Earplugs Understanding the Options and How Earplugs Work
1.1 Transcription Of This Video:
The world of hearing protection is huge. I would like to guide you through it, and what I would like the next couple of blogs to provide you a comprehensive guide through all of your choices out there in the world of hearing protection, starting with this blog, I would be talking about the solid earplugs options that you have in the world. Now, we come from a place of making custom earplugs and the reason why are doing this blog is that we have been in your shoes when we started this company back in 2003, we were customers.
Table of Contents
We wanted something for our motorcycle rides; we wanted something to protect us, that was comfortable that we can wear for extended periods of time on the motorcycle. Now, we started off seeking more comfortable earplugs but that soon transformed into making more comfortable products overall for motorcycle riders, and we have evolved into a custom-solution for many different activities, not just motorcycle riding.
In reality, the situation is that you need a problem solved, and the creation of our products boiled down to one thing; generic one-size fit all products do not work. So, what I will be doing in this blog is that I am going to walk you through all the different options that you have in the generic one-size fits all solid earplugs that give you a reduction if you put your fingers on your ears in a particular way. They are going to give you this sensation when you put them in your ears, it’s going to give you a full-stop reduction. Now, there are so many types of them in the world, it can get confusing out there. We will go through them thoroughly.
Then, I will give you the fully honest reason for why they just don’t work for whatever application you are trying to use them for. So, without any further ado let’s move on to the next part of the blog to learn more about the topic under discussion.
Welcome to the table, and before we get started I would like to just premise this by saying that the only human protection that works is the one that someone will wear. I also want to promise by saying this the purpose the blog is not based on merely to talk bad about generic ear plugs and drive our company business, and you will see that as we go throughout these products, how quickly you can go wrong when trying to find a working solution to your hearing protection needs. So let’s get started with the products on the table here:
1.2 Foam full-stop earplugs:
The first product up is a classic foam full-stop earplugs; this product is the most recognizable on the list as I am sure that everyone watching at one time in your life has confronted one of these. The objective would be the easiest simple. Cram the big block of pliable foam in your ear, here is a different technique for every person on the planet, some rolled foam, some squished foam, some cut the foam down in size and some get the foam so small that they need tweezers to extract them when they are done using it.
1.3 How to fit it to your ears:
The next step is when the foam plugs to your desired shape; you have to go about sticking it in your head. Once again, there is a different technique for every human being alive. You can turn your head, pinch you ear, stand on one foot, or you can just jam the plugin. then, finally comes the last part of the insertion experience, what I call the wait and pray phase when the foam starts to take a mind of its own, and you hope that the foam forms a shape of your ear canal.
1.4 Origination of the foam full-stop earplugs:
If you watch a tutorial by a gentleman named Elliot Birger, Elliot was involved in investing the EAR foam classic yellow earplug. This was his baby, and he spent more than 30 years singing its praises, saying that it would be the only type of earplug that would world. Finally, at the end of his career, he made a contradictory statement by saying that they don’t work for everybody.
If you paid attention to the video, he prefaced the entire time by saying that one size fits most. What is that supposed to mean? And for anybody who needed to have a separate solution, they would be asked to pinch their ears, pinch their ear the right way so you would slide the earplug in your ear, and it is frustrating at a time, where we are about to have space tourism and people are still using a foam earplug to jam in their head. Elliot has spent decades and decades spending the word of first-hearing conservation, which we are grateful for because he allowed our industry to thrive but, on the other side, he offered a generic solution to everybody but, what they did that was so wrong that we disagree with. In those videos, they put the blame on the user rather than the earplug.
1.5 Problem with the full-stop earplugs:
So, if it does not fit well and it is just your fault, and it is up to you to figure it out, and really we have a problem with that. We understand that its 2018, and there are several versions of the generic earplug. There are skull screws, Honeywell Howard, and then the 3m; however, what the issue is that foam earplugs are not made for your ears.
They are made for very few specific ears, maybe they are made for the dummy ears. Who knows, what they were modeled after, and if they are not modeled after your ear then, how are you going to get the right fit. How could you possibly get a correct fit in your ear, if it is not the right size? It just does not make sense, and if you ear canals have any irregular shapes or bends—which every ear does, as every ear is an individual ear include the two that you have it on your head, they vary widely from one another.
In a foam year earplug, it is going to be extremely uncomfortable, and it may cause more harm than good with infections and because it is not being worn correctly, you can cause your hearing damage, because you are not getting a rate reduction. On this note, when you watch a YouTube review, you must always remember that their ears are vastly different than yours. Just because it works for your favorite youtube, it does not mean that it would work great for you.
1.6 Triple flange earplugs:
Okay so now, we have talked about the foam plug, the next question arises that what are your next full stop choices, and since the foam earplugs are not going to cut it for you—the next logical progression would be a triple flange earplug. What they are is a creative riff on the foam earplugs, as they still involve the weight and prey techniques, like every time you put them in—you have a different seal. The tri-flange earplugs are made to sticking quickly and are once again a one-size-fits-all product, and they come in different sizes, and once again, they are not made for your specific ears. So, where, do you go from here, you have tried foamies and you have tried the tri-flanges.
