Sennheiser SoundProtex Plus assessment: Live performance earplugs that don't kill the vibe

I almost destroyed my listening to throughout my 20s. I went to rather a lot of reveals in tiny venues with way-too-loud PA techniques. Sometimes, I’d bear in mind to seize a set of low-cost foam earplugs from a fuel station beforehand, however most of the time I simply went with out. Fortunately, I used to be by no means one to enter the pit, so maybe standing close to the again of the room spared me from any extreme harm. I’ve some gentle tinnitus, however no listening to loss, and I’m in a position to totally get pleasure from all music as I method 40.

In my 30s although, I bought clever to ear safety at live shows. Until it’s an outside present, I’m taking earplugs. Nonetheless, these generic foam bits fully shut off your ear canal and may actually kill the vibe. The sound comes by way of muffled and boring, and also you’re prone to miss the extra refined instrumentation. Quite a lot of firms have tried to deal with this problem, providing numerous takes on filtered audio that enables good stay sound to come back by way of with an acceptable degree of listening to safety.

Sennheiser not too long ago launched its SoundProtex earplugs with the intention of doing simply that. They’re delicate and versatile, fabricated from medical-grade TPE (thermoplastic elastomers) that don’t include plastics or different potential irritants for delicate pores and skin. These aren’t single-use earplugs both – you’ll be able to rinse them below water earlier than storing them till the following occasion. There’s additionally a small pouch included so the person plugs aren’t rolling round within the backside of your bag.

The SoundProtex earplugs are available in two variations: the common and the Plus. Every one has three units of the cone-shaped ear suggestions in small, medium and enormous sizes. You possibly can modify the extent of decibel discount by swapping out tiny spherical acoustic filters on the skin of every plug. The important thing distinction right here is the SoundProtex solely comes with the complete block filter whereas the SoundProtex Plus comes with extra low-, medium- and high-blocking filters. The ear suggestions alone don’t present any vital safety.

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Since every filter presents a special degree of safety, they’re meant for various actions. Sennheiser says the low-block filter ought to be used for “non-amplified live shows,” workplaces or bars and eating places. The medium-block possibility is appropriate for festivals, occasions and touring whereas the high-block are acceptable for loud music, motorsports and utilizing energy instruments. These three all have totally different noise discount rankings (NRR, single quantity score or SRR within the EU) for his or her degree of decibel discount. Low-block begins out at 10dB, medium is 17dB and excessive is 20dB. Sennheiser doesn’t disclose a price for the full-block filter, however the purpose there may be to make issues air and water tight to eradicate as a lot noise as doable (sure, you’ll be able to put on them within the pool too). Whereas that possibility does drastically scale back the environmental roar, they don’t create full silence. However, it’s actually sufficient that will help you tune out the world.

Every of the acoustic filters are made with a “tuned” membrane and sound-dampening mesh. Sennheiser says that the latter equally reduces excessive and low frequencies. The corporate additional explains that the SoundProtex filters are designed to permit simply sufficient of the upper frequencies by way of to keep up ambient consciousness and the flexibility to have a dialog when you’re carrying them.

Sennheiser SoundProtex Plus
Photograph by Billy Steele/Engadget

I used to be in a position to take a look at Sennheiser’s claims for the SoundProtex Plus at a latest Thrice present for the band’s Artist In The Ambulance twentieth anniversary tour. Thrice is certainly one of my favourite bands ever, and that is my favourite album of theirs, so I didn’t need fuel station earplugs to spoil the nostalgia. All through the present, I used the big eartips with the mid-block filter whereas my spouse wore the medium dimension with the high-block possibility. Not solely did the SoundProtex supply a superior expertise to generic foam earplugs, they’re very comfy to put on for hours at a time. Which, in my view, is equally as essential.

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Whereas the SoundProtex does certainly boring the high- and low-end frequencies, I didn’t discover a substantial quantity of bassy thump lacking from the kick drum or treble absent from the guitars. Certain, the general sonic curve is a bit subdued with these earplugs in, however it doesn’t alter issues sufficient to make me take into account going with out them. It’s an enormous enchancment over foam earplugs, and frequent live performance goers will get rather a lot out of the funding. My Apple Watch was constantly hitting 100-105dB on the noise meter, so I’d’ve actually left with my ears ringing. As an alternative, I used to be in a position to drive dwelling usually – no shouty post-show conversations required.

The SoundProtex doesn’t facilitate conversations fairly like Sennheiser describes. I had bother talking with the bartender, which compelled me to awkwardly resort at hand motions. I additionally had points understanding my spouse with the earplugs in, so ultimately I’d simply pull one out to talk. Outcomes are higher in a quieter atmosphere, with out the loud between-set tunes, however should you’re planning to converse whereas carrying the SoundProtex, the low-block filter is the most suitable choice. After all, that limits your safety so you’ll be able to solely use it in sure environments.

Sennheiser SoundProtex Plus
Photograph by Billy Steele/Engadget

Sennheiser designed the SoundProtex ear suggestions with a pull tab on the skin. This makes eradicating the earplugs simple since they’re nearly completely pushed into your ear canal as soon as they’re correctly located. This tiny tab gave me the peace of thoughts that I’d have the ability to get the issues out, which isn’t to be neglected.

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One difficulty concert-goers could have is the value: the SoundProtex is $39.95 and the SoundProtex Plus is $79.95. A 12-pair field of froth earplugs is $3.49 at my native Goal. A extra acceptable comparability is . A set of these comes with one filter with an NRR of 16dB and two sizes of eartips for $41.88. What’s extra, Eargasm’s ear tip design is sort of similar to the SoundProtex and so they’re fabricated from hypoallergenic delicate silicone. There’s additionally Loop’s line of earplugs which had been among the many first to vow a point of listening to safety at live shows with out considerably harming the standard of the sound. There are just a few choices from the corporate, however are a superb place to start out. $34.95 buys you 16dB of noise discount with 4 ear tip sizes which are extra akin to what you placed on the ends of your earbuds.

The SoundProtex Plus is actually a comfortable listening to safety resolution that offers you choices when it comes to the extent of noise blocking. They’re costlier than their non-customizable competitors, however should you’re simply utilizing earplugs at live shows you may not have to swap out filters anyway. Nonetheless, if you wish to modify what number of decibels are being stifled based mostly on what you’re doing, the additional funding will doubtless improve your expertise. Both approach, a set of earplugs designed particularly to be used at stay music occasions are an enormous enchancment over the yellow foam plugs. It’s a matter of how a lot, or how little, you wish to dial within the safety.

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