Best Earplugs Reviewed
To train at your best, getting a good night’s sleep is important. It is hard to sleep when your neighbor likes to practice their trombone at 11 at night. Investing in a good pair of earplugs on hand can save you from that very frustrating situation.
Not only can they help you sleep, but it’s good to have on hand when you encounter a noisy situation. Incredibly loud and persistent noises can cause irreversible damage to your hearing. You only get one pair of ears (unless you are a robot), so you better make sure you take good care of them.
No matter what you want to block out, there is a good pair of earplugs that are perfect for you. In this guide, we have compiled a list of some of our favorite plugs currently out there on the market.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 7 hrs of research
Made from silicone
Top 10 Picks
1. Softvox V1
Made from silicone
Minor noise cancellation
The reason that we placed the Softvox V1 at the top of our list is that they hit all of the marks that users want out of their earbuds. They are lightweight, comfortable, and incredibly effective. If you are finished with participating in all of the sounds of the world, you may want to check these out.Read more
This design comes in a pack of three, so you need to be careful not to use them! The good news is that each pack of three comes with an included carrying case that you can pop onto your backpack or hang off of your keychain for when you need it.
They are made from a soft silicone material that bends to shape to the inside of your ear. One of the things that we liked most about silicon options is that you can wear them swimming without water getting in your ear. Plus, they are large enough that they will stay in place even as you sleep.
If you are in the market for something that is incredibly effective and made from quality materials, the Softvox V1 is one of your best options. Users love the soft yet sturdy design that stays in place no matter where your adventures take you, or how much you toss and turn as you sleep at night.
2. Howard Leight
Pack of 200
Not water resistant
A little narrow
Do you feel that a good chunk of your life is spent looking for your car keys? If that’s the case, you may want to check out this option from Howard Leight. It comes in a pack of 200 disposable options, which means that losing a pair isn’t really a problem! Plus, they are made from quality materials that are incredibly effective no matter if you are sleeping or at a concert.Read more
One of the things that users loved most about the Howard Leight design is that they are made from incredibly soft and squishy foam. This foam bends to conform to the shape of your ear which does an excellent job at keeping noise out. They are so comfortable, you may even forget that you are wearing them after a while.
They also come in a pack of 200, which means that if you lose a pair- there is another waiting in the wings! Due to the fact that these products are so small and easy to misplace, a large container to have at your disposal means that you will never be without. Plus, disposable options are a little bit more hygienic!
If you are in the market for something that is soft and simple, this is one of your best options. It is made from super-soft materials that contour to the shape of your ear that is perfect for even the most sensitive of ears.
3. Reverbs High Fidelity
Only pack of 2
You are at a concert, and none of your friends are wearing anything to protect their hearing. You want to pop in a pair of plugs, but you worry about your friends giving you a hard time. If that the case, this clear pair from Reverbs High Fidelity is a great option. Plus, it doesn’t block out sound completely, it just reduces the audible decibels.Read more
As we mentioned earlier, our favorite feature of this option is that it is clear. That means that no one will be able to tell that you have them in your ears. Another thing that we liked is that they also have a pair that has a bring green tip so that if you want the people around you to know that you cannot hear, this is a great option to wear.
Each purchase comes with a pack of two. One has a clear tip, and the other has a bright green tip for the times you want people to know you cannot hear. Each option is made from a hypoallergenic silicone material that forms to the shape of your ear for a comfortable and easy fit.
If you are in the market for something that will go unnoticed for those times you want to limit sound but you don’t want everyone to know it, this is a great option! It is made from natural materials that you can feel good about popping into your ear.
4. Mack's Dreamgirl
Pack of 50
Not water resistant
Suffer from small ears? Finding comfortable gear that fits into your ears without digging into the sides proves to be a difficult task. What we love about Mack's Dreamgirl is that they built to be a tad smaller than other designs out there on the market, which is perfect for those with slightly smaller ears than most.Read more
The most notable feature about this design lies in the size. As we mentioned earlier, they are designed for smaller ears that have a hard time finding the right size that fits comfortably. They have a simple shape as well, which is ideal for really contouring to the inside of your ear.
