Vibes Earplugs: An Audiologist's Review
As an audiologist, I have seen numerous patients with noise-induced hearing loss. It is a common occurrence, especially with the use of headphones or exposure to loud music events. As a fellow millennial, I see a lot of patients in my generation or younger who are especially guilty of this. Fortunately, there are easy, inexpensive ways to reduce noise damage and preserve your hearing. Do you enjoy live music? One of the best solutions to prevent hearing loss is to wear earplugs. There are lots to choose from, but Vibes Earplugs have become increasingly popular among music lovers. I decided to test them out and give my honest review.
Why should you wear earplugs?
Before I delve into the Vibes Earplugs review, let's discuss why to consider earplugs. The ear is pretty amazing. As a self-confessed ear nerd, admittedly, I'm biased here. (But check out this anatomy of the earpiece, and tell me you disagree. 😉) Thanks to the ear, we can perceive speech, music, and a whole symphony in daily life or literally at the symphony. However, like many things in life, there can be too much of a good thing. Those finely tuned hair cells in the cochlea are delicate. Exposing your ears to loud sounds for an extended period can cause irreversible hearing loss.
One of the most common sources? Live music and concerts. Yes, you heard right. If you enjoy live music, you could be causing damage in as little as 15 minutes without hearing protection. You may also experience temporary or permanent ear ringing, known as tinnitus, due to loud sound exposure. Studies have shown that approximately 15% of Americans aged between 20 to 69 have some level of noise-induced hearing loss. Additionally, these numbers are expected to grow dramatically in the coming decades among young people specifically. Wearing earplugs can prevent this type of hearing loss and protect your hearing.
Activities that benefit from hearing protection:
- concerts or live music
- loud venues (e.g., social settings with loud background music or noise)
- power tools
Earplugs are also convenient when you need to focus and tune out some background noise. Times when you might especially appreciate earplugs include:
What to Consider When Purchasing Earplugs
As you can see, there are many great reasons to consider earplugs. Next, I'll show you how to evaluate whether a pair of earplugs suits your needs.
Here are questions I had before my Vibes review:
- Are the earplugs comfortable enough to wear for extended periods?
- How long will the earplugs last?
- How can I maintain the earplugs to keep them in tip-top shape?
- Do they distort the sound of music?
- Importantly, how much noise do they block out?
Unboxing, testing, and notes
When I received the Vibes Earplugs, the packaging made it easy to open the box and understand its contents. The earplugs come in a small box about the size of a deck of playing cards. I appreciated that the instructions were simple and straightforward. The earplugs also come with a small, black case. However, the case is lightweight and does not include an attachment to a keychain. The case is small enough to fit in a pocket but could also be easily lost or misplaced.
I tested the earplugs in various settings, including music, watching TV, and a loud, noisy cafe, and was pleased with their performance. They blocked out noise levels while allowing me to enjoy the music and hear sound crisply with less volume. Visually the earplugs resemble small, wireless headphones and are relatively discrete in the ear.
Important to Note
The box warns that the ear tips must be appropriately installed before placing them in the ear. As an audiologist, I can attest to this. With hearing aid dome tips, it sometimes happens that patients don't fully attach the dome tips to their hearing aids, resulting in a dome tip becoming stuck in the ear canal. Unless it comes off right at the entrance to the ear canal, you'll need to have it removed by a professional, as it will be beyond reach in the ear canal without the proper tools. If you follow the instructions carefully, you should be ok. But I like to bring this up as a reminder to be careful to do this properly.
How did Vibes earplugs do on testing?
Let's look at how these earplugs did.
The earplugs were reasonably comfortable to wear for extended periods. They come in three different sizes (small, medium, and large), which allowed me to find the perfect fit. The earplugs are made of soft silicone material that doesn't cause irritation or discomfort.
The earplugs are durable and long-lasting. However, the lifespan depends on how often you use them. With proper maintenance and cleaning, the earplugs can last for months. One inconvenience though: Vibes does not sell the ear tips separately. Although the stems of these earplugs may last long-term, the ear tips will need to be replaced, meaning you'll need to purchase a new pair rather than just the tips.
You can maintain the earplugs by cleaning them regularly. Simply wipe the earplugs with a clean, damp cloth, and store them in the provided case. It's essential to keep the earplugs dry and store them in a cool place.
These earplugs provide a flat noise reduction, meaning that the earplugs don't distort the sound of music. Their unique design reduces the sound levels equally across all frequencies while still allowing you to enjoy the music.
The earplugs are designed to reduce the sound level by approximately 15 decibels (NRR of 15 dB), which is enough to provide hearing protection without sacrificing the quality of the music.
Hear the World Foundation
Another noteworthy aspect of Vibes Earplugs is their commitment to making a difference in the world. For every purchase of these earplugs, a portion of the profits is donated to the Hear the World Foundation. This non-profit organization is dedicated to providing resources and support to individuals, particularly children affected by hearing loss, across the globe. By choosing Vibes Earplugs, you are protecting your hearing and contributing to a noble cause of promoting hearing health worldwide.
- fits multiple size ears (small, medium, and large size ear tips)
- discrete appearance in the ear
- comfortable to wear
- good sound quality
- carrying case does not include a keychain attachment
- noise reduction is insufficient for heavy-duty noise exposure (e.g., gun range, construction sites, etc.)
- ear-tips cannot be purchased separately for replacement
In conclusion, Vibes Earplugs are a quality product that balances comfort, appearance, and sound quality. Their ability to provide a flat noise reduction across all frequencies without distorting the music quality makes them an ideal choice for music lovers. Although there are minor drawbacks, like the lack of keychain attachment and the inability to purchase ear-tips separately, the benefits far outweigh these inconveniences. Plus, the company's commitment to giving back to the community by supporting the Hear the World Foundation adds an element of social responsibility to your purchase. Vibes Earplugs is a worthy contender if you're in the market for practical, comfortable earplugs that contribute to a global cause.