Our Pick For Most People
With the help of Howard Leight by Honeywell LPF-1 Max Lite Soft Foam Earplugs special T shape, the noise-dampening effect and comfort have quite ideal performances and beat most earplugs we tested. Besides, the T-shaped design prevents the entire plug being pushed in your ear canal, which means it won’t cause pressure to your sensitive ear canals and make you feel pain. Also, after the stopper slid into your ear, you’ll see the T-shaped end of the plug stays in your outer ear and fits snugly, which is helpful for dampening more noise and providing a really quiet environment for you.
If your ear canals are just a bit smaller than average, or you’re more sensitive to ear canal pressure,3M E-A-R Soft Yellow Neons Form Earplugs may suit you better. Due to its smaller size, it won’t over-widen your ear canal and cause sore and pain. If you wear it for a long time, you may even feel it’s unnoticeable. Having a bit smaller size, it is less effective in noise reduction, but still outweighs most tested earplugs. Thus, if these earplugs are as snug as bug to your ear canals, they can handle your daily uses.
Our pick for bigger ear canals and better noise reduction
If you want to go with a large-sized style, the comfort of Flents Quiet Time Soft Foam Ear Plugs must surprise you. Smartly, these plugs not only extend in length but also grow in diameter a bit as well, meeting the needs of wide-canal people. In this way, they’re greatly improved in comfort and surpass most large-sized models, even regular-sized ones. Large earplugs fit more snugly and fill fully in your ear canals, which makes them one of the best earplugs in noise reduction effect.
Our pick for small ear canals
Mack’s Slim Soft Foam Earplugs are definitely saviors for small ear-canal people. Compared to normal-sized earplugs, their quite small body doesn’t over-expand your ear canal, not to mention it creates pressure and causes pain. Also, because of the smaller size, the noise reduction ability is not as great as our other picks, but it’s enough to deal with the daily noise. If you use the earplugs only in your office or a quite silent place, they can still provide a restful sleeping environment.
Who should buy this
We think we’re living in a quiet and peaceful environment, but, with the society going fast, noise pollution is now everywhere and disturbs our everyday life. Unknowingly, “silence” has become luxurious that’s difficult to obtain. At many times, you hope that there is a tranquil space for you to work in, or to sleep with ease in bed after a long day of exhausting work, but life doesn’t always give you what you want. There will still be some sudden or constant noise that prevents you from enjoying a quiet world. However, if you own a set of foam ear plugs with effective noise blocking, the problems would be smoothly solved in seconds.
For all the time, I’m an innocent of unwanted sound. Although I have an awesome working environment to let me stay focus in the day, alas, my bedroom is next to a busy road. So, every time I want to go to bed early in the evening when I’m tired, the dog barking and street-side people (eating BBQ, drinking beer, talking loudly) make me struggle to sleep. Even if I finally nod off, sportscars on the road roaring to wake me up. You think that’s all? Naive! In the early morning, food stands downstairs start to yell-selling. And all the crowds make me feel I’m the only one still sleeping in the whole world. What wakes me up every morning is not my dream on my mind but the noise out of the window.
Distracting construction sounds
I believe you’ve been in similar unpleasant experiences as well, even not for long-time noise disturbances as I do, but there always be some annoying moments: a neighbor who suddenly decorates his house, or a young couple who occasionally fight and break things next door at night, or your mom who vacuums the room early in the weekend morning.
The noise dB level of the vacuum is louder than you thought.
Oh right, maybe you also have a partner whose snoring is thunder-like.
Certainly, you may already come up with a few solutions — call the cops to help solve the dog barking or neighbor noise problems, or just whine to your mom who is cleaning the room — but these moves will waste lots of your time and efforts. If you have a bedroom next to a busy street just like me, you may even need to move to a new house. Besides, if you think those inconvenient and high-cost methods are not what you want, wallet-friendly foam ear plugs would handle the troubles as easy as pie.
How we picked
We searched and studied the information online, and found that the major types of earplugs are: memory foam, silicone, wax, and custom-made. I have to say that these plugs show great variances in no matter material, function, safety, or price. If you want to purchase earplugs, you need to know exactly what you want, so that you can select a more suitable type.
Foam earplugs are the most common type today and also the best for sleeping. They’re disposable and usually budget-friendly, so you can replace them after 1-2 times of usage, which makes your ear canals cleaner and healthier. And most foam plugs are made of memory foam (polyurethane). With this ultra-soft material, you don’t need to worry that the hardness will be the cause of ear pain. In addition, high-density polyurethane always does a better job in keeping out noise. You can roll the foam into a tightly compressed cylinder, then insert into your ear canal and hold in place until it fully expands for superior sound isolation.
It is worth noting that the foam creates slight pressure as it pushes the air in your ear while expanding, which means that it blocks out external sound but also amplifies sounds in your body, like the sound from your heartbeat and breathing. This is called the occlusion effect. If you don’t like this feeling, you can choose ear plugs with a bit weaker noise reduction or smaller sizes that don’t solidly fit your ear canals to attenuate it. (Certainly, we have picked several choices with various sizes for you)
Silicone earplugs are not as soft as sponge style and their shapes cannot be changed. So, they’re not meant to be inserted into the ear canal but are mainly used to cover the ear entrance. Usually, silicone type is not suitable for night sleeping. It’s not soft enough and would cause discomfort to ear canals even ear pain if you wear it for a long time. Also, its sound blockage is less effective than sponge ear plugs. Generally speaking, silicone plugs are more ideal for concerts, nightclubs, swimming venues, etc. They can not only protect your hearing from damage, but also maintain the original sound like music and conversations as they don’t completely shut out noise like the foam type.
Wax earplugs are pioneers in the history of anti-noise earplugs and also the most used earplugs in the old days. They can be molded to suitable contours of any ear canals. With the society going, however, people found that although the wax type is easier to be filled in the entire ear canal, the material will remain inside and it’s not easy to clean out, which may cause the infection of the outer ear. Therefore, wax earplugs are now less popular and fewer people use them.
Custom-made earplugs are available through audiologists who will create a customized pair for you according to the mold of your ear canal. In this way, they develop an airtight seal and provide more noise attenuation as well as comfort. Carrying a hefty price tag, they gain less fans than the memory-foam type and the silicone type.
It’s not easy to choose the best earplugs because they are quite similar in material and shape
After getting a bigger picture of earplugs, we selected and purchased testing models on e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, Alibaba, JD and Amazon. To be honest, it was daunting to know where to start, because we couldn’t figure out what are the differences among those earplugs. They look very similar in materials and shapes. Also, the description of each product and noise reduction ratings don’t vary too much. And consumers commented good or bad. Until we bought earplugs from different manufactures, we gained insight that not every product could improve your sleep, and some even cause outer ear pain while others have mediocre noise attenuation ability.
Knowing all these, we read lots of feedback on Amazon and reviews as well as recommended articles from many sources. After rounds of elections, we finally bought 31 models back and did a ears-on testing to them based on the following criteria:
All earplugs we tested
Foam earplugs can block the most noise as long as they can be totally put into your ear canals and fit snugly. And the insertion is closely related to the material, recovery time, and how tight it is compressed. Among them, recovery time is a key factor you really need to pay attention to. Only with a slow-enough recovery can you have time to insert a plug into the ear canal and adjust its position.
A comparison: earplugs recovery speed
Comfort and material
We use earplugs to help get a better sleep. If the material is very hard, the plugs could cause ear pain or damage your ear canals for long time wear. In this case, I’m afraid that using earplugs is unnecessary.Plus, foam stopples are often used during a night’s sleep. When you sleep on your side or moving around, the size and shape of your ear canal will change. And the stopples may fall out as well with the position shifts. Therefore, the earplugs we chose not only come with sheer comfort but also a secure fit, so that you can sleep soundly in an all-night quiet world without being disturbed.Most sponge earplugs are made of polyurethane which is smooth in texture and slow in recovery, giving you a more comfortable feeling. Even if you wear the sponges for long period, you’ve got zero chance to have ear sore. So, they’re especially suitable for night-time sleep.
Nothing is perfect, however, and sponge stoppers come with a small flaw. They’re easy to grow bacteria. And after cleaning, the recovery gets faster and the noise reduction ability gets weaker, which makes them disposable products and are usually discarded once used. Although some models on the market have a layer of anti-dirt and sealed foam skin, which prevents the grime builds up, for cleaner and healthier ear canals, we think reusable is not a good idea.
Noise reduction rating (NRR)
The main task of earplugs is to keep out noises and provide a quiet environment for you. In our testing, we significantly focused on noise reduction ability. When we were selecting earplugs, according to the basic introduction of each product, we found that the NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) is usually between 29dB to 33dB. At first, we thought such ratings probably mean that the plugs don’t vary much in noise reduction. However, after comparison and testing, we sussed out that the actual reducing effect is way different from the NRR marked on the package. And there are great variances between each product as well. Thus, the numbers don’t represent the real-world noise canceling effect.
There are usually two units of measurement determining the noise reduction level — NRR(Noise Reduction Rating) and SNR (Signal-to-noise ratio), which are two rating systems used to measure how much noise hearing protection devices (such as earplugs) can block out. NRR is accepted in North America while SNR is used in Europe. Due to the variances in testing methods, NRR typically has lower ratings than SNR.
Although every style of earplugs comes with an NRR rating, the number can’t stand for the real effectiveness of noise reduction because most results are based on laboratory conditions which are generally different from the true situation. To get the genuine NRR number of earplugs, you can use the formula that NIOSH provides: Tested noise level – (NRR x 0.5).
The result from this formula may be more practical compared to the laboratory data, but we think that the real effect of noise reduction is closely related to the fit to your ear canals. That means, only finding your ideal earplugs can they maximize the noise reduction effect.
The sizes of foam earplugs seem identical, but human ears are fairly sensitive, even a tiny change in size may influence the comfort and noise reduction capacity when you wear the plugs. From our digging, we found that human ears are usually described as having three parts — outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. The outer ear, which people known as “ear”, consists of the pinna and the ear canal. The pinna collects sounds and the ear canal is the funnel where sounds pass through. And the function of earplugs is to stop the sound passing to the eardrum with a secure fit to the ear canal.
In addition, the normal ear canal is 1 to 1.4 in. (2.5 to 3.6 cm) in length and about 0.3 in. (0.8 cm) in diameter, which means people have differences in ear canal length and diameter. Thus, if you choose earplugs larger than you ear canals, ear pain would occur for long-time wear. And if you choose smaller ones, you can’t get them to securely fit your ear canals, which ends up drastically reducing the noise canceling effect as well as falling out of your ears while moving around during sleep.
A comparison: earplugs sizes
Earplugs that are smooth in texture are usually cleaner and tidier, because they don’t stick your ear canals, which helps stop dust from getting into your ears. Among all the models we tested, some felt sticky and were very strange to wear. They would gum your ear canals so you couldn’t easily insert them in your ears. Also, they would glue the dust on your hands or in the air, bringing it in your ear canals, which will cause the bacteria to grow inside. Thus, we suggest that you should avoid buying sticky earplugs.
