This is not a paid endorsement - I’m just a huge fan!
When it comes to hearing protection while tuning, I use the Musicians Earplugs™ from Etymōtic Research. These plugs are custom made to fit your ear canals, so you’ll have to visit a hearing professional who can make a mold of your ears. I find these soft plugs are comfortable to wear all day, or when I sleep. They come in handy in restaurants, movie theaters, concerts, and airplanes, so I carry them everywhere.
The earplugs have a recessed space for the filters that come in 3 different attenuation levels: 9dB, 15dB, and 25dB. I use the 15dB filters and have no difficulty hearing the lowest bass and highest treble frequencies of the piano. The ER filters reduce the intensity of sound without masking color and tone. Having trouble deciding which filter will work best for you? Talk to your audiologist, and visit etymotic.com for more information.
The Musicians Earplugs™ are an essential part of my work, but they aren’t cheap. When I bought my plugs in 2006, I paid about $300 total for the appointment, plugs, and filters. Aside from having to replace a filter that I smashed in an upright lid some years ago, my original earplugs are still going strong. Less expensive earplugs may change shape over time. The custom-fit earplugs are designed for years of repeated use.
Some technicians report liking other hearing protection, