Growing up I always remembered being told by my grand-mom to lower the volume on my Walkman or I would blow my ears out, which in turn usually made me crank up the volume even louder. Because everyone knows there is nothing better than blasting Dude Ranch at 11! See, it was always my belief that no matter where I was; either in the car, with my headphones on, or live at a show, that the music I was listening to was best enjoyed at it’s absolute loudest. At a volume where you could not only hear the music, but could also feel it. I wanted to feel the bass inside me, rumbling my tummy from within. I wanted the vocals to lift me up. So the idea of ear plugs was not only foreign to me, but blasphemy.
Now I’m older, and wiser, and it’s my job to travel the country and review music festivals. And after the hundreds and hundreds of shows I’ve seen, the one thing I’ve taken away from all of them is… a slight ringing in my ear :/
But even with onset tinnitus, I’ve still been extremely skeptical of wearing ear plugs. In theory it just seemed like it was muffling the music and basically making it impossible to hear the track in its purist intent. And if I’m not able to fully hear how the song is being played, then how can I give it a fair review? How can I do my job properly? But with the looming threat of deafness peering over my shoulder, I knew it was time to start researching into other options.
The first ear plugs I tried were those neon foam plugs you find at CVS, and with them my worst fear came true. You could barely hear anything, it was like trying to listen to music underwater. Everything was muffled, and every sound basically blended into one another. On top of all that, if you wanted to have a conversation you would have to take them out, then struggle for minutes to get them back in comfortably (which wouldn’t last long).
However, I can see how they could be beneficial in certain festival situations, like:
Toddlers & Kids- These earplugs would be perfect for kids being dragged along by their parents who are still trying to enjoy the last leg of the festival. They can be a great backup plan to the giant headphones parents usually have their kids wear. Plus it’s always an awesome idea to teach proper ear care and protection to younger generations.
Sleeping- No matter what festival you’re at, you know sleep is crucial. The foam type of earplugs are perfect for muffling out surrounding sound so they would work great for trying to catch some Zzz while your friends are still trying to keep the party going outside your tent/hotel room.
WARNING My one friend did run into a problem with these however and ended up getting a nasty ear infection because he didn’t realize that they were not reusable. So if you are going to use the foam type of earplugs make sure you change them out frequently.
A pack of 50 earplugs will cost you about $8 at your local drug store or amazon.
I’ll admit it, I recently fell in love with DUBS Acoustic Filters. DUBS are perfect because they are specifically designed for live shows and concert environments. They are engineered to lower the overall decibel level of the surrounding environment rather than just covering up your ear canals and muffling the sound. Most importantly though they are super easy to get in and out, not that you would even need to take them out becasue you’re still able to hear everything perfectly when they’re in.
Now I know it seems like we might be plugging DUBS, but I swear we’re not. We’re plugging the type of technology and the type of earplug that DUBS represent. I hear there is a similar product called isolate that is still in the fundraising phase but due out soon. So if you can find a similar product that you like more, get them! But for now it seems as if DUBS are the most recognized brand on the market and you can get a pair on amazon for $20 which is pretty damn good.
Now if your looking for something in the middle there are other options, like these. Earplugs like these aim to do the same thing as the DUBS, but are much more simplistic in their design. They usually feature just one small hole going through a silicone ear plug, so the sound doesn’t become completely obstructed. These probably will not work as well as the DUBS, but will definitely work better than the foam ones.
Look, whether you decide to get the cheapest pieces of shit you can find or really invest in the best earplugs out there, just get them! I hate that I have become my grandparents but we’re living in the 21st century, we need to take advantage of the technologies that are available to us, or else what was the point? Just think of it this way, even all your favorite artists wear them. There is not a single musician in the world that doesn’t wear some type of protective hearing piece when they perform, so why shouldn’t you? Do your future and present self a favor, invest in a pair of earplugs today!
Also, regardless of how much you are spending on your ear plugs make sure you remember to clean them! This is a foreign object you are putting inside your body, and if it has nasty dirt and bacteria on it it will give you a bad infection and could possibly lead to hearing loss. So remember to always clean your plugs!
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FestHype is the world's #1 music festival podcast and source for everything festival related. New episodes are available every week on itunes and all android platforms. Episodes include the latest and greatest festival news, one on one artist interviews, and previews from lesser known artists touring the festival circuit.