As musicians, gig-goers, and general music lovers, we tend to like our music loud, probably too loud if we're honest. So while it's exhilarating to listen to a live band who has turned everything up to 11, there's one major downside – irreversible hearing damage.
That's why everyone at Louder takes their hearing health very seriously, and we feel you should be doing the same. We wholeheartedly believe that every live music fanatic should own a quality pair of earplugs because, at the end of the day, you don't want to be listening to your favourite artist behind a high-pitched whistle you'll never shake.
Now, if you are going to invest in a pair of earplugs, you'll want to know they're going to do the job. That's why we've turned our attention to Alpine's MusicSafe Pro plugs, putting them through their paces at a rather loud and energetic band practice to see how they hold up in a real-life situation.
We tested the Alpine earplugs in a relatively small room, with hard-hitting drums, rumbling bass, screeching guitars and vocals, taking note of the noise reduction, clarity and, of course, the comfort of the fit.
Who are Alpine? Starting back in 1994 in the Netherlands, Alpine has been focused on producing high-quality hearing protection for decades, and it’s not just the music industry they service. Alpine also offers options for motorcyclists, swimmers, and even those looking for a more peaceful night's sleep.
Alpine MusicSafe Pro Earplugs review: Features
As far as earplugs go, the Alpine MusicSafe Pro set come with a slew of extras aside from the plugs themselves. In the box, you'll find three plugs (one as a spare), three sets of filters (two gold, two silver and two bronze), a carry case, cleaning fluid and a cord to hold them safely together.
The provided filters offer varying levels of noise reduction, with the bronze reducing the level by 16 dB, the silver by 19 dB and the gold lowering the level the most by 22 dB. For the purposes of this review, we opted for the gold filter, as the noise level in the rehearsal space was pretty intense.
We must say, this is a rather neat little package, for not a lot of money and we were pretty impressed with what was included. That said, we did feel that while the extra plug seems like a great idea on the surface, it's rendered almost useless when you consider you only get one set of each of the filters.
Okay, if you lose one of the plugs at a concert, you could change to the other set of filters – for example, go from gold to silver – but we would have loved to have an extra filter to go with the extra plug. Admittedly this is a tiny complaint, and we guess you just need to make sure you don't misplace one of your earplugs!
We have to quickly mention the addition of a cleaning spray with the earplugs. This is something we very much appreciated. We may be guilty of forgetting to clean our earplugs as regularly as we should, and this spray is so easy to use that it makes cleaning them after every use a breeze – other earplug companies should definitely take note.
Alpine MusicSafe Pro Earplugs review: Usability & comfort
Getting the Alpine MusicSafe Pro earplugs ready to rock couldn't be easier. Simply push your desired filter into the plug, and you're ready to go – it's really that simple. If you plan on using the accompanying cord, you just clip it on to the stem of the plug, and your earplugs will be secured.
When it comes to earplugs, comfort has to be one of the most critical factors for us – well, apart from noise reduction, but we'll get to that. As we typically wear plugs for upwards of four hours in a rehearsal room, the slightest discomfort is amplified dramatically by the time you near the end of the jam session.
Now, we can safely say that the Alpine MusicSafe Pros are among the most comfortable off the shelve plugs we've ever tried. After one or two songs, we quickly forgot we had them in and got very used to the feeling of them in our ears. Much to our delight, there was no discomfort or itchiness to speak of – and that's not something we can usually say about the more common silicon plugs on the market.
While they can't fully compete with the comfort provided by the custom moulded plugs we typically use, their lightweight nature and soft "AlpineThermoShape" construction make them a very viable option for those looking to keep the cost down while also protecting their ears.
Alpine MusicSafe Pro Earplugs review: Performance
That brings us to the overall performance of the Alpine MusicSafe Pro Earplugs. As we said previously, we were putting them through their paces at a very loud band rehearsal. If you've ever been in a practice studio with a live band, then you'll know how loud it can get – especially if you have a guitarist who thinks the amp only works at 11 and a drummer who hits the snare like it owes him money!
We must say the Alpine earplugs did a great job at retaining the overall clarity of the sound in the room. While some of the frequencies lost a little definition – mainly the low mids – overall, the balance was pretty outstanding. The noise reduction was pretty spectacular, too. We were using the gold filters, which dropped the volume by 22 dB, and this made the volume much more manageable and comfortable.
We'll also mention that the Alpine plugs held up surprisingly well to the demands of singing. Lesser earplugs tend to move around with the movement of your jaw, which can result in loud audio bleeding in, which is not only distracting as a performer, but it's also not great for your hearing. Luckily the Alpine MusicSafe Pros were as solid as a rock and didn't move around at all.
Alpine MusicSafe Pro Earplugs review: The alternatives
It's safe to say that you aren't short of options if you are looking for a quality set of earplugs. There is pretty much a set out there to suit every budget. That said, it does mean there are many sub-par options on the market.
If you are looking for a low-cost set of earplugs that are sure to protect your ears without affecting the natural sound of the music, then you may want to turn to famous noisemakers, Fender. This legendary guitar manufacturer's Fender Musician Series earplugs offer a whopping 27dB of noise reduction at an unbeatable price.
If you are looking for a high-end option, then the Etymotic Music Pro (opens in new tab) active earplugs definitely get our vote. These hi-tech plugs employ an electronic circuit, designed to automatically adjust to the changing audio levels. Basically, any noise below a certain level will pass through unaffected, while loud sounds will be attenuated.
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