Another thing worth noting about Mack's Dreamgirl is that they are made from incredibly soft materials that you may even forget that you are wearing after so long. It is made from a lightweight foam that contours to the inside of your ear. Plus, it comes in a big pack of 50 pairs, which means you can simply throw them away after each use.
If you are in the market for something that is lightweight and easy to wear, this is one of your best options. It is made from foam that really contours to the shape of your ear, and you can simply throw them away when you are finished using them.
5. Flents Quiet Please
Pack of 50
Not water resistant
Pops out easily
Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to this design from Flents Quiet Please. It has a simple shape like a cork that pops into your ear and contours to the shape of your ear canal to really block loud noises. Plus, the beige color makes it look like you aren’t wearing anything at all.Read more
If you feel a little reluctant to try other foam options because they often come in neon pink or neon yellow, this option from Flents Quiet Please is a little more subtle. It has a basic cork shape that comes in a basic beige color so that no one will even know you are wearing anything.
Users also really love that this comes in a pack to 100 plugs. This means that once you are finished using it, simply toss it in the garbage. Reusable options are ideal for those that are reluctant to use reusable gear that can sometimes get a little dirty. The soft foam easily compresses and shapes to the size of your ear for a comfortable fit.
For those in the market for something that is simple and easy, Flents Quiet Please is one of your best options. It has a simple and basic shape that works quite well at canceling noise and feels lightweight and incredibly comfortable. Plus, simply toss them in the bin after you are finished using them.
Pack of 60
Minor noise cancellation
Neutral or clear options means that people may be trying to get your attention and assume that you are ignoring them because it doesn't look like you have anything in your ears. This brightly colored design from Mpow will prevent that from ever happening! They have the same color as a tennis ball and stick out from your head a little bit more than most.Read more
One of the things that we loved most about this design is that they are made from an incredibly soft foam material that really forms to the shape of your ear. You may even forget that you are wearing them after a while! However, the brightly colored design means that everyone will know that you have elected not to listen to them.
It is listed as 34Db SNR, which means that it will take 100 decibels and reduce it down to 65. While it doesn’t block out everything completely, it diminishes it a good deal.
If you are in the market for something that comes in a bright color that sends a message to everyone around you to leave you alone, this is a great option. It is made from quality foam that feels great and contours to the shape of your ear for a comfortable fit. While it doesn’t cancel the noise completely, it absorbs a good deal of the noise around you.
Pack of 12
Modest noise reduction
What we liked most about this option from Luiswell is that they are made to be used over and over again. They come with an included lanyard that reduces the risk that you will accidentally lose them in they happen to pop out of your ear. Plus, they also come with a handy little carrying case that is easy to pop into a purse or backpack.Read more
One of the things that we loved most about this design is that while it is reusable, it still comes in a pack of 12. Many reusable options only come with 2 or 3 pairs, which means that you can only lose them 2 or 3 times before you need to head back to the store. Luiswell is a little more forgiving for those that are always losing or misplacing things!
This blue pair is great at blocking out useless noise. It absorbs a lot of the unwanted noise around you, but it doesn’t block out speech. That means you can wear them to block out the sound of the airplane, but not the voice of the flight attendant when they ask if you want a snack.
If you are in the market for something that is reusable, this is a great option. It comes in a pack of 12 which means that you are a little more free to lose a pair or 10. It also comes with a lanyard that makes them easier to have on hand, as well as an included carrying case which is great for traveling.
Filters excessive noise
Falls out easily
This option from Vibes looks more like wireless earbuds and less like earplugs! They are made to fit into your ear comfortably so that you may even forget that you are wearing anything at all. Plus, they have a unique design on the tip that actually filters out the sound before it even hits your ear.Read more
One of the things that we liked most about this design is that it comes with three different shapes of plastic plugs so that you have the option to find the perfect fit for your ear. It is able to filter out excessive noises without sacrificing the quality of sound. THis makes them perfect for concerts or for traveling where you still want to be aware of your surroundings.
Users also really appreciate that each design is made to be virtually invisible. That means that you can pop these in before you head to a concert without any of your friends being away that you are wearing anything at all. Plus, it comes with a sleek carrying case that makes then easy to take with you on the go.
