QuietOn Active Noise Cancelling Earplugs

Quiet the world around you with QuietOn’s Active Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs. QuietOn’s innovative design combines active noise cancellation and acoustic noise attenuation to find your own tranquility wherever and whenever you need it.

Traditional earplugs use passive attenuation to reduce sound levels, but are only efficient at blocking high frequency sounds. QuietOn uses active noise cancellation, designed to reduce low frequency ‘bass’ noises that traditional ear plugs can’t block, such as the hum of airplane engines and normal background noise. This allows for noise cancelling up to 40 dB, putting QuietOn at the level of the best on-ear noise cancelling headphones.

Extensive research has gone into the form and fit, resulting in a comfortable and ergonomic wireless ear bud, with switchable ear tips that allow you to get the fit you desire.

Use them to quiet the continuous hum of airplanes, trains or the metro, noisy work environments, disruptive environmental noises or to even give yourself a little bit of space.

EASY TO USE – With no wires to detangle, no settings to adjust and no buttons to press, QuietOn is incredibly easy to use. Once you remove them from their carrying case, they’re on and active, ready to go.

LONG BATTERY LIFE – With 50 hours of use on a single charge, QuietOn has the longest battery life of any wireless noise cancelling device. The included carrying case also functions as a convenient charger, and features indicator lights on the front that let you know when it’s done charging.

WIDE VARIETY OF USES – No matter your need, QuietOn can help. These innovative ear plugs are ideal for everyone, from frequent travelers who want to drown out the din of the airplane cabin to individuals looking to lessen the noise around them so they can drift off to sleep.

The earplugs are intended for reducing noise. There is no Bluetooth connection and music playback is not supported.

DETAILS:

Sales box content: Carrying case, two QuietOn earplugs, two different size silicon tips, QuietOn Comply foam tips, User guide and micro USB cable. A charger is not included in the box.

Localization: Global product

Size: Carrying case: 22mm x 30mm x 59mm, Earplug size 19mm x 22mm

Weight: Carrying case: 25g. Earplug: 3.8g

Battery life: 50h

Charging: Micro-USB mobile phone charger connecting to the carrying case (charger not included)

Certifications:This device complies with FCC/CE/UL/CSA/IEC/EN 60065-1

PRODUCT FEATURES

  • Noise cancelling performance up to 40dB with low frequencies
  • Easy to use with no wires to detangle, settings to adjusts, or buttons to press
  • With 50 hours of use on a single charge, QuietOn has the longest battery life of any wireless noise cancelling device.
  • These innovative ear plugs are ideal for everyone, from frequent travelers who want to drown out the din of the airplane cabin or motorcycle engine
  • Comes with a pair of QuietOn, three pairs of eartips – two pairs of silicone eartips and one pair of Comply Foam eartips and a charging case

QUIETON’S PERFORMANCE

QuietOn with Active Noise Cancelling technology makes a big difference at low frequencies, such as the hum of airplane engines, construction sites or normal background noise. Its attenuation ability in this area is up to 40dB. For instance, airplane cabin noise sounds like a faint hum with QuietOn earplugs. The earplugs significantly reduce stress level caused by constantly noisy environments.

HOW IT WORKS

Active noise cancelling uses a microphone to sample the sound, and a speaker to create a phase-shifted sound that cancels the original sound.

In QuietOn, the microphone that samples the sound is located right inside the ear canal! This means that QuietOn can more accurately produce anti-noise that results in good noise cancellation at the ear drum. By locating the microphone in the air volume of the ear canal, QuietOn is also able to reduce noise that is conducted by the skull into the ear.

HOW QUIETON EARPLUGS PERFORM ACROSS THE WHOLE AUDIBLE SPECTRUM

QuietOn can provide optimal noise reduction across the whole audible spectrum, especially effective at these low frequencies.

The 5 Best Earplugs for Noise Blocking Out All Sound

Last Updated on January 20, 2020

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We all know that getting enough sleep is important.

But what can you do when you’re trying to sleep in a noisy environment?

The truth is, some people have hearing that’s so sensitive that even the slightest rustle of the sheets can keep them from snoozing. You can imagine how hard it might be to get sleep for people who have partners who snore loudly, or are surrounded by noisy neighbors who love to party all night, or who have to work at night and sleep during the day.

How can you fix this?

One way is to ​find and use the best earplugs ​for noise blocking out all sound.

