At 33 decibels (dB), Howard Leight Max earplugs have the highest noise reduction rating (NRR) of any foam earplug. The superb noise reduction is due to the length and thickness of the Max earplugs, which help to create an excellent seal, but this large size can make it difficult for some to insert the earplugs and can cause discomfort.
Highest noise reduction rating. Howard Leight Max has the highest NRR at 33 dB available in any foam earplug. They are so effective at blocking sound that Ulrich Boser of Slate.com wrote in his review: "Indeed, the plugs might be too good. It's possible that you could sleep through your alarm clock or a fire alarm with these plugs stuck down your auditory canal." Reviews from motorcycle websites such as Motorcycle.com and WebBikeWorld.com routinely list the Howard Leight Max earplugs as one of their top choices because it is so effective at reducing motorcycle noise.
Great for large ear canals. Motorcycle Paradise states in their review of Howard Leight Max earplugs that "it is the largest plug both in length and thickness and really shuts out all noise when you can get it in right -- it's also one I have a lot of problems getting to fit at any time." The reviewer at WebBikeWorld.com experienced some pain when trying to put in the Howard Leight Max earplugs, and customers' common complaints on Amazon.com and EarPlugStore.com are that the earplugs are hard to insert, didn't fit well and could become painful after a few hours.
However, reviewers at Slate.com, Motorcycle.com and the blog Obairlann.net find the Howard Leight Max earplugs comfortable. In fact, Ian Johnston at Obairlann.net prefers the Howard Leight Max over other earplugs, but he acknowledges that his ear canals are large. He eventually had to change to a different earplug after difficulty getting the earplug to sit properly in his right ear. Nevertheless, he recommends the Howard Leight Max earplugs with the caveat, "if they fit your ears."
Inexpensive but disposable. Howard Leight Max earplugs are made of polyurethane foam and designed to be disposable. At 37 cents per pair, the price is comparable to other disposable foam earplugs. Most reviewers find that they can clean and reuse foam earplugs at least two to three times before having to dispose of them, but they do not specifically mention Howard Leight Max earplugs. SleepLikeTheDead.com gives the Howard Leight Max earplugs a rating of poor to fair for their reusability.
Review Credibility: Very Good SleepLikeTheDead.com is a website dedicated to reviewing sleep products. In their earplugs review, they compile information from 780 different users to create a list of the top six earplugs. Howard Leight Max is named one of the Top-Rated Earplugs. Owner satisfaction with the Max is 94 percent, and its reusability is considered good. A small number of owners complain that they don't block noise and are difficult to insert. The site does not detail how it obtained the reviews from the owners, and it doesn't list those earplugs with low ratings.
Review: Earplugs for Sleep : Reviews and Ratings, Nick Robinson, Nov. 3, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good On Amazon.com, Howard Leight Max earplugs receive an overall rating of 4.4 stars out of 5 from more than 85 reviews. Users find the Max earplugs work well in a variety of noise-reduction situations, from studying to shooting. They're reported to be comfortable enough to sleep in and leave in for long periods. The most commonly voiced complaints are that the Max earplugs are difficult to insert and don't fit well, but those are two components that are highly individual.
Review: Howard Leight MAX-1 Foam Ear plugs Uncorded NRR33 (20 Pair), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of May 2013
Review Credibility: Very Good EarPlugStore.com is an online retailer dedicated solely to earplugs and hearing protection. There are fewer user reviews here than on Amazon.com, but the users are knowledgeable about earplugs and have often tried multiple types. Howard Leight Max garners generally good ratings, about 4.8 stars from 38 reviews scattered over several packaging options. 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. There are a few complaints of users' ears hurting after wearing them for a few hours.
Review: Howard Leight MAX, Contributors to EarPlugStore.com, As of May 2013
Review Credibility: Very Good In this thorough roundup, Ulrich Boser rates eight different earplugs for effectiveness, comfort, durability and value. He rates the Howard Leight Max and Hearos Ultimate Softness Series as his top two picks. Boser says he chose the Hearos as number one because it is more comfortable. He also says, however, that the Howard Leight Max does an "excellent job of reducing sound," to the point that he thinks a user could sleep through an alarm clock. Despite being seven years old, this review is still relevant as the products reviewed are still being sold and used.
Review: The Sound of Silence, Ulrich Boser, May 17, 2005
Review Credibility: Very Good Motorcycle enthusiast Ian Johnston rates 13 brands of earplugs according to four criteria: packaging, expansion speed, pressure and comfort. He does not rate for noise reduction, saying that comfort and fit are more important His top-rated brand is Moldex Pura-Fit, but he says the Howard Leight Max is his personal preference because they fit better in his ears and have a higher noise reduction rating (NRR). In an update, he notes that he switched earplugs because he was unable to get the Max to sit properly with enough regularity, but he still recommends them.
Review: Earplug Survey, Ian Johnston, June 21, 2011
Review Credibility: Very Good Motorcycle enthusiast Cheesebeast clearly has tried a lot of earplugs; this article lists the pros and cons of 23 brands. Howard Leight Max is one of his "top 5 you should try" for its "transparent comfort, excellent noise attenuation and easy fit." It's not a scientific study, but it is an excellent roundup of common earplugs in real-world, noisy situations.
Review: Noise: A MO Investigation, "Cheesebeast", Oct. 14, 2006
Review Credibility: Good "Rick K." tries out six different brands of earplugs for this motorcycle enthusiast website and reports his impressions. His top choice is Moldex Pura-Fit, which do "a great job of attenuating noise." He says he wishes he liked the Howard Light Max earplugs better, as they have the highest NRR of any he found. However, he did not like the shape of the earplugs and felt their coating pushed them out of his ear. He also felt some pain once they were in, which he attributes to the large diameter of the earplug.
Review: Motorcycle Ear Plug Review, "Rick K.", Not Dated
Review Credibility: Good 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 NRR at 33. Despite the age of this review, the earplugs he compares have changed very little.
Review: Earplugs…Sorry, could you repeat that?, Ted Verrill, Nov. 12, 1999
9. Motorcycle Paradise
Review Credibility: Good 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
Review Credibility: Fair Edward J. Murphy, writing on the Cool Tools blog, says, "I've tried every kind of earplug, from balls of silicone to wax and cotton, and these [Howard Leight Max] work best for me." He likes the Howard Leight Max earplugs because they are inexpensive, of high quality and have a high NRR. He does not list what other earplugs he has tried or what he found lacking in them.
Review: Best Inexpensive Noise Blockers: Max Earplugs, Edward J. Murphy, Nov. 11, 2003