One of the most important things to do, as a musician, is to protect your hearing. Taiko is definitely no exception, given how loud the drums can be, especially in a room with over 30 drummers, but it’s also important to be able to hear the music so that we can sound our best. The cheap foam ear plugs give good protection, but also block out the subtleties of sound that you need to hear in order to make music. For many years I’ve been using the etymotic er20. They’re affordable (about $12 per pair) and still let you hear the sound and voices clearly, but with them it is sometimes hard to know that you have them in right and I was worried they weren’t giving enough protection, so I decided to take a chance on a $40-$50 pair of ear plugs, the Earasers.
When I first got them, I was very pleased with the design and the feel of the ear plug, but I was concerned that they had less attenuation in the lower frequencies than the ER20s. Having paid $40, I was a little unhappy, so I phoned them up, and I’m so glad I did. This company’s customer service is great. They spent a long time with me talking about my needs and talking to me about how they designed the ear plugs that way to better let through speech and other musical sounds. I explained that I already had mild tinnitus in that range and that I knew I needed more protection. They then handed me to the head of the company who, after being perfectly happy to discuss attenuation, how they created their graphs, and a little bit about statistics on their tests, said he would send me one of their not yet for sale pairs with a much stronger filter. When it arrived, I gave it a try.
They’re very comfortable. They’re a little harder to get in than the ER20s, but it is much easier to tell when they are in correctly. Once in, they almost disappear in the ear. I had a bit of difficulty at first when they would lose their seal if I smiled or opened my mouth, but I found that if I gave them one last little twist at the end of putting them in, this made the problem go away.
I still haven’t properly tested how much attenuation they give me, at each frequency nor have I looked at the frequency break down of the sound in the dojo, but given how amazing the company was, I wanted to get word out, especially because they are so willing to work with customers. These earplugs are designed to be an intermediate between inexpensive plugs like the ER20s and professional, custom molded ear plugs which run in the hundreds of dollars. They’re quite comfortable and I’ve already grown to love them. I do want to get them properly tested to make sure they are protecting me sufficiently, but given the company’s dedication, I have great hopes for these amazing ear plugs.