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8 Best Earplugs for Concerts [2022]

Earplugs for concerts
Earplugs for concerts

We rank the best earplugs for concerts, festivals, and other music events, so you can enjoy every rhythm guilt-free!

NameNRRSizeAccessories includedPrice
Alpine PartyPlug Pro Best Overall18 dBUniversalSoft storage pouch, wearing cord, and cleaning sprayBUY
Vibes High-Fidelity Earplugs Strong Runner-Up15 dBSmall, Medium & LargeHard caseBUY
Hearprotek High Fidelity Concert Ear Plugs Best Budget20dBStandard & smallAluminum case w/ carabiner, & Neck cordBUY
Loop Experience Pro Earplugs Most Customizable18 or 23dBXS, S, M, LLoop Mute filters, carrying case.BUY
EarPeace Concert Earplugs Most ComfortableChoose between 11, 14 and 19 dBSmall or Medium3 filter sets and an aluminum case with keychain clipBUY
Eargasm Smaller Ears Earplugs Best for People with Small Ears15 dBSmall & Extra SmallWaterproof aluminum caseBUY
EAROS ONE Best for Musicians17dBSmall & Large2 sizes of ear tips, and carrying caseBUY
EarDial HiFi Earplugs Most Discreet11dBUniversalCompact aluminum case with keychain and optional glow-in-the-dark stickersBUY

How to Pick the Best Earplugs for Concert

Getting earplugs for concerts might seem counterintuitive. You’re at the concert to hear music, after all.

The reality is that concerts are often too loud, with the average being between 110dB to 120 dB. Almost double a normal conversation which is at 60dB.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that is enough to cause immediate damage to the ears when endured for a long period of time. So, if you are an avid musician or a frequent concert-goer who also cares about safety, wearing earplugs is a must.

The loudest concert in history, Sleazy Joe’s 2008 performance in Sweden, was a recorded 143.2 dB – nearly as loud as a jet engine at 30 meters.

Unfortunately, for rock-n-roll fans, finding earplugs to help them preserve their hearing can be difficult. Just about any product that blocks out sound won’t work here – you’d still want to hear the artists!

That’s why, you should always go for something that allows you to still accurately hear the music while staying at a safe listening level.

To start, here are the key factors you need to know to be able to enjoy concerts with earplugs on safely:

Noise Reduction Rating

A Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is a number given to earplugs and other hearing protection devices (HPDs) to tell consumers how well the product reduces volume.

However, understanding NRR isn’t as straightforward as subtracting the NRR from the ambient noise level to estimate the dB level your ears will actually experience.

That is because NRR ratings (as advertised) are usually on the optimistic side and determined in an ideal environment under highly controlled conditions. Real people in the real world wearing earplugs in dynamic situations often don’t get the laboratory results.

That’s why some organizations like, OSHA and NIOSH, do their own rating, referred to as a ‘derating’. Derating essentially considers real world limitations to arrive at a hearing protection level HPDs can realistically offer. This is calculated using a specific formula, depending on the organization you follow.

The numbers reflecting the NRR are also an estimate based on how well these hearing protection devices fit. Less-than-optimal fit equals less protection than the suggested NRR.

But, let’s suppose that you are wearing earplugs properly. What level of NRR would you want?

Luckily, the solution lies in this familiar phrase, “There’s an app for that!” Both Sound Meter (Android) and Decibel X:dB (iPhone) let you detect ambient dB levels. Play music at a level comfortable for you and check the dB rating. Subtract this number from 120, the average concert dB level, to get your minimum NRR rating.

You may also wish to target your adjusted dB rating to the length of the concert. Audiologists have recommended maximum dB ratings for various listening times as follows:

  • 15 Minutes: No more than 100 dB.
  • 50 Minutes: No more than 90-95 dB.
  • 120 Minutes: No more than 85 dB.

Sound muffling vs sound filtering

In reality, there are many types of earplugs, including pre-molded earplugs, flat attenuating earplugs, semi-insert plugs, and more.

Among these types, there are those that are specifically made for each activity. Some hearing protection devices are great for mowing or shooting, but won’t work well with concerts.

This is because regular earplugs cut out high frequencies excessively and generally block out too much sound, making it impossible to hear what the band or artist is playing.

Fortunately, there are specialized earplugs for musicians and concert attendees. Compared to foam, they have lower attenuation, which dulls the force and power of the music.

Add to that the high-fidelity acoustic filters these earplugs utilize that allow concert-goers to enjoy music clearly while preserving their hearing. This means you’ll still hear the music at a reduced dB rating, but without the muffled ‘blurry’ quality foam earplugs give.

This works quite like a funnel – by reducing the amount of sound and air that comes into your ears without actually blocking out specific frequencies. It generally results in a smooth, flat attenuation across all frequencies.

So, instead of blocking out the bass or trebles, which most earplugs do, these simply turn down the volume of all sounds.

The first earplugs that took advantage of high-fidelity filters are the ER-15 from Etymotic Research, which provide hearing protection while still “preserving the natural response of the open ear.”

Comfort and fit

Concerts typically run for a long time, with the main band playing for quite some time, along with opening acts. That’s between 90 minutes and 2 hours of wearing earplugs you’ll have to contend with.

Naturally, you don’t want to be uncomfortable throughout this time. Not to mention, dealing with any lingering agitation from ill-fitting or uncomfortable earplugs.

Picking the right hearing protection, including earplugs, depends largely on the size, material, and form.

Don’t be like this unfortunate Japanese woman, who developed contact dermatitis in her eardrum after using rubber earplugs. Carefully check materials used to avoid allergies.

As they go deep into the ear canal, size is a significant factor to pay attention to. Similar to how we buy shoes for our unique foot sizes, everyone has a unique ear size and shape. Since it isn’t practical to sample many individual earplugs to get a comfortable fit, prioritize buying earplugs with many ear tip options.

And while you’re out looking for the ideal pair of earplugs, use the three-step talk, tap, and listen approach to check if the earplugs have the desired fit and seal.

If your ears have an unusual size or shape, custom earplugs exist but are over triple the price of the best earplugs for concert listening without custom fitting. They can also take several weeks to make and might be difficult to return if problems occur.

Aesthetics

We can’t deny that people go to concerts for more than just the music. For many, it is an excellent place to socialize and form connections. GQ, for example, has declared that Coachella resembles a fashion show now.

Given these changing cultural sensibilities, modern earplugs now come in various colors and levels of shininess. Like earrings, they can complement an entire look or take on an eclectic look of their own.

Lastly, some people want earplugs to be practically invisible. This can be for a variety of reasons, from a fashion perspective to a perceived stigma of wearing earplugs in public. The invisible aesthetic can be acquired by picking earplugs made of transparent materials and smaller design.

To avoid the uncomfortable situation of having earplugs stuck in your ears, don’t select earplugs so small that they are completely inside your ear. Small earplugs should still have a stem poking out a bit. Make sure you can see it before placing them in your ears.

How long can you use them?

You can use your earplugs for as long as they remain functional. This will depend on what material they are made of, with silicone and other similar materials lasting considerably longer than less durable materials, such as foam.

Most concert-appropriate earplugs won’t begin to degrade until 3-6 months with regular usage. That said, custom-molded earplugs are known to last for up to 4-5 years!

Here are some signs that your earplugs need replacement:

  • Noticeably Reduced Noise Reduction: If this happens after a few months of owning the earplugs, it probably isn’t that you are at louder concerts or having ear problems.
  • Discoloration: As silicone ages, what was once white or clear turns yellow due to exposure to the sun and resulting oxidation. While this is usually cosmetic, it can lead to degradation in extreme cases.
  • Tears: Look for even the slightest tearing and structural damage that can reduce the quality of your earplugs.
  • Changes in Texture and Flexibility: Like wear-and-tear and discoloration, texture changes are also signs that your earplugs are losing structural integrity.

Luckily, our suggested best earplugs for concerts are price-effective enough for a couple of pairs each year. Let’s get into those now:

8 Best Earplugs for Concerts [2022]

Alpine PartyPlug Pro

Best Overall
The Alpine PartyPlug Pro displayed with box and accessories. (from: Amazon)
The Alpine PartyPlug Pro displayed with box and accessories. (from: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 18 dB
  • Material: AlpineThermoShape
  • Size: Universal
  • Accessories: soft storage pouch, wearing cord, and cleaning spray

The Alpine PartyPlug Pro earplugs are our top-of-the-line pick due to their unique material and filter. These provide uniform attenuation and low-to-no music distortion.

The material used, Alpine’s proprietary AlpineThermoShape, does what it says on the tin. It adapts to your ear shape naturally after warming up. In this way, you can get a custom fit without the hassle and expense of an ear fitting.

Another bonus of the material is that it is very ‘hypoallergic’. It doesn’t have silicone, latex, or any colorants or plasticizers that might cause some people allergies.

Allergic reactions to silicone are rare. Many people allergic to silicone develop red, itchy rashes after exposure.

The linear filter creates an even balance of sound coming through the earplugs, no matter what part of the spectrum that sound is from. Where some earplugs will mute dull high-pitched shrieks or deep bass beats, this filter will keep them intact relative to other sounds. In other words, you can expect even performance across the sound spectrum.

When compared to the original PartyPlug earplugs, you’ll be able to see a big difference in overall quality. The originals didn’t have the linear filter or some other cool accessories you’ll see with the PartyPlug Pro earplugs, like the addition of cleaning spray or a carrying cord.

