Earplugs: Ratings of Sources
SleepLikeTheDead.com is a website dedicated to reviewing sleep products. In this review of earplugs, they compile information from thousands of user-written reviews to create a list of the top five brands, with owner satisfaction ratings of 90 percent or better from at least 250 reviewers. A concise table compares the top models' appearance, price, reusability, and size, but there are no details about performance.
In this study, nine different earplugs were tested in 10 different individuals to determine which ones were best at keeping water out of the ear canal during swimming, both on the surface and under water. All earplugs let in some water, especially when the head was completely submerged, but Mack's Pillow Soft blocked water the best for surface swimming. However, this abstract does not name the earplugs that Mack's outperformed.
Researchers tested the water-blocking abilities of four different earplugs by placing them in an anatomically correct model of the ear and then exposing it to water. Mack's Pillow Soft silicone earplugs were the most effective at preventing water intrusion, while custom molded earplugs were least effective.
Reporter Troy Farah, a dedicated concertgoer concerned about developing tinnitus, tests six earplugs for music listening, both at concerts and at home. Models range from cheap, disposable foam earplugs to an elaborate electronic pair that costs $300. Farah gives each model a grade from A to F based on its comfort, ease of use, and how well it mutes sound without compromising audio quality.
Snorezing.com is another site devoted to reviews of all things sleep-related. In this article, Patrick Mahinge offers advice on how to choose earplugs, along with a roundup of his six personal favorites for blocking out his partner's snoring. He goes into detail about noise protection, comfort, and ease of use, but he doesn't mention which other earplugs he's tried that don't make his list.
Motorcycle enthusiast Ian Johnston tries on 13 brands of earplugs and rates them on four criteria: packaging, expansion speed, pressure and comfort. All the models he tests have a noise reduction rating between 29 and 33, so he doesn't bother to compare them on this point. Johnston gives each model a score from 1 to 10 on each factor, then adds them up to provide an overall rating.
Pretty much any brand of earplug on the market is available through Amazon.com, and the most popular products receive hundreds or even thousands of individual reviews. The large volume of feedback makes it easier to find the best earplugs for particular ear types and particular uses, such as concerts or swimming. We found 11 models with average scores of at least 4.5 stars from 500 or more users.
The earplugs sold at SwimOutlet.com are designed specifically for use while swimming, and they collect a wide array of user reviews. Although several brands are sold here, Mack's stands out as a clear favorite, with three different models earning 4.5-star ratings from 50 users or more.
Walmart offers about 25 varieties of earplugs, but most of them have only a handful of reviews. The only brand to receive a high rating from more than 50 users is Mack's Pillow Soft. Most individual reviews are quite short – anywhere from a single sentence to a paragraph.
This retail website caters to musicians' needs, so its selection of earplugs focuses on types designed specifically for concert use. Most of these receive only a handful of reviews from users. Only one brand, Hearos High Fidelity, has both a good overall score and enough feedback to make that score meaningful.
EarPlugStore.com is an online retailer dedicated solely to earplugs and hearing protection. Unfortunately, the site provides no way to search its products to find which ones have the most user reviews or the highest ratings. Thus, we have relied on it solely for finding additional reviews of products that receive high ratings elsewhere.