Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Welcome to our big earplug test 2021. Here we present all the earplugs we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best earplug for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy an earplug.




The most important facts

  • Whether at home or at work, the right hearing protection helps to prevent hearing damage. Earplugs are particularly suitable for protection because they are small, handy and easy to use.
  • Earplugs differ in active and passive form and are adapted to the respective application. Depending on the situation and noise level, you should choose the appropriate hearing protection.
  • Active earplugs, with their integrated filter, are suitable when communication should continue to take place without problems. Passive hearing protection is ideal as a noise stopper to block out loud ambient noise.

Are you exposed to unpleasant or harmful noise and want to protect your hearing? Then earplugs are the right choice for you. Whether you need hearing protection for use in motor sports, bang protection as a hunter, noise protection for children's sensitive ears or simply for the night, this page will help you.

The Best Earplugs: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying earplugs

What types of earplugs are there and how do they differ?

Basically, noise protectors are divided into two types: active and passive.

Let's start with the active earplug. The functional principle of an active noise protector is based on an automatic volume control. This makes it possible to optimally protect your hearing from high volumes and still perceive quiet sounds. The electronic sound control attenuates sounds above 85 db.

The earplugs are made of silicone, wax or foam to ensure the best possible wearing comfort. Now I would like to introduce you to the passive form of earplugs.

Kind schreit in Studiomikrofon

Your ear is reliably shielded from noise in this way. At the same time, the sound management system ensures full perception and signals or shouts remain clearly audible. (Photo: Jason Rosewell / unsplash.com)

Passive protection is constructed without electronic components. The products are usually cheaper and easier to use than active earplugs. They are versatile and are often sufficient for private use.

Active earplugs are particularly useful for workers, as they help to block out loud noises such as machine noise, but the user can still communicate. Passive earplugs are mainly useful for normal household use.

What are the advantages and disadvantages between active and passive protection?

The advantages of active earplugs are clearly that communication continues. A sound system with a microphone or amplifier is installed in the electronic plugs. This can reduce noise. Desired and quiet sounds are meanwhile recorded and amplified to an audible volume inside the protection.

This mode of operation is important for hunters and police officers, for example, in order to suppress noise on the one hand, but to be able to continue communicating with each other on the other. In some devices, there is an effective shotgun blast protection, which is intended to provide additional protection against sudden noise. This principle also offers effective protection for musicians or concert-goers.

The disadvantage with active earplugs is the cost factor. Since the protection is usually individually fitted by a hearing aid acoustician or other specialist personnel, the price should not be underestimated.

Advantages
  • High attenuation effect
  • Continued communication
  • Customised wearing comfort
  • Reusable
Disadvantages
  • Cost-intensive

The advantage of passive hearing protection is its simplicity of use. Despite its simplicity, passive noise protection can also optimally protect your hearing from high noise levels. In addition, it does not cost much and usually such protection is completely sufficient for private use.

The disadvantage is that hearing protection only attenuates high or low frequencies. It is therefore rather unsuitable if you want to continue to be able to communicate as usual. When choosing passive hearing protection, you must therefore pay attention to the manufacturer's descriptions.

Advantages
  • Cost-intensive
  • High insulation
  • Easy to use
  • Versatile
Disadvantages
  • No continued communication
  • Limited wearing comfort

Which noise protection is right for me?

Depending on what you need an earplug for, there are different products and suppliers where you can choose a suitable noise protector.

The table below will give you a brief overview of the different types of earplugs and which type is best suited to your hearing.

Active earplugs Use
Otoplastics Musicians and music lovers, pilots
Hearing protection with integrated filter Musicians, concerts
Passive earplugs Use
Foam Noise in the workplace or recreational area (concerts, discos), engine noise or when using firearms, playing noisy instruments (e.g. whistle, rattle, drums)
Silicone / wax Athletes (water sports enthusiasts)
Pre-shaped lamella earplugs Ideal for club and disco visits, for sleep problems (e.g. snoring).Suitable for musicians, shooters and workers in industry, hunters, police officers and sports shooters
Clip-on plugs Safety specialists, company doctors, control room personnel, employees in internal transport, craftsmen, maintenance personnel

Gehörschutz auf Baustelle

Passive hearing protection can usually be purchased very inexpensively on the Internet. You can also buy wax earplugs at your local drugstore. (Photo: Taduuda / unsplash.com)

How much do earplugs cost?

