If you're a musician or producer reading this, your ears are amongst your most important pieces of equipment. We all need our ears to keep us in tune, make sure our instruments sound the way we want, and allow us to gain inspiration from all kinds of different audio sources. At the end of the day, we'd struggle to make music without them. So it just makes sense to care for them, especially as musicians often put them into difficult, stressful situations. Our guide to the best earplugs for musicians is here to give them the help they deserve.
Protective earplug technology and overall quality have greatly improved over the last few years, alongside awareness of the importance of ear health, so there are no good excuses left for not wearing hearing protection in most musical situations. The oversized foam products that used to be your main option - and are often given out free at music venues - have been superseded by today’s ear protection with a decidedly lower profile and much smarter tech.
As ever, we've included expert buying advice towards the end of this guide, so if you'd like to get more guidance and insight before you buy, head straight there. If you'd rather get straight to the products, keep scrolling.
Best earplugs for musicians: Product guide
Best for musicians
Noise reduction: 19db
+ Ideal for live music
- Lower attenuation
Earasers earplugs are one of a few entries on this list that are geared specifically toward musicians. This is on account of the filters that ensure a flat frequency response akin to using studio monitors. The benefit of this is that every frequency you're supposed to hear is accurately represented through the earbuds, yet overall noise volume is also reduced accordingly. This makes them perfect for live sound situations. We were a bit reluctant to pull too hard on the antenna-looking part of the bud because it feels a little flimsy, but once we'd got to grips with them we found these to be among the best we'd tried.
Best earplugs overall
Noise reduction: 25db
+ Made for musicians
- Awkward to put in
Sure, there are earbuds for all kinds of activity: concerts, construction sites, shooting, sleeping. The Eearos One, however, is one of the best options aimed directly at musicians. Boasting input from a former MIT Acoustics Lab director, these buds have some credibility behind their classy styling. Their unique sound bore technology delivers superb noise reduction while retaining clarity and wide frequency response. Our only real reservation is that they're quite conspicuous and look a little like you're wearing a pair of earphones. If you're not fussed about looks though, the sleek black look is pretty cool.
Best for live music
Noise reduction: 22db
+ Nice design
+ Suitable for all ears
- Best for loud sounds
The Vibes High Fidelity earplugs focus on attenuating - that means reducing - incoming volumes, but use special filters in order to fine-tune certain frequencies. This, they say, reduces overall noise but doesn't leave the sound muffled. Anyone who's used foam earplugs will attest to the thick, muffled sound you get. In our tests we definitely didn't get as much muffling with these, especially useful for certain types of metal or EDM. We also liked the construction – once in your ear, the Vibes are extremely low profile so you can wear them without gaining attention.
Best budget option
Noise reduction: 27dB
+ Super cheap
+ Very effective
- Only one size
If you’re new to the world of earplugs, or one of those people who loses things often, you might not want to spend much on a pair of earplugs. Enter Fender Musician earplugs, perfect for those on a budget. This offering reduces volume by a whopping 27dB. And for less than a tenner. we can’t complain an awful lot. They come in one size which Fender insists fits all (or very nearly) and are made from a simple, comfortable black silicone. On the flip side, if your go-to is a swanky pair of custom-molded plugs, these Fender earplugs are a great companion for those gigging emergencies.
Best for comfort
Noise reduction: 31db
+ Moldable plug section
+ Great value
- Too quiet sometimes
Big in the world of in-ear monitoring, customized fittings aren't always as practical for lower-cost applications like earplugs. Or so we thought. Step forward Decibullz, which has been created to cover a multitude of noisy situations. The most interesting part of these buds is their customizable molded nature of them. Specifically, the three-flange tips come attached to a thermoplastic section which, after heating in warm water, becomes pliable. They can then be molded to fit your exact ear shape. Ideal for comfort, and with a 31db protection rating, they'll keep your ears snug and secure.
Best premium option
Noise reduction: 25dB
+ Comes with adapters
+ Nice carry case
- Very expensive
We've included plenty of budget options on this list, but what if you're looking for a serious, more premium option? Well, these are top-quality earplugs that will last you. Minuendos feature a passive hi-fi filter - geared towards the sort of high-volume activities that most musicians, be that drummers, guitar players, or DJs get up to. Interchangeable adapters ensure they'll fit any kind of ears too. They feature continuously adjustable, battery-free volume attenuation (ranging from -7db to - 25db) without adversely impacting the quality of the sound you’re hearing back.
