Look, not to get all overbearing, but you need to be looking after your ears at the rave. As many of us have come out of lockdown and back into the loop it could be easy to forget the lasting impact placing dancing for hours in front of a massive soundsystem can have on our hearing. Ever felt that painful twinge when the bass just went a little too high? or noticed that you can still hear music pumping in your ears long after you've left the club? This could be a sign that you are already experiencing signs of hearing loss.
The stats are pretty grim - The Royal National Insitute for Deaf People (RNID) found that the decibel level in the majority of British nightclubs is around 92db - and on dancefloors could even reach levels as high as 110db, the same level as an aircraft taking off. Any noise over 80db can cause some form of hearing in damage in adults in just two hours, at 95db this is reduced to just 50 minutes - while levels over 100 can cause hearing loss within just 15 minutes. The World Health Organisation (WHO) stated in April last year that 50% of 18-24-year-olds have experienced some form of tinnitus, and that by 2050 one in 10 people will have disabling hearing loss.
But, good news! There's a pretty easy step you can take to do something about it — getting yourself some earplugs. Manufacturers have developed a huge range of designs in the last few years: From silicone and foam 'plugs that are so discreet, you will barely be able to tell you're wearing any, custom moulded sets, to colourful designs you'll be excited to wear as an accessory. All at a wide range of prices to suit every pocket - so there's no excuse to not protect your lugs in the club.
Check out our selection of some of the best earplugs below:
Alpine Music Safe Pro
Designed with musicians in mind, the Alpine Music Safe Pro earbuds are the perfect go-to for both performing and enjoying a gig — with the option to switch between high (22db) or medium (16-19 db) attenuation settings depending on where you're at. The earplugs boast a "perfect fit" designed to be worn comfortably for long periods of time and a focus on sound quality. The Music Safe Pros come with a storage case, carrying cord, cleaning spray and a spare earplug — accidents do happen after all!
SubZero Musician Ear Plugs
For some cost-effective protection, the SubZero Musician Earplugs are an economical choice that still packs a punch when it comes to blocking out harmful frequencies. Having up to 20db attenuation, the earplugs are made from flexible rubber which allows you to wear them for hours on end without much irritation. Coming with a case and an attachable string and being under £7, there's now no excuse to not protect your ears on your next big night out.
ACS PRO17 Custom Earplugs
For a real investment piece, ACS PRO17 Custom Earplugs are worth the splurge. The PRO17's are designed with DJs, gig-goers and even vocalists in mind — promising no loss in high-low frequencies with a flat 17db protection. The earplugs vented design reduces "occlusion," which is the effect of hearing your voice booming inside your head due to the blocking of your ear canal. ACS explain their PRO series are made from medical grade silicone and extend the amount of time you can spend listening to loud music by five times - a lifesaver for those of us heading to clubs, gigs, festivals on the regular.
Mixmag have teamed up with ACS to offer our readers 15% off their custom fit hearing protection range, the PRO Series. Enter coupon code MIXMAG2022 at the checkout at acscustom.com. Valid from 13/12/2021 – 31/12/2022. UK customers only. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotions or offers. Full T&Cs apply - https://acscustom.com/uk/mixmag
The earplug for "festivals, parties and concerts" — Apline's PartyPlugs have an upper limit of 19db attenuation, great for if you need a pair of subtle, invisible earplugs to go watch your favourite DJ at the club. Less industrial strength than many of the earplugs on this list, what the PartPlugs boast is the ability to converse and hear others speaking clearly when you're wearing them. Alpine's ThermoShape design also means that the earplugs won't become uncomfortable after a few hours and their hypoallergenic material won't leave you with irritation.
EarPeace HD Music
EarPeace makes a simple promise when it comes to the performance of their HD Music earplugs - that you will hear and feel better when you wear them. Coming with three filters - Medium (17db), High (20 db) and Max (26 db) - you can customise your 'plugs instantly to match your requirements. While EarPeace's proprietary attenuation filter technology preserves a clear sound and maintains your ability to have a conversation. Great if you need different levels of protection at different times.
