Best Hearing Protection – Complete Buying Guide & Reviews

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When frequently using power tools, landscaping equipment, hand tools, or any even slightly noisy equipment, it's essential that you use proper hearing protection to prevent long-term hearing loss and tinnitus. This article provides a review of the best hearing protection to ensure the longevity of your hearing.

​When selecting your hearing protection options, there are several factors to consider, such as the type of hearing protection (earplugs or earmuffs), comfort, and what level of decibel protection that you need. We will go over all of this and more to help you make your own decision.

Listed below is a rundown of our top 5 best hearing protection picks.

The 5 Best Hearing Protection Options

Last update on 2018-12-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Hearing Protection - Overall

Decibullz - Custom Molded Earplugs

Decibullz - Custom Molded Earplugs, 31dB Highest NRR, Comfortable Hearing Protection for Shooting, Travel, Swimming, Work and Concerts
  • CUSTOM MOLDED EARPLUGS: Easily and quickly fitted to the exact shape of your ear. This creates a perfect fitting earplug that will never...
  • EASY SHAPE SYSTEM: Simply heat the Decibullz thermoplastic molds in boiling water, let them cool for a bit, and shape them to your ears....
  • PERFECT FOR ANY SITUATION: Decibullz are perfect for shooting, traveling, working, loud concerts, and safety.

Last update on 2018-12-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Our favorite hearing protection option is the Decibullz - Custom Molded Earplugs. They will protect your hearing from the loudest noises while remaining unobtrusive in the ear. These earplugs stand out from the rest because they are customizable to fit your ear. They offer superior protection from harmful decibel levels and remain comfortable for hours.

The Decibullz - Custom Molded Earplugs comes with an easy shape system, which allows you to remold the plug as many times as you want using hot water. These are the best hearing protection for loud working environments, workshops, shooting, and general hearing safety.

Things we like:

  • Lightweight at 0.64 oz
  • Reusable and Remoldable Thermoplastic Molds
  • Comfortable and unintrusive to the ear
  • Comes with 3 sets of triple flange tips (S, M, L)
  • Includes a portable pouch for protection
  • 31db Protection

Things we don't like:

  • Could cause discomfort depending on the personal preference of the wearer
  • Could possibly fall out with jaw movement

Best Hearing Protection - Runner-up

Mpow Noise Reduction Safety Ear Muffs

Mpow 035 Noise Reduction Safety Ear Muffs, Shooters Hearing Protection Ear Muffs, Adjustable Shooting Ear Muffs, NRR 28dB Professional Ear Defenders for Shooting Hunting Season, with a Carrying Bag
  • NRR SOUND TECHNOLOGY: Designed with 2 layers of professional noise dampening foam, high sealing solid cup and the unique double-shell, the...
  • ANSI S3.19 & CE EN352-1 CERTIFIED: Lab tested and certified to US and European standards. Professional ear defenders for hunting season or...
  • ADJUSTABLE HEADBAND DESIGN: Designed with retractable stainless steel at the end of headband, the ear muffs can be adjusted to fit all...

Last update on 2018-12-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Mpow Noise Reduction Safety Ear Muffs is our runner-up for the best hearing protection option. They feature a classic earmuff design, which has an NRR of 28 dB. They do not provide as much protection as the Decibullz - Custom Molded Earplugs but, are still extremely effective.

These muffs are designed with two layers of noise dampening foam, a double shell, and a high sealing sold cup. If you think your standard headphones are built like this - think again. These muffs are perfect for adults or children and are perfect for shooting, concerts, machinery operation, and construction. The earmuffs include a carrying bag and user manual.

Things we like:

  • Larger ear coverage
  • Very low chance of allowing excess exposure to loud noises
  • Foldable design - easy to stow and carry
  • Includes carrying bag
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

Things we don't like:

  • Bulky at 10.89 oz
  • Offers slightly less decibel coverage than Decibullz at 28db
  • May be discomforting if you prefer earplugs

Best Hearing Protection - Multi-Environment

Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs By EarJoy

Last update on 2018-12-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The best hearing protection for use in multiple noise environments is the Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs By EarJoy. These earplugs are reusable and work to cancel all high decibel noises in the vicinity.

They include a lifetime money-back guarantee and three kinds of earplugs. The plugs fit snugly into your ear, without causing irritation, to block medium and high volume sounds. EarJoy designed these earplugs to allow low-level sound to continue on to the inner ear, which makes communication easy.

Things we like:

  • Waterproof and durable
  • Includes 3 earplugs for Sleeping, Swimming, and Industrial Noises
  • Comes with carrying case
  • Irritation free usage
  • Allows low-level noise to come through (alarms, sirens, etc.)
  • Lifetime Money-back guarantee

Things we don't like:

  • Offers less decibel protection than competitors
  • Less practical if you don't need them for sleep or swim

Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs

Sale
Mack's Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs, 50 Pair - 32dB Highest NRR, Comfortable Ear Plugs for Sleeping, Snoring, Work, Travel and Loud Events
  • ULTRA COMFORTABLE - Made with super low-pressure, slow release, Comfy Cush Comfort Foam. Their user preferred color is as easy on your eyes...
  • ULTRA NOISE BLOCKERS - With a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 32 decibels, these versatile, noise blocking earplugs are great for sleeping,...
  • #1 BRAND FOR SNORING, SLEEPING AND TO PROTECT HEARING - Mack's is the #1 doctor recommended brand of foam earplugs to protect hearing and to...

Last update on 2018-12-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs are one of the best hearing protection options for the value, and for groups of workers. The pack comes with 50 sets of earplugs that compress in order to expand into your ears. These earplugs work very well to block out harmful decibel levels of noise.