How tight can it be compressed
It’s easy to understand that the tighter an ear plug can be compressed, the easier it can be inserted into your ear canal.
We bought a best-selling model with good reviews from MACK’S on Amazon. We could say that MACK’S is a leading brand in earplug field, but the plugs we got can’t be rolled down to an ultra-tight size. Even they’re as soft as other stoppers we recommended, you still can’t easily get them to fit your ear canals. And they always give us hard time wearing. With that said, you should consider how tight an earplug can be compressed for the ease of insertion.
Different earplugs can be most compressed to different sizes
Although the foam-type earplugs are way cheaper than other types, you still don’t want to buy expensive ones because you need to buy them repeatedly. So, we’re expecting to pick earplugs with comfort and effective noise reduction, as well as a low price for you.
How we tested
NRR is just a number, not the real noise blocking effect
There is an NRR number marked on the package of every model, but NRR is a rating system and it does not reflect the real-world performance, which means the rating numbers can’t tell you the ears-on effect of noise cancellation.
Also, as we said before, there are several factors determining how good an earplug is: What is the recovery time to enable easy insertion? Can I wear it with the most compressed size? Is it comfortable to wear? And people have varying ear-canal sizes, so what are the differences in comfort and noise-blocking ability when you put on different sizes of earplugs?
Well, experience is the best teacher. To find the answers, we need to conduct a test. We bought a whole heap of earplugs from different brands and asked six of our colleagues to be the testers, including three men and three ladies. They obviously have dissimilar ear sizes, which makes our test results more convincing.
We made a form for each tester to let them know what we were going to test. The form includes the ease of insertion, occurrence of ear pain and noise reduction effect. And we divided each one into different levels.
We didn’t tell the testers about the brands, prices and all elements that would influence their judgments in advance, which made our test results more objective.
Talking about testing the noise reduction capability of the earplugs, we first couldn’t come up with a practical method. Because the professional equipment doesn’t stand for the ears-on feeling, we don’t want to use it to test. Based on every testers’ opinions and after our discussions, we decided to use the following way:
We put a speaker connected to an iPhone on a table, and the speaker has the same distance to each side of the table so that every tester can hear the same volume of noise.
Make sure the speaker has almost the same distance to every tester
The six testers were evenly divided into three groups and each group sat at a different side of the table. Of course, every tester has the same distance to the speaker as well.
Next, we let the testers put on the earplugs.
Now everything is prepared. We began to play pink noise that remained at the same frequency (we would change the speaker’s direction every few seconds to face every group of testers, ensuring they could hear the same volume) as well as adjusted the volume of the speaker to simulate decibel levels in different scenarios.
At the same time, the testers listened and then recorded the noise-blocking effect of each earplug at varying decibel levels. Following the procedure, they wore and compared every model. Besides the noise attenuation ability, they also tested the ease of insertion and the comfort of short-time wear.
We chose 50dB, 60dB and 70dB as the background noise.
Through the results on the sound meter, here are our findings. 50dB is probably the level of clicking a mouse or typing on a keyboard in an office. For some people, such loudness may not influence their sleeping, but will make a disturbance when you’re thinking deep. 60dB is like having a normal conversation. At this level, you may not able to nod off. Even if you have a shallow sleep, you would be awaked easily. And for 70dB, it maybe the sound of a normally working vacuum cleaner. Even though you’re not sleeping, the Shvooooooo sound still pisses you off. If by any chance you’re awaken by a vac, I guess you’d become a pissy cat.
Three rounds of tests
After the first round of test was done, we had a give-and-take with the testers to pick out a few earplugs that they considered with quite great performance, then tested these lucky stoppers again in the second round. To make sure if our picks were really that good, those survived from the last round would be put through the same test in the third round. And after the three-round tests, we took each tester’s choice into account (again, they have different ear sizes) and finally chose earplugs we think the best for people with various ear-canal sizes.
In addition, my colleagues and I would wear the selected plugs to take a nap in the early afternoon and sleep through the night to test the comfort of long-time wear.
You won’t be distracted with the earplugs on while napping
We also paid attention to that if the plugs would cause ear pain or fall out when you sleep on your side or moving around at night.
The earplugs won’t fall no matter how you move
If they still provide sheer comfort even after long-hour wearing and give a tight seal during a night’s sleep, they’re the top performers we would eventually recommend.
What we found
Through our long-term reviewing and ears-on experience, here are a few helpful tips to help you buy suitable earplugs.
First, great earplugs must come with slow-enough recovery time for easy insertion. However, it’s not always the slower, the better.
After testing 31 models and being racked multiple times by those too-fast rebound earplugs, we think 30 seconds’ releasing speed is the basic time for easy insertion (The 30s refers the time of bouncing back to the original shape after the tightest compression).
Among all the tested earplugs, some come with ultra-slow release speed. Because of that, the stoppers can’t bounce back immediately, so they will remain the most compressed size for a while. If you slightly tilt your head to the side, they would fall out from your ears. Thus, when you insert them into your ear canals, you need to take forever to hold them in place with your finger to stop the plugs from moving inside.
Second, we found some unusual-shaped earplugs don’t block more noise; instead, they end up in less comfort or tricky insertion.
Besides normal-shaped earplugs,we also found some strange-shaped ones on the market, including cylinder shapes, bell shapes, and “T” shapes, which all have good sales on Amazon.To find out the differences between usual plugs and unusual plugs, we also bought those earplugs with various shapes that sell great and gain positive comments on Amazon to test.
T-shaped, cylinder-shaped, and bell-shaped earplugs
In the beginning, the cylinder style carried our highest expectation in all unusual shapes because it’s so unique.