In addition to ensuring that you get uninterrupted slumber, earplugs can also help you in another way: They filter out high-decibel noises that could otherwise damage your hearing.

When using earplugs for sleeping, the right type should be chosen for maximum comfort and safety. On the other hand, the wrong earplugs can lead to discomfort and the risk of outer ear infections. That’s why, in this article, we have reviewed five of the best earplugs for sleeping. Specifically, we have searched for the best earplugs in the following categories:

  • Best overall brand
  • Best for side sleepers
  • Best for traveling
  • Best moldable earplugs
  • Best fit for people with smaller ear-canal sizes

Before we introduce the top picks in these categories, let’s first talk about why it’s essential to get the right type of earplugs.

If you’re a busy person who doesn’t have time to read this entire review, we’ve simplified everything. Here is a table that provides you with a quick rating of the best earplugs for sleeping.

Best overall, for comfort and value for moneyBest overall, for comfort and value for moneyFlents Quiet Please Earplugs

Best for side sleepersBest for side sleepersFlents Quiet Contour Earplugs

Best for travelling, comes with a carrying case for hygienic purposesBest for travelling, comes with a carrying case for hygienic purposesMoldex Soft Foam Earplugs

Best moldable earplugs, designed for comfortBest moldable earplugs, designed for comfortMack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs

Best fit for people with smaller ear-canal sizeBest fit for people with smaller ear-canal sizeHoneywell Laser Lite High Visibility Disposable Foam Earplugs

Tips for Choosing the Right Type of Earplugs for Blocking Sound

Noise-blocking.

You have to ensure that the earplugs block out as much sound as possible. Otherwise, they may not be helpful for you at all. This may take some trial and error, as everyone’s ears are shaped slightly differently. So try a few to see which fit you the best, and are therefore able to block out the most amount of noise.

Comfort.

Earplugs have to be inserted into the ear canal in order to work. Choosing the best-fitting earplug is essential. This is especially true if you tend to sleep on your side or you have a smaller ear canal. You want your earplugs to be comfortable so you are able to get some sleep and you are not having to readjust them throughout the night.

If your earplugs are uncomfortable, you probably won’t wear them consistently. They should fit snuggly without being uncomfortable or applying pressure to the eardrum, and they shouldn’t irritate your ears or overheat after wearing them for a while. If your earplugs are uncomfortable, it can be a sign that they are too big for your ear canal, which means you should try a smaller size before giving up.

Design.

Some earplugs have now gone high-tech, with noise-cancelling properties and designs that maximize the benefits you can get when you use them (depending on your needs). However, this may also come with a higher price tag. Consider your specific needs and think about if the upgrades apply to your situation or somehow make the earplugs work better for you.

Fit.

Earplugs not only have to fit properly, they also have to be able to stay in place for the duration of their use. If you are trying to get by with earplugs that don’t fit you well, not only are you doing yourself a disservice, but you may also be harming your ears. The noise reduction rating (NRR) of an earplug is only true if it properly fits in the ear.

The earplugs that do the work they’re intended for can help you in the following ways:

  • Reduce or block out noise
  • Allow you to sleep uninterrupted
  • Protect your hearing
  • Do not give any discomfort
  • Ensure that you wake up refreshed and well-rested
  • Save your relationship (in case a partner snores)

Now that you know why it is important to find the right fit for you when it comes to earplugs so you can benefit from their intended use, let’s look at specific things that you should consider when you’re shopping for the best noise-cancelling earplugs for sleeping.

Getting enough sleep is important. But what can you do when you’re trying to sleep in a noisy environment?

Things You Must Consider When Choosing Earplugs for ​Noise Blocking

The earplug must fit comfortably into your ear canal.

The shape of the earplug is essential to the earplugs’ level of comfort. You have to try a few out to find which are the most comfortable for you. If your earplugs don’t fit you well, not only will they be uncomfortable, they will also be ineffective at blocking out noise. The good thing is that most earplugs are inexpensive enough that you can get a variety of types to test out to find your best fit.

The shape of the earplug should be something that you personally prefer (moldable, cylindrical, t-shaped, bell-shaped, etc.).

Again, try some options out until you decide which works best for you. It may depend on the activity you plan to be doing while you are wearing your earplugs, which also means that you may need to have several different types of plugs for various activities.

Check the noise-reduction rating (NRR).

