I discovered the joy of earplugs more than 20 years ago and have been on the hunt for the ideal model ever since. I’ve gone from fairly expensive audiologist-fitted custom plugs with switchable filters in various attenuations (Etymotic Research), to more simplistic Flare Isolates (with a metal core that encourages clearer sound through bone induction) to my most recent acquisition, Vibes Hi-Fidelity Earplugs.
Having tried many models over many years, I have found that I need different styles and attenuations to best suit all applications, from mixing monitors on very loud stages, to mixing FOH (only after my mix is completely dialed in and I’m simply riding solos and cueing vocal FX), to mowing the lawn and leaf blowing, to enjoying concerts and attending my recording clients’ club shows. For the apps where fidelity is most crucial, I am sold on these Vibes.
Their design is so simple and pedestrian that their performance is surprising. The ear tips of soft plastic are provided in three different sizes; they slip over a small, hollow plastic tube with an angular cut on the tip. This tube slips into a hollow plastic tube that is close-ended and acts as the earplug’s handle. The inside tube is just small enough that a vent is created, allowing a little bit of air—and therefore sound pressure—to pass through.
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Apparently, the designers got that air gap’s dimensions just right, as the sound is attenuated a healthy 22 dB, nicely balanced, with much flatter frequency response and lacking the uncomfortable jumps in volume and frequency that many other earplugs provide. Speech intelligibility is better than typical, too, which is an important factor that matters for all but the yard work applications.
I find these plugs insert into my ear much more easily than other models—not requiring the squishing of the sleeves, just steady firm pressure—and they stay in once inserted, too. Cleaning is easy enough, and so far, after nine months of use, durability seems good, too.
I remember seeing these Vibes presented on the TV show Shark Tank a ways back and thinking, “This product is doomed to fail. There are plenty of good earplugs already out there and they can’t bring much to market other than a low price.” Well, I was clearly wrong and they are affordably priced at $19.99.
Vibes • www.discovervibes.com