After the testing, however, we are disappointed at it. Why? The two ends of cylinder earplugs are usually stiff, so you’ll be struggle to roll the ends down to the smallest tube, resulting in hard insertion. Even they can be compressed to their smallest sizes, the size of the end is still larger than the middle part, which makes this style of earplugs more difficult to wear.Moreover, the noise-reduction ability is mediocre. Thus, we don’t recommend cylinder-shaped earplugs.
The most compressed size of cylinder-shaped earplugs is much bigger than regular-sized earplugs
Apart from cylinder earplugs, the bell-shaped style has quite good reviews on Amazon as well.
It seems that this style is especially designed to fit ear canals, so you may feel more comfortable to wear. But the test is cruel and the bells fail to pass. Actually, the design of the shape doesn’t fit your ear canals as it looks like, but causes ear pain because of the obtrusive part of the plugs.
Its noise-blocking effect doesn’t get better even with the help of the special shape. The outer end probably looks helpful in dampening some noise, but it’s very thin, which causes the zero reducing effect.
The bottom of bell-shaped earplugs is thin, which cannot keep out noise
We were expecting that the T-shaped earplugs would let us down like the cylinders and bells, so we didn’t look forward to them. Surprisingly, during our test, we found that T-shaped plugs didn’t come with flaws like the cylinders. Instead, they make up the cons for bell plugs.
Let me be more specific. T plugs don’t sacrifice the shape for more comfort; instead, they increase in length at the end to stop more of the plugs entering your ears. Because the ear canal is housed in the temporal bone which is quite hard, keeping less part of the plugs in your ear canals will be more comfortable.
T-shaped earplugs have shorter parts to be inserted in ear canals than regular-sized earplugs
T-shaped earplugs are good helpers in minimizing noises. Compared to bell-shaped plugs, T stoppers leave more parts visible outside and they develop an airtight seal to your ear canals, which attenuates more noises for you.
The bottom of T-shaped earplugs blocks much noises than bell-shaped ones.
Third, even you’re born with super big ear canals, wearing large earplugs that excessively increase in diameter for a long time will still cause ear pain.
We came to know that some earplugs are overly increased in diameter to be bigger in size. In that way, ear pain still happens to your large ear canals if you wear them for a long time. But for other earplugs which are longer and a bit wider, they not only provide effective noise reduction but also sheer comfort. Shhhhh. The secret is: they don’t expand your ear canals too much.
It’s more comfortable to grow in length than in diameter
Fourth, due to product upgrades and different product batches, earplugs that are the same models but in different batches can be varying slightly in shapes, sizes, materials and colors.
We read Amazon reviews as part of our research and we found that, because of the product upgrade, MACK’S Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs made some changes in the recovery time and size. However, such changes cause customers to complain a lot. To get the truth, we bought MACK’S earplugs from two different sellers. And as expected, the products of the sellers show slight differences.
The same models from different manufactures
The plugs from one seller come with a bit longer body and a bit narrower diameter. They have a bit faster recovery time. And the smallest size after being compressed is a bit bigger, which requires some of your efforts to wear.
Quite the opposite, the plugs from another seller is a bit shorter in length and a bit broader in diameter. They have a bit slower recovery time. And the most compressed size is quite smaller than the above one, so you can easily insert into your ear canal.
However, our testing showed that the comfort and noise reduction effect of the two plugs are pretty much the same. We’re not sure if you will get the old version or the new version, which causes the inconvenience while purchasing.
Not just MACK’S Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs, the smaller MACK’S Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs we bought from different retailers also slightly differs. But it’s just the color. The ease of insertion, comfort, and noise reduction are as good as always.
Nothing is different except the color
Therefore, the problem probably relates to the product batch.
Besides MACK’S, the product-upgraded problem also happens to HEAROS Xtreme Protection Noise Cancelling Disposable Foam Earplugs. Referring to the Amazon comments, we realized that the earplugs we got are the previous version. We didn’t get the upgraded product.
This old version has the problem we mentioned in the third point — the excessive increase in diameter leads to ear pain. From the images in the Amazon reviews, the new version’s diameter is wider than the old one, so we assume the “upgraded” version may cause more pain to your ear canals. Thus, we don’t suggest that you buy this model of HEAROS, whether it’s new or old.
A comparison: before and after upgraded
Last, the most important thing to buy suitable earplugs is the fit to your ear canals.
As we mentioned in How we tested, our testers have different ear-canal sizes and they chose different earplugs. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. Only a suitable fit can develop sweet comfort and proper noise isolation. Although we tested many earplugs and picked those we think the best in comfort, noise reduction and so on, you have to choose the ones that best fit your ear canals to get the greatest result from the earplugs.
How to wear foam earplugs
– With clean hands, roll the earplug to the smallest between your fingers
– Reach your hand over head, pull up and back on outer ear to straighten your ear canal.
– Insert the plug slowly into your ear canal until it’s not visible from the front (If you strongly feel something is inside your ear, you wear it right. Just like using a cotton swab), and hold it in place for around 30s until it fully expands inside.
– Please gently twist and pull out the earplug at the same time for comfy and safe removal.
The correct usage ensures the maximum comfort and noise-reducing effect.
Don’t do this:
Wearing earplugs for long term is risky. It is common sense that the ear canal secretes a substance which known as ear wax. Ear wax can protect the skin and tissue of the ear canal from bacteria, fungi and the like, as well as assist in lubrication. The use of earplugs will affect the quantity of earwax produced, which causes the buildup of earwax even ear infection. Therefore, long-time wear is not a good idea.