The effectiveness of an earplug is specified by a noise reduction rating (NRR), which typically ranges from 15 to 35 decibels of sound attenuation. The higher the rating, the more noise protection it provides, assuming it fits properly. Earplugs with an NRR of 27 and above are considered the most highly effective.

However, earplugs’ NRRs show how many decibels of sound they can decrease in a lab setting. The actual performance may vary in the real world, which means you will want to make sure to test your earplugs out in real life instead of relying on the stated NRR.

Choose the material that matches your personal needs.

Silicone and wax earplugs usually last longer than foam earplugs, although they tend to be pricier. Both silicone and wax earplugs can be molded by softening using the heat from your hands, and then placed them into your ear, creating a tight seal to block sound. Wax and silicone earplugs are both easy to clean, so they can be used multiple times. One of the main benefits of using these types of earplugs is that they are very comfortable.

Foam earplugs are the most common, and are made out of the same material that’s used in memory foam mattresses. Compressed foam will expand once it is inserted into your ear canal, until it completely plugs the ear. One disadvantage to buying foam earplugs is that they are not durable. And because foam is very porous, bacteria can easily grow after a small amount of time. However, because foam earplugs are so affordable, they are easy to replace.

Are the earplugs reusable or disposable?

As previously mentioned, reusable earplugs and the moldable options are usually pricier than disposable ones. However, they are usually more durable than disposable options, and they can be reused for several nights. Disposal earplugs can usually be worn just once or twice.

The price.

Are you getting the value for your money with that pair of earplugs? While everyone wants to save money, the quality of sleep that you’re getting each night is priceless. The product that offers you the best value may not be the same for the next person. This will be a personal decision that may require a few trial runs.

Other Features to Consider

When choosing earplugs, make sure that they are made from high-grade materials so that they don’t disintegrate or leave some particles in your ear canal. You don’t want anything left behind in your ear once you take the earplug out that could possibly lead to an infection, so you want to make sure they are easy to remove from your ear without leaving anything behind.

It should minimize noise but not completely block out your hearing, in case there is an emergency or you live with small children or family members/roommates with health concerns. You want to be able to get a good night’s sleep without putting yourself or other people into harm’s way. Make sure that if someone needed you in an emergency, you will be able to hear it and wake up. You just want the earplugs to take the edge off when it comes to outside noise.

Ensure that the earplugs can be cleaned to minimize the risk of contamination and infection. If your earplugs can be used multiple times, they need to be easy to clean. This also means that you can’t forget to clean them after each use, or neglect them, because they could grow bacteria that could make you sick.

When choosing earplugs, make sure that they are made from high-grade materials so that they don’t disintegrate or leave some particles in your ear canal.

Know Before You Buy

What size are your ears?

Earplugs do not come with standard sizing, and are typically offered in a one-size-fits-all form. But some brands offer small, medium, and large options, which can be helpful if you know that your ears are particularly large or small.

Try several sizes until you think you have figured out your ear and ear canal size. Most earplugs are sized to fit men, so women are more likely to be comfortable in a smaller size.

Do you know how to properly insert earplugs?

Most manufacturers will either give you written instructions with their product or direct you to a video tutorial on their website. Take some time to practice the recommended method of insertion so you can be sure that you are getting the best use out of your earplugs.

Do a complete test.

Before buying in bulk, take your earplugs for a test drive. The best way to decide if your earplugs really work for your needs is to mimic the activity you’ll be using them for and seeing whether they stay comfortable.

Also, try moving your jaw around because this will alter the shape and size of your ear canal, and can let you know if your comfortable earplugs may turn painful. Finally, test to see how effective the earplugs are. Turn on a fan or turn up your radio to see how much they mute it.

Now that you know the factors that you must consider when shopping for the best noise-cancelling earplugs for sleeping, lets look at the best products that are on the market today.

5 Best Earplugs for ​Noise Blocking Out Sound

1. Flents Quiet Please Earplugs

This is the best overall option, both for comfort and value. The “Quiet Please” earplugs are used by audio engineers and musicians because of their level of comfort. The company that makes these knows that you will use a lot of earplugs if you plan to use them every night.

These no-frills earplugs will give you great protection at a great price, which means you won’t be paying a high price to be able to sleep every night. These earplugs give you a very good NRR of 29. This level of NRR is enough to drown out loud snoring, but not so much that you will sleep through your alarm in the morning.

