Reviewing hearing protection isn’t easy. On one hand it should be one of the most important and thoroughly researched decisions a musician makes; on the other hand, understanding the impact of a particular unit from a written description can be very difficult. However, after discovering Ear Filters at the 2011 Summer NAMM show, I felt like I had to try and spread the word about these incredible in-ear inserts (sorry).
I’ll admit that, for a variety of reasons, I ignored the need for hearing protection for many years. When I was young, I tried a bunch of cheap foam inserts which do a fine job cutting out lots of noise. Unfortunately, they were pretty uncomfortable and they also seemed to kind of suck the energy out of live performances as everything sounded like it was coming through a wet blanket – they simply cut out too much noise. After that, I always felt like hearing protection would have a detrimental effect on my ability to perform, or that finding the right product would be prohibitively expensive (why I was willing to spend loads of money on expensive gear, but had a hard cap on protecting my hearing is beyond me).
So, after more than a decade of just destroying my ears, I finally happened upon something that really worked at last year’s Summer NAMM. Now, I should say that not long before I found Ear Filters, I’d been given a really nice set of ear plugs that I liked a lot; they were very effective and pretty comfortable. I was still getting used to the idea of using hearing protection, and tried to use them whenever I remembered, but it was still an afterthought. To sum up, I was happy, but not blown away.
That all changed when I used Ear Filters for the first time. After a solid pitch from Tyler at the EF booth, I was intrigued by the very simple design and feel of the product. So, a week later, I took them to a medium-loud band rehearsal, and after about two minutes, completely forgot I was wearing them (I even tried to put ear bud headphones in before I realized I still had the Ear Filters on).
The reason I’d forgotten the spongy cylinders were in my ears was because I could still hear everything as clearly as I would have normally (I realized later that I was actually hearing more clearly), but that dull ache that comes after a loud session was totally absent. Thinking back, I couldn’t believe how effective they had been, and they’re all I’ve used since. Ear Filters completely changed my attitude toward hearing protection.
One interesting note about Ear Filters is that they actually have a 0dB Noise Reduction Rating. Curious about how my ears felt so much better after using a product that had a reported non-impact on the amount of sonic energy I was hearing, I contacted Ear Filters creator, Dan Blume. He quickly replied, explaining that the unique cellulose foam design limits only those frequencies that are most commonly associated with hearing damage and pain – reducing the “sound pressure” applied to your ears in loud situations (he even attached the research to back it up!).
On every package of Ear Filters, you’ll see the company’s slogan: “A filter not a plug so you can hear”. Quite frankly, that one statement more adequately sums up the principal benefit of Ear Filters better than I ever could.
I really cannot recommend Ear Filters enough. I’d encourage all of you to order a pair from the company’s website right away. At only $3.50 shipped, a pair of these washable, reusable hearing savers will be one of the best investments you make all year.