Depending on the type of hearing protection you choose, the cost will vary greatly. It is important to know that if you have to use hearing protection for work-related reasons (daytime noise levels of 85 db (A) and above), it is provided free of charge by your employer.

According to § 8 para. 1 of the Noise and Vibration Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance, your supervisor is obliged to provide you with personal hearing protection. Accident insurance institutions (Berufsgenossenschaft or Unfallkasse) only cover the costs if there is an acute risk of an occupational disease (BK 2301 Noise) (according to § 3 Occupational Diseases Ordinance).

If you are buying hearing protection for private reasons, first find out which one is best for you and what purpose it serves.

You can find ordinary foam earplugs very cheaply in any drugstore. You can buy six of them for about six euros. If you opt for active hearing protection (earplugs with a filter function), the costs can be much higher than for passive hearing protection.

Find out exactly which hearing protection is right for you. Prices range from ten euros to 4,500 euros. The costs vary greatly due to various additional technical features.

Decision: What types of earplugs are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between three main types of earplugs:

  • Wax earplugs
  • Foam earplugs
  • Silicone earplugs

In the following section, we will describe the different types and help you find out which earplugs are right for you. For this purpose, we will introduce you to the above-mentioned types in more detail and show you what their advantages and disadvantages are.

Depending on how often you need to protect your hearing from noise, one type of earplug is more suitable for you than another. Basically, a distinction is made between pre-ear plugs and in-ear plugs.

Pre-ear plugs are placed at the ear opening and seal the hearing from the outside. With the latter, the hearing protection is inserted into the ear. The ambient noise is muffled from the inside.

How does a wax earplug work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The wax noise protection product is one of the classic pre-ear plugs. You knead the wax softly with your fingers and press it against your ear opening. The wax earplugs adapt to your ear.

Advantages
  • Fits the ear
  • Pleasant comfort
  • No pressure feeling
  • Skin-friendly
Disadvantages
  • Intended for single use

No feeling of pressure due to the seal from the outside. The plugs offer a smooth wearing comfort. In addition, the skin-friendly material protects your ears from inflammation. The wax earplugs cannot be cleaned. Therefore, it is recommended that you use them only once.

How do foam earplugs work and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Foam earplugs are one of the most common in-ear earplugs. You roll them up with your fingers and insert them into your ears. The foam expands in the ear canal and provides optimal sound protection.

Advantages
  • Optimal sound insulation
  • Reusable
Disadvantages
  • Pressure can cause skin inflammation
  • Unsuitable for small ear canals

If you belong to the group of people who have to use hearing protection more often, then the foam earplugs are just right for you. You can clean them with warm water and soap and use them several times.

Foam in-ear plugs can feel uncomfortable in smaller ear canals. If the foam expands in the ear, it can cause skin inflammation and headaches.

How does a silicone earplug work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

With silicone earplugs, you have a choice between pre-ear and in-ear earplugs. You can shape the pre-ear plugs with your fingers and press them against your ear canal.

Did you know that there are earplugs for swimming?

Children in particular often complain about an uncomfortable feeling in their ears when water gets in. Silicone earplugs can prevent the water from getting into the ears in the first place.

The silicone adapts to your ears thanks to its flexible properties and makes them comfortable to wear. You have to insert the in-ear plugs directly into your ear.

Advantages
  • Fits the ear
  • Suitable for swimming
  • Reusable
Disadvantages
  • Not optimal sound protection

Silicone earplugs are also suitable for swimming. The seal ensures that no water can get into the ear while swimming. You can wash the silicone afterwards and reuse it. However, compared to wax or foam earplugs, silicone earplugs do not provide optimal sound protection.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate earplugs

The following distinguishing features should help you choose the right hearing protection.

  • Attenuation value (SNR)
  • Material
  • Use
  • Cleaning
  • Reusable
  • Sizes

The following paragraphs explain the individual purchase criteria and provide an overview of the characteristics.

Attenuation value

The attenuation value, also called SNR (Single Number Rating), indicates the reduction of the sound level. It describes the difference between the volume in front of the ear and behind the earplug.

It is given in decibels (dB) and calculated as follows using the example: In your environment there is a volume of 95 db. The attenuation value (SNR) of the earplug is 25 db. At the eardrum, i.e. behind the hearing protector, there is still 70 db (95 dB - 25 dB = 70 dB). 70 db is completely safe for your hearing.