They are rated NRR 32 dB, which will keep out all frequencies of noise - low, middle, and high. These foam earplugs are ultra soft and comfortable to wear for hours on end.

Things we like:

  • NRR 32 dB hearing protection level - one of the highest in it's class
  • Noise reducing foam
  • Ergonomically-shaped for comfort
  • Great for large groups and multiple uses
  • Inexpensive

Things we don't like:

  • One time use, needs to be replaced
  • Could be wasteful
  • Larger chance of falling out or being displaced

SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders 

Sale
SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders Plus Filtered Earplugs, Triple Flanged Design, Reusable
  • 24dB Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) with filter caps inserted, Hear safe sound levels (with filter caps out) as if you weren't wearing ear...
  • Soft, adjustable, triple-flanged stems provide secure seals in ear canals and all-day comfort
  • Low-profile design allows you to keep them in place while wearing a mask, helmet, hat, or while using supplemental hearing muffs

Last update on 2018-12-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders is one the best hearing protection options for industrial work. They block dangerous levels of sound while admitting safe sounds. And, when entering a safe sound zone, the earplugs have a filter cap which can be popped out, in order to hear as normal.

They are built with specially designed retention rings to hold the earplugs firm, without wiggling loose in your ear.

These are some of the best hearing protection for professionals because they allow for normal adherence to safety standards without getting in the way. You can still wear your helmet, glasses, and headphones without compromising the effectiveness of your hearing protection.

Things we like:

  • Triple flanged stems
  • Low profile design
  • EarLock Retention Rings - seven contact points for a custom fit
  • Hypoallergenic polymer
  • Filter cap for adjusting decibel coverage
  • Offers comfort even with other equipment involved

Things we don't like:

  • Offers a lower level of dB protection compared to others at 24dB
  • Less durable than other brands

Features To Consider

Decibel Level

A decibel level of zero represents the faintest noises perceivable by the human ear. The scale extends upwards of 180 decibels, which is about as loud as a spaceship leaving the launchpad.

The amount of sound is doubled every time the decibel level increases by 10. For example, 20 dB is half as loud as 30 dB, and, 90 dB is twice the volume of 80 dB. Basically, it can compound pretty quickly.

To put things in perspective, belt sanders, jigsaws, routers, and circular saws produce between 100 and 110 decibels. A chainsaw, or nail gun, produces around 120 decibels. 140 decibels of sound is equivalent to the sound of a jet engine at full blast.

It's important to research and understand what level of decibel protection you need.    

Size and Comfort

The most important thing to look for in your hearing protection is a ​snug fit​​​. Your hearing protection should be tightly fitted around your ears, otherwise it's not doing it's job. Any slack in your gear could indicate exposure.

Another important thing - don't forget to wear it. Forgetting to bring it along to work or a project could undo the positive effects it has already had on you by re-introducing your ears to that same noisy environment.

Headphones and even sound-canceling earbuds ARE NOT hearing protection.

Communication

If you work in a field where communication in noisy work conditions is important, you should choose hearing protection that can be integrated with communication devices and other required equipment for your job. The best hearing protection for construction and work sites should still allow for communication with others and for the wearer to be able to readily hear alarms. Earbuds will not protect your hearing, or allow for easy communication with team members.

Types of Hearing Protection

The best types of hearing protection are either ​earplugs or earmuffs​​​. At the end of the day, it comes down to convenience, comfort, and practicality. Earmuffs are bulky, heavy, and can be uncomfortable for those wearing glasses or safety goggles, but offer more consistent ear coverage. Earplugs are light and convenient, but uncomfortable to some depending on ear shape and size. Both are effective modes of protection, it all comes down to preference.

Foam Earplugs

Disposable foam earplugs are cheap, effective, and convenient. They are unobtrusive to the comfort of your ear and provide ample noise reduction. Some people find foam plugs to be uncomfortable, so it's recommended to try a pair before you buy them. Also, foam earplugs become dislodged from your ear by moving your jaw too much.

The advantages of foam earplugs are that they are disposable and come in bulk. Earmuffs and molded earplugs allow lower decibel noises to come through. Earplugs block out just about every noise in your space.

Earmuffs

Earmuff protection is popular in workshops and job sites. They are easy to take off and put back on, unlike foam earplugs which are more of a one time use. The downside of earmuffs is that they don't block as much noise as earplugs, and, they are uncomfortable in the heat. Again, this is largely a matter of personal preference. Earmuffs are more difficult to misplace, and, easier to hear conversations than with foam earplugs.

Molded Earplugs

Molded earplugs are the best hearing protection for those who frequently work around loud noises. They combine the best features of foam earplugs and earmuffs. Molded earplugs fit directly into your ear, like the foam ones, and they are often attached to a line or cord for hanging around your neck. 

Molded earplugs can be designed to allow low decibel noise into your ear while keeping high decibel noise out. That means that you can still hear conversations and alarms without subjecting your ears to dangerously loud sounds.

If you are in an environment with particularly intense decibel levels, earplugs can be worn under earmuffs for maximum coverage. The total sound reduction level of this combination is up to 35 decibels, which makes a huge difference in the quality of your hearing.

Wrap Up

Any hearing protection is better than none. But, the best hearing protection is easy to take off, put on, and, comfortable to wear. Find the best hearing protection for your work, that will let you maintain the integrity of your hearing while accomplishing loud work more comfortably. Look for hearing protection that is reusable, soft, custom fit, and fits snuggly.

Our personal favorite choice for maximum hearing protection are the Decibullz - Custom Molded Earplugs. They offer comfort, efficiency, and a high amount of decibel protection. If you are interested in purchasing them, you can check them out here