Experts and users give Hearos Ultimate Softness earplugs consistently high ratings for blocking noise -- even very loud sounds. Their noise reduction rating of 32 decibels is just one decibel away from the highest rating in this report. The Ultimate Softness earplugs are also soft, easy to insert and comfortable enough to sleep in for most people. The biggest downside is that some say they occasionally fall out.
Great noise reduction. With a high noise reduction rating of 32 decibels, reviewers say the Hearos Ultimate Softness is effective at blocking out even extreme sounds. Ulrich Boser of Slate.com says the earplugs "reduced the pounding sounds of the jackhammer to a pleasant thud." Meanwhile, one Amazon.com reviewer writes that when he was deployed to Iraq, Hearos Ultimate Softness helped drown out the sound of F-16 fighter jets and Black Hawk helicopters.
This efficacy has a downside though, as some reviewers slept through their alarms -- one EarPlugStore.com reviewer says they mostly drown out high-pitched noise, but not the lower frequencies.
Soft and comfortable. Most user reviewers say the Hearos Ultimate Softness really lives up to its name. Even side sleepers can, for the most part, sleep comfortably in these earplugs -- and they're small enough not to hurt those with small ear canals. On the downside, if you have large ear canals or don't insert the plugs properly, they may fall out.
Hearos Ultimate Softness earplugs are generally easy to insert, although there is a learning curve. "Took awhile to learn how to put them in but once I learned how to lift the ear I was amazed by the fit and the effectiveness," writes one man at EarPlugStore.com.
Inexpensive but disposable. Hearos Ultimate Softness earplugs are made of polyurethane foam and designed to be disposable. They cost about 35 cents per pair, putting them on par with, or just a little pricier than, most other disposable foam earplugs. However, most reviewers say Hearos Ultimate Softness earplugs are easy to clean, and they were able to reuse them anywhere from three to six times before they had to dispose them. SleepLikeTheDead.com rates their reusability as fair to good.
In SleepLikeTheDead.com's listing of top-rated earplugs, Hearos Ultimate Softness is ranked at 81 percent owner satisfaction, based on almost 400 user comments. The main complaints from owners are that these earplugs don't block enough noise and are difficult to insert.
Review: Earplugs for Sleep: Reviews & Ratings, Nick Robinson, Dec. 26, 2013
Hearos Ultimate Softness is the No. 1 earplug sold on Amazon.com, with an overall rating of 4.2 stars out 5 after more than 500 user reviews. Most applaud the earplugs' softness, comfort and efficacy. Some say the earplugs were too effective, as a number of reviewers slept through their alarms -- and a few say they found these earplugs painful after a few hours.
Review: Hearos Ultimate Softness Series Foam Earplugs, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of April 2014
The Hearos Ultimate Softness gets an overall rating of about 4.5 out of 5 stars based on more than 60 reviews from this online earplug retailer. Customers comment that these earplugs are soft, effective, good for sleep and motorcycles, and inexpensive. On the downside, Hearos Ultimate Softness has a tendency to fall out and there is a learning curve on inserting them properly.
Review: Hearos Earplugs Ultimate Softness Foam Ear Plugs (NRR 32) (20 Pairs), Contributors to EarPlugStore.com, As of April 2014
In this thorough roundup, Ulrich Boser rates eight different earplugs for effectiveness, comfort, durability and value. His favorite is Hearos Ultimate Softness, which he finds to be just as effective as the Howard Leight Max, just softer.
Review: The Sound of Silence, Ulrich Boser, May 17, 2005
5. The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal's Cranky Consumer picked Hearos because of their softness. However, they weren't without drawbacks. She says they fell out more than the others, but she was less likely to pull them out because of discomfort. She gives them an average rating for noise reduction.
Review: The Sounds of Silence: Testing Earplugs, Cynthia Crossen, March 9, 2006
Motorcycle enthusiast Ian Johnston rates 13 brands of earplugs according to four criteria: packaging, expansion speed, pressure and comfort. The Hearos Ultimate Softness garners the highest scores for pressure and comfort, but it loses points due to its packaging.
Review: Earplug Survey, Ian Johnston, Updated June 21, 2011
For motorcycle enthusiast "Cheesebeast," Hearos Ultimate Softness (labeled in his review as Hearos Super Soft) come in seventh out of 24 earplugs tested. He finds them to be very soft, but he had difficulty getting them in and remarked that "they may not work for people with large ear canals."
Review: Noise: A MO Investigation, "Cheesebeast", Oct. 14, 2006
"Kevin," a frequent traveler, blogs about gadgets and gear useful for travelers, and in this posting, he names Hearos foam plugs as a close runner up to his favorite reusable earplug, SilentEar. He says they're not as durable as his favorites, but they have the same level of noise reduction at a much lower price.
Review: Best Earplugs on the Market?, "Kevin", Jan. 7, 2010