Monday, December 04, 2006

Ear Plug Shootout

The purple/yellow Moldex Rocket plugs, then clockwise, yellow generic plugs, orange 1110 plugs from 3M, then the pink/yellow Lazer Lite plugs, QB200HYG orange/grey plug - both from Howard Leight, next is Air Soft blue/red rocket type plug and Max orange plug also both from Howard Leight, and last in the middle is yellow super soft plug made by Uvex.

Ever noticed some old bikers seem to talk louder - that's cause they are a little bit deaf.

The most common person to suffer this is the Harley rider with the ultra loud exhaust system on each of his bikes over the years. But do enough miles on quiet motorbikes with helmets that produce a lot of wind noise and you may also suffer from some hearing loss as well.

I have been wearing ear plugs for sometime now - perhaps not as long as I should have - however I am glad I started when I did and have hopefully saved any future hearing loss. Trouble is finding a ear plug that works well for you.

I have been having a bad time with plugs that don't stay in - so I have bought all the different types I can find locally to do a comparison.

All the foam tapered plugs require the same fitting procedure, roll and insert and hold awhile until foam expands and seals/stays in ear. My problem is the shape of my ear seems to not hold the plugs in so well or possibly I don't get the plug inserted far enough.

Actually I always get them in first few times used in the morning. Then as day wears on and the temperature rises (hot and sweaty inside the helmet here in summer) I find it difficult to fit the plugs. I suspect that its a combination of the plug having been in contact with ears and perspiration and rolled up in fingers a few times has become a bit soiled and just cannot grip enough to stay in the ears for further use. I need then to perhaps carry a few pairs for a days ride... anyway I am trying out my options as would like to find one that can last all day.

The plugs:

Of these plugs the Max is the quietest with the highest noise reduction rating, it is the largest plug both in length and thickness and really shuts out all noise when you can get it in right - its also one I have a lot of problems getting to fit at any time.

The orange 3M plug is a firm foam which is similar size to all the generic plugs on the market but it really is quieter than the generics with its dense foam. I find these the most successful in staying in my ear and seal well out of the foam plugs however they are not the most comfortable.

The Yellow Generic plugs (as found everywhere) are same as the 3M in shape but softer foam. This softer foam then doesn't grip my ears as well and mostly they simply pop out moments after fitting. They work fine once fitted ok but block less noise than the 3M or Max plugs.

The Yellow Uvex plugs are same shape but lighter again with a hollow section at outside end. Very soft foam they block less noise but are very comfortable. Work fine when I can get them to stay in.

The Lazer Lite is about the same softness as the Uvex plugs - which is very soft and the most comfortable of them all with the plugs different shape fitting completely in the ear. Same issue for me that they don't want to seal and stay in often. Noise reduction is about the same as the Yellow plugs and all the soft foam plugs are not as quiet as the Max or 3M.

The QB200 is not a roll up and insert plug. Its the end used for banded earplugs where the frame clips the plugs into your ears. These work really well by themselves the plug sits partially in your ear and is a larger rounder shape item. (shape is kinda like a mushroom) I am not sure it they will work loose - will get back to you on that but so far these are impressive, my pick of the foam plugs as they seal perfect every time as you don't have to get them inside your ear canal.

The other two styles of plugs are the multiple use flange type. Not made of foam but of a flexible soft material these can last a long time if washed and don't require to be compressed to fit.
I found the Air Soft would not seal at all, just too thin but the Moldex Rocket worked very well. I am impressed by the 100% success rate with fitting as you can simply press the plug gently in until you have it right, no need to roll up, insert, hold, wait .. nope hasn't sealed, remove start over like with all the foam plugs (except the QB200)

I am going to try the rocket and the QB on the road further then announce the winner.


  1. And I thought I was the only one that ride with ear plug!

    I find those that squeeze and expand work well. Sometime I use those plug for swimming but can be a little unconfortable.

  2. I never used to, found them anoying, but then I started riding longer without a break and further than just local and thats when the noise became more of a problem and now I cannot ride without them!

  3. You should really go check out mighty plugs at They're the best ear plugs I've ever found, I use the same pair over and over again, and their 34 Noise Reduction Rating is apparently the highest on the market. They're real comfortable, they don't come out and they're decently cheap. Well worth the buy.

  4. Interesting, thanks Bryce. I shall order some I think and see how they go.

  5. That is nice; you have been wearing ear plugs. This will surely help your ears.