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The best high end molded ear plugs? Anyone in LA?
Old 17th May 2016
  #1
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toneguru's Avatar
The best high end molded ear plugs? Anyone in LA?

Hello fellow slutz.

I have tinnitus but the music must go on...

I am looking to get some molded ear plugs. I figure on getting a -25dB set, and a -15dB set.

Any suggestions? Who makes the best? Any in LA? Personal experience?

Much appreciated.
Old 17th May 2016
  #2
I assume you've already looked into Westone and Etymotic? My audiologist recommended Westone's moldings, if that helps.
Old 17th May 2016
  #3
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Westone
Old 17th May 2016
  #5
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Ahh yes, I do recall a fellow engineer recommending Westone.

Thank you.
Old 17th May 2016
  #6
I have these: ER Series Musician Earplugs – Custom | Sensaphonics I think a lot of it also has to do with how good the audiologist is at making the mold.
Old 17th May 2016
  #7
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If you have tinnitus you may find the ER25s will still set it off with rock band type SPLs. Know some guys that can't use 'em.
Old 18th May 2016
  #8
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I highly recommend Beverly Lew, an audiologist in Burbank who specializes in musicians earplugs. I have been going to her for years and always been very happy with the results -- comfortable, effective earplugs custom fit that I wear to mitigate my tinnitus. I would trust her recommendations for earplugs. I have a set with both -15 and -25 filters, which I can switch depending on the situation. Dr. Lew has a sound chamber for testing hearing over a broader frequency range that many earplug suppliers don't have, which probably provides a more accurate and meaningful hearing test.

http://http://www.hearingfitness.com/#!our-programs/c66t
Old 18th May 2016
  #9
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See a specialist for advise before you put anything in your ear, don't do something that might aggravate an existing problem.
Old 18th May 2016
  #10
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This is a timely post, as I'm looking for a pair to replace my Earasers (which are actually fantastic, but only 15dB and one side just doesn't fit all of the time for me).

Does anyone know if you can get custom molded plugs that are almost non-visible, like Earasers? Earasers Musicians Plugs Medium | Musician's Friend

They're literally almost barely visible unless you're very, very up close with the person wearing them. It's important for me in some cases.
Old 18th May 2016
  #11
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toneguru's Avatar
Lots of good feedback, much appreciated.

In response to one of the posts, I did indeed see a specialist. At this point I know what I want, I just do not know who is the best to deliver.

I imagine what I want is what most would want:

1) Custom mold fitting that fits tight, secure and comfortable.

2) -25dB attenuation (possibly a -15dB too)

3) Applicable for musicians and engineers.

4) For me, local to Los Angeles.

Thanks again.
Old 19th May 2016
  #12
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House Ear Institute Clinic at about 3rd and Alvarado near downtown. Best place I've seen for hearing- they know how to deal with musicians and sound engineers, can take molds for musician's plugs, etc... Highly recommended. Years ago, I called in for hearing tests and ended up being put on a study. Was paid to take a 3 hour hearing test that was far more comprehensive than any audiologist would give- even to the point of testing localization of sound.

As for the plugs. Once you get the molds, get both a 15 and 25 dB set of filters. 15s are good for most things I find. They sound great and if you think about it- even a 105 dB show is now hitting your ear at 90. For movies and such, they are also great. The 25s are a must when you get into the really loud shows- think the 105-115 dB shows. Will prevent the profound damage with sound that I've found good enough to mix with.

The Etymotic, Westone and a couple others are all the exact same design. Etymotic has licensed the plugs to a number of manufacturers.

Then at NAMM next year, go and try out all the IEMs and really start to deal with noise issues. At NAMM, the show specials for IEMs are pretty amazing.

--Ben
Old 19th May 2016
  #13
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Great insight, thanks Ben.
Old 19th May 2016
  #14
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Everything Ben said is spot on.

Been using Etymotic/Westone via House Ear Clinic for going on 20+ years now. Back in the day the molds were made out of a material that unfortunately shrunk a lot over time, so I would have to get new molds every few years :-(

But now they're made from a silicon that doesn't shrink noticeably over time. I've had a Silicon pair now for 8-10 years or so that still fits good.

House Ear is a non-profit and their prices 'used' to be cheaper than private audiologists. But a friend went there last year and told me it cost $225 for the pair (fitting, etc.). Last time I got a pair (8-10 years ago) it was $125!
Anyways, when you call, ask for the 'dispensary', get a quote then set up an appointment of so (all through the 'dispensary').

I use -15 and -25's. Bring them with me everywhere. Even loud bars I put my -15's in....mostly because people scream in my ear when talking, but with the -15's in, no biggie!.

Also! You get a pair of filters included (just choose the db set you want). But for an additional set I find it's cheaper to buy the filters online for like $30 a pair than through House Ear. Also if you lose a filter (they are small and it happens), get them online instead.
Old 19th May 2016
  #15
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Also, if the custom mold that you get doesn't fit well (happened once to me), they will re-impression you and you'll get another mold(s) in the mail a week or 2 later, no charge.
Old 19th May 2016
  #16
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Thanks Fleaman, I think I will follow the lead of you and Ben.
Old 19th May 2016
  #17
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@ Fleaman

$225 with a set of filters is about what I paid (at discount at NAMM) a couple years ago when I had to replace mine because I lost my set. I also agree- keep your extra filters in your case and just pop them in and out. Like you, I wear my 15s a lot of places where you wouldn't think to because it actually clears up the sound a bit.

