Users are unanimous in their praise for the Howard Leight Max earplugs' noise-blocking abilities. They have a 33-decibel noise reduction rating, and their large, thick shape helps them create an effective seal. However, the size of these earplugs may be too much for those with smaller ear canals.
Highest noise reduction rating. The Howard Leight Max earplugs have the highest noise reduction rating you'll find for any foam earplug -- 33 decibels. User reviewers say they block noise nicely for a variety of pursuits, from studying and sleeping to shooting guns. In fact, they're so effective that Ulrich Boser, writing at Slate.com, warns that "it's possible that you could sleep through your alarm clock or a fire alarm with these plugs stuck down your auditory canal." The Howard Leight Max gets one of the highest user approval ratings (94 percent) from SleepLikeTheDead.com and is also a routine favorite with motorcyclists.
Great for big ear canals. Howard Leight Max earplugs are large. That's one of the reasons they block out sound so completely, but it's also cause for discomfort for those with small ear canals. A couple of users also say their coating can feel gummy or slippery, catching your hair or sliding out of your ears. We also found a few reports of discomfort with extended wear. Some say they solve that problem by cutting off part of the earplug, especially if they're planning on sleeping in them. For those with smaller ear canals, the Leight Max comes in a "small" size -- but it has a noise reduction rating of just 30.
Inexpensive, disposable. Howard Leight Max earplugs are made of polyurethane foam and designed to be disposable. At 25 cents per pair, the price is in the mid-range for disposable foam earplugs. Most reviewers find they can clean and reuse foam earplugs at least two to three times before having to dispose them, but SleepLikeTheDead.com gives the Howard Leight Max earplugs a rating of only poor to fair for their reusability.
In this thorough roundup, Ulrich Boser rates eight different earplugs for effectiveness, comfort, durability and value. The Howard Leight Max is one of his top two picks, and he says it's the more comfortable of the two. As a downside, they do such a good job of reducing sound that Boser thinks some users may sleep straight through their alarm clock.
Review: The Sound of Silence, Ulrich Boser, Ulrich Boser
Motorcycle enthusiast Ian Johnston rates 13 brands of earplugs according to four criteria: packaging, expansion speed, pressure and comfort. He says the Howard Leight Max is his personal favorite because they fit his ears well and have a high noise reduction rating -- although he says he isn't always able to get the Max earplugs seated properly in his ears.
Review: Earplug Survey, Ian Johnston, Updated June 21, 2011
This article is an excellent roundup of how common earplugs perform in real-world noisy situations. It lists the pros and cons of 23 brands. Howard Leight Max is one of the author's "top 5 you should try" for its "transparent comfort, excellent noise attenuation and easy fit."
Review: Noise: A MO Investigation, "Cheesebeast", Oct. 14, 2006
Howard Leight Max earplugs are listed several times on Amazon.com. Here, they get a 4.7-star rating from more than 330 customers. Most users say they're very comfortable and great for blocking out noise.
Review: Howard Leight Max1 Earplugs Uncorded NRR33 Box/200 Count, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of April 2014
Howard Leight Max garners a near-perfect rating from about a dozen user reviews scattered over several listings on this website. Users like Max earplugs because they're soft and very effective at blocking out noise. Uses for the earplugs range from sleeping to riding motorcycles. That said, there are one or two complaints of users' ears hurting after wearing them for a few hours.
Review: Howard Leight, Contributors to EarPlugStore.com, As of April 2014
SleepLikeTheDead.com is a website dedicated to reviewing sleep products. The Howard Leight Max1 gets the second-best score in the entire review, with a user approval rating of 94 percent. They only get a fair to poor rating for reusability, though.
Review: Earplugs for Sleep: Reviews & Ratings, Nick Robinson, Dec. 26, 2013
"Rick K." tries out six different brands of earplugs for this motorcycle enthusiast website and reports his impressions. He wishes he liked the Howard Light Max earplugs better, but he doesn't like their shape and size, and feels that their coating pushes them out of his ear.
Review: Motorcycle Ear Plug Review, "Rick K.", Not Dated
8. Motorcycle Paradise
"Iron Chef," an Australian motorcyclist, takes eight brands of earplugs for a test drive. He doesn't explicitly recommend any of these earplugs, but he notes that the Howard Leight Max earplugs are the quietest. On the downside, the Max earplugs are very large, making them difficult to insert.
Review: Ear Plug Shootout, "Iron Chef", Dec. 4, 2006
A motorcycle enthusiast, Ted Verrill is lukewarm about Howard Leight Max because they are so large. He notes that they "do not fit many with smaller or partially obstructed ear canals." He does like that they have such a high noise reduction rating of 33. Despite the age of this review, the earplugs he reviews have changed very little.
Review: Earplugs … Sorry, Could You Repeat That?, Ted Verrill, Nov. 12, 1999