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How To Avoid Permanent Hearing Damage And Still Enjoy Your Music! High Fidelity Earplugs

Many people take their hearing for granted and hearing damage has great implications. Aly from trance legend group, Aly & Fila, suffered a severe ear defect while on tour.

The doctor office advised him not be exposed to loud music or he will face losing complete hearing in his ear. That stopped him from touring ever since. An old DJ mate of mine is also partial deaf in one ear due to prolonged exposure to loud music.

I first got to know about earplugs in the army. Its the cheap $1 spongy ear plugs that soldiers use during shooting range practice. Its purpose is to block out the loud rifle sounds which could make someone deaf if fired too close to the ears. My second encounter with earplugs was a little more pleasant. It was during an Above & Beyond gig in Zouk. Tony had his earplugs on while mixing and looking real fleek. I didn’t give too much thought about it until I started DJing and having several temporary “deafness” episodes from clubbing nights.

I started using the cheap earplugs from army. It certainly helped protect my hearing but it muffled the sound. I was really into good club music so having much of the sound blocked out is not an option for me. That is when a friend recommended high fidelity earplugs company, Etymotic Research. Back then it was the ER20 (pictured below).

etymotic er20

It worked really well. I could enjoy the music and didn’t feel deaf at the end of the night. My only complain about the earplug was that it got uncomfortable after a while and made the inside of my ear itchy. It also took some time getting used to having something “stuffed” inside your ears and part of the canal sticks out of the ear, which is fugly. But its relatively affordable (about $30) and its practical benefits wins. So a bunch of my friends and I went ahead with the group order of the ER20 earplugs.

Fast forward many years and after experiencing clubs and music studios where the sound is blasted so loud that could throw you off like below…


I decided to upgrade to the pro musician’s earplugs.

Basically, liquid silicon is pumped into your ears to create a shaped mold of the inside of your ear. Once the mold is done, the sound filters (the membrane that “processes” the sound going to your ears) is fitted to the mold, creating a custom fit earplug with replaceable sound filters. Sound filters comes with -9dB, -15dB and-25dB varieties.

etymotic custom earplugs

It comes with a price though. They are about $300 to $500 a pair. But if you work in a loud environment frequently, it is well worth it! They will last you for many years.

Today, Etymotic has enhanced their ER-20 earplugs range (at least now its not fugly) and there are other companies (ie. Westone) catering to the market of high fidelity earplugs. For the pro musician’s earplugs in Singapore, you can get it from Digisound. They will do the mold and get the Etymotic sound filters for you.

You don’t have to go for Etymotic earplugs. I am writing about them only because of my personal experience with their earplugs. If you have used Westone or any other brand of earplugs, feel free to share your experience in the comments section below.



For the discerning, music lover (whether for club, concert or studio applications)…

Option 1: Etymotic Universal ER20XS earplugs ($28.51)**- cheaper with group buy options – 20dB reduction

Option 2: Westone Universal WR20 earplugs ($42.72)** – 20dB reduction, other options available.

Option 3: Earpeace HD Earplugs ($25.64)**- cheaper with group buy options – 11dB, 14dB reduction

Option 4: Earasers HiFi Earplugs ($71.21)** – 19dB, 23dB reduction

Option 5: V-Moda Fader VIP ($28.49)** – 12dB reduction

Option 6: Custom Fit Earplugs from Digisound (for Singapore only)($300 to $500)** – 9dB, -15dB, -25dB reduction

** Prices shown are in Singapore dollars and excludes shipping cost.


(FOR SINGAPORE ONLY) If you will like to get the Etymotic ER20XS earplugs, comment below or email me at felix@trancerepublic.org. If there are enough interest we could do a group buy!

Author: Felix

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Comments (2)

  1. Mah says:

    Been searching high and low for the ER20XS but no luck. Any idea where to get it here in sg?

    • Felix says:

      As far as I know, it is not available in Singapore yet.

      But we did a group order the other time! And imported a few. Depending on how many orders we get, it will come up to be between $45 to $60 a pair (inclusive of shipping)
      Let me know if that interest you. :)

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