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Ears.....to protect or abse with sound? The journey.......

  1. So here is a blog on the journey I've taken thus far in attempting to protect my hearing. I'm currently procrastinating at work and figured this'd keep me busy for a bit.....I hope someone out there somewhere can benefit from this.

    Earlier in the year I started trialing all the different types of plugs I could get my hands on. I rocked up to a safety equipment store and pretty much bought one set of every different type of ear plug, including the replacement plugs for those contraptions that go over the wearers head etc. Here are my results.

    Standard yellow and pink foam plugs

    View attachment 41442
    These are the plugs most of us are familiar with. Rated at -25db they are among the highest rated ear plugs around, and there is a wealth of large construction companies using these so plenty of positive feedback on them working properly.

    My experience - I found when these are inserted properly that they work great. Comfortable to my ears even on longer rides. However I had a lot of trouble getting a half decent seal in my right ear. The trick being that you really do need to roll the plugs between your fingers when compressing. If you just squeeze them you're increasing the chances of a crack developing in the plug when it expands allowing sound through. One thing to note it, when not inserted properly, it would amplify the booming sound through my helmet and would actually be worse then not wearing them at all. I wore these several times before replacing....maybe a week.

    Yellow foam plugs

    View attachment 41443

    I got these through work on the sly. They are rated to -23db which isn't bad.

    My experience - I removed the cord as I found it a pain in the bum. The foam in these also expanded much faster than the pink and yellow plugs above. At first I thought this was going to be a great feature, until I tried to put them in. The plugs expand so fast that I literally couldn't get them in my ear far enough. Though when I did get them they worked ok, but were prone to slipping out during the ride. And as above, once they moved it was actually worse then not wearing protection at all (that's what she said...ho ho ho).

    Blue flanged style plugs

    View attachment 41444

    These are made from a soft plastic with flanges designed to cut out noise. They are rated up to very skeptical -26db.

    My experience - These were actually pretty good. Very quick and easy to get in with a decent seal. I found the trick with these was to insert deep, then pull back out a bit to seat the flanges against the sides of your ear. I personally found these blocked less than the lesser rated foam plugs. But their ease of insertion was their main draw card. However, due to the longer ends of the plugs they stick out of your ears a bit and may not be useful to all helmet types. I became frustrated with these plugs moving putting on my helmet so moved on. I guess I could have cut down the end a bit to assist with this.

    Replacement tips for over the head contraptions

    View attachment 41445

    So next I got some of the replacement tips for something like the above. Rated at -21db.

    My experience - My theory with this was, maybe I don't need to insert the plugs as far in as I have been. These don't go all the way in, worth a shot. They actually worked very well.....when they didn't move putting my helmet on. They were quick and easy to place in as it didn't involve me pushing them right in etc. The attenuated quite well....when they didn't move.....next.

    There were a few others that fell into the same categories as the above such as soft foam or flanged. My experience with these are similar to what I've noted above.

    So here to from here? I decided to start researching custom molded plugs.....but more on that in my next blog installment.

    Yet to be covered:

    - Custom Molded plugs (with and without speakers)
    - headphones or In Ear Monitors
    Janek75, more$thansense and Rus Ler like this.


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  1. more$thansense
    Interesting. Your experiences with disposable plugs very similar to mine; used them for many years until I finally took the plunge at the Melb. MC Expo in '01(?) and paid $60 for some custom molded jobs. I still use them today, still work and fit perfectly- I cover about 8000 km per year on country roads and never leave without them. Some people complain about discomfort on long rides with them, but I must be lucky as I've had no probs.
      PJV01 likes this.