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STEP 1 AN INTRODUCTION ON CHOOSING THE RIGHT EARPLUG.

 

Hello, my name is Glenn Hood, I am the founder and CEO of Big Ear. I want to welcome you to the website and give you an overview of what we do to ensure you get what you are looking for. Most likely you did not intend to wake up this morning with the intent to buy earplugs. I know because that is what happened to me. One day I woke up with ringing in my ears and I was desperate to do something to remedy my pain, so I began searching for anything. Through this process, I realized that my hearing was getting worse and I was slowly having a harder and harder time hearing my family when they were talking to me. After a long, frustrating process of educating myself on the effects of hearing loss and what products in the market serve what purpose, I came across custom earplugs. And In 2003 I began my foray into the hearing protection industry when it was not cool to protect your hearing. Over the years we have met and served more than 250,000 customers at over  500 events all over the world. In this process, I made a pact with myself that I would make the process of understanding earplugs and hearing damage and how both interacted easy to understand for those who will come after me. The year is 2018, and after 15 years of educating myself, I believe that now is the best time to share what we have learned with not only my customers but the general public to get each person get the exact best earplug for their situation whether it is ours or not.

So without any further preamble allow us to guide you through the jungle of earplugs and hearing conservation and get you where you need to go.

STEP 2: LET’S BEGIN UNDERSTANDING EARPLUGS

Most Earplug websites out there are simply attempting to move product separate you from your money and move on to the next person. In a world where you can have anything delivered to your door with 2-day delivery how can you blame them? However, in the hearing protection market more goes into purchasing hearing protection than how pretty the product looks. In our world words like NRR, dB, SNR, and Noise canceling are thrown around lightly, and most companies expect you to know what they are talking about. This is one the biggest problem in our industry and we want to remedy this by providing you with information that is easily understood. It is our mission to allow you to exit this site with the general idea of which form of hearing protection will be right for you as an individual. A great place to start like always is with the beginning to lay a groundwork of knowledge that you can either use as a refresher course or if you have no prior experience as a foundation to construct your understanding upon.

STEP 3: THE BASICS OF EARPLUGS

Earplugs. Defined by Merriam Webster as a device of pliable material for insertion into the outer opening of the ear (as to keep out water or deaden sound) I told you we were starting with the basics,  most will agree on the fact that earplugs have a long and storied past that involve innovation and refinement. Beginning with the stories of Odysseus using beeswax to protect his men from the sirens songs, and then in the 1900’s Max Negwer’s company Ohropax creating the first wax earplug. Then Max and Cecilia Benner who brought early Moldable Clay and silicone earplugs to the market who were soon followed by the National Research Center (NRC) by Ross Gardner Jr with EAR (Energy Absorption Resin). And this laid the foundation for what we use today for custom molded earplugs are made out of an altered polyvinyl siloxane.  All of these are viable options, and most of today’s technologies mirror what was invented many years ago. Understanding the evolution of earplugs is essential in understanding hearing protection because having a grasp on the basics will get you in a pair of the right earplugs faster.

STEP 4: KNOW YOURSELF

We now turn from history lesson into self-analysis. In our world today with educated customers we understand that you have hundreds if not thousands of options to purchase your hearing protection from. However, what we can offer is a resource on the current market of ear plugs and what they do. We now ask you to ask yourself why you are here and begin to build your individual profile accordingly as we explain what the earplug market offers.

STEP 5: THE FOAMIES WAXIES AND PUTTIES

We will begin with the most well-known product in the personal hearing protection market the roll and stick plug. If you are in need of a more in-depth analysis here is a link to a wonderful page that will give you specs and review of the best foam wax and putty earplugs on the market.       

As you read the article the foam, wax and putty earplugs are the answer for many as they provide an easy to use disposable material that you roll and stick and get on with your day. But what about those of us who either have ears that are too small, find irritation with roll and forget ear plugs, or are after more efficient hearing protection or frequency reductions. This leads us to the next primary market for personal hearing protection.