These non-toxic earplugs are among the shortest options available, which adds to their level of comfort. They are easy to use—you just have to unwrap each earplug and insert it into one of your ear canals. This product provides the best safe option that’s perfect for diminishing loud noises and helps you get the uninterrupted sleep that you need.

PROS

  • Low price provides a great value.
  • Perfect for repeated use.
  • Fits perfectly in the ear canal.

CONS

  • Some users find these to be too short.
  • These earplugs are a little stiff.
  • They may fall out in the middle of the night.

2. Flents Quiet Contour Earplugs

If you prefer to sleep on your side, these may be the best earplugs for you. The Flents Quiet Contour earplugs offer hearing protection to help you sleep in any loud environment. They are also ideal for giving you silence when you need to have focus or concentration.

These earplugs are made with a soft foam that sits easily and comfortably in your ear. The foam compresses quickly, which makes them easy to insert. Their specialized contour shape gives you a snug and comfortable fit. With an NNR of 33, you will be able to sleep soundly through the night.

PROS

  • Great for side sleeping.
  • Great fit.
  • Come with tips for usage.

CONS

  • Some have found these to be itchy.
  • These are too large for some people’s ears.
  • Lose their potency after a few uses.

3. Moldex Soft Foam Earplugs

This is the best option for traveling because they come with a carrying case, which keeps them hygienic. They are made of extra-soft and extra-light foam. They have a tapered shape that will easily fit in your ear canal. These earplugs seal gently and tight without applying pressure to your ears.

The outer surface of the earplug is smooth and non-irritating to your ear canal. These earplugs offer an NRR of 33, which is the highest independently tested rating available.

PROS

  • You can use them for multiple days.
  • Come with a convenient pocket pack carrying case that allows you to have hygienic storage for your earplugs.
  • Tapered for a snug fit as they gently conform to your ear canal.

CONS

  • More expensive than other options.
  • Large fit.
  • Not as soft as other options.

4. Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs

These are the best moldable earplugs available, and they are designed for comfort. Once fitted, they are very comfortable because they fit precisely to the ear without applying any pressure, which some people find to be more comfortable than foam earplugs.

The earplugs give you medium to high sound protection, which ranks them among the best reusable earplugs for sleeping. They provide an NNR of 22. Each earplug can be used up to five times before it loses its sticky texture and has to be discarded.

PROS

  • Fit comfortably.
  • Can be used for multiple things because they also seal out water.
  • Moldable, so they fit all users.

CONS

  • More difficult to put in than foam plugs.
  • Some users find these hurt in the middle of the night.
  • More expensive than other earplugs.

5. Honeywell Laser Lite High Visibility Disposable Foam Earplugs

These earplugs offer the best fit for people with smaller ear canals. The small size of the earplugs give you an optimal fit and ear protection for smaller ears, but is still appropriate for any size ear and ear canal. Laser Lite’s low-pressure foam expands gently inside your ear canal to give you a comfortable long-term wear. The contoured t-shape lets you handle them easily, which makes inserting the earplugs and removing them easy to do.

They are made from a self-adjusting polyurethane foam that expands to fit almost every wearer. They have an NNR of 32, which will allow you to have a quiet night’s sleep. The smooth, soil-resistant material that the closed-cell foam skin is made of helps prevent dirt build-up.

PROS

  • Great for comfort and hygiene.
  • Have a universal fit.
  • Easy to wear.

CONS

  • Quality has gone down in recent years.
  • Some people have a hard time keeping these earplugs in place.

Conclusion

All of the featured earplugs for sleeping are the best picks for their categories. However, today’s winner is Flents Quiet Please Earplugs for effective noise reduction, comfort, and value for your money.

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The good news is they are cheap, easy to use, and, on the whole, work – in short, the best earplugs can improve your sleep quality dramatically.

There are three main types of earplugs for sleeping:

  • Wax: These are generally a wax cylinder that you warm in your hands and mould into a cone before placing in the ear. The benefits are that they can be shaped to fit and, because they’re waterproof, they can double up as swimming earplugs.
  • Silicone: Soft silicone plugs are light, comfortable and reusable (simply wash in cold water). Some find them less effective at filtering out noise than other materials, though during testing I didn’t find this to be the case. They tend to cost more than the other types.
  • Foam: Certainly the cheapest option, foam earplugs are soft and therefore comfortable for sleeping in. However, as a porous material they’re a fertile breeding grown for bacteria, so you have to replace them regularly.

