“The sound experience isn’t as good” and “I can’t hear other people talk that well” are the most commonly used excuses not to wear hearing protection. These excuses are usually quite justified, because the closing or narrowing of the ear canal generally results in extreme damping of high frequencies and little damping of low frequencies. This is similar to what you hear when you approach a festival site; in the distance you can only hear the bass and as you walk closer to the stage, the high frequencies are more audible.
Fortunately, the last few years the world of hearing protection has not stood still and the offering of earplugs with filters has increased significantly. But lots of manufacturers assure a natural sound damping and can’t live up to this. With the greatest ease they promise a “flat attenuation”, so you can safely enjoy the music close to the stage and at the same time have a conversation with someone. But in fact, only a few manufacturers offer solutions with a real flat attenuation. These products never cost less than 10 euros in case of generic hearing protection. And in case of custom earmoulds the price will seldom be lower than 125 euros.
How can you be sure whether your hearing protection provides a flat and natural damping? Check the certification data that should be sold with every earplug. If you can’t find this data, something’s not all right and you probably have a product that is not certified as hearing protection. While checking the certification, you can see how much the filter dampens at all frequencies to 8kHz. Most earplugs dampen a lot of high frequencies and not a lot of low frequencies. In these cases, sounds will be unnatural and speech intelligibility will be bad. The more equal the damping at all frequencies, the more natural the sound experience. Would you like to know what such graphics look like? Just check out the picture with this article, the damping graphics of the Dynamic Ear Company’s DM filters; the Pro Music Series. You’ll probably never encounter a flatter damping than this… we wish you lots of listening fun!