Best earplugs for musicians 2023: hearing protection for the practice room to your next gig

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An earplug and ear

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1. Product guide
2. Buying advice
3. How we choose products

If you're a musician or producer reading this, your ears are amongst your most important pieces of equipment. We all need our ears to keep us in tune, make sure our instruments sound the way we want, and allow us to gain inspiration from all kinds of different audio sources. At the end of the day, we'd struggle to make music without them. So it just makes sense to care for them, especially as musicians often put them into difficult, stressful situations. Our guide to the best earplugs for musicians is here to give them the help they deserve.

Protective earplug technology and overall quality have greatly improved over the last few years, alongside awareness of the importance of ear health, so there are no good excuses left for not wearing hearing protection in most musical situations. The oversized foam products that used to be your main option - and are often given out free at music venues - have been superseded by today’s ear protection with a decidedly lower profile and much smarter tech.

As ever, we've included expert buying advice towards the end of this guide, so if you'd like to get more guidance and insight before you buy, head straight there. If you'd rather get straight to the products, keep scrolling.

Best earplugs for musicians: Product guide

Best earplugs for musicians: Buying advice

A musician inserts an earplug into his left ear

(Image credit: Future)

Are musicians earplugs worth it?

The idea of wedging something into your ears that limits what you’re hearing sounds mad at first. Why would you actively choose to spoil the quality of the music you’re listening to or playing? In music creation, we're always looking for the tiny margins where we can improve a sound, song or arrangement, so how will you know what things sound like if you can't hear accurately? 

Nowadays, that is not a thing we should be concerned about. That's because there are plenty of options on the market that offer noise reduction but not at the expense of the sound you’re hearing. This means you can use earplugs, and they will only reduce overall volumes, not cut out certain frequencies or overload others. In turn, your music won't be reduced to a muffle, but you will instead be able to play and enjoy music for longer without damaging your ears.

How much should I spend on earplugs?

None of the earplugs in this guide are supremely expensive, relatively speaking. So if you try one set and they don't work, you're not tied to them forever. Just try a new pair. That said, the benefits of trying sets from the higher end of the scale do bring added benefits like higher noise reduction ratings (NRRs) and - importantly - comfort for extended sessions. It's all very well reducing decibel levels to a satisfactory range, but then your ears ache because you have cheap buds in them.

Comfort and accurate noise should be your two highest priorities here. In our opinion, try a few pairs out. Try some foam ones, silicone ones, fitted ones, earbuds. It’s all a learning curve, and a very personal one at that - but as long as your hearing is protected, that’s all that matters. And, if you end up getting through a few pairs in your tests, you'll end of with backups for yourself or your forgetful bandmates.

How we choose the best earplugs for musicians

At MusicRadar, we've been blasting ourselves with PA stacks and guitar amps for as long as we can remember. As musicians and avid music fans, we understand the importance of preserving our hearing and enjoying our music without any discomfort or long-term hearing damage.

To compile our list of the best earplugs for musicians, we combine practical experience, user reviews, and discussions with our editorial team to reach a consensus. We evaluate factors such as comfort, sound quality, noise reduction, and affordability to ensure we showcase the very best earplugs available.

As musicians ourselves, we appreciate the value of high-quality gear to deliver the best listening experience. We're committed to providing reliable and knowledgeable recommendations to help music listeners find the ideal earplugs to suit their needs and preferences. Our aim is to empower music fans to enjoy their favorite music to the fullest while protecting their hearing with the best earplugs on the market.

Find out more about how we test music gear and services at MusicRadar.

MusicRadar's got your back Our team of expert musicians and producers spends hours testing products to help you choose the best music-making gear for you. Find out more about how we test.

Chris Corfield

Chris Corfield is a journalist with over 12 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands including Orange Amplification, MusicRadar, Guitar World, Total Guitar and Dawsons Music. Chris loves getting nerdy about everything from guitar and bass gear, to synths, microphones, DJ gear and music production hardware.