Twelve years ago, I bought a pair of custom molded musician earplugs with Etymotic Research filters. I remember liking them a lot because they were comfortable and evenly reduced low, mid, and high frequencies. As luck would have it, I only wore them for a few years because I carelessly lost them after playing a show in upstate New York.
Since then I have tried every non-custom type of earplug. The foam plugs turned sound into mush. Hearos were a little better, but were not comfortable to wear for long periods of time. I’ve used in-ear monitors, which helped manage the sound. However, without that technology, I constantly found myself playing without ear protection during rehearsals and gigs.
A few months ago, I decided it was time to purchase another pair of custom musician earplugs. Since I was happy with my first pair of ER filters, I didn’t have to spend time researching what I wanted. However, I did have to decide between ordering a do-it-yourself “impression kit” for the ear molds or having professional audiologist do it.
I decided to go to an audiologist because I was also way overdue for a hearing test. It’s more expensive to go this route but Etymotic Research claims to get more accurate molds from the pros.
Musicians Earplugs have interchangeable attenuator buttons that come in three levels–9db, 15db, and 25db. I went with the 9db and the 15db–both seem to cut down enough of the dangerous levels. If I’m singing and playing drums I need the 9db so I can hear myself better. For everything else I’ve been using the 15db. The molds plus the filters cost about $180 for the pair. Add another $40 if you want to get more than one pair of filters. If you’ve never wore them but are interested in getting a pair, then I recommend the 15db as a good baseline.
Here’s the link to their site: http://www.etymotic.com/hp/erme.html