If you’re going to reuse earplugs, you should first remove excess earwax with Q-tips to make the ear canal clean. Doing so will lower the chance of bacterial growth on earplugs. However, we still don’t advise you to over use the same earplugs, as the foam holes are easy to grow and keep bacteria.
For most people
Our Pick: Howard Leight by Honeywell LPF-1 Max Lite Earplugs
Desiring a quiet environment to sleep may be a luxury for people who suffer from long-term noise disturbance. Unluckily, my bedroom is near a busy road, so I usually have hard time falling asleep due to the traffic noise. But, hey, there is always a solution. After findingHoward Leight by Honeywell LPF-1 Max Lite Soft Foam Earplugs, I can finally bid farewell to the noise for good. With the help of its T-shaped design, the noise-dampening effect and comfort have quite ideal performances and beat most earplugs we tested.
Different from other earplugs of average sizes, these stoppers come with a fresh design which looks like the letter T, but it seems that my colleagues prefer to call them “Green Rocket”. You know what? Such a design not only much improves the wearing comfort but also enhances the noise-blocking effect, which makes the plugs edge out on top compared to other shapes of earplugs.
The T shape design makes excellent comfort
Howard Leight by Honeywell LPF-1 Max Lite Soft Foam Earplugs almost tops all our tested plugs in comfort. Thanks to its T-shaped design (it really helps a lot), the outer end takes up nearly one third of the whole body, which means that only two thirds of the plug can be inserted into your ear canal. When you wear a typical-shaped plug, you need to insert almost the whole body inside your ear canal. Because the ear canal is housed in the temporal bone which is quite hard, the complete insertion leads to discomfort. With that said, the T style is way more comfortable than the regular shape.
Even you wear it for long time at night, the soft material won’t cause ear pain. Also, we tried sleeping in different positions, on the side or moving around. It turns out that the plugs snugly fit all of my teammates’ ear canals, so you don’t need to worry about the falling-out will affect your sleep through the night. Rise and shine!
It can stay securely in your ears.
Besides, the ultra-slow recovery time enables easy insertion. And because these earplugs have small wings at the outer end, you only need to roll up two thirds of the plugs before you insert into your ear canals, which saves lots of your strength.
Amazing noise-blocking effect
Just like what we thought at first, maybe you’re also wondering, “these plugs cannot be inserted far enough in my ear canals, so the noise-blocking effect will be weakened as well.” Surprisingly,Howard Leight by Honeywell LPF-1 Max Lite Soft Foam Earplugs not only provides the maximum comfort but also ensures the effective noise blocking. From our digging, it’s one of the winners among all average-sized contenders. Also, after it is slid into your ears, you’ll see part of the outer end stays in your external ear to block noise and the end fits tightly to your canal, which is helpful for dampening more noise than the regular-shaped plugs.
In all three scenarios we simulated for noise reduction testing, we’re buzzing to get superior results from these Howard Leight earplugs. At 50 decibels — about the noise of a typical quiet office — you can barely hear any sound with the plugs’ ability and immerse yourself in your work or thinking.
If there are conversations in your office, the noise level would be at 60 decibels. If you put on the stopples at this moment, you’ll only hear a little bit of the external sound. That means, unless you’re listening very carefully, or you can see people talking around you, you would ignore the sound.
The biggest surprise comes after. At 70 decibels, which is probably like the noise of a home-used vacuum cleaner, although the plugs don’t fully block noise, they can create a quiet-enough atmosphere for you to nod off. In other words, as long as you sleep with the earplugs on, even your mom is vacuuming a room, you can still sleep like a dog — you don’t even hear the annoying sound. Trust me, in all earplugs we tested, not many plugs come with such excellent noise-reducing ability.
The also-unique bell earplugs are no better than T shapes. Here’s why:
To search out the best earplugs, we bought and tested different shapes of models. There are bell-shaped plugs which look somewhat similar to the T style, and they seem really comfortable. Chances are that the bell plugs are designed according to the ear canal shape.
So, we thought bell plugs might be more comfortable than T plugs. But the test is cruel and the bells failed to pass. Actually, the design of the shape doesn’t fit your ear canals as it looks like but causes ear pain because of the obtrusive part of the bell plugs.
Fear not, we already picked the Howard Leight by Honeywell LPF-1 Max Lite Soft Foam Earplugs to be the troubleshooter. They’re not shaped from your ear canals intentionally; instead, they stop less part getting inside to improve the comfort. In that way, you won’t feel ear pain caused by the unfit plugs to the shape of your ear canals.
The success of noise blockage benefits from the perfect fit to your ear canal, and mainly from the T-shaped design. Compared to regular-shaped plugs, the outer end which takes up one-third of the entire body and the T-shaped design which fits tightly to your canal help block out more noise.
The connecting end works better in blocking noises
Although the outer end of bell-shaped plugs looks a bit similar to the T shape’s, it’s very thin, which causes the zero reducing effect.
Its low price enables you to replace it more frequently
It is not only comfortable and keeps out much noise, but it’s also one of the cheapest in all competitors. As I mentioned above, foam earplugs grow bacteria easily, which makes them disposable products. And the recovery time, comfort, and noise-reducing effect will be weakened after cleaning. That means you can’t stop bacteria growing by just washing the earplugs, but you must change them very often to make your ear canal tidy. Thus, its cheaper price is so significant when you need to buy it repeatedly.
