough to bring enough attention to the importance of ear protection and to help you pick the best earplugs for drummers like you.