Ear Protection For Drummers
This article is all about hearing, and how hearing protection is essential to percussionists, particularly drummers.
As a musician, especially as a drummer, it goes without saying that without your hearing, it is going to be very difficult for you to continue in your musical career.
In general, you will be looking for something that:
- Protects Hearing
- Keeps The Sound Quality
In A Hurry?
If you do not have time to read about what makes the best ear protection for a drummer? Go straight to recommendations!
“Oh it’s never going to happen to me, my hearing is invulnerable.”
I know that while most people are pretty proactive about their hearing protection, there are some people out there who say things like “oh it’s never going to happen to me, my hearing is invulnerable.”
So what can you do, other than avoiding loud sounds entirely – which is not always an option! You can decrease the sound levels around you, and of course, the most common way to lower noise coming into your ears is, with hearing protection devices.
Criteria Used To Select Earplugs
Here I am going to break down three of the most common types of earplugs, which you can use to protect your hearing. To help you decide which method of ear protection might be the one for you. I’m going to assess these three types of earplugs, with the following four criteria:
- Value for money. Value score will be determined basically by how much these earplugs cost, and how easy it is to get them
- Comfort. The comfort score is determined by the overall user comfort when using the earplugs
- Convenience. The convenience goal will be determined by ease-of-use, ease of maintenance, and ease of replacement
- Effectiveness. The effectiveness score will, of course, be determined by how good the earplugs are at lessening the sound levels around you. How accurate they are reducing the sound levels, maybe they mitigate everything a little too much, and it’s not good for a professional environment. Or perhaps they do it just right, so you can still hear the details around you.
Other factors. Including how often you can use them, and where you can use them, will also affect the effectiveness.
Let’s get into the most common and affordable option for hearing protection, which is disposable (foam or rubber) earplugs.
Disposable earplugs, are the first kind of earplugs that most people think about when you mention hearing protection. These types of earplugs are so common you
They also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the most common one is the bullet shape, which is my personal favorite, but they also come in many other different shapes, colors, and sizes.
Sometimes they’ll even give you a case for it, like this case here. You just pop it open, you never really have to think about losing them, they’re straightforward to replace if you drop them somewhere. I’ve gone through about 40 or 50 pairs of these I guess, and sometimes I just throw them away because they’re dirty.
Disposable Earplugs – Value Rating
So, as a result, the foam earplugs get [usr 5] in the value criteria.
Now the biggest flaw of these earplugs is, of course, they are generic. They’re one-size-fits-all, so they are never going to fit in your ears exactly. Some people have a fit that is very close to perfect; some people get a fit with massive air gaps. Some drummers can’t even get it in the ear hole to begin with, so it can be a bit of a mixed bag.
The material that these earplugs is made of is a cheap foam / rubbery material. It’s not great, even if you get a more expensive pair of disposable earplugs.
They do the job, but they don’t feel the greatest. And they get dirty pretty quickly, if anything gets up onto them they scratch against your ears.
Disposable Earplugs – Comfort Rating
So the foam earplugs receive a [usr 3] for comfort
These earplugs are disposable, which means even though it’s not environmentally friendly, it’s completely fine if you lose them. You never have to worry about misplacing something expensive, which just makes it a little bit more stress-free
But when it comes to putting these into your ears, you need to squeeze them, or twist them, or whatever and then you need to angle them around for a little bit and then wait for them to expand in your ears. Now I know what you’re thinking a few seconds to put in your earplugs – it’s not a lot of time! But what if you’re in a professional situation, where maybe you have a set change, and there’s an area of the music that is relatively quiet?
You want to take your earplugs out and then put them back in later on. When you want to put them back in it needs to be quick – so the foam earplugs lose some points in the convenience criteria.
Disposable Earplugs – Convenience Rating
They receive a score of [usr 3.5] .
I wouldn’t say foam earplugs up bad at this job, in fact, they’re too good at it. When you put them on, you don’t really hear much of the details of sounds around you. You don’t hear much of the precise frequencies; it’s just a bit muffled.
That’s great if you work in the construction industry, or if you just want to get a good night’s sleep, and your main objective is to get rid of all the sound possible. But as a musician, especially if you’re playing in an environment where you need to be aware of the details around you, this kind of earplug option is not very helpful.
It’s kind of like using bass headphones to listen to classical music; it’s not a very accurate representation. Another thing about these earplugs, is their versatility is affected by the fact that they’re not discrete at all. In situations like concerts where you’re drumming in front of a live audience, and they’re going to be seeing your every movement, the last thing they want to see is two massive carrots in your ears
Disposable Earplugs – Effectiveness Rating
So these earplugs receive a [usr 3] for effectiveness
Disposable Earplugs – Overall Rating
So the total score for disposable form plugs is 14.5/20.0
My favorite hybrid earplug brand is erasers. I’ve owned two pairs of erasers (other brands are available, and probably just as good) in the last five years!