Best for looks
Noise reduction: 20dB
+ Lots of different sizes
+ Easy to put in
- Not subtle
Where most pairs of earplugs are pretty plain, the Loop earplugs offer a stylish yet functional option for those who like to make a bit more of a statement. Loop earplugs look fantastic, and there's nothing cool about going deaf. With noise reduction of 20dB, they’ll tame the most harmful of volumes to something a little more manageable, and with the option of foam or silicone tips, they’ll fit virtually anyone’s ears. The loop makes them easy to take in and out too. We used these at a few live music venues and in a loud practice room and they did an admirable job of controlling the volume.
Best low profile
Noise reduction: 20db
+ So small!
+ Superb filtering
- Easily lost
If you're on the fence about earplugs, we understand. Which is why we can highly recommend the EarDial HiFi set; once these buds are in, they are extremely low profile and blend in with the colour of your skin. You get all the benefits of noise reduction and accurate filtering, without looking like you've taken any action at all. The soft hypoallergenic sillicone makes them both comfortable and hygienic - great for sensitive ears. They come with a similarly compact aluminium case to keep them safe.
Best for drummers
Noise reduction: 20db
+ Excellent clarity
+ Low cost
- Only two sizes
These cheap and cheerful earplugs from drumstick brand Vic Firth offer a fairly standard 20db of sound reduction, yet on test we found these were ideal when used behind the drum kit. They offer excellent clarity with both cymbals and kick drums. The included heavy-duty neck cord is a nice touch, too, meaning you can take them out in between sessions and not worry about losing them. That also means you can take them out to lament about your guitarist going out of time yet again.
Best earplugs for musicians: Buying advice
Are musicians earplugs worth it?
The idea of wedging something into your ears that limits what you’re hearing sounds mad at first. Why would you actively choose to spoil the quality of the music you’re listening to or playing? In music creation, we're always looking for the tiny margins where we can improve a sound, song or arrangement, so how will you know what things sound like if you can't hear accurately?
Nowadays, that is not a thing we should be concerned about. That's because there are plenty of options on the market that offer noise reduction but not at the expense of the sound you’re hearing. This means you can use earplugs, and they will only reduce overall volumes, not cut out certain frequencies or overload others. In turn, your music won't be reduced to a muffle, but you will instead be able to play and enjoy music for longer without damaging your ears.
How much should I spend on earplugs?
None of the earplugs in this guide are supremely expensive, relatively speaking. So if you try one set and they don't work, you're not tied to them forever. Just try a new pair. That said, the benefits of trying sets from the higher end of the scale do bring added benefits like higher noise reduction ratings (NRRs) and - importantly - comfort for extended sessions. It's all very well reducing decibel levels to a satisfactory range, but then your ears ache because you have cheap buds in them.
Comfort and accurate noise should be your two highest priorities here. In our opinion, try a few pairs out. Try some foam ones, silicone ones, fitted ones, earbuds. It’s all a learning curve, and a very personal one at that - but as long as your hearing is protected, that’s all that matters. And, if you end up getting through a few pairs in your tests, you'll end of with backups for yourself or your forgetful bandmates.
How we choose the best earplugs for musicians
At MusicRadar, we've been blasting ourselves with PA stacks and guitar amps for as long as we can remember. As musicians and avid music fans, we understand the importance of preserving our hearing and enjoying our music without any discomfort or long-term hearing damage.
To compile our list of the best earplugs for musicians, we combine practical experience, user reviews, and discussions with our editorial team to reach a consensus. We evaluate factors such as comfort, sound quality, noise reduction, and affordability to ensure we showcase the very best earplugs available.
As musicians ourselves, we appreciate the value of high-quality gear to deliver the best listening experience. We're committed to providing reliable and knowledgeable recommendations to help music listeners find the ideal earplugs to suit their needs and preferences. Our aim is to empower music fans to enjoy their favorite music to the fullest while protecting their hearing with the best earplugs on the market.
Find out more about how we test music gear and services at MusicRadar.
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