We offer the following three options of these pairs of earplugs for you: 10 pairs, 50 pairs, and 200 pairs. You can choose the quantity you want according to your needs. Their prices are relatively reasonable in whatever options you pick. Of course, the more you buy, the cheaper. Therefore, we recommend 50 pairs and 200 pairs for you.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Also Great: 3M E-A-R Soft Yellow Neons Form Earplugs
The size of 3M is a bit smaller than regular-sized earplugs
No doubt, its smaller body also takes the credit for more comfort. And the soft material won’t create pressure on your ear canal and cause pain. Although it doesn’t block more noise than Howard Leight by Honeywell LPF-1 Max Lite Soft Foam Earplugs, it still provides a quiet space for you to rest. Also, it’s very budget-friendly. If you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit noise-blocking effect for more comfort and a lower price, 3M E-A-R Soft Yellow Neons Form Earplugs would be a pretty good choice.
One of the winners in the easiest insertion
The recovery time directly relates to the ease of insertion. For 3M E-A-R Soft Yellow Neons Form Earplugs, it takes 1 minute and 15 seconds to bounce back to the original shape after being most compressed, which means you can easily insert it into your ear canal and have long enough time to adjust its position inside. More than that, you can also feel it expanding in your ear. Amazing! Also, to be comparison, among all earplugs we tested, some have a speedy release. Although we already rolled up and compressed them to the smallest and tightest, they still can’t be stuffed into my ears, so I couldn’t test their noise-reducing effect and comfort at all.
The recovery speed of 3M is really slow
Besides the soft material and slow recovery, how tightly an earplug can be compressed has lots to do with the ease of insertion as well. Of course, 3M E-A-R Soft Yellow Neons Form Earplugs didn’t let us down. You can easily pop it in your canal with the most compressed size.
You can roll it to an ultra-small size.
While we were testing, something interesting happened. My colleague put these plugs into his ears as always because he already masters the skill of wearing stoppers. But he underestimated the most compressed size of 3M E-A-R Soft Yellow Neons Form Earplugs. As a result, the plugs almost “fell down” in his ears.
3M E-A-R Soft Yellow Neons Form Earplugs doesn’t have a special shape, but you would not believe its comfort far exceeds most of our tested models. Due to its smaller size and the ultra-soft material, it won’t over-expand your ear canal. So, you’ll feel more comfortable while wearing. Even during a night’s sleep, the tiny body won’t create pressure on your ear canal causing sore and pain. It makes me forget something is still in my ear when I wake up.
Easily handle the daily noise
3M E-A-R Soft Yellow Neons Form Earplugs comes with a smaller size than normal earplugs, but it’s not a big deal because this doesn’t affect the quite-good noise blockage which even surpasses most average-sized earplugs. In the three simulated scenarios, we have 50dB, 60dB, and 70dB three sound levels. At 50 decibels, you can only hear the sound of silence. At 60 decibels, it shuts out most external noise. If you want to sleep in such an environment, the plugs can do you a favor. At 70 decibels, you can clearly hear the external sound. In other words, 3M doesn’t provide a quiet-enough space for you to sleep, but it’s enough to save you from a bad mood caused by external noise.
Due to 3M’s smaller size, its noise-blocking effect is slightly weaker than Howard Leight by Honeywell LPF-1 Max Lite Soft Foam Earplugs, but it’s reasonable. The good news is that it still surpasses the majority of our tested models with a standard size. That said, don’t worry too much about the noise blocking effect, as it can provide you an environment that we consider quiet.
It’s also budget-friendly
3M E-A-R Soft Yellow Neons Form Earplugs sells for a low price as well, which is pretty much the same as the “Green Rocket”Howard Leight. Thus, you don’t need to worry that buying it repeatedly breaks your bank.
Like Howard Leight by Honeywell LPF-1 Max Lite Soft Foam Earplugs, we offer the same three options of these earplugs as well, including 10 pairs, 50 pairs, and 200 pairs. Similarly, we also recommend that you buy 50 pairs or 200 pairs. Because compared to 10 pairs, these two options can meet your needs of long-term use, as well as having a lower price than 10 pairs.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Some reviews on Amazon give us notice. Some buyers commented that the earplugs are too small to drown out noise. In our opinion, the good fit of earplugs makes great noise reduction effect. I can’t say that these earplugs must suit you or not, as people have different needs and canal sizes. But I suggest that if you’re born with very wide ear canals, these stoppers may not be your Mr. Right. On the contrary, they would be a kidnap for people with not-that-big canals, or who place comfort over noise reduction ability.
For bigger ear canals and better noise reduction
Our pick: Flents Quiet Time Ear Plugs
If you have wide ear canals, Flents Quiet Time Soft Foam Ear Plugsare meant for you. Although they’re large in size, the comfort is comparable to most regular-sized earplugs. Resulting from the big body, the noise reducing effect even exceeds our pick Howard Leight by Honeywell LPF-1 Max Lite Soft Foam Earplugs.
It’s large, but still comfortable
To be frank, we firstly hesitated for a long while picking these earplugs, as they’re much bigger than usual-sized stoppers and look a bit exaggerated.
Flents is much longer than regular-sized earplugs
Surprisingly, after we tested an abundance of models, we found that Flents earplugs are one of the most comfortable among sizeable challengers and even perform better than most earplugs we tested. And they’re not like most big-sized stopples which over increase in diameter to be broader. Instead, they meet large ear-canal people’s need by increasing in length, which means they won’t widen your ear canals too much and cause pain. To be compared, they win in comfort.
Why do we prefer Flents to the HEAROS Xtreme Protection that also sells great?
We shopped around for many large-sized earplugs to find the best for wide ear-canal people. Besides Flents, HEAROS Xtreme Protection Noise Cancelling Disposable Foam Earplugs also have good ratings on Amazon. However, different from Flents earplugs, they over increase in diameter to get a bigger size. After they’re inserted into your ear canal, you’ll feel them widening the canal and causing pain which gets worse as time passed.