If you are in the market for something that is sleek and discreet, this is a great option. We love that it has a clear design that looks like you are wearing nothing at all, and it also comes with three different shapes of plugs. It also comes with a carrying case to help make sure that you won’t accidentally lose them.
Minimal noise cancellation
What we liked about this option from Eargasm is that they are sleek and discreet, and do a great job at filtering out excessive noise. It has a clear design that likes like you aren’t wearing anything at all, but it also comes with an additional pair with a blue tip that will indicate to your fellow passengers that you cannot hear them.Read more
The thing that previous users loved most about this option is that they do a really great job of blocking out excessive noise and protecting your hearing. They fit comfortably in your ear and have a long arm that makes taking them out or adjusting them just a little bit easier.
What we also liked about this design is that it comes with a carrying case that makes traveling just a little bit easier. The carry case has a metal ring that allows you to clip it to your keychain or even on your backpack to ensure that you always have them on hand when you need them most.
If you are in the market for something that is sleek and discreet that works great at filter out noise, this is a great option. It is important to note that it only comes in a pack of 2 pairs, which means that you will need to be extra careful to not lose them! However, the included carrying case takes the pressure off a little bit.
Small and discreet
Hard to remove
Easy to lose
Need something simple and small? This option from DownBeats is one of your best choices. What we loved about this design is that it has a clear and incredibly small design that will leave most of the people around your perplexed as to why you are outright ignoring them! Plus, it comes with a simple carrying case that you can pop right on to your keychain.Read more
Our favorite feature of this option is that they are incredibly small and clear. This means that you can pop them right into your ear and no one will even know that you are wearing them. The downside to this incredibly small design is that they are just a little difficult to pop out of your ears.
As far as noise-canceling is concerned, these little buds fall about in the middle of the pack. When placed in your ears, they can absorb and block out about 18 decibels of noise that is happening around you. While it doesn’t block out 100 percent of noise around you, it does a great job of cutting out a lot of the excessive noise.
If you are in the market for something that is small and effective, this is one of your best options. The only downside that we noticed about his option is they are a little difficult to get out of your ear once placed.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
You want to make sure that anything that you stick in your ear is made from quality materials!
Your mother always told you not to stick stuff in your ears because you don’t know where it has been. The same sentiment can be applied to earplugs as well.
We wanted to make sure that we selected designs that were made from materials that were hypoallergenic, safe, comfortable, and effective. This allows them to stay in place even while you are engaging in a brutal workout! From our research, we discovered that most designs fall into two camps: silicone and foam. Below, we have gone into a little bit of detail on the benefits and disadvantages of both options.
Silicone: Many of the reusable options are constructed from silicone. Silicone a type of plastic that is very bendy and pliable. This makes for a great plug due to the fact that it bends to fit the shape of your ear to cut out the noise.
One of the downsides to silicone is that it often isn’t as comfortable as their foam counterparts. While it can bend, it just will not form to the shape of your ear as you wear it. This means that if you purchase a pair that doesn’t quite fit right, it will never form to the inside of your ear.
The benefits of silicone are that it is reusable. When you are finished using it, run it under some warm water to clean it and let it air dry, and you are ready for your next concert. However, this means that you need to be extra careful not to lose them!
Foam: If you want something that is comfortable, foam is the way to go. Foam designs often come in a box of 25 or more and are made to be thrown away once you are done using it. The great thing about foam is that it forms to the shape of your ear as you wear them. That means that the longer you wear them, the more comfortable they become.
The downside about foam is that you will need to replace them when you reach the bottom of the container. Plus, they cannot be worm while swimming. Silicone options are great for swimming because they wick away water, but foam options actually absorb water- which is far from ideal!
If they don’t cut down on the noise, then what’s the point?
We wanted to make sure that that the styles that we selected actually worked at cutting down the noise. There were a few things that we took into consideration when selecting designs that actually worked.
First of all, it’s important to note that none of the options out there on the market are able to cut out noise completely. If you want to slip into a sound sensory deprivation chamber, you will need expensive noise cancellation headphones that use a low-frequency noise that cancels the sound around you.