Overall, the PartyPlug Pro earplugs have something for everybody and should be a safe universal choice for most concert fanatics. However, the one-size-fits-all approach of their ear tips may not work for everyone. Those with larger ear canals might find that the warping affects the quality or doesn’t give the fit they want.

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Vibes High-Fidelity Earplugs

Strong Runner-Up
The Vibes High-Fidelity Earplugs shown next to the box, size choices, and included case. (from: Amazon)
The Vibes High-Fidelity Earplugs shown next to the box, size choices, and included case. (from: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 15 dB
  • Material: Soft silicone & ABS plastic
  • Size: Small, Medium & Large
  • Accessories: hard case

The Vibes High-Fidelity Earplugs have a smooth, bulbous insert of soft silicone that attaches to a long, clear plastic stem. As a result, they are just as easy to pull out of your ears as they are to put in. Both actions should feel comfortable and slick, not putting any pressure or friction on the insides of your ears.

The Vibes sound familiar to you? That’s because they were featured in ABC’s hit reality TV show, Shark Tank, during its 8th season.

When in a concert environment, the Vibes tend to reduce the volume of the loudest noises while not interfering too much with quieter, local noises. You should still be able to talk with friends easily while wearing them.

The Vibes come with three sets of tips, sized as small, medium, and large, and are suitable for people of all ages. The stem is long and largely transparent, providing reduced visibility without sacrificing ease of removal.

However, one takeaway is that they have mixed performance in the deeper pitches. Interestingly enough, they work quite aggressively on most deep sounds, but not the deepest ones. This is most noticeable in concerts and songs that rely heavily on bass notes to carry the music, which may sound strange or distorted.

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Hearprotek High Fidelity Concert Ear Plugs

Best Budget
The Hearprotek displayed with box and accessories. (from: Amazon)
The Hearprotek displayed with box and accessories. (from: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 20 dB
  • Material: Silicone/foam, & ABS plastic
  • Size: Standard & small
  • Accessories: Aluminum case w/ carabiner & Neck cord

The Hearprotek High Fidelity Concert Ear Plugs provide high protection, 20 dB NRR, without costing much. Designed to quieten noise but not eliminate hearing altogether, they are perfect for concerts when budget matters.

The curved design keeps them quite comfortable. A wide, flat stem on the outside of the earplugs makes removal easy, even for those with wide fingers. Since the earplugs are transparent and entirely curved to fit up next to the sides of your ears, they are very discrete.

Included is a storage bin with a carabiner and neck cord.

Pro tip: While touring the concert venue, clip the bin onto a belt loop or keep your earplugs around your neck. The bin’s opening is narrow, so make sure you are in an area where you won’t get bumped or knocked around before attempting to put them away.

However, perhaps because of the low price, the earplugs themselves and the neck cord can break easily, with just a few tugs. If you choose to go with this, make sure to handle them with extra care,

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Loop Experience Pro Earplugs

Most Customizable
The Loop Experience Pro Earplugs next to box and open case. (from: Amazon)
The Loop Experience Pro Earplugs next to box and open case. (from: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 18 or 23 dB
  • Material: Silicone/foam & ABS plastic
  • Size: XS, S, M, L
  • Accessories: Loop Mute filters, carrying case

The Loop Experience Pro Earplugs come as a 14-piece set with many parts to mix and match. It is all of these parts that make the Loop Experience Pro so customizable, so let’s take a look at them one by one:

  • 4 sizes of silicone ear tip pairs: The sizes range from extra-small to large, so you’re likely to find something that will fit you best.
  • 3 sizes of foam ear tip pairs: For foam, the sizes only go from small to large.
  • 2 colors of loop mute filter pairs: The loop mute filters are what make the Loop Experience Pro so cool! Just pop them into the outer loop of your earplugs to reduce the sound by an extra 5 dB.

Obviously, the big draw of the Loop Experience Pro are the loop mute filter inserts. Visually, they look like they would do absolutely nothing to reduce incoming sound, but they do work. Just fit them into the outer ring to reduce noise; no battery or electric parts required.

From a design perspective, they look like a ring in your ear. Depending on your comfort levels with having other people perceive you as being pierced, this can either be a pro or a con. If you want to go bold though, use the white loop mute filter to add high-contrast pizazz.

If you aren’t a fan of the loop mute filter inserts but like the aesthetics, the standard Loop Experience Earplugs don’t have them.

