Real-World Review: Custom Moulded Ear Plugs
I’ve been putting off getting a set of good earplugs for a long time – until now. For the past week, I’ve been testing a set of custom molded earplugs in real-world situations. My requirements were simple:
I wanted complete comfort and the best possible hearing protection.
Comfortable Ear Plugs?
Ear plugs are useless if you won’t use them because they don’t fit. Starkey’s custom silicone ear plugs are surprisingly comfortable and 100% fidget free. If any item I wear is the slightest bit uncomfortable in any way I will squirm to the point I won’t wear it. These pass the fidget test with flying colors.
Why are they so comfortable?
There are two reasons for the high level of comfort. The first is the fact that the ear plug is an exact match to the shape of your ears. Second, it turns out that the soft silicone used by Starkey is sufficiently flexible that when your ear canal flexes due to your jaw moving (speaking, eating) there’s enough give to seal but not create resistance and feel binding.
Best Hearing Protection – 30-35 dB
I wanted the highest level of noise protection I could get in an ear plug. One-piece solid silicone earplugs are the absolute best way to go. I measured a full 35 dB worth of hearing protection based on the difference between a hearing test with the earplugs in and the average of three previous hearing tests. To get that level of hearing protection earplugs must seal perfectly. It turns out that the trick to perfect seal is to get a good mould made, and then when you insert the earplugs they expand ever so slightly due to your body heat. This allows them to make a perfect seal that is just snug enough to keep noise out and still be comfortable.
Test #1: The Movie Theatre
Movies are loud. In other articles, we have shown that they are loud enough to cause temporary hearing loss. So, what better way to try out my shiny new earplugs?
The movie Transformers: The Last Knight was decidedly loud thanks to what seemed like nonstop action made up of endless explosions and gunfire. Halfway through the movie, which had a running time of two hours and twenty-nine minutes, I realized I had forgotten that the earplugs were in my ears. I was enjoying the movie and quite surprised by the fact that I could understand all the characters conversation. It seems that the sound levels for the lows, mids and highs, were all dropped-down equally enough to still enjoy the movie without missing anything critical to understanding the movie. What did seem odd though, was having had the earplugs out for about 10 minutes I was actually happy to put them back in!
Test #2: The Car
With a 35 dB drop in hearing I was initially worried I would miss something like and ambulance’s siren. In fact, I could hear the wail of siren, just not as early as I normally would. Understanding speech with a passenger was difficult but possible and understanding the song lyrics on the radio was also possible with work. I found myself reaching for the volume control while being told by my passenger that I should stop yelling or take the earplugs out. Apparently not being able to hear my own voice resulted in speaking far too loud during conversation – not unlike someone with moderate hearing loss.
Trying earplugs in the car turned out to be a good reminder as to why our hearing is so important to our safety. I found I began to use my mirrors much more often as I worried about missing an emergency vehicle’s siren. One other reminder thanks to the car ride tests, was that how significant hearing loss can negatively impact the people around us.
Starkey’s custom fitted earplugs are hands down the most comfortable hearing protection I have ever used. They are extremely efficient at reducing noise levels yet still provide enough clarity that you can understand speech and what is going on around you. I don’t think I can ever go back to regular ear plugs again.
For the best hearing protection an earplug can give you, call the Polo Park Hearing Centre Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (204) 788-1083
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