I don't understand ear plugs? I can barely hear the bass!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by DChalo, Jul 15, 2016.

  1. DChalo


    Dec 16, 2015
    Austin, TX
    This might just be me, since all ears are different, but I have never found ear plugs that work for me. Everyone in a band always talks about the importance of protecting your hearing, but at what cost? Every time I play with ear plugs on, I can barely hear the band, and less so, the bass sound. If this is quite normal, then how are you supposed to "listen well to the band" if you can barely hear yourself and your band mates? I've been through 3 different brands of ear plugs and every pair makes me a worse player and I more frequently have worse time/feel and cant sing quite as well.
  2. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Are you using standard ear plugs or attenuater type plugs? The attentuater type uses filters to decrease db's but also certain frequencies. You would have to get professionally made plugs with custom made filters that work for you. I have a couple sets of the commercial products and can use them when listening to bands but I can't use them when I'm playing.
    gsquare, salcott, Sartori and 8 others like this.
  3. DChalo


    Dec 16, 2015
    Austin, TX
    I'm not positive, but they were all bought at stores/online. How do the custom ones work? And how is pricing?
  4. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Like DWBass wrote, not all earplugs are the same. If you can't spring for custom fitted plugs ($100 or more plus audiologist fees if not covered by your health insurance), the Etymotic Audio ER-20 is the best off the shelf set I have used. They come close to my fitted set (also made by Etymotic).

    Regular $1 foam plugs are for when you are operating chainsaws and lawnmowers, not playing music.
  5. DChalo


    Dec 16, 2015
    Austin, TX
    Every pair I've bought has been marketed and targeted towards musicians. One pair costed about 30 bucks and it wasn't very good at all.
    spaz21387 likes this.
  6. electracoyote

    electracoyote Supporting Member

    I have the same issue, and I've tried a variety. It's disorienting, and I don't like the "take me to your leader" look of the type that stick out of your ears like antennas.

    At the same time, I don't want to crush what's left of my hearing. I definitely wear the foam plugs when mowing the lawn and other loud activities. As a musician, I depend on hearing all the subtleties of all the instruments, so I'm interested in suggestions as well.
  7. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    These are the same ones I use because they're cheap and I lose stuff/ throw stuff away when it gets germy.

    I freaking love them.

    Edit: My bad. These are the ones that I use:
    Amazon.com: Etymotic Research ER20 High-Fidelity Earplugs (White with Purple Stem): Health & Personal Care
    Kinda look like the same thing...
  8. SickAura

    SickAura Let There Be Rock

    Dec 8, 2013
    After realizing I had tinnitus about 2 years ago I started wearing ear plugs - at first it was difficult and i found some frequencies completely disappearing and my playing was suffering.

    But I stuck with it, tried a couple of different brands and started not jamming the ear plugs so far into my ear. I think that's the trick. If you can't hear yourself or the band properly just pull them out a little.

    Things got a lot better - and now I cannot play without them!

    I play in 2 bands and use different ear plugs for both

    Fender Touring Ear Plugs - I use these with my blues/rock band. Volume control is important to this band so I barely have them in my ear. Just enough to take the edge off a cymbal smash or a shrill telecaster guitar. I still can hear everything perfectly

    Alpine MusicSafe Classic - I use these with my loud hard rock/metal band. They offer a bit more protection and I push these a little farther into my ear depending on the night. This band loves bass and is always encouraging me to turn up. Last week when I suggested I turn down a little - the response was 'why don't the rest of us just turn up?'

    I hope this helps
  9. Handyman


    Sep 4, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Everyone's ears are different, but these have worked the best for me aside from custom made plugs, too.
    drews.anderson and kesslari like this.
  10. DChalo


    Dec 16, 2015
    Austin, TX
    Are there good ear plugs that look like a Bluetooth set or something?
  11. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    If you can't hear well with them in maybe it's because it's too late? :(

    Try adjusting you tone a bit so you can hear yourself better = usually means stop cutting the carp out of your mids.
  12. D.A.R.K.


    Aug 20, 2003
    Maybe your playing situation isn't loud enough to warrant ear plugs? There's a first time for everything...
  13. Jamvan

    Jamvan The Bassist Formerly Known As Meh Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2014
    Before I switched over to IEMs, I used a set of Earasers. Aggressively attenuates the dangerous frequencies and lets the other frequencies through, just at a lower attenuation level. They worked well for me.
  14. Fabio_MIJ


    Feb 3, 2016
    back home
    Maybe a solution could be to lower the general volume of the band? There is no reason to play overly loud if you have to wear earplugs, isn't it?
  15. jp58


    Dec 9, 2009
    Bodeanly likes this.
  16. Bullitt5135

    Bullitt5135 Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    The Alpine's were the best off-the-shelf silicone plugs I've tried, but they are no where near as good as custom-molded Westones. I've said it before...my custom-molded Westones are the best $150 I've ever spent on gear.
  17. jeffbassguy

    jeffbassguy "Less is more, unless the guitarist sucks"

    Feb 4, 2001
    if you can afford decent equipment, you can afford the 180 bucks to go to an audiologist and get custom plugs that come in 3 different db level reduction choices. They spray a mold in your ear and 2 weeks later..poof you have exactly what you want and you can now hear yourself and others and your ears are saved.
  18. When I go to shows, I use the super cheap foam ones, but I barely put them in my ears ... just enough to negate the shrill/painfully loud high-end. Works for me.
  19. ASQTec

    ASQTec Above Average Supporting Member

    May 2, 2010
    Wearing ear plugs sucks, period.

    With that, try imaging you 20 years from now thanking yourself from wearing them. I play with a guitarist who is 5 years younger than me and he can't hear friggin' birds chirping outside his living room window! He smirks every time I put in my plugs.

    I'm not saying that this will happen to all musicians, but it happens to some, and you won't know if you're one of them until it happens.
    salcott likes this.
  20. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jul 27, 2021

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