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EarPeace Concert Earplugs

Most Comfortable
The EarPeace Concert Earplugs next to filled box and carabiner case. (from: Amazon)
The EarPeace Concert Earplugs next to filled box and carabiner case. (from: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: Choose between 11, 14, and 19 dB
  • Material: Hypoallergenic Soft Silicone
  • Size: Small or Medium
  • Accessories: 3 filter sets and an aluminum case with a keychain clip

The EarPeace Concert Earplugs are made of soft silicone that slides in and out of the ears very smoothly. There is no hard plastic or scratchy surface to damage your ears. Additionally, the soft silicone won’t push too firmly against the edges of your ear canal, reducing total pressure in the ears.

Beyond just being soft, we also appreciate the semi-transparent material the earplugs are made of. They also happen to be hypoallergenic.

You can choose what level of noise reduction you want with the three filter sets rated ‘medium’, ‘high’, and ‘max’ for 11, 14, or 19 dB reduction, respectively. The filters are meant to be slid into or out of the earplugs and can be inserted quite effortlessly, thanks to the soft silicone.

One remarkable fact about the EarPeace is that they have worked with Metallica, Red Bull, and Lollapalooza amongst others. EarPeace founder Jay Clark describes himself as a “die-hard NPR fan” and has worked with the popular radio group to make custom NPR earplugs.

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Eargasm Smaller Ears Earplugs

Best for People with Small Ears
The Eargasm Smaller Ears Earplugs with box and accessories. (from: Amazon)
The Eargasm Smaller Ears Earplugs with box and accessories. (from: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 15 dB
  • Material: Hypoallergic Soft Silicone
  • Size: Small & Extra Small
  • Accessories: Waterproof aluminum case

The Eargasm Smaller Ears Earplugs are made specifically for people with smaller ears. In fact, they work best for people that have the smallest 20% of ear canals.

Eargasm also has High Fidelity Earplugs with a performance of NRR 15 dB for people with regular and large sized ears.

A nice byproduct of their small size and clear silicone build is that they are nearly invisible when worn. The blue filter on these devices sits inside them and is dark enough not to attract much attention, as it snugly fits deep in the ear canal.

These Eargasm Smaller Ears attenuation filters will not work with the regular High Fidelity Earplugs. So make sure you’re getting the right size when looking for replacements.

One drawback of the Eargasm earplugs is that they get slippery when wet. At a hot summer dance-fueled rock concert event, you’re likely to get sweaty. Once this happens, you’ll find yourself having to periodically readjust your Eargasm earplugs for maximum effect.

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EAROS ONE

Best for Musicians
The EAROS ONE earplugs look a bit like earbuds. (From: Amazon)
The EAROS ONE earplugs look a bit like earbuds. (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 17 dB
  • Material: Medical-grade ABS plastic and TPE
  • Size: Small & Large
  • Accessories: 2 sizes of ear tips and a carrying case

The EAROS ONE are high-fidelity acoustic filters that work well for musicians. They use a special soundbore that replicates the inner ear structure to provide a better seal and overall attenuation without any discomfort.

The filters, made of thermoplastic elastomers, provide 17 dB of NRR while maintaining sound clarity.

The EAROS ONE filters were developed by DJ Ronie Madra, who suffers from tinnitus. Wanting to help others avoid his fate, he says he reached out to scientists like the late Dr. Richard Lyon of MIT to develop the EAROS ONE.

When in loud concert settings, using the EAROS ONE will allow you to talk to your bandmates clearly while not getting the full deafening roar of the act happening on stage. This can help you feel comfortable and in control of your own environment.

Aesthetically, the EAROS ONE mimic earbuds to some degree. They are black with a copper-colored diagonal running across the outside, which gives off a classic rock feel.

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EarDial HiFi Earplugs

Most Discreet
The EarDial HiFi Earplugs with accessories displayed next to phone using companion app. (from: Amazon)
The EarDial HiFi Earplugs with accessories displayed next to phone using companion app. (from: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 11 dB
  • Material: Hypoallergenic Soft Clear Silicone
  • Size: Universal
  • Accessories: Compact aluminum case with keychain and optional glow-in-the-dark stickers

The EarDial HiFi Earplugs are tiny, thinly built, and practically invisible. If you’re looking for the perfect earplugs for a friend that finds using them embarrassing, these are your best choice.

While many earplugs have parts that are transparent, the inner filter parts are usually opaque or have a darker color. Not so with the EarDial HiFi earplugs, which are transparent throughout. Everything from the stem to the earwax protection valve in the deepest parts of your ear are made with soft, hypoallergenic silicone.

Moreover, we really like the EarDial companion app – available on the Play Store and App Store – for its straightforward approach to ear safety.

The app allows you to record local sounds and tells you how long you’ll be safe in that environment with your EarDial earplugs in. It even has a list of phone models to calibrate to, thus enhancing accuracy.

One of their highlights is the low 11 dB NRR rating. While this could be a negative for some, they make the perfect earplugs for concerts that are just a tad too loud.

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