The final blog in our earplug series is all about custom protection. These types of ear plugs are made with the help of an audiologist, and offer the most personalized sound attenuation and fit.
What Makes a Custom Earplug
Customs are created just for you. An audiologist will make an earmold to send to a manufacturer, where it will then be crafted to your specifications and needs. Though the specifics depend on the consumer, most earplugs are made from a silicon, semi-flexible material that fits perfectly into your ear. If you opt for musician’s plugs, each will contain a specialized filter, designed to block out a predetermined amount of noise.
Like reusable plugs, customs come in a few different varieties:
1. Sleep earplugs. These are your everyday types, designed to attenuate a level of noise to help you sleep at night, or travel during the day.
2. Musician’s earplugs. The main difference between these and your baseline plugs are the attenuation levels. Musician’s earplugs tend to preserve the relationship between high and low frequencies, to help you distinguish between different tones.
3. Sport earplugs. Varieties include:
- Hunter’s plugs. Some brands resemble hearing aids that amplify the sound of your surroundings, only clamping down in the presence of loud noise.
- Swimming ear plugs, used not for sound purposes but to seal the ear canal from water and possible infection.
Price and Upkeep
Costs usually range from $100.00 – $200.00*, so a pair is a bit of an investment. Keep in mind, though, that a good pair of custom earplugs can last anywhere from 3 to 5 years, much longer than disposables (single use) and reusables (2-3 months).
To get the most out of your money, you want to be sure to clean your plugs as often as possible. Use a little bit of water and a microfiber cloth or a specialized wipe your audiologist can provide. It’s best not to use alcohol or alcohol swabs.
Process of Making Customs
As we stated above, an audiologist will make an earmold. They will first examine your canal for wax, which they will clear out if necessary. Then they will inject a soft putty into your ear, which will take the shape of your canal as it hardens. Once the putty is removed, a history is taken, questions about specifications are asked, and then everything is sent to the manufacturer who will make the plugs and mail them back to your audiologist, who will make sure the fit is perfect.
For specifics and questions, don’t hesitate to ask your audiologist. They will be more than happy to walk you through your choices.
*Plugs for hunters, due to the mix of amplification technology and noise protection, will run a lot more.