Musician Earplugs ?

Recently we hear about a lot of misunderstandings about musicians earplugs.
In this FAQ we want to answer some questions that often arise.

What are Musician Earplugs?

Musician earplugs are earplugs that give a flat attenuation over the whole frequency range (an even reduction of sound level over all frequencies.) This way sounds will not be affected and stay the same as without the musicias earplugs. All other products will give an excessive reduction in the higher frequencies, causing dull and muffled sounds.
What it comes down to is that only Etymotic Research makes patented filters for musician earplugs.

Are there “ fake or imitation”  musician earplugs?

Yes, Musicians Earplugs™ is a trade mark protected name, but there are companies that sell low quality hearing protectors under the name musician earplugs.
These products range from standard reusable earplugs to custom moulded earplugs, with or without filters, resulting in attenuation characteristics more or less equal to industrial earmuffs.

How do I recognize genuine musician earplugs?

There are a couple of methods to recognize and compare earplugs.
The easiest and best way is to compare the attenuation characteristics. These are given for the frequencies 125, 250, 500, 1000, 2000, 4000 and 8000 Hz.
The sound reduction in the lower frequencies (under 1000Hz) should be (nearly) the same as in the higher frequencies. If these figures are not or cannot be given on paper, ask yourself why (see graph at the bottom of this page).

Custom made:
  • Custom moulded is not a guarantee for a good product.
  • Check if they have an ER (Etymotic Research) filter. These are available in 9, 15 and 25 dB. If they do not have an ER filter it is not a proper musician earplug.
  • When they are relatively cheap, you have to be careful, as only a set of ER filters will already cost around $100,-.
  • Ask for the attenuation characteristics and test results from standards like AS/NZS 1270, CE, ISO etc.
  • Some “fake” products do not have a filter at all, or have a little hole filter or something comparable.
Ready fit products:
  • Compare their attenuation characteristics.
  • The ER20 gives the best characteristics as it uses a unique technology with a sound restrictor (filter) and a resonator.
  • If only a filter is used there will still be a significant difference between the lower and higher frequencies.
  • How do I recognize an ER filter?

    They are 10mm. in diameter and have a membrane and an internal resonator.

    Are there differences between the genuine musician earplugs with the ER filter?

    Yes Etymotic Research has a list of approved ear mould manufacturers to make musician earplugs. They all make different products within the acoustical requirements of Etymotic. The products itself can vary a lot in comfort, ease of use and quality.
    Specific things to look for are:

    • Material (life expectancies can vary from 1 year to well beyond 5 years)
    • Comfort (A soft material is more comfortable and secure than a hard material)
    • Quality
    • Do they comply with any standards?
    • Warranty
    • Support/service
    • Durability
    • Flexibility in applications and use (some filters are super glued into the mould, while some are changeable etc.)
    • Level of craftsmanship (the skill level of the technician who makes them can make a huge difference in performance)
    • etc

    ELACIN has optimized the ER FlexComfort musician earplugs to the highest level, is worldwide the biggest brand and the product of choice for the professionals in the music industry and beyond. 
    Obviously you get the best value for money if you choose a quality product that performs up to the expectations and will last a long time.
    So it pays to look around for a good product and not only the lowest price as there are huge differences in the products.
    Some things you might want to know about ELACIN regarding musician earplugs:

    • ELACIN New Zealand Ltd. is the only official distributor for the ER filters and ER20’s in New Zealand.
    • ELACIN’s mother company Elcea, is the worldwide (outside of the USA) distributor for the ER filters and takes care of the requirements for laboratories that manufacture ER musician earplugs.
    • ELACIN New Zealand Ltd. is the only official manufacturer for the ER musicians earplugs™ in New Zealand.

    Attenuation characteristics in a graph

    We do not compare all products in this graph as we do not want to name other products and often it is not even possible as there are no figures available.
    We have filled in some of them, including products that we use for industrial applications. We have given an example of an average solid custom moulded plug and an example of an average custom moulded plug with a filter that is based on a little hole.
    As you can see even our industrial products can easily outperform some other products that are sold under the name “musician earplugs”. If you want to compare products, just print out this graph and fill in the attenuation characteristics of the products that you want to compare.

    If you have any questions regarding musician earplugs, please do not hesitate to contact us, even if you have nu intention to buy them from us