Best Earplugs For The Noisy Office

by | Oct 25, 2019

There are numerous ways to cope with a noisy office, but the easiest, and cheapest way is to get good earplugs for when you are at work

Working in an office with all of your colleagues can be a great advantage, especially when it comes to communication. Face-to-face communication is always a lot more efficient than an email or talking on the phone. This also can lead to problems when you actually want to work in a quiet environment; this is not possible when you are in an open office.

The best way to resolve this problem is to use ear plugs or headphones, these come in several different types, and at several different prices. The best earplugs for you may not be the best earplugs for everyone else. In this article, I will discuss the different types of ear plugs and headphones that are available, and the advantages and disadvantages of each type, so that you can pick the best for you

I’ll also be recommending the best earplugs in each of these categories so that you don’t have to do any of the hard work of researching which are the best value ear plugs for the office

Best Earplugs For The Noisy Office 1

Earplugs and hearing protection usually are used when you are in a very noisy environment. It is unlikely that working even in the noisiest office will be loud enough to damage your hearing.

Earplugs are most likely to be worn in this situation, to aid concentration, removing distractions. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) says that frequent and extended exposure to sounds above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. To give you an idea of what 85dB is, it is like a carwash at 20 feet

Every time you damage your hearing, any loss is normally permanent. Each piece of damage is generally tiny. However these add up over several years until you get terrible hearing and ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus.

The effectiveness of earplugs is measured in NNR which stands for noise reduction rating. Most ear plugs will have an NNR of between 20 and 30.

What this means in real terms is a reduction in the volume of the noise that you hear of between 20 and 30 decibels. So if you are in a room where the decibel level is 100, and you are wearing earplugs with an NNR of 30, then your ears will be in fact receiving approximately 70 decibels of noise which is well within the safe range

Best Earplugs For The Noisy Office 2

When working, it has been shown – and I believe that most of you will know this already, that if someone is distracted from their work, productivity is reduced. It can also be very annoying when you are trying to get something done if you are constantly being distracted.

Whether you run an office or work in one, you will know that noise can be bothersome, but is needed to get the daily work done.

A study into office noise that questioned over 2,000 people in over 50 sites found that

54% of workers were bothered by noise, especially by people talking

There was, unsurprisingly, a direct correlation between noise and dissatisfaction with the working environment and supervisor performance.

This article is not going to cover reducing background noise, and soundproofing the office – I will do that in another article. What we will cover here is what you can do as an individual to reduce these disturbances as and when you feel that this is necessary.

4 Ways to Create Quiet Time in a Noisy Office

We will do this with ear plugs, and ear muffs so that you can reduce the sounds around you, or masking the sounds with other less distracting sounds

People are distracted mainly by two types of sounds, these being

  • Sudden unexpected, usually loud sounds
  • Conversations – Even when trying not to, your brain will listen to people talking, especially if it is in any way interesting.

Masking these sounds with music, or especially white noise, has been shown to actually improve concentration, and with is productivity.

Best Earplugs For The Noisy Office 3

When you are trying to reduce distractions from noise in an office, there are many different types of ear plugs that you can try, but they really fall into three main categories. These are plugs which

  1. Block as much sound as possible
  2. Reduce loud sounds and optionally increase quiet sounds
  3. Noise masking with music/white noise

These have different effects, and the type that you choose will depend on the kind of person you are. However type 2 noise-reducing, are not really suitable for offices.

Noise blocking ear plugs for the office

Earplugs that block out as much of the noise as possible are an excellent choice for someone who wants to work in an environment that is as quiet as possible. They work basically by blocking the ear canal so that less sound enters the ear.

Because of the way that we hear, it is not possible to stop all sound when you block the ear canals, as some of the sound – which is a vibration in the air, also is transferred by the bones in your head. However it is possible to get other people talking down to a barely audible whisper, which will be far less distracting.

This type of ear plug is cheap and readily available. The most common types are

  • Foam disposable – very affordable, but not environmentally friendly. These are great as a test to see if ear plugs will help you concentrate in a noisy office. They end up working out more expensive over time as you will regularly be replacing them
  • Moldable Ear plugs – These block a lot of the sound, maybe more than foam plugs. They are, however, not as convenient as they have to be molded to the shape of the ear, and are not as easy to put in and take out. Again these need to be replaced every few days
  • Reusable Ear Plugs – These are made to be used for years, so their slightly higher cost will soon be recuperated. They will reduce the noise in the office a lot, and are very convenient.