This article will use Erasers as an example of hybrid earplugs, as this is the brand I am familiar with
The price of this type of earplug is usually in the $50 to $60 range. This type of earplug can’t really receive a 5 out of 5 for value, because they’re a lot more expensive than the foam earplugs. But I wouldn’t say they’re too expensive for something that is reusable.
Hybrid Earplugs – Value Rating
So considering the reasonable price point and how easy it is to get replacements they get [usr 3.5] for value
Erasers are not custom earplugs, but they do come in four different sizes: extra small, small, medium and large. So selecting the correct size for you will give you a better fit.
Personally, I think my ear canals are pretty big, so I got a large size, and it fits me pretty much perfectly. It’s very snug, but most people will generally get either small or medium. This means the size is going to be pretty much 80% correct – it’s never going to be a hundred percent because it’s not custom-tailored to your ear canal. But it’s pretty close.
The material of this earplug is soft, smooth silicone, so it’s straightforward to put in and out of your ear. It doesn’t hurt or scratch. You don’t have to fiddle around much, and once it’s in, it doesn’t move at all.
Hybrid Earplugs – Comfort Rating
As a result, the erasers lose a little bit from the perfect score because they are not custom made, and they receive [usr 4.5] for comfort
The erasers are extremely easy to put into your ears, because they just go straight in, you don’t need to squeeze them like the foam earplugs you don’t do any twisting or anything like that. You also have colored lines on the earplugs to help you determine which one is left, and which one is right.
As they can be reused for a long time, they need to be cleaned. The wash process doesn’t take that long; it’s 2 minutes of warm water, and it’s finished. If you need to do a more involved clean, you can use hydrogen peroxide, but it’s generally quite easy.
Hybrid Earplugs – Convenience Rating
As a result, the erasers receive a [usr 4] for convenience.
The erasers have a flat sound decrease profile, which means it preserves a lot of the quality of the sound around you. So it doesn’t sound like a muffled, unclear sound, but instead, everything is just softer, so you can still hear with clarity in a quiet or an orchestral situation.
Because these are clear in color, you can’t see them from a distance. Also, they are very low-profile; they sit very far into your ears, so they cannot be seen clearly by the audience.
Hybrid Earplugs – Effectiveness Rating
That’s why for the effectiveness score the erasers receive [usr 4.5]
Hybrid Earplugs – Overall Rating
This makes the total score of the erasers 16.5 / 20
Finally, the third type of ear protection is, of course, custom earplugs. These earplugs usually cost between $100 to $300. However, some can go higher.
In addition to paying that price, you also have to go and make an appointment with a hearing specialist, and it’s quite an involved process.
Custom Earplugs – Value Rating
If you lose your custom earplugs it is going to be quite pricey to replace them, so as a result, the custom earplugs received [usr 2.5] for value.
Of course, the custom earplugs are going to have a very high comfort score because they’re designed for you and your ear canal shape. So as a result, it gets a full maximum score of five out of five for comfort.
These earplugs are even easier than erasers to put in and out, but they also come in varying sizes. I know some custom earplugs are like big Christmas trees, and some are very low-profile. Even so, as they are made specifically for your ears, they should be a great fit
I think the thing that detracts from the convenience score the most is the ease of obtaining. Because they’re not something that you can buy off the shelf, you need to make an appointment with your hearing specialist to measure your ears. Then you need to wait for them to make the earplugs and to ship them to you.
Custom Earplugs – Convenience Rating
If it’s an online order, it’s quite a lengthy process. So, as a result, the convenience score for these earplugs is [usr 3.5]
Of course, because these are custom earplugs tuned to your specifications, the effectiveness score is going to be the maximum. This is because you can choose every variable you want.
They can make it not only to your ear canal shape, but also to different specifications for filtering. So if you want it to be filtered a lot for very noisy environments, or maybe you just want it to be filtered a little for rehearsals, this is possible.
Custom Earplugs – Effectiveness Rating
As a result, the effectiveness score is a maximum five out of five
Custom Earplugs – Overall Rating
The total score for custom earplugs it’s 16 / 20
Foam earplugs receive 14.5 out of 20
Erasers earn 16.5 out of 20
Custom earplugs receive 16 out of 20
So as you can see in this comparison, there’s a different solution for every situation. For example, if you’re looking for something cheap and reliable, and you don’t have to worry about anything other than just putting them on, then the foam earplugs are your best bet. They’re disposable, they’re very commonly available, and stress-free
The erasers are still my personal favorites, because they’re discreet they’re well priced, and they work well for a drummer
If you want the absolute best in hearing protection, then go for a pair of custom earplugs. Ask around to see where you can get some for the best price.
Recommended Products From Article
These are the best products available, as mentioned in the main article.
(Budget, Mid-Range, High-End)