STEP 6: THE GENERIC TECH EAR PLUGS

We now step into the future of hearing protection. With names like high fidelity, high definition or noise canceling we would not slight you for thinking that these names are a bit misleading as most can be linked to the television market and camera and camcorder markets, we believe they are incredibly misleading as well. But what companies who sell these mean by saying HD, High Fidelity, or Noise canceling is bringing the sound down by a certain level and allowing the rest of the music to enter through the thin earplug material. If you peruse the internet in search of what high fidelity, Hd or noise canceling means most websites have an excellent way of saying a lot and nothing in the same sentence. However, these products seek to reduce unwanted sound externally and allow the user to listen to their headphones or headsets at a lower more isolated environment. Or to have reduced noise in a specific noisy environment and still be able to hear particular levels of sounds a flat attenuation earplug like grandmas screen door, the more layers you add to the door the more sound it blocks out. It blocks out all frequencies equally how do you get high fidelity while blocking out sound, its a misnomer. Phew now digest that and move on to the next step.

STEP 7: THE WORKHORSES

These are the blue-collar earplugs, the type of earplug that you want with you when you ride into battle. They are the filtered and non-filtered earplugs that allow employees in large-scale industrial facilities and manufacturing plants to protect themselves at all times but still be connected to the world around them. In this market, you will find products that range from the universal 3m foamy plug to perforated(Ear Plugs with Holes) and filtered ear plugs that have holes that can be plugged to protect in loud environments.  These products are for the most rugged individuals and those who work in extremely loud and uncomfortable working conditions, however for musicians and those who become sound sensitive these products work great as well. This leads us to our next category.

Step 8: MUSICIAN EARPLUGS

In the world of musicians, the choice of products to protect and provide superior sound and clarity while performing or practicing is all over the map. With products that range from vented plugs to high fidelity plugs and musician transducers. The choice of a product varies from musician to musician. In our world, a general rule of thumb is to narrow down your choice of protection based upon first your interest in music whether you are a weekend warrior or a dedicated musician with a world tour ahead of you will have an immediate effect on the product you purchase. And another factor that contributes to your choice of hearing protection is your budget and what you are willing to spend on hearing protection.

Step 9: Transducers and Speakers

In the world of custom hearing protection (earplugs), and musician hearing protection, the transducer is the big dog. The transducer is the power behind our products and literally the music to our ears. However, in the world of generic headphones speakers rock the block and can provide you with what you need. The key word here is application and intended use. If you haven’t caught on yet, the common trend of this article is that hearing protection is subjective and what works wonders for some may be absolutely wrong for others. With transducers vs. Speakers, the subjectivity is the same however what I can guarantee is both will give you music out of the hole and into your ear. What the difference lies in the way sound is moved, a speaker uses air to move sound, and a transducer can be sealed and move sound through electromechanical mechanisms. This applies directly to hearing conservation and why companies such as ourselves use transducers as opposed to speakers to ensure that users of our products are effectively protecting their hearing. However, if you are interested in merely using headphones and do not wish to protect your ears, speakers will be sufficient.

Step 10: Custom Hearing Protection

We finally step into our wheelhouse. I will attempt to separate myself and give an entirely unbiased assessment of the custom hearing protection marketplace :) In the custom, hearing protection market innovation happens at light speed. The market lines up directly with the tech market and products and services innovate and change on a daily basis. Many enter but few who are mainstays in this world as the process to have an ear impression made is cumbersome and non-direct. However what you do receive when deciding to leap custom hearing protection is unmatched on the market as every product when crafted correctly creates a dynamic fit for the user’s ear that cannot be replicated by the squish and forget style plugs. With custom, you have a personal, handcrafted model that delivers unmatched quality and protection. The other arena where custom earplugs shine is in the market of in-ear custom stereo ear plugs for your music or communication purposes. Custom Intra ear products create a seal and provide hearing protection all while more efficiently delivering your music through the use of transducers. The final product is unmatched on the market and something that we as unattached motorcycle riders adventurers and world travelers choose to use. But DO NOT take my word for this. What I have provided for you is a list of all of the products available on the market. Do as all great explorers scientists and adventurers do try them all. Get a feel for what works for you and decide to purchase what is the correct product that makes your life a little easier.  I hope this article has given you a solid base of knowledge that you will take forward into your earplug purchasing endeavors.

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