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Musician earplugs (again)

Posted By: RealPlayer

Musician earplugs (again) - 03/01/13 07:08 PM

I'm not a tech, but since subject has been discussed here before, I thought to ask here.

Until I can afford to replace my rock-hard hammers, I want to practice using earplugs. Maybe you can advise me about fit.

The problem is, I like to work in c. 20-minute intervals. I think it would be a pain to remove and insert earplugs throughout the day. So my question is:

Can one buy a set of headphones that really work like earplugs? (Easy on and off)?


Once the earplugs are in, being musician's earplugs, can you just keep them in and still hear everything you need to hear in the outside world when you're not practicing?

Posted By: beethoven986

Re: Musician earplugs (again) - 03/01/13 08:29 PM

Just get a pair of Etymotic ER20s. They're like $12 and do the job very well; I used them in practice rooms at school, I use them when I tune, and I use them when I go to bars or when I'm in other loud environments. While you should be able to hear most things with them in your ears, you will look silly. And, I will go out on a limb and say that having to take out ear plugs every 20 minutes, in the grand scheme of things, isn't that much of an inconvenience. Sheesh.

Also, while the notion of replacing "rock hard hammers" is nice, it definitely isn't necessary to achieve a different sound. Yes, your technician will probably hate you for asking (I would), but you can have your hammers voiced down quite substantially, and it will be cheaper than replacing hammers.
Posted By: Zeno Wood

Re: Musician earplugs (again) - 03/01/13 08:34 PM

Most times, the Etymotic earplugs come with a string, so you connect the plugs with the string over your shoulders and the back of the neck. When you take out the plugs, just let them dangle.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Musician earplugs (again) - 03/01/13 08:35 PM

I have a pair of these that I like quite a bit.

Posted By: wouter79

Re: Musician earplugs (again) - 03/01/13 08:51 PM

I switched from the cheap earplugs and noise headset to the custom made ones with LINEAR damping. The problem with the cheaps is that the damping is not linear and that your playing sounds funny. That makes it hard to balance the hands properly and to voice chords properly. Also they often dampen too much, making it hard to impossible to hear yourself when playing soft.

you may check this

and the ER15 filter whcih is most linear

These custom plugs are made to match the exact shape of your ear and fit like a tailor made suit. Yet after a little practice they are not so hard to get in and out, takes about 10 seconds.
Posted By: RonTuner

Re: Musician earplugs (again) - 03/01/13 08:59 PM

Hey Joe - those $20 ones from etymotic are the way to go. Even the guitar centers have them now. Flat response, with a little stem that makes them easy to pull out and put in. Or, just leave 'em in, it's kindof like being at the beach with sunglasses and then walking inside, you can still see, it's just muted a bit...


There are two sizes, blue is for smaller ear canals- I have a custom pair as well, but prefer the off the shelf kind for fit and sound.

Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Musician earplugs (again) - 03/01/13 09:43 PM

Originally Posted by malkin

Best set I have ever owned so I purchased another pair. Great for attending sporting events too. Stadiums can have excessive and unhealthy decibel levels.
Posted By: Kent Swafford

Re: Musician earplugs (again) - 03/01/13 10:16 PM

Why worry about taking them on and off? I carry Etymotics everywhere I go, just a tiny carrying case with 2 plugs in a pocket. It's a habit. I put them on and take them off several times a day. Hardly even think about it anymore. Wouldn't tune, or drive, or listen to loud music without them.
Posted By: Withindale

Re: Musician earplugs (again) - 03/01/13 10:30 PM

Earplugs like Etymotic ER-15 Musician's Earplugs have a good attenuation profile for a piano with hard hammers:

[Linked Image]

They cut down the unwanted higher overtones and leave the rest at pretty much the same relative levels.

To get an idea of the effect on Mason & Hamlin sound try listening to this with and without (any old) earplugs.
Posted By: RealPlayer

Re: Musician earplugs (again) - 03/02/13 12:28 AM

Thanks for all of these replies!

The reason I was concerned about taking plugs in and out repeatedly is because I am used to the very basic foam ones: stick one in your ear, WAIT 30 seconds for it to expand, repeat with other ear. That gets old when done several times a day.

Does not seem to be a problem with these more exotic ones.

Also interested in the headphone style...will look into all of these ideas more fully.

It is a Mason CC -- you can imagine what sound level it is capable of. I know the hammers need replacement, as they were overlacquered 10 years ago. They were fine for a long time, but now they've reached a point of no return.

I really appreciate any and all of your help!
Posted By: malkin

Re: Musician earplugs (again) - 03/02/13 01:43 AM

The foam ones are much slower to insert than the flange-ey ones. I think the foam ones are not as comfortable, but I still use them quite often too.

I also have earplugs from Alpine Hearing Protection.
Posted By: chopin_r_us

Re: Musician earplugs (again) - 03/02/13 07:09 AM

Er.., you couldn't play softer??

I voiced my own (blood on the felts to prove it). I chose the one hammer that sounded nice and copied the tone - it worked a treat. Sadly the piano went to the dump last week.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Musician earplugs (again) - 03/02/13 02:53 PM

Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Er.., you couldn't play softer??

For me it is a problem with my hearing, and I need to reduce my exposure to sound. And I still need to practice an appropriate dynamic range.
Posted By: chuck belknap

Re: Musician earplugs (again) - 03/02/13 09:47 PM

I don't know if I could tune without the Etymotics around my neck. I hear partials sooo much easier, and if I want to pound a little harder, I just stick them further in my ear. Playing softer, I can partially pull them out. They are wonderful, and I feel that they will increase my productive years. I also wear them when I teach beginning band. If they can make that more tolerable, they will certainly help you.

Posted By: terminaldegree

Re: Musician earplugs (again) - 03/02/13 10:25 PM

Chalk me up as another who uses the Etymotic ones. Not uncomfortable, and nice to have on-hand when going to the movies and rehearsing with sopranos and trumpet players in my small office. Tried another brand, Alpine Music Safe plugs as well, and thought they isolated a little too much and didn't fit my ears as well - gave them to my piano technician to try out (don't know if he uses them or not).
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