Updated December 2021
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Buying guide for the best earplugs for concerts

Attending a concert is all about living in the moment. For a few short hours, you’re able to savor a performance that exists solely for you and the people around you, and these carnivals of noise are best enjoyed loud. That can certainly do a number on your ears, though. If you want to jam out to concerts for years to come, you need to protect yourself. That’s where earplugs for concerts come in.

Ear protection has progressed significantly since the invention of polyurethane foam, with myriad options available, ranging from basic silicone plugs to forward-thinking models with high-fidelity filtration and companion mobile apps. That said, musicians and concertgoers often go without them because of misconceptions about low audial clarity, gaudiness, or physical discomfort.

While cheap earplugs will do in a pinch for blaring shows (you only have one set of ears, after all), you don’t need to settle for a drugstore impulse buy. Our shopping guide features the best of the best earplugs for concerts that are sure to preserve your hearing without hampering your musical experience. Read on — your ears will thank you later.

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Monitor the noise level in your surroundings. Anything beyond 80 to 85 decibels can be dangerous with prolonged exposure.

Key considerations


Earplugs are typically made from either polyurethane foam, wax, or silicone. The types we’ll be covering here are silicone-based, as foam earplugs block sound indiscriminately instead of filtering out certain frequencies. Wax earplugs, on the other hand, are most commonly used to keep water out of the ear canal while swimming or bathing.

Along with being hypoallergenic and reusable, silicone earplugs have the benefit of being moldable to more securely seal around the ear. This allows them to feature multiple filters that reduce harmful noise while preserving the full spectrum of sound, which is essential if you want to hear the natural tones of a musical performance.


This is a bit of an obvious one, but the size of your earplug is essential to both how well it blocks sound and how well it preserves it. Ideally, you want to find a pair with a snug but comfortable fit; some also include interchangeable filters for different volume levels. Always make sure to rotate and adjust the plugs in your ears, too, because if the seal isn’t flush, they won’t be much help.

Noise Reduction Rating

The Noise Reduction Rating is perhaps the most important element to consider when purchasing earplugs for concerts. Noise Reduction Ratings assess how many decibels are filtered out by the plug and depending on how loud the venue is and how close you are to the speakers, the rating can make the difference between no ear trauma and permanent hearing damage. 

Noise Reduction Ratings vary, but most silicone concert earplugs offer somewhere between an 11-decibel reduction and a 27-decibel reduction. Foam and wax earplugs block more sound in general, but the quality is muffled as a consequence.


Storage case

If you think phones, keys, or headphones are hard to keep track of, try keeping tabs on loose earplugs. They may not have the annoyance of a cord getting tangled up — not all of them, anyway — but when you can only find one earplug before a concert or band practice session, you might wish they did. Thankfully, many earplugs for concerts offer convenient storage pouches or sealable carrying cases that attach to your keychain.

Companion app

It’s important to know just how loud a concert is, because different decibel levels have different effects over different periods of time. You don’t technically need the accompanying earbuds to use these apps, but they can be extremely helpful when calculating how long you can stay in a particular area safely. An app can measure ambient sound in decibels and even calculate how many hours you can stay there unharmed, both with or without hearing protection.

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Earplugs for concerts are not suitable protection for shooting or other activities that produce powerful shock waves. For those ventures, we recommend a sturdy set of shooting earmuffs.

Earplugs for concerts prices

Inexpensive: Due to their small size and relatively basic architecture, earplugs are normally inexpensive. You can purchase entry-level concert earplugs for less than $10 that will still give you high-fidelity filtration that doesn’t hamper normal conversation.

Mid-range: Moving into the $20 range, you’ll encounter earplugs with higher Noise Reduction Ratings, carrying pouches, and multiple sets per package.

Expensive: Finally, with high-end earplugs, you’ll see items offering even higher Noise Reduction Ratings, keychain cases, ergonomic discreet designs, and multiple sizing options.

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Did you know?
If your earplugs don’t come with a carrying case, you can easily make one. Any small pouch, bag, or plastic container will do.


  • Use a decibel meter app. As we mentioned above, some earplug manufacturers have created companion mobile apps to measure sound and calculate how long a person can stay near it without risking hearing damage. You don’t need a specific earplug app, though; there are plenty of free decibel meter applications available for all mobile devices. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposing yourself to a noise measuring 100 decibels will reach a person’s “daily noise dose” in just 15 minutes. Any longer than that could potentially cause hearing loss. 
  • Store them safely. Unless your earplugs come with a carrying cord, you’ll soon find out they’re extremely easy to misplace. That’s why we advocate buying a set with a carrying case or perhaps making one yourself out of an old prescription bottle, glasses case, or coin holder.
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Prevention is important. Ears are extremely sensitive and fragile, and cumulative damage is nearly impossible to reverse.


Q. What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the term for a ringing noise in your ears that persists when no external sound is present. While it’s not a condition itself, it is a sign that you may be suffering from age-related hearing loss, a circulatory system disorder, or, most likely, you just got out of a really loud concert.

While hearing a ringing in your ears from time to time isn’t the end of the world, repeated occurrences of tinnitus could point to long-lasting hearing damage and are a clear sign that you should consider preventative measures.

Q. How loud is too loud?
While it may seem like a simple question, the answer is slightly more complicated than you might think. That’s because the decibel rating of a particular noise is only half the equation; exposure time is critical. There are apps available to help calculate your risk on the fly, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined some basic guidelines as well.

According to them, a person’s daily noise dose is reached when they’ve been exposed to 85 decibels for eight hours or 100 decibels for just 15 minutes. For reference, 85 decibels is the equivalent to a garbage disposal being used or a tractor idling, while 100 decibels is about as loud as a jet flyover at 1,000 feet.

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