1.7 Wax earplugs:
The next logical step is to jump into form-fitted plugs- now, this jump is large, as you have raised the comfort level; however, you will not gain the proper hearing protection reduction and the usual entry-level step into the formed earplugs are either with a wax or putty earplug. With wax earplugs, they are an interesting take on self-molding as it as it allows for a bit more customization, and because of the softness of the material, it is more comfortable. You are directed to shape the earplug as a cone, inserted into your ear canal, and then smooth it on the outside.
This may seem convenient; however, it is not! It is not a guarantee that you are going to mold the wax or putty in the right shape of your ear canal. It will not reduce the correct decimals or in extreme cases, the wax may become lodged in your ear and disconnect that can lead to costly hospital visits. The wax also invites foreign substances, including bacteria onto it, which makes it really hard to keep clean. So, if your taste is put off by wax or putty plugs, logically, you may turn to the heat and mold products. In the market today, companies such as Decibels and many different other heat-activated products will allow you to edge a little bit closer to a custom feeling as you heat them and stick many years before you stick them to the ear canal. But, what happens after you heat them and stick them to your ears is kind of up in the air.
They may take the right shape or not, and you may have to remove them as well as the risk of just causing massive irreparable damage and scorching the inner ear, and just really hurting yourself, and it did kind of get your mind around how kind of effect they are. If you remember back to elementary or middle school when you played football for the right time, part of your gear was that poor-fitting mouthguard that you boiled to fit your teeth, and then you are doing warm-ups for your first game, you just bit through it and it was pretty much useless.
This is how the heat and mold process works and the process and degradation of them is similar and the mold once again may not fit your ears, as with a lot of these you are given a limited tip size because they had to convert over to generic after their first tests, and just didn’t work because it did not give a right decibel reduction level and they could not get a consistent reading on theirs. Then, it comes a consistent risk of the mold losing the exact shape of your ear due to the exposure of heat in your environment. So, with the conclusion of the heat molded products, we come to the point in the road, where you have tried the foamies, you have tried the triple flanges, you have tried the wax hand molded products, and you have tried the heat and mold products.
Now, at this point, you are past the generic set because you are now having to alter the state of a plug to get it fit in your ears. The next logical step from the heat and fit if those won’t work for you is the two-part hand solution. But, before we go on to this solution, I have to always state that all of these products although a lot of the companies use the verbiage of Custom Earplugs—none of these are Custom Earplugs.
Even Elliot Birger with a generic set of foam earplugs, the most basic 3m full-stop earplugs states in his video that you can get a custom-fit with these, which is a totally illogical and incorrect statement on his behalf. These will not give you a custom fit, none of these products, even the ones that you attempt to fit and mold into your ear will not give you a custom fit.
It will give you a ballpark custom fit but not a specific Custom Earplugs fit and that is a very very very important separation between custom and generic, and that is why we are doing this video.
1.8 Radians Earplugs:
Last, we come to the two-part hand-formed earplugs. Radians is a popular brand, and there are other hand molded companies in the world to buy. The main problem is shared by the wax putty and heat treated options is that because you are hand forming them and they will have a very hard time extending into your ear canal. And, it will only take an impression of your ear bowl, and the opening of your ear canal, and if you can get the material into your ear canal, you can force the ear wax deeper into your ear, and that can cause you a whole slew of problems.
What happens when you just get to the ear bowl and the outside of the ear canal, that is just going to run in the mold virtually useless, as it is not going to reduce the proper decibel levels, and you still face the risk of hearing loss. You can see in this example that the product does not extend down into the canal, where the hearing protection actually occurs, it take a very shallow impression which is not effective hearing protection.
So, to wrap this up, I believe that any hearing protection industry many lose sight of what is important and what’s important is the person using the product, your end customer, the customer that is going to put a product into their body and use it to protect themselves.
What happens is full-cast earplugs the net is cast so wide with these generic solutions that it just misses the mark, and I also believe that the products such as the self-molding wax or the heat treated earplugs are still a generic approach hearing protection. They assume that the user will be able to replicate a very specific and finite process and the impression making process is an art form. It really is, and you say which will if you want to have the right fitting product then, you would have to go through it and just like anything else in life. If you want the best, you have to go for the best. And you have to be patient and you have to seek it out, that is why we are here.
At the end of the day, wearing hearing protection is person, it should be Custom Earplugs—not a guessing game, it’s like purchasing generic contract lenses or shoes in one size that should fit everyone right and what I ask of you is to use your logic when searching for your next pair of earplugs, and consider your hearing for your lifetime and when you see the price of a higher-level hearing protection, including ours, think about what about your 80 year old self would tell you, and look at it as an investment into your future.
Now, we hope that this is giving you more of an insight into the reality of your options that are out in this world.