Of the three types, I found silicone to be preferable. Wax can be a faff to mould, while foam invariably falls out during the night.

It’s worth noting, however, that, while earplugs are considered safe, there is a proviso – there are potential side effects. Namely, if worn regularly over long periods of time, they can push wax deeper in the ear, which may cause a buildup. This could lead to complications such as hearing loss or tinnitus. Furthermore, bacteria can thrive on certain earplugs, leading to infection. Make sure to keep them clean or, if disposable, replace regularly.

  • See also: Telegraph Recommended’s review of the best duvets on the market

While inserting earplugs is fairly self explanatory, I’ve learned two useful tips that help the process. Unless it’s silicone, which usually comes shaped, roll the plug with clean fingers until it’s narrow enough to fit in the ear. Pull your lobe away from your head and insert deep enough to block sound but not too deep.

Noise Reduction Ratings Explained

Shop Hearing Protection by Noise Reduction Ratings (NRR)

Shop Ear Plugs Shop Ear Muffs
NRR 22 dB Ear Plugs Up to NRR 20 dB Ear Muffs
NRR 25 dB Ear Plugs NRR 21 dB Ear Muffs
NRR 26 dB Ear Plugs NRR 22 dB Ear Muffs
NRR 27 dB Ear Plugs NRR 23 dB Ear Muffs
NRR 28 dB Ear Plugs NRR 25 dB Ear Muffs
NRR 29 dB Ear Plugs NRR 26 dB Ear Muffs
NRR 30 dB Ear Plugs NRR 27 dB Ear Muffs
NRR 31 dB Ear Plugs NRR 28 dB Ear Muffs
NRR 32 dB Ear Plugs NRR 29 dB Ear Muffs
NRR 33 dB Ear Plugs NRR 30 dB Ear Muffs

If you are interested in shopping our entire selection of hearing protection you can browse here.

How does NRR change decibels of exposure?

When hearing protection is worn, your level of exposure to noise is based on the NRR rating of the protection device being used. Keep in mind, however, that while the NRR is measured in decibels, the hearing protector being used does not reduce the surrounding decibel level by the exact number of decibels associated with that protector’s NRR. For example, if you are at a rock concert where the level of noise exposure is 100 dB and you are wearing earplugs with an NRR 33dB, your level of exposure would not be reduced to 67 dB. Instead, to determine the actual amount of decibel deduction applied (when decibels are measured dBA which is the most common), you take the NRR number (in dB), subtract seven, and then divide by two. Given the previous example, your noise reduction equation would look like the following: (33-7)/2 = 13. This means that if you are at a rock concert with a level of noise exposure at 100 dB and you are wearing a hearing protector with an NRR 33 dB, your new level of noise exposure is 87 dB. If you are wearing a product with an NRR of 27 it would deduct 10 decibels (27-7/2=10).

*To maximize noise reduction, hearing protectors must be worn properly.

How does wearing dual hearing protectors change NRR?

When hearing protectors are worn in combination (i.e. earplugs AND earmuffs), rather than adding the two NRR numbers together, you simply add five more decibels of protection to the device with the higher NRR. For example, using 3M™ E-A-R™ Classic Earplugs (NRR 29) with 3M™ Peltor™ H7 Deluxe Earmuffs (NRR 27) would provide a Noise Reduction Rating of approximately 34 decibels.

What is considered excessive noise?

While the amount of on-the-job noise exposure can be determined through various testing devices, excessive noise is generally defined as exposure to 85 or more decibels of sound over an 8 hour period.According to OSHA,hearing protection is required for all employees at this degree of exposure. This OSHA Action Level, however, will vary depending upon the decibel level of the surrounding environment. For example, if a worker is exposed to 100dB in a 2 hour period, he or she is also required to wear hearing protection. Each hearing protector product is required to meet the ANSI S3.19-1974 testing of NRR levels.

In all cases where the sound levels exceed the values shown below, a continuing, effective hearing conservation program should be administered.

For a better grasp of industry standards, here are a few of the most common producers of noise levels that OSHA considersto be dangerous: lawnmowers, rock concerts, firearms, firecrackers, headset listening systems, motorcycles, tractors, power tools and industrial machinery. The use of hearing protection is strongly recommended during continued exposure to any of the previously listed environments, as all can deliver sounds in excess of 90 decibels.