--Ben
Old 19th May 2016
  #18
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Yeah, it seems most live music venues/clubs have a harsh / bright mix going on....it actually sounds better with -15's in
Old 20th May 2016
  #19
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This is what I use: Surdifuse

Attenuation is adjusted with the brass valves that are built into the unit...these are the best ear plugs I've ever used and the valve adjustment is easy to use and allows you to precisely set your comfort zone with the plugs in your ear.

Just like custom IEMs, fit is everything with custom plugs. A good fit is very important for the comfort and level of isolation they provide, better isolation means more efficient regulation of the desired attenuation and more comfort means less stress in the ear and allows you to keep them in longer, I can wear these for hours at a time without discomfort.

Treated medical grade acrylic or silicone construction reduces the chance of infections and allergic reaction.

These plugs in the picture are not mine by the way...
Attached Thumbnails
The best high end molded ear plugs? Anyone in LA?-4dyzwn7.jpg  
Old 20th May 2016
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
This is what I use: Surdifuse
Interesting, never heard of those (oh, a hidden pun).

Looks like they're Euro based, so kinda of a no go for us in the U.S.

Also, that link was in French (of course!), but the one chart showing the freq db points---is that the response of these filters? Because there's like a 25db difference between 125hz and 4k? If so, that's horrible! And they are showing a male and female filter? With different freq responses???

Can you clarify a bit?
Old 20th May 2016
  #21
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Surdifuse is a well respected French manufacturer with a lot of patents to their name...lots of people use their inventions and designs. And yes, you can get their products even in the US, all you have to do is send them the ear molds.

There is nothing horrible about these plugs, contrary to popular belief, ear plugs DO NOT attenuate linearly. Most of the attenuation happens in the high-mid and high frequency region of the audio spectrum which is where most of the damage to our ears occurs. Ear plugs cannot prevent or decrease the vibration caused by low and sub low frequencies, so the response, or perception of the response will not be linear.
Old 20th May 2016
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
There is nothing horrible about these plugs, contrary to popular belief, ear plugs DO NOT attenuate linearly. Most of the attenuation happens in the high-mid and high frequency region of the audio spectrum which is where most of the damage to our ears occurs. Ear plugs cannot prevent or decrease the vibration caused by low and sub low frequencies, so the response, or perception of the response will not be linear.
Yes, well aware of that.

Point is, the Weston filters are about as linear as an attenuation filter can be, that I've seen at least. If we are to believe the charts, we are talking 5-10 db attenuation in mid-highs vs the surdifuse charts of about 20-30 db attenuation? I think that's kinda the response of foam filters? Though you can't 'adjust' foam filters.

Etymotic Research | Musicians Earplugs

Old 20th May 2016
  #23
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I'm in the middle of a soundcheck at the moment and can't respond properly, but you are comparing apples to oranges here.

There is a similar graph to this on the Surdifuse site which shows the level of specific frequencies for different settings, and is more informative than the raw numbers you're quoting. It's a pity I can't find the English info that was on the original site.

Anyway, this was not supposed to be a sales pitch for these plugs, they're just the plugs I like and use. I've not heard one bad thing about them from anyone who has used them to date.
Old 20th May 2016
  #24
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Like I mentioned, was just trying to confirm what I thought I saw on that chart in the PDFs link you posted. I also mentioned it wasn't clear to me.

Westones charts look really good, but they are their own charts of course. We can adjust the attenuation levels, but we have to swap the little filter buttons out. Not a big deal really.

Always open to something better (flatter), but sending molds to France for a chance of better, at probably not a cheap cost, is probably not in the cards for me....
Old 21st May 2016
  #25
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by toneguru View Post
Lots of good feedback, much appreciated.

In response to one of the posts, I did indeed see a specialist. At this point I know what I want, I just do not know who is the best to deliver.

I imagine what I want is what most would want:

1) Custom mold fitting that fits tight, secure and comfortable.

2) -25dB attenuation (possibly a -15dB too)

3) Applicable for musicians and engineers.

4) For me, local to Los Angeles.

Thanks again.
Like I said above, just get an appointment with Dr. Beverly Lew in Burbank and be done with it. She will get you what you want and she knows what she is doing. I previously went to House and they were fine, but it's a big institution and a bit impersonal. I have no affiliation with Dr. Lew, but I am a happy client for years and have recommended to others who were also satisfied. Dr.
Old 21st May 2016
  #26
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I dunno, I've found the audiologists at House Ear to be pretty personable. Sure the place is the size of a small hospital, but the exam rooms are small

toneguru mentioned he knows what he wants, and in that case, House Ear delivers. My only hesitation is the huge price increase over what I was used to. Perhaps it's not House Ear, but Westone's increase. Either way, I'll be even more careful with my current molds now
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