Minuendo Lossless Earplugs
Yeah these earplugs may look a lot more like wireless headphones, but for a pair of earplugs you can really rely on - Mineundo's Lossless Earplugs are a solid bet. Featuring the world's "only variable passive Hi-Fi filter" the 'plugs can be manoeuvred between settings with tiny dial at the top - with attenuation ranging from 7db to 25 db, with Minuendo even promising safe exposure to decibels of up to 120. Despite their pretty advanced spec, the Lossless Earplugs are not electronic and don't require any batteries or charging. Despite not being custom fitted the earplugs come with a massive array of tip options - from silicone to foam or even two/three tier flange. They insist this means there are no "leaks" when you sing or move your jaw.
Ahead Custom Moulded Earplugs
If you're looking to get started with custom earplugs, but are intimidated by the higher-priced products on the market - the Ahead Custom Moulded Earplugs are a good way to start. Coming with a handy do-it-yourself kit to mould the silicone-based plugs to your ears, the whole process takes around 10 minutes. Providing attenuation in a range between 25-30db, the Ahead Custom Moulded Earplugs aren't ideal if you are wanting to sing or chat - but provide excellent protection for performers who are working nearby soundsystems or amps.
Vibes High-Fidelity Earplugs
For an upmarket version of your traditional foam earplug, it doesn't come much fancier than the Vibes High-Fidelity Earplugs. Traditional foam earplugs work by only blocking out high-frequency "treble" sounds but not any low frequency "bass" sounds - which causes the sound to be distorted when you wear them, whereas the Vibes' plugs lower the volume of all sounds equally. The Vibes High-Fidelity Earplugs are connected to a tube that balances sound waves to make for a better experience and foam tips that come in small, medium and large.
Loop Experience Pro Earplugs
Who said earplugs have to be discreet? why not turn them into another accessory? The Loop Experience Pro Earplugs are made with that exact thinking in mind. Consisting of a rubber earbud attached to a loop that comes in gold, silver, midnight black or rose gold, the Experience Pros boast a flat attenuation blocking out both high and low frequencies. For extra customisation, customers can also buy Noise Blocking Inserts that attach to the 'plugs and block out an extra 5db.
EarDial Hi-Fi Earplugs
The EarDial Hi-Fi Earplugs are great if you want a high-spec and plenty of features - but for an affordable price. The EarDial plugs come with an app that informs the user what decibel they are currently experiencing and how long they can safely remain within it while wearing their earplugs - with even the option to compare with if they weren't using the earplugs at all. Made from translucent silicone the 'plugs are hypoallergenic to reduce irritation and are designed with earwax protection so you can wear them for even longer. EarDial also donate 5% of all profits from their earplugs to charities working to prevent tinnitus and hearing loss - so you'll be helping a good cause!
Bollsen Music SoundPro
Providing a flat attenuation level of 24 decibels, the Bollsen Music SoundPro earplugs are a great option if you want a high level of protection without having to break the bank. The German manufacturers USP is that they make all of their earplugs with AR KI Tech ear measuring - a computer programme that analyses customers' ear canals and ensures each earplug is perfectly sized to fit each ear. The earplugs are barely visible due to their translucent silicone design and due to the fact Bollsen first began making earplugs for sleeping - they have been designed so it's possible to hear "human voice" through its filters - so you can still chat to your mates on the dancefloor.
Decibullz Custom Moulded Earplugs
The very finest in 'merican tech, the Decibullz are inspired by earplugs required to go shooting and hunting. Boasting a massive attenuation of 31db the Decibullz can be moulded to your ear fully by soaking them in hot water for around 3-5 minutes. The earplugs come in a huge array of colours such as green, blue, red, orange - and come with a range of tips to ensure they are as comfortable as possible.
Blox Xperience Music
Earplug manufacturers Blox have the market covered when it comes to providing a range of low-cost earplugs for different functionalities. By far their best product for heading to the club has to be the Xperience Music 'plugs - providing 19db protection and made of a natural material that is both hypoallergenic and silicone-free, ensuring even those with skin allergies can use the product. The Xperience Music earplugs feature a removable acoustic filter - for when you're not in the thick of it and come in a range of ravey colours such as neon pink and neon yellow.
Megan Townsend is Mixmag's Deputy Digital Editor, follow her on Twitter