But Flents stoppers we picked perform better. They’re just made a bit broader, so they won’t create too much pressure on your ear canal. Although the longer body may go far in your ear while wearing and you’ll suffer mild pain, the pain will not last so long. And you can avoid the ache by adjusting the plug’s position or inserting slowly. Therefore, compared to HEAROS Xtreme Protection Noise Cancelling Disposable Foam Earplugs, we prefer Flents Quiet Time Soft Foam Ear Plugs.
It’s more comfortable to grow in length than in diameter
Even exceeds the “Green rocket” in noise reduction effect
For our noise blocking test, Flents earplugs did one of the best and even surpassed our pick Howard Leight by Honeywell LPF-1 Max Lite Soft Foam Earplugs. We tested them in the three simulated scenarios of different sound levels. At 50 dB, you would hear nothing from the outer world. At 60 dB, if you didn’t carefully listen to people talking, you would assume that it’s a silent world around you. At 70 dB, which was the highest level, you could still hear external sound with the earplugs on, but such noise volume didn’t bother your sleep. With that said, its noise blocking capability can provide you a really silent sleeping environment which is even quieter than Howard Leight by Honeywell LPF-1 Max Lite Soft Foam Earplugs.
It is easy to understand that an earplug’s noise reduction effect relates directly to its size, because a large-sized earplug can fill up your ear canal to get a better blocking result. Compared with regular-sized earplugs, Flents Quiet Time Soft Foam Ear Plugs are slightly wider in diameter, which fits snugly to your ear canals to keep out more noise. And their longer body allows you to insert the plugs the furthest in your ears which will be entirely covered to shut out more external noise.
It’s large size doesn’t make insertion tricky.
Do you worry the longer and wider earplugs will give you a hard time wearing? Not necessary. They have long enough time — 1 minute and 35 seconds — to bounce back to the original shape and can be tightly compressed to a very small rod. So, as long as you wear it correctly, the rod can be easily inserted into your ear canal. But you have to do it slowly; otherwise, you’ll feel pain caused by the too-far insertion due to the longer body.
These earplugs are available in 10 pairs and 50 pairs. Although both options are not cheap, the 10-pair is even more expensive. If you go with that, plus the shipping fee, you’ll pay twice the price per pair of the 50-pair. So, we recommend the 50-pair option.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Although these earplugs are already very comfortable, they’re still not friendly to average-sized ear canals. So, before your purchase, you have to make sure your ear canal can handle the longer and wider stoppers that are specially designed for large ear-canal people. Besides, even you fully insert the plug into your ear canal, there is still a large part visible in the outer ear due to the longer design, and that may be lumpy for side sleepers or who move around. Certainly, if these plugs are a perfect fit for you, the problem would not bother you.
For small ear canals
Our pick: Mack's Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs
Yep, Mack’s Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs are definitely saviors for narrow ear-canal people. Compared to regular-sized earplugs, their smaller body doesn’t over widen your ear canal, not to mention it creates pressure and causes pain. Also, the soft material makes wearing very comfortable. And the noise blocking effect is good enough to handle daily noises, even it’s not comparable to our other picks.
For people with small ear canals
Although our other picks of earplugs are as soft as down, long-time wearing them still leads to slight discomfort for people with narrow ear canals. But, what luck, we finally found Mack’s Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs. Unexpectedly, these stoppers meet all testers’ requirement for comfort, especially ladies with small ear canals can’t put them down. Thanks to the teeny design, the saviors not only put a barrier between your ear canal and the outside world, but, more importantly, they don’t over expand your ear canal and cause pain. Thus, for ladies or people who have narrow ear canals, these earplugs are more comfortable than other ordinary-sized stoppers.
Mack’s Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs are small
It’s small size doesn’t affect the noise-blocking capability too much
Although the saviors’ noise blockage is less effective than normal-sized earplugs, they had good enough performance in the three simulated scenarios of different noise levels. At 50 dB, you may occasionally hear a mere sound which may not catch your attention. At 60 dB, the plugs could still provide a sleeping environment, but not as quiet as our other picks. At 70 dB, they only attenuated the noise, and you could still clearly hear the external sound. Such sound level does affect your sleep, but at least putting on the plugs can protect your hearing from harm. As we predicted, the blocking effect is mediocre, but we owe it to the comfort to lower the noise-reducing criteria.
The Mack's Dreamgirl Soft Foam Earplugs are also small and have great comfort, but the noise reduction effect is a bit weaker.
If you hope that there are earplugs for no-pressure wear, Mack’s Dreamgirl Soft Foam Earplugs are chosen. They come with a unique design — they’re empty in the middle — which can be rolled down more easily for simple insertion. And the design hardly put pressure on your ear canal, which means the plugs are very comfortable to wear. However, you can’t have the best of both worlds. They’re defeated by Mack’s Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs in noise blockage capability.
These earplugs have the same problem as Flents Quiet Time Soft Foam Ear Plugs — 10 pair is way more expensive than 50 pair. Still, we recommend that you choose the 50-pair option.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Mack’s Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs are smaller, which is more comfortable to wear, but they’re not comparable to our other picks in noise reduction effect. However, if you have narrow ear canals, the plugs would fit snugly and they can deal with the daily noise.
One more thing to notice: Mack’s Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs vary in colors resulting from product batches, but the comfort and noise blockage effect are not involved. So, you don’t need to worry too much about the issue
The difference just lies in the color.
For most people
Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs: This product has large sales on Amazon. Among all our tested models, it has excellent performance in noise isolation. However, no matter the old version or the upgraded version, they have big differences and both block less noise than our picks. At last, we gave it up.