Hi-Fidelity Ear plugs

This type of plug is really used for protecting the ears from very loud sounds. The electronic versions will also increase the quiet sounds, so that you can hear them in noisy environments. They are mainly used for hunting and construction sites etc.

I personally over the last 30 years have never worked in an office where this type of plug would be the best choice, but I suppose there must be some office that is very loud somewhere!

How To Focus In A Noisy Open Office

Ear plugs / Headphones that play music

These are, by far, the most common type of plugs that are used in offices. Most people use them to play music while they are working. Music is less distracting as there is no conversation that you can start to get engrossed in, and there are no unexpected distracting noises, as you have probably heard the song hundreds of times in the past.

Audio headphones can also be used to play brown or white noise. This can mask out external sounds; should you also find music distracting.

The best type of headset for reducing the distractions in a noisy office are the “Noise-canceling headphone.” These have two effects

Best Earplugs For The Noisy Office 4

People Also Ask

How Can I Sound Proof My Office To Reduce Noise?

  • Ensure the office external doors high quality solid doors
  • Sound proof the ceiling
  • Soundproof the floors and carpet
  • Soundproof the windows
  • Add acoustic boards to as many walls as possible
  • Seal any holes in walls etc.
  • Use higher cubicle walls in the office
  • Add cubicle privacy doors

Conclusions - Best Earplugs For The Noisy Office

Most offices are not noisy enough to damage your hearing; however the noises that you do hear may be very distracting when you are trying to concentrate on the difficult task.

You have several options that you can use to mask or stop these distraction, and what your decision really comes down to is whether you still need to be able to communicate with co-workers while you are wearing these earplugs.

Should you not need to talk with your co-workers then something that plays music, white noise, or blocks the sound completely up probably most suitable.

However, if you do need to communicate with your work colleagues at all times, and listen to what’s going on in the environment around you, then you’re probably better off with some high fidelity electronic ear plugs

Brain Power White Noise | Focus

Recommended Products – Best Earplugs For The Noisy Office

Below are the recommended products – these have been based on the use, price, effectiveness, and reviews of each type of ear plug. I have tried to include some from all the categories, with different price points to suit everybody’s pockets

