Vibes Hi-Fidelity review

Well-made, discrete hearing protection, at a reasonable price

Vibes Hi Fidelity Earplugs on top of a snare drum next to a pair of drumsticks
(Image: © Future/James Farmer)

Louder Verdict

The Vibes Hi-Fidelity earplugs are small, comfortable and discrete, and do a good job of bringing the volume down a few notches. The sound you hear might not be a crystal clear representation of the source - but we’d rather that than go deaf.

Pros

  • +

    Discrete

  • +

    Very comfortable

  • +

    Good value for money

  • +

    Case included

Cons

  • -

    They do muffle the sound a fair bit

  • -

    Easy to lose

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Us music lovers - both performers and listeners - often disregard the concept of hearing protection. We’ve mostly got preconceived notions that earplugs will ‘ruin the vibe’ of a show or a practice session - which is frankly pretty crazy. We’d assume that going deaf at a young age would also ‘ruin the vibe’ of most things, so protecting your hearing should be your number one priority - or you’ll be kissing goodbye to your beloved gig-going or music-making lifestyle prematurely. 

Vibes first came to light on popular US TV show Shark Tank, and with their focus being around bringing down the volume of any given scenario without muffling the sound you’re hearing, they garnered a huge amount of interest from the Sharks - although no backing was found. It hasn’t held them back, however, and after hearing positive reviews from musicians and concert-goers alike, we thought we should put one of our favourite pairs of the earplugs for concerts to the test.

For the purposes of this review, we’ve been sent a pair of the standard Hi-Fidelity earplugs from Vibes. They were tested over the course of a three-hour drum practice session, so this is what we’ll be making our judgments from. They are recommended by the manufacturer for use in many other scenarios than just live music, but we’ll just be focusing on that for today.

Vibes Hi-Fidelity review: Features

Open box of Vibes Hi Fidelity Earplugs on a snare drum next to a pair of drumsticks

(Image credit: Future/James Farmer)

The features list of the Vibes Hi-Fidelity earplugs is a fairly short one. They’re the only product available from Vibes, so there are no ‘lite’ or ‘deluxe’ options available - but what you do get is a well-made, solid earplug which won’t stand out when in use. 

The Hi-Fidelity ‘plugs are also very lightweight, thanks to the main body being made from a clear plastic. They come with three different sizes of white silicone earbuds - small, medium and large - and a small black plastic flip-top case to keep them safe. 

These earplugs are part of a well thought out and nicely presented package, with disposable plastics only used to contain the other sets of earbuds. The case is large enough to fit an extra pair of earbuds as well as the plugs themselves - so if you decide you need a different fit, then it’s possible to do it on the fly.

Vibes Hi-Fidelity review: Usability & Comfort

Pair of Vibes Hi Fidelity Earplugs in a hand

(Image credit: Future/James Farmer)

When it comes to using a pair of earplugs, you want something simple, straightforward and easy to fit with little to no prior knowledge - and especially in the case of live music, something you can safely operate after a few alcoholic drinks.

While there was no extra literature included in the box, the inside-lid of the box guides you through four steps on how to ‘find your fit’ with Vibes earplugs. While providing some seemingly common-sense instructions, Vibes does explain that the plugs should form a comfortable seal - especially useful information for anyone who hasn't used a pair of reusable earplugs before.

Vibes also provides you with notes on general usage, and how to avoid ear-tips detaching inside you ear - something which we'd all like to avoid.

We'd suggest testing out the different earbuds in a well-lit area like your car or home, before you get to a gig or practice space. This way, not only can you rest assured that your earplugs are doing all they can to protect your hearing, but you're also much less likely to lose any of the extra earbuds. They are tiny, and if you drop either the earbud or earplug in a crowded, dark room with a suspiciously sticky floor, you won't ever find them (or want to find them) ever again.

Vibes Hi Fidelity Earplug in a mans ear

(Image credit: Future/James Farmer)

Speaking of their size, the diminutive nature of the Vibes Hi-Fidelity earplugs is one of their biggest selling points. We found that, once inside your ear they're hardly noticeable, both to the user and to Joe Public - and the clear stems ensure that nobody will be giving you weird looks trying to figure out what you've stuffed into your ears. The downside of their small size is that once they're lost, they're gone for good - a detachable string to conjoin the two would stop them from being quite so easy to misplace.

When we got to properly using these plugs, we noticed just how comfortable they are. For a full three hours, we wore them with no ear fatigue or discomfort. They fit snugly, and although at first I wanted to keep my head perfectly still to avoid disrupting them, after 10 or so minutes I cut loose and started to enjoy myself. The staying power of these earplugs is not something to overlook. If you like 'getting into it' at a show, then you won't be disappointed with these.

Vibes Hi-Fidelity review: Performance

Vibes Hi Fidelity Earplugs on a snare drum with a pair of drumsticks

(Image credit: Future/James Farmer)

Anyone that's been to a rock show knows that volumes can get pretty ridiculous at times. According to H.E.A.R (opens in new tab) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), unprotected ears should only be exposed to 120dB for an absolute maximum of seven-and-a-half minutes. With a rock concert averaging 120dB for potentially hours at a time, you are likely to do some serious, irreparable harm to your hearing if you choose not to use hearing protection.

As a drummer with a penchant for big drums and even bigger cymbals, bringing the volume down to a suitable level for my ears has been something I've always had to do - and with the Vibes Hi-Fidelity earplugs providing a 15 dB reduction in sound, they do the job well.

Where the Vibes Hi-Fidelity earplugs do fall short, unfortunately, is the 'hi-fidelity' bit. I read that these earplugs use hearing-aid technology to deliver their sound attenuation, so I was excited to hear everything with clarity - and that just wasn't quite the case. 

I was still able to hear my kit well, but I felt that the Vibes muffled and removed a lot of high-end frequencies. While that especially enhanced the kick drum and other bass frequencies, it wasn't what I was expecting from the Vibes Hi-Fidelity earplugs.

For the money, there's nothing wrong with the Vibes earplugs. If you want something small, comfortable and easy to fit, and something which is effective in reducing volume, then these Hi-Fidelity plugs are more than highly capable. For that ultra-high quality sound, however, you'll need to spend a little more.

Vibes Hi-Fidelity review: The competition

In the world of earplugs, there's a huge amount of choice. We'd always suggest spending as much as you can realistically afford on a pair of earplugs, as your hearing is a valuable tool which, if damaged, can't be repaired. For this reason, we'd suggest something like the Flare Audio Isolate Pro (opens in new tab). Yes, they cost the price of a gig ticket, but off-the-shelf earplugs don't really get better than the Flares.

If you're on a budget, then the Fender Musician's earplugs will see you right. They might be cheap and cheerful, but in the case of your hearing, some protection is better than none at all. They're not super comfortable, but for the money we really can't complain.

As part of the Music eCommerce team, I write, manage and update buyer’s guides and reviews, as well as bringing you deals on the latest and coolest gear. I’m a drummer and guitarist and I’ve worked in various parts of the industry for the last five years including online music distributors RouteNote, and local music store Modern Music where I was the drum department manager for nearly two years. I’ve also toured the UK and Europe with my old band Hypophora. When I’m not matching players with their perfect gear, you’ll find me getting very nerdy about coffee, writing songs, or on the beach with my dog.