In the case of earplugs, it’s a matter of blocking out loud noises or absorbing a percentage of sound around you. For concerts, you will want to select something that blocks out around 35 decibels of sound to protect your hearing. This means that if 100 decibels of sound is being pumped out by the speakers, your plugs will absorb about 35 decibels of sounds, which means you will hear about 65 decibels of sound. This is a safe level of sound that will not hurt your hearing or your eardrums.
Another thing that we took into consideration to make sure that they were effective was to ensure that they fit into your ear well. Foam designs are made to fit into most size ears because they form to fit into every shape of the ear canal. For silicone options, we wanted to make sure that we selected designs that were bendy and pliable, or that offered different sizes of plugs for different shapes of ears.
Before you take the plunge, take into consideration what is more important to you. If you are constantly going to concerts, a higher decibel level will be more beneficial to you. If you are simply traveling and need to cut out excessive noise, a lover 15-25 level decibel level reduction will be better for your needs.
Earbuds are small and are a cinch to carry around- but the real trick is not to lose them!
When we talk about portability, we are talking about how easy they are to take with you without losing them. There are a few brands out there that include a few extra accessories to ensure that you won’t lose them.
Carrying case: A good carrying case is a great way to ensure that you won’t lose them. In fact, a lot of the carrying cases out there on the market are small and compact and come with a metal loop. This metal loop allows you to hook it onto your backpack, purse, or even on your car keys.
Sure, you can toss them into your pack when you need it, but that can become problematic. In the same way that your drier always seems to make one sock disappear after every wash, your tote works the same way with loose earplugs!
Lanyard: These little devices have a history of popping our of your ear and trying to escape when you least expect it. Brands that offer a lanyard that hooks to each plug is a great way to ensure that they don’t go anywhere. This option is great for those training with a lot of movement and needs something to stay in place.
While the lanyard option may not look discreet, it ensures that you never lose just one plug. When it comes to disposable foam options, this loss isn’t that big of a deal. However, if you opt for reusable silicone options, one missing plug means that you will need to take another trip to the store for a replacement (which no one wants to do).
If it’s not comfortable, you won’t wear them.
Whether you are simply trying to sleep, or at a concert, the last thing that you want is a pain in your ears. We have all been there, whether it is a poor-fitting pair of earbuds or plugs, it is a pain that is incredibly annoying.
We wanted to make sure that we selected designs that fit well, and they were also very comfortable. Those that have larger ear canals don’t have the same problems as those with smaller canals. That’s why we made sure to include a few options that were designed for those that have smaller ear canals.
When it comes to foam designs, comfort isn’t as much of a problem. If comfort is your number one concern, foam is the way to go! Soft and squishy foam is great because there is no hard edge to dig into the outside of your ear. Plus, the soft material forms to fit the shape of your ear as you wear it. Due to the fact that foam also absorbs heat, it will also adjust to your body temperature as well!
While silicone is also comfortable, it doesn’t hold a candle to foam options. However, if you wish to select silicone due to the fact that they are reusable, we suggest selecting a design that has various sizes of plugs. This will ensure that you select a design that will not dig into your ear, and will fit comfortably.
The size determines how easy they are to get in and out of your ear.
Smaller sizes may seem ideal because they won’t be noticed by others and they won’t feel like they are in the way, but there are some disadvantages.
First of all, you need to consider that at some point you need to remove them. There is nothing scarier than trying to remove something from your ear and having trouble! We tried to avoid that feeling as much as possible.
There were a few things that we considered to side-step that potentially terrifying situation. The first thing that we looked at for each design was length. The longer the unit the easier it will be to take out of your ear. We also liked silicon options that had a long arm to pull for easy removal.
The downside to larger options is that they have a tendency to get snagged on things that can cause them to pop out of your ear. If you want something that will stay put, smaller designs may be better for your needs.
Before you take the plunge, take into consideration how terrified you are to get something stuck in your ear. If you land low on the terror scale, a smaller option may be more ideal for your needs.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Loud concerts are great, but they do a lot of damage to your ears over time. Simply muffling out 35 decibels can make all of the difference in the world. If you don’t like the idea of being the only one at the Metallica concert with earplugs, we suggest opting for a clear or neutral color so that no one will be able to tell!