Painful:

150 dB = Rock Concerts at Peak
140 dB = Firearms, Air-Raid Siren, Jet Engine
130 dB = Jackhammer
120 dB = Jet Plane Take-off, Amplified Music at 4-6 ft., Car Stereo, Band Practice

Extremely loud:

110 dB = Machinery, Model Airplanes
100 dB = Snowmobile, Chain saw, Pneumatic Drill
90 dB = Lawnmower, Shop Tools, Truck Traffic, Subway

Very loud:

80 dB = Alarm Clock, Busy Street
70 dB = Vacuum Cleaner
60 dB = Conversation, Dishwasher

Moderate:

50 dB = Moderate Rainfall
40 dB = Quiet room

Faint:

30 dB = Whisper, Quiet Library

Save Your Hearing

Exposing yourself to high decibel environments can result in permanent damage to your hearing. In the event you find yourself in one of these environments, protect yourself with the proper hearing protection. If you have questions about any of the hearing protection products on our website, please feel free to call our customer service department. Our staff is dedicated to keeping your hearing safe and sound.

As you might imagine, dozens of earplugs are available online. Hundreds. Most are very similar. We built on a selection of top-reviewed contenders from an earlier version of this guide, and then expanded that list to include other well-reviewed plugs on Amazon. We also consulted other websites to get potential names, but very few seemed to have actual reviews of the earplugs beyond “I bought these and they worked,” which is not helpful (because, again, it’s just one person’s ears). Sleep Like The Dead bases its analysis on aggregated customer reviews so is slightly more useful, but that site has narrowed the scope of what it covers down to only five models as of this writing.

After buying all the contenders, we went about testing. This process proved to be harder than we expected, since the existing criteria for testing earplugs are very limited in scope. The American National Standards Institute has established standards for measuring the noise attenuation that hearing-protection devices provide. Researchers make these measurements using tiny microphones inserted into actual humans’ ears. The earplugs then receive a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) in decibels. The higher the number, the greater the noise attenuation. The greater the attenuation, the quieter the experience you’ll have. The NRR, however, is a technical rating rather than a reflection of what you’ll actually experience; it doesn’t directly tell you the amount of noise attenuation you’ll have. To get a better idea of the real-world noise reduction, you need to subtract 7 from the NRR and then divide by 2. Thus, for example, an earplug with an NRR of 31 decibels actually attenuates noise by 12 dB. This figure doesn’t tell you as much as you might think, though.

Although the ANSI standards are useful—and employed by most manufacturers of hearing-protection devices—they provide only a simple, single-number rating. A single number tells you only how much an earplug or other protection device reduces noise on average, not what part of the sonic spectrum it reduces. For example, airplane-cabin noise occupies a different part of the sonic spectrum than, say, a baby crying. Because no earplug reduces all frequencies equally (that’s impossible), the NRR rating doesn’t provide as comprehensive an analysis of earplug performance as people might like.

So we were curious whether some earplugs might do a better (or worse) job with certain sounds. Would an earplug with a good average NRR but an emphasis on attenuation of bass frequencies be a bad choice for someone wanting to block the sound of conversation? Would an earplug with a lower NRR perhaps be better for our purposes than one with a higher NRR because it attenuates better in the snoring frequencies?

Simulating all sorts of sounds and measuring them with a large number of human subjects wasn’t practical for us, especially because we knew that refining the measurement technique would require many hours of experimentation. Fortunately, just as we were starting work on this article, a newly developed test fixture became available: the G.R.A.S. Sound & Vibration KB5000 anthropometric pinna, attached to the G.R.A.S. 43AG ear and cheek simulator, which has long been a standard for testing earphones and headphones.

Testing an earplug using the G.R.A.S. 43AG ear and cheek simulator with the KB5000 pinna simulator and an Audiomatica Clio 10 FW audio analyzer. Photo: Brent Butterworth

Unlike previous pinna simulators, the KB5000 has a realistic ear canal shape; previous simulated pinnae ended in round holes. Thus, the tests we conducted with the KB5000 gave a result closer to what a person with an average-size ear would experience with the earplugs we tried. Using a test fixture instead of live human subjects made it possible for us to experiment with different test signals and conditions until we got consistent and meaningful results.

We connected the 43AG (which is essentially a specialized, high-precision microphone) to an Audiomatica Clio 10 FW audio analyzer and to an M-Audio MobilePre USB interface used with TrueRTA spectrum analyzer software. Then we measured the noise-reduction capabilities of 25 different earplugs.

