It seems the very things one loves to do are in some way harmful. And so it is with motorcycling. Putting aside the obvious risks, riding can cause permanent hearing loss. Something many don’t realize until lasting damage is done. Riding at highway speeds, even with a full face helmet, generates wind noise measuring over 100 decibels, a level that according to OSHA standards causes hearing damage after only 15 minutes of exposure. Earplugs offer protection and substantially reduce the risk, but finding a quality product among so many choices can feel like rolling the dice.
Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs have been a popular hearing protection choice for years. We wanted to find out just how well they work. So, we tested them over hundreds of riding miles in all kinds of conditions and speeds. We also spoke with Johana Coles, Head of Partnerships at Eargasm, to gather more information about the company and to answer our product questions.
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Like so many inventions, Eargasm earplugs were born out of necessity by Ryan Perry, a frequent concert goer, who became concerned about his hearing. Inexpensive foam earplugs helped but made the concert sound less vibrant. Ryan searched for a better earplug.
The hunt led him to build a team of audio engineers with years of experience developing hearing aid products. The team created the first mass-market acoustic earplug and began marketing their invention under the Eargasm name in 2016.
At the heart of every Eargasm earplug lies a small cylinder-shaped acoustic filter. This little device is responsible for attenuating incoming sound without distorting sound quality and frequency range. In effect, the acoustic filter turns down the volume. The silicon ear tip, albeit less technical, has the equally important role of ensuring incoming sound enters the ear canal through the filter and not around it.
Three Truths About Earplug Comfort and Fit
Regardless of what earplugs a rider may choose, they have to both fit well and be comfortable to wear for long periods. Here are three truths about earplugs and why Eargasms are a good option.
Truth Number One – Earplugs Only Work When They Fit Properly
To do their job, earplugs have to extend into the ear and then completely seal around the ear canal. Any gaps will allow noticeable sound penetration and create a sense of hearing imbalance. When properly worn, the sidetone that occurs when we speak is closed off and one’s voice seems to come from within.
Eargasms use a triple flange silicon tip design that looks something like a Christmas tree. Each ring, or flange, adapts to a part of the ear canal. Working together they form a highly effective seal. On top of that, the flange design keeps the earplugs securely positioned in the ear.
…triple-flange tips may feel like they’re excavating your ear canals, but they provide all the same benefits as bi-flange ear tips and isolate you even more from your surroundings.Sound Guys, How to Find the Right Ear Tips for You
Truth Number Two – Earplugs And Helmets Don’t Always Get Along
Anyone who has worn earbuds under a modular or full face helmet has at some point had carefully inserted earbuds pop-out when putting on their helmet. The same can happen with earplugs, particularly if they stick out past that little tab of cartilage in front of the ear canal (called the tragus).
When properly inserted, Eargasm earplugs stay in place even while putting on a helmet.
Truth Number Three – Earplugs Get Uncomfortable After a Few Hours
Ears really aren’t meant to be plugged, so it’s no surprise that after extended wear one’s ears may feel a little discomfort.
How long can earplugs be worn without causing sore ears is a question that goes straight to product design and the quality of materials used. In our testing, Eargasms remained comfortable throughout the day; and on most riding days we wore the earplugs for two to three hours at a time and at least 6 hours in all.
The real test of comfort is to see how they feel after several days of riding. There too we found that after 10 days of riding with Eargasms, we were as comfortable on the last day as on the first. The earplugs did not cause soreness around the ear canal that can sometimes happen when wearing earbuds for a long period.
The degree of comfort, like the amount of noise reduction, is a matter of finding the right ear tip size. Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs come with two ear tip sizes – standard and a smaller standard. These two sizes fit the majority of adults; (the average adult ear canal measures a little more than a quarter inch in diameter).
For those with smaller ears Eargasm sells Eargasm Smaller Ears Earplugs which include two tip sets that are each smaller than the standard sizes. This two product marketing arrangement is a bit frustrating. Most earplugs come with three tip sizes (for example Vibes) so Eargasm’s two-product strategy makes the fit decision unnecessarily difficult.
Some riders may want an even better fit than “off the shelf” tips provide. For that Eargasm offers custom earplugs. Customers download an iOS app, (no plans at this time for an android version), to create a scan of each ear canal. Eargasm then uses those measurements to make precisely shaped and fitted ear tips. The entire process takes between 5 and 7 weeks.
Eargasm for Motorcyclists
Eargasm offers a variety of earplugs, each with a different ear tip design, but all using the same acoustic filter technology. Johana Coles at Eargasm tells us they recommend the Eargasm High Fidelity Earplug for motorcycle riders. She also explained that while there are other editions and bundles, all are essentially the same product with different colors and packaging. The basic blue High Fidelity Earplugs at $42 a pair, in either standard or smaller ear sizes, are the best value for the money.
Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs and Smaller Ear Earplugs include a set of acoustic filters, two sizes of ear tips, and a metal waterproof carrying case.
Noise Reduction Rating
Eargasm earplugs have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 16 decibels based on test performed according to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This rating assures users that the earplugs reduce noise by at least 16 decibels. However, in practice under real-world conditions, Eargasms were shown to reduce noise by as much as 21 decibels.
According to Johana Coles, Michael & Associates (michaelassociates.com), a leading earplug testing facility located in Pennsylvania, tested and certified Eargasm earplugs.
How to Properly Wear Eargasm Earplugs
Using Eargasm earplugs is straightforward. Simply insert the tips into the ear canal leaving the outer end recessed behind the tragus, (again, that little tab of cartilage poking out in front of the ear canal). Use a finger to put light pressure directly on the end of the earplug and wiggle it in to ensure a secure fit.
A complete seal around the ear canal is critical for comfort and to minimize wind noise at highway speed. Properly inserting the earplugs will also ensure they don’t dislodge when putting on a helmet. It may take a couple tries at first, but with practice Eargasm earplugs are quick and easy to insert.
A simple test to know you have the correct ear tip size and your earplugs are inserted correctly is to try talking while wearing them. Your voice should sound like it’s coming from inside your head. If not, try reinserting the earplugs or pick a different ear tip size.
Warranty and Replacements
All Eargasm products, except custom products, come with a 180 day return policy. Simply send an email to customer support describing the problem or defect, along with pictures to help illustrate. We haven’t had to return a product, but Johana Coles assures us the Eargasm team will work with customers to correct any problem.
Eargasm also sells replacement acoustic filters and ear tips at prices that are less than half the cost of a complete pair. They also offer a refresher subscription program. With this program, customers receive a new pair of High Fidelity Earplugs (earplugs only, no extra tips or carrying case included) on a schedule of their choosing and at about half the cost of a new complete product.
Eargasm Earplugs Are Right for Riders
Hearing protection and helmets – both important risk reducers for motorcycle riders. Eargasm earplugs offer low cost, effective protection from wind noise while still allowing riders to remain aware of surrounding traffic. And in-helmet music, GPS instructions, and voice calls all come through clearly even at highway speed.
Eargasm has no plans to modify the acoustic filter at the heart of their products. Instead, the company is focused on expanding its application to new hearing protection scenarios.
Beyond earplugs, Eargasm is experimenting with custom earbuds and other “ear appliances”. We’re excited to see where they take these new products particularly the custom earbuds. Yes they are pricey, but wearing well fitted earbuds, listening to a favorite playlist, while riding scenic backroads is about as soul-cleansing as it gets on two wheels.
Find current pricing information for Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs and other products directly on the Eargasm website (eargasm.com).
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