The first documented instance of people plugging their ears was found in Homer’s The Oddessey. Oddesseyous instructed his travelers to use beeswax to block their ears from the sirens. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that the first silicone option was invented by Ray and Cecelia Benner.
About 1/3rd of US residents experience some degree of hearing loss between the ages of 65 and 75. By being proactive and protecting your hearing with earplugs, you can work to mitigate this loss throughout the course of your lifetime.
Other Factors to Consider
Sound is an amazing sense that can conjure up old memories, and make you feel at peace with the world. Other times, you just want everyone to shut up! When those moments creep up on you, a good pair of earplugs is a great tool to have on hand.
A good pair of plugs can help you sleep, help you focus on your training without outside distractions at the gym, calm your nerves as you travel, help you focus while studying, or dimish loud noises that could cause hearing loss over time. They are a great tool to have if you work around loud machinery, ride motorcycles, or go to a lot of concerts.
Hearing is one of our most precious senses, so it is in your best interest to protect it whenever possible! The good news here is the earplugs are small, and easy to keep with you at all times when you need them!
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Why do I need them?
There is a myriad of scenarios that call for earplugs! If you are trying to sleep as your neighbor practices their trombone in the middle of the night, they can help you get some Zs without screaming out the window at your neighbor. It’s also a great tool to help cut out distracting noise as you study, or even as you train at the gym.
They can also help protect your hearing from loud noises. Users love to bring them along to loud concerts, or when working with heavy machinery. Due to the fact that they are so small, you can simply mount them to your keychain for the moment in which you need them.
q: How loud is too loud?
Everyone loves loud concerts, but at what decibel range damages your hearing? Persistent and prolonged exposure to noises that are over 85 decibels run the risk of damaging your hearing.
To put it into perspective, 85 decibels is about as loud as a powerful lawnmower. Your average concert pumps out music at a decibel level of about 110, so it is super important that you come to the event center with your plugs in hand!
q: Can I wear them when swimming?
If you are simply wearing them while during laps in the pool, reusable silicone options are considered to be safe to wear in the pool. If you wear them diving, they will more than likely pop out of your ears the moment that you hit the water.
If you opt for the foam options, you cannot wear them while in the pool. Due to the fact that foam is very porous, it will absorb water while you swim, which increases the risk of an ear infection.
If you intend on wearing when while you swim, we suggest opting for a silicone design. There are also a lot of plugs out there on the market that is designed specifically for swimming to help keep your ears protected.
q: Are they safe to wear for long periods of time?
Yes, they are safe to wear while you sleep for prolonged periods of time. However, there are a few side effects to keep in mind if you intend on wearing them to bed every night.
When you pop plugs into your ears, you push earwax to the back of your ear which can cause buildup which can actually cause hearing loss or tinnitus. This can be easily cleared up with eardrops that serve to soften the wax.
Another thing to consider is that using the same plugs night after night can cause bacteria growing on the plug to cause an infection. To avoid an infection, be sure to wash your silicone plugs each and every night.
If you don’t want to bother with washing them every night, we suggest opting for a box of disposable foam plugs so that you use a clean pair each and every night. It may seem needlessly expensive, but it sure beats an expensive trip to the doctor for an uncomfortable ear infection!
q: Will they block out noise completely?
No, they will not block out noise completely. While some advertise as noise-canceling options, they only block out a set amount of decibels. These decibels range anywhere from 10-25 decibels on average and are enough to protect against hearing loss from loud noises.
This makes them ideal to take along with you if you want some peace and quiet as you travel. They will block out just enough noise to help to get some rest, but not so much so that you miss the snack cart as it travels down the aisle of the airplane!
It’s also a great option for concerts. You paid good money for your tickets, you don’t want to miss a single note. However, prolonged exposure to 110+ decibels can cause tinnitus and temporary hearing loss. With a good pair of plugs, you can dampen the sound to a safe level without missing a single beat.
q: Will they help me sleep?
If you have trouble sleeping because you simply cannot seem to drip off to the sounds that are coming from outside (or your sleeping partner that snores like weedeater), this is a great tool. It muffles out noises such as snoring, dripping faucets, and distant street noises.
The great thing is that they won’t block out important noises such as fire alarms, heavy storms, or late-night phone calls.