To measure the effects of the earplugs, we first ran frequency-response measurements. We played unsynchronized pink noise signals (which contain the sound of the entire audio spectrum, from the deepest bass to the highest treble) through four speakers and a subwoofer mounted in the test lab, and used TrueRTA to see how evenly each earplug reduced noise across the whole sonic spectrum. This way, we could see if an earplug was attenuating more bass than treble, or vice versa.

This graph shows the overall reduction in sound (pink noise, 75 dB), with low frequencies on the left and high frequencies on the right. Lower values indicate better performance—for example, at a low rumbling 50 Hz, the best performer reduced the sound to 47 dB, a reduction of 28 dB. Green: Mack’s Slim Fit; Cyan: Flents Quiet Time; Purple: 3M E-A-Rsoft; Orange: Howard Leight Laser Lite; Blue: Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone.

Then we used our own specially created tests to gauge the effectiveness of the earplugs at attenuating various sounds. These sounds included a baby crying (1,000 to 10,000 Hz), a dog barking (250 to 1,300 Hz), a person snoring (50 to 7,000 Hz), traffic noise (70 to 10,000 Hz), airplane-cabin noise (50 to 1,200 Hz), a live rock concert, and an inconsiderate neighbor playing rock music loudly in an adjacent apartment. We used actual samples of the real sounds, edited to allow repeatable, consistent measurements. For example, the crying-baby test signal was a constant (and unbelievably annoying) whine rather than a series of intermittent, unpredictable bursts. We played these test signals at realistic levels and measured the average sound level (or Leq) over 20 seconds to get the attenuation level.

For each of these measurements, we inserted and reinserted the earplugs into the KB5000 pinna simulator at least five times to make sure the fit was good and the earplugs were getting the best possible seal, and thus the best possible performance. Note that the KB5000 represents an average ear, but not necessarily your ear, of course, so your results may vary. We intended these tests to serve as a general guideline only. With few exceptions, the results of our specific sound tests mostly fell in line with those of our initial pink noise blocking test.

After all that was done, four Wirecutter staffers tested the top three performers (the ones that reduced the most noise): Mack’s Slim Fit Soft Foam, Flents Quiet Time, and Howard Leight Laser Lite. In addition, we included the 3M E-A-Rsoft OCS1135, which was rather average in blocking pink noise but was in the top five for blocking plane noises—the 3M earplugs also fit me (a notable rarity). Lastly, we tested a pair of silicone earplugs that some Wirecutter commenters told us they liked.

The 4 Best Noise-Cancelling Earplugs For Sleeping

If you’re a light sleeper, have a partner who snores, live in a high-traffic area, or are just having trouble falling asleep, the best noise-canceling earplugs for sleeping can help. Although no hearing protection device completely blocks out all sound, noise-canceling earplugs help block a lot of sound vibrations from reaching your eardrum to limit the amount of noise that you hear and create a much quieter environment so that you can rest easy.

When choosing the best pair for sleeping, it’s important to pay attention to its noise reduction rating, also called NRR. This number tells you how much the device can reduce sound exposure in decibels. A decibel is a measurement of sound intensity which typically ranges from 0 to 194. Mild to moderate snoring, for example, tends to vary from 40 to 60 decibels, so an NRR 28 pair of earplugs would reduce a jarring 60 decibels down to 32 decibels, the sound level of whispering nearby. The higher the NRR of your device, the more sound it will be able to block out.

There are three main types of earplugs to choose from:

  • Foam earplugs are soft and affordable, but the foam material makes them prone to bacteria, so regularly replacing them is a good idea. Some people also find foam earplugs to be too large for their ears, which is why I’ve included a set of smaller ones specially designed for sleep.
  • Silicone earplugs, on the other hand, are reusable, but some find them to be uncomfortable to wear while sleeping, especially side-sleepers. And while there are softer silicone earplugs available, they usually have lower NRRs.
  • Wax earplugs easily mold to the size of your ear, giving you a snug fit, but they’re susceptible to ear residue and other substances sticking to them. According to some Amazon reviewers, the way they feel takes some getting used to.

Alternatively, if you enjoy listening to music, meditations, or ASMR before you sleep, there are also electronic earbuds designed specifically for sleeping, and I’ve included a pair of those here. Though they have noise-cancelling double-layer silicone earplugs, no NRR is given for these.

