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I wish I had started caring about my ears earlier. That makes me sound old, I know, but I am not. (Just 30 trips around the sun so far.) And while I’m a massive live music fan, it’s not only the many nights spent clamoring to the front of concert halls, desperate to get as close to the noise as possible, that have spurred the semi-regular ringing on my right side or, as my husband groans about, my habit of responding to any query with a confused “WHAT?!” It’s also the constant use of earbuds and the loud workout classes and the shrieking subway necessary to my morning commute.
Fearful that things would only get worse, I knew something had to be done. (Fair warning, you probably need to do something about this as well. In 2020, everything is loud, from our video games to our movies to our concerts to our headphones. It’s all affecting our ears, whether or not you’ve started to actively notice a degradation to your senses.)
I began experimenting with different earplugs about three years ago. Sometimes this looked like grabbing the complementary foam singles from the bin at SoulCycle; others were ordered in bulk shipments from different start-ups. While each was an upgrade from the do-nothing tactic I’d been employing for years, none felt like a permanent solution. My hunt continued. And the more people I spoke to at concerts who were popping protection in and out of their ears, the more I heard the name Eargasm. The name, I admit, is minorly regrettable, but boy do these babies work.
They’re genuinely comfortable.
Chief among the reasons why ears are so weird (I mean, when you really think about them…) is their shape. If they were straight, cylindrical holes on the side of your head, it would probably be pretty easy to make earplugs that fit just right. Instead, the cavities curve a little bit this way before swinging back that way before heading off somewhere that never sees the light of day but is still, technically, outside of your insides. You need something flexible that can wind its way in there so that your eardrum is actually protected, but nothing too flexible, where it’s impossible to remove. Eargasm’s High Fidelity Earplugs get an A+ in this department. The center piece, which absorbs the shock in lieu of your eardrum, is sturdy and small, and it’s wrapped in a casing that molds easily, making it super easy to slide in as far as needed. (Each order comes with two shell sizes, one larger and one smaller, to fit every ear.)
It’s also worth noting that there is something that feels unnatural about stuffing a small item into your ear. Think about how many times we were warned as children to absolutely not put anything—anything!—up our noses or in our ears. Eargasm plugs fit so well that the first time I used them, I had a moment of panic. Will I ever be able to get this out?! By the grace of good design, there’s a handy little pull on the top rim of the shell for a swift, drama-free exit strategy.
The sound they still allow through is clear.
Listen, half the reason I’m in this mess is the fact that I actually like things loud. So one of my main frustrations in this experiment for ear protection was how often different products left me sitting in a muffled sound bath. It’s pretty hard to dance if you can’t hear a beat, sure, but it’s even more frustrating to not be able to make out the words of the friend standing next to you at the show.
The first time I wore my Eargasm plugs was at a SoulCycle class. I’d resigned myself to having a slightly more lo-fi experience than usual, where I’d be able to hear the music but wouldn’t be able to feel the music. My apprehension was unwarranted. The soundtrack still came through crystal clear, but what used to feel like an ocean’s worth of vibrating pressure had been lifted. I’ve since worn them at several more workouts, plus two shows (one in a perfectly tuned concert hall, the other in a bar that was decidedly less so), and I haven’t missed a beat, from the stage or those around me. And I certainly haven’t missed how sensitive my ears used to feel for the hours following such events.
They’re hard to lose.
I’m just going to come out and say it: It’s really easy to lose an earplug. I mean, shit, look at them! They’re small and loose and there’s two of them! In the most extreme circumstances, they go missing outside your tent at a music festival, lost to the campground gods forever. But the everyday is just as threatening: purses, pockets, wallets, et al. have all been known to renege on their duty to keep things safe and contained and, as such, one or both earplugs is very easy to misplace. (A single earplug serves absolutely no purpose.) Eargasm’s earplugs come in an aluminum case that twists closed, meaning one can’t slip out unnoticed, with a pretty handy ring that’s easy enough to add to your key ring. Is it the most stylish carrying case known to man? No. Does it work? Absolutely. No one said ear health was sexy. You’ve just got to get on with it.