The attenuation can be divided into three levels:

Light to medium attenuation attenuation value SNR below 20dB, communication remains fully possible
Medium to strong attenuation attenuation value SNR between 20dB and 30dB, communication partially possible
Extreme attenuation attenuation value SNR above 30dB, voices are lowered to the maximum

Material

When choosing suitable protection for your hearing, the material plays an important role. There are various materials that the earplug can be made of. Most plugs are made of silicone, foam or wax. These materials adapt particularly well to your ear.

Ear plugs made of foam are very comfortable to wear because the soft and skin-friendly material adheres securely to the ear and there is no feeling of pressure. If you knowingly have an intolerance to one of the materials, contact the manufacturer. In most cases, they can offer you an adequate alternative.

Produktbild

Earplugs are made of silicone, foam or wax, as these materials adapt well to the ear.

Use

Your hearing is an important sensory organ that you should always take care of. In everyday life, you cannot always avoid noise. However, try to use hearing protection when you plan to listen to loud noises.

Do not underestimate the consequences of noise. In most cases, you may not be aware of hearing loss right away. So never forget to use earplugs when you come into contact with loud noises.

Cleaning

To ensure a long life for your earmuffs, it is important to take good care of them. For hygienic reasons, you should also clean your earplugs regularly.

Did you know that many foam earplugs cannot be washed?

If you soak them in liquid, the insulating properties of the earplugs change. This means that the protection is no longer guaranteed. However, there are earplugs that can be cleaned. Pay attention to the product description!

Cleaning earplugs is usually very easy: Dampen a sponge or a firm cloth under running water and simply wipe your earmuff with it. If possible, do not use washing-up liquid or other cleaning aids.

Reusable

If you want to use your earplugs several times, this should not be a problem. Thanks to the different robust materials and the resulting high wearing comfort, you can use the protection several times.

Size

To ensure that the earplugs function optimally and are as comfortable as possible to wear, it is important to choose a suitable size. It is not uncommon to be able to order earplugs in your personal measurements. These are divided or measured as follows:

  • Size S = less than 2.50 cm long
  • Size M = approx. 2.50 cm long
  • Size L = 2.50 cm long

The height of the inner ear is measured. If you are unsure about the size, ask the manufacturer.

Facts worth knowing about earplugs

What can happen if I don't wear earplugs when the noise is loud and what are the first signs of hearing overload?

Whether you are exposed to loud noise at work or in your private life, continuous exposure to loud sounds is harmful to your hearing. One consequence can be permanent hearing loss. Even if this is a gradual process that people do not notice at the beginning, you should have your hearing checked regularly, especially if you are exposed to noise at work.

After the onset of hearing loss, most people can no longer live their lives as freely and naturally as before. There can be psychosocial consequences such as dizziness, nervousness, irritability and social conflicts.

How does active hearing protection work?

An electronic plug ensures that the sound pressure level is only reduced when it is dangerously loud. In this way, warning signals in a noisy environment are not attenuated too much and can still be perceived well by the wearer of the hearing protector. This mode of operation is ideal for sport shooters.

If the noise level is safe (below 85 db (A)), the sound is not attenuated at all. For users with mild hearing loss, ambient noise is slightly amplified to improve speech understanding. Volume control can provide this flexibility.

Who is hearing protection best for?

There are many groups for whom hearing protection is used: Musicians, people interested in music, concert-goers or children at swimming lessons are just a few examples. A passive or active individual earplug can also be found for everyday office life or a restful sleep.

Furthermore, hearing protection is used for showering, diving and flying. The earplug can also be useful for motorcyclists, surfers and shooters.

How do I store my earplugs properly?

To ensure a long life for your earmuffs, there are several ways to protect them from dust and environmental influences. On the one hand, there are dispensers that can be attached to the wall or placed on a desk, for example.

These dispensers are very popular. They can be refilled quickly and easily. On the other hand, small plastic bags or plastic boxes are usually supplied with the stoppers. You can use these as containers for storage.

What should I do if the earplug gets stuck in my ear?

Especially with passive forms such as foam earplugs or wax earplugs, it can happen that the ear protector slips a little deeper into the ear and gets stuck in the ear canal.

Always follow the instructions for use. In most cases, the instructions describe the best possible fit. If the product slips out of place and you have problems removing it, don't panic!

In such a situation, do not insert sharp objects into your ear canal to remove the earplug yourself. First try to reach the end carefully with your fingers. If you do not succeed, consult a doctor (preferably an ENT specialist).

Picture source: facundowin / pixabay.com

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