To help make the selection process easier, here’s my roundup of the best noise-canceling earplugs for sleeping. All of these top-rated picks will block unwanted sounds to make drifting off to sleep easier.

1. The Best Overall Foam Earplugs For Sleeping

  • Noise reduction rating: 35 decibels

This container of foam earplugs are soft and a great price for 60 pairs, so you won’t have to hesitate before replacing them to avoid bacteria growth. These earplugs are bell-shaped to fit comfortably inside your ear while reducing up to 35 decibels of noise. They also come with an aluminum carrying case which is excellent for travel. Amazon reviewers have been thrilled with this pick, giving it a 4.3-star rating after more than 900 reviews, with many noting that they fit comfortably and securely. While these have the highest NRR on this list by 3 decibels, those with small ear canals might find them to be a better fit since they’re 30% smaller than most foam earplugs.

What fans say: “I have worn earplugs nightly since college. Ive been through several brands that left my ears sore or didnt fit well. These are the complete opposite! They are lighter than any brand Ive used before, and they dont rub or pop out in your sleep.”

2. The Best Silicone Earplugs For Sleeping

  • Noise reduction rating: 32 decibels

The ANBOW reusable silicone earplugs allow you to sleep peacefully through the night. These silicone earplugs are reusable, too, so they’ll save you money and reduce waste. They’re made with ultra-soft, ergonomic silicone to fit and conform to your ear and effectively block out up to 32 decibels of noise. They’re also washable, hypoallergenic, BPA-free, and waterproof, so you could even use them to go swimming. However, because the handle sticks out, they might not be the best choice for side-sleepers.

What fans say: “These ear plugs cancel out the background noise when I sleep (I live near an airport and planes fly during the night). They are soft and comfortable so they don’t disrupt my sleep.”

3. The Best Wax Earplugs for Sleeping

  • Noise reduction rating: 32 decibels

PQ Earplugs For Sleep are wax earplugs you can mold to your ear canals for the perfect fit. They block up to 32 decibels of sound to drown out snoring, TV, and other noises, and each package comes with 12 wax plugs (which you can use for one or two ears depending on your preferences) and two pairs of foam earplugs if you want to change things up. These earplugs are clear and virtually invisible when placed in your ear. They’re also waterproof and are a good multipurpose option for those who want to use them for swimming or other activities. However, because wax can pick up ear residue, wax earplugs are not the best for reuse.

What fans say: “I wear ear plugs every time I sleep due to loud neighbors and a snorer. These are so comfortable, you just squish them slightly in your ear. They are like moldable clay. They block out almost all noise. Other earplugs were giving me sore ears and these don’t. It feels a little strange at first, but it does not irritate my ears.”

4. The Best Overall Earplugs For Small Ears

  • Noise reduction rating: 32 decibels

For small ear canals, the PQ small earplugs for sleep are a specially designed choice that more than 100 reviewers have given a 4.4-star rating. These can reduce noise by 32 decibels, like most of the choices here, yet are 30% smaller than most foam earplugs, making them extra-comfortable for those with smaller ears. The brand even recommends them for side sleepers. Each pack includes 20 pairs and a convenient carrying case for travel.

What fans say: “I have small ear canals and these are by far the most comfortable foam ear plugs I’ve ever used. Noise cancellation is more than I expected. For those who want complete noise cancellation it would be extremely difficult to find that in any foam ear plug. In that case custom-made earplugs would be the solution. Love these ear plugs…highly recommend and will buy again.”

Also Great: These Noise-Isolating Earbuds Designed For Sleeping

  • Noise reduction rating: None given, but do feature noise-cancelling, double-layer silicone earplug

If you like some music or white noise before you fall asleep, the Mijiaer noise-isolating sleep earbuds are a great option. They feature an ergonomic design and flexible silicone material to fit comfortably in your ears. You can connect them to any 3.5-millimeter jack device, and the cord length is also long to give you the ability to move around a little. While some reviewers noted that the sound-quality was not the highest, they are a very affordable choice.

What fans say: “I sleep on my side, so it’s usually very uncomfortable sleeping with earbuds in. These don’t have the usual hard plastic piece that covers the cord at the connection point, just pliable rubber, so I can barely feel it. They definitely muffle noise when you have them solidly in place. I also really like the longer than average cord. Definitely recommend!”

Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently of Bustle’s editorial and sales departments.

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