The Ear Buddy Premium Soft Foam Ear Plugs, Best Noise...
1,380 Reviews
The Ear Buddy Premium Soft Foam Ear Plugs, Best Noise...
  • BLOCK OUT THE NOISE, PROTECT YOUR HEARING, AND ENJOY A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP OR YOUR MONEY BACK! Our Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs Are Perfect for Sleeping, Construction, Concerts, Hunting, Shooting Ear Protection, Snoring, and General Hearing Protection From All Types Of Loud Activity
  • SAY GOOD BYE TO CHEAP IMITATORS THAT CONSTANTLY FALL OUT OF YOUR EARS AND GIVE YOU HORRIFIC DISCOMFORT AND PAIN: When Wearing Our Premium Foam Earplugs You Can Expect Incredible Results Without The Earaches & Discomfort
  • VERY IMPORTANT** For Optimum Results Ear Plugs Must Be Inserted EXACTLY As Directed; Follow The Simple Instructions As They Are Stated On Product Package To Experience OUTSTANDING Results!
  • 60 DAY 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE; There’s a reason we offer the STRONGEST GUARANTEE industry-wide!
Earasers High Fidelity Musician's Ear Plugs - Includes -...
49 Reviews
Earasers High Fidelity Musician's Ear Plugs - Includes -...
  • 19dB PROTECTION FILTER - The Earasers Musicians Hi-Fi Plugs is equipped with V Filter Technology that reduces loud noises without sacrificing the low and high frequencies. Thus, giving you a flat frequency response earplugs that are perfect for musicians and concert-goers.
  • HASSLE-FREE PROTECTION - Compared to construction worker's yellow foam ear tips, the Musicians Hi-Fi plugs are made of soft silicone that will not sweat, tickle or cause any itch. You can even reuse them, simply clean the plugs regularly with soft, damp cloth or germicidal cleaning wipes.
  • CANAL-CONFORMING PLUGS - The Musicians Hi-Fi utilizes Smart Seal technology, which enables the silicone plugs to conform to the shape of any person's ear canal. Medium size is mostly worn by men.
  • DURABLE STORAGE - This bundle includes a waterproof, metal Earasers Ear Plug Carrying Case which can store a pair of Musicians Hi-Fi Plugs.
  • INCLUDES - A pair of Earasers Musicians Hi-Fi Plugs, Medium. (1) Limited Edition Blucoil Ear Plug Carrying Case, Black
Ear Plugs for Sleeping, 2 Pair Noise Reduction Sleeping Ear...
77 Reviews
Ear Plugs for Sleeping, 2 Pair Noise Reduction Sleeping Ear...
  • 【Sleeping Earplugs of Two Shapes】 Two pairs of ear plugs for sleeping are two layers of ergonomic structure, one pair of sleeping ear plugs size is standard size, the top curve design is more suitable for the ear canal. Another pair of noise cancelling earplugs is small size, designed for women and small ear canal crowd.
  • 【Upgraded Filter】 A new type of filter specially designed for sleep has an effective noise reduction level of 31 decibels. It can't completely isolate all sounds, but it can reduce them to a tolerable level. It is smaller than the traditional filter and reduces the discomfort of wearing.
  • 【Washable And Reusable】 Noise reduction of sleeping earplugs use non-toxic soft silica gel materials to ensure safety in the use process. And unlike disposable foam ear plugs, ear plugs for women can be cleaned and reused for more than half a year.
  • 【Easy To Use And Carry】Our earplugs are equipped with special aluminum case and carabiner. When you do not use ear plugs for snoring, we can put noise reduced earplugs into the aluminum case to keep them clean. If you go out, you can also carry earplugs with you.
  • 【Soft and comfortable】We use liquid silica gel, after the repeated experience, choose the most appropriate softness. Keep comfortable and soundproof at the same time. Hope to give all people with sleep disorders a better experience.
COWIN E7 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Bluetooth...
29,053 Reviews
COWIN E7 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Bluetooth...
  • Professional Active Noise Cancelling Technology. Significant noise reduction for travel, work and anywhere in between. Advanced active noise reduction technology quells airplane cabin noise, city traffic or a busy office, makes you focus on what you want to hear,enjoy your music, movies and videos. The noise cancellation function can work well both in wire and wireless mode.
  • Proprietary 40mm Large-aperture Drivers. Deep, accurate bass response. The Active Noise Cancelling around-ear headphones from COWIN give you crisp, powerful sound and quiet that helps you enjoy your music better. The goal that provide Customers with better sound quality, is our constant pursuit.
  • High-quality Built-in Microphone and NFC Technology. COWIN E7 provides high-quality built-in microphone for hands-free calls, Which is convenient for you to free yourself from wires. NFC pairing aided by voice prompts, promises quick and stable connection with your Bluetooth enabled devices, Powerful Bluetooth Function.
  • The Professional Protein Earpad and 90° Swiveling Earcups. More durability and comfort, Enjoy high-quality, Long-listen comfort. Skin texture, lightweight comfortable around-ear fit you can wear all day long. Gentle Reminder: please take off the headphone every 2-3 hrs to get your ears relax, in order to get better hearing enjoyment, and keep the head comfortable.
  • 30 Hours Playtime Per Charge at Bluetooth Mode. A built-in 600mAh battery won't allow your headphones power off, you can enjoy your world without noise for 30 hours' long time. Don't need to worry the power shortage problem on the long travel. 18-month warranty and quick response & friendly customer service. Note: The exclusive authorized seller is COWIN.


If you require more information, please check these references

Noise Reduction , article, “”, retrieved on, Mon 28-October-2019
Office noise and employee concentration , article, “”, retrieved on, Mon 28-October-2019
Office Noise, Satisfaction, and Performance , article, “”, retrieved on, Mon 28-October-2019

Nick Le Page Profile

About the author

Nick is a Computer programmer with 25 years experience working in the Industry. Past clients include The BBC, Natwest, British Rail.and Torbay Council.

Nick has suffered with Tinnitus for over 25 years

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