You’ve got your headphones, your IEMs, your wired earbuds, your wireless earbuds, your general earplugs, your concert earplugs…and now add one more ear accoutrement: sound-softening semi-earplugs, the Flare Calmer.
Calmers are soft silicone (latex-free) earplugs, available in four colors, with a tiny handle and a large hole in the middle to allow sound pressure waves through. With just the right aperture and just the right material, the resulting sound is just slightly mid- and high-frequency attenuated, less resonant and slightly “cushiony,” with less pronounced transients.
Frankly, my first thought was: “My earplugs offer enough attenuation, and I can still understand speech.” Then I tried the Calmers and realized that this was a much more subtle proposition and function. The Calmers are so small, light and comfortable that you forget they’re in after only a couple of minutes. Likewise, you forget about the subtle softening attenuation. The result is seemingly less disturbing auditory input, less focus on listening, and a bit more subconscious relaxing. Calmers reportedly can help with hyper sound sensitivity related to autism and other disorders.
I’m using them after long mixing sessions to speed up the normalization of my ears, which seems to add to my mental refocusing, as well. Loud coffeehouses, restaurants and retail are also good places to soften the chatter without hampering speech.
I often write my reviews wearing Calmers, as they help me to look inward and ignore the outside world. I’ve even found Calmers help make the TV-sound irrelevant when I’m trying to read and my wife is watching The Voice.
Conversely, I have found that the Calmers are not good choices for earplugs. They don’t attenuate enough to block out the loud stuff, and their subtle treatment seems insignificant against serious SPL. They’re a little helpful for softening road noise during car trips, although I’d be curious to see if they help during air travel.
At $28, Flare’s Calmers (or Calmer Minis, Kids, Night or aluminum-lined Pros) are a small investment if you find yourself with lingering post-session fatigue, that time when some softer sounds, your favorite beverage and an easy chair might just get you feeling refreshed lots quicker than you thought you could.