Hearos Ultimate Softness Series Foam Earplugs: Although it comes with soft material and slow recovery, it has less effective noise reduction than our picks, so we gave it up as well.
Mack’s Original Soft Foam Earplugs: It’s also Mack’s product and it has slow recovery and is very comfortable. It’s a pity that our picks beat it in noise isolation. So, bye-bye.
Xinuo 5F-2: It is less comfortable, more expansive and blocks less noise than our picks. I bet you know our decision.
3M 1100 Foam Ear Plugs: This product is one of 3M’s classics, and we really expected it. Turns out that it let us down. Because its rigid material makes our testers’ ear canals uncomfortable while wearing, and the noise blockage effect is not good, so we let it go.
Flents Quiet Please Ear Plugs: This product is very popular on Amazon, and we looked forward to its cylinder shape that can bring us surprises. However, its two ends can be hardly compressed to the tightest size. Even if you can do it, the ends are still thicker than the middle part, which causes tricky insertion. Besides, its noise blockage ability is ordinary. No doubt, we gave it up.
3M E-A-R Classic Earplugs: It’s also a best-selling product of 3M. The cylinder design makes it hard to wear, and the noise blockage effect is average. Although it has many fans on Amazon, don’t blindly follow the trend.
OHRFRIEDEN OHRF 06177: This product is pricey, and with average noise blockage effect. We didn’t choose it.
Inidea: This product has top ratings on Taobao. After testing, we think it performs pretty good in comfort and noise reduction, but the hefty price tag stops us from choosing it. After all, our picks are not only budget-friendly but also have better performances than it.
Junkai JKN101: This product is from Alibaba. It gave us a good first impression, but after long-time wearing, you’ll feel sore and pain. And its noise-blocking effect is not worth the high price. Thus, it doesn’t meet our criteria.
The Ear Buddy Premium Soft Foam Ear Plugs: This product is bell-shaped, but the design doesn’t help it get better in comfort and noise isolation. As we mentioned in the article, the bell shape doesn’t contour to fit your ear canal; instead, the intrusive part will cause ear pain. As a result, the product is not on our list.
Howard Leight by Honeywell Laser Lite High Visibility Disposable Foam Earplugs: This product sells well and have positive reviews on Amazon. Although it comes with a T shape, its fast recovery doesn’t allow easy insertion. And the noise blockage is no better than our pick Howard Leight by Honeywell LPF-1 Max Lite Soft Foam Earplugs. So, it got a crossed-out.
Anjian: This product is from Alibaba. It has a fast release so it’s tricky to be inserted into ear canals. More than that, it has almost none noise-blocking effect, and you would doubt that if you’ve ever put the earplugs on. Crossed out.
Huweicong: This product comes from Alibaba. It takes 0 second to return to the original shape, and we couldn’t insert it into ear canal at all. Therefore, we didn’t test its comfort and noise blocking effect.
Mailan ES-23-12: This product comes from Alibaba and has the same flaw as Huweicong. We couldn’t insert it into the ear canal to test.
F-win-F1001: This product is sold on Alibaba. Although it has slower rebound than the two previous products, Huweicong and Mailan, you still couldn’t easily insert it into your ear canal. And it’s stiff, which causes ear pain while wearing. So, we didn’t choose it.
3M 1100 Foam Ear Plugs: We got this 3M product from a manufacture on Alibaba. It’s sticky on the surface, which requires some efforts while inserting into your ear canal. Also, it will stick the dust in the air or on your hands, and bring in your ear canal leading bacteria growth. More than that, its hard material makes your ear canal discomfort while wearing. Just like 3M 1100 Foam Ear Plugs we bought on Amazon, it has the same problem.
Ailvxing: This product is from Alibaba. It has fast recovery and you can’t easily insert it into the ear canal. And it’s sticky on the surface as well, so we didn’t choose it.
Taihu-601: This product is from Alibaba. It fast returns to its original shape, which requires some efforts while inserting in ear canals. Also, its noise blockage ability is weak. So, we didn’t choose it.
For large size
Moldex Soft Foam Ear Plugs:This product looks almost the same as our pick for wide ear-canal people. However, after our testing, we found that its noise reducing effect is not comparable to our pick Flents Quiet Time Soft Foam Ear Plugs. So, we gave it up.
Moldex 6800 Pura-Fit Soft-Foam Earplugs: This product is long, but its noise reduction effect is not improved by the length; instead, it’s even weaker than our pick Howard Leight by Honeywell LPF-1 Max Lite Soft Foam Earplugs in a normal size. So, we didn’t choose it.
HEAROS Xtreme Protection Noise Cancelling Disposable Foam Earplugs: This product has large sales and positive feedbacks on Amazon. From our digging, it over expands in diameter to meet wide ear-canal people’s need, causing ear sore and pain after long-time wear. Also, it is upgraded to a new version which has larger diameter. So, we didn’t consider it.
Flents Quiet Contour Ear Plugs: This product comes with a unique bell-shaped design, but the design doesn’t help it get better in keeping out noise. Also, its bigger size makes it hard to be inserted into your ear canal, and causes very uncomfortable feeling while wearing.
Howard Leight MAX-1 Foam Ear Plugs: People leave great comments on Amazon to this product. However, we found that it has fast recovery that you’ll have hard time inserting it into your ear canal. Plus, it comes with average noise blocking effect. So, we didn’t choose it.
For small size or ladies
HEAROS Sleep Pretty in Pink Ear Plugs: This product is suitable for narrow ear-canal people or ladies. However, as a small-sized earplug product, it is not only less effective than Mack’s Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs in noise reduction, but also less ergonomic than Mack’s Dreamgirl Soft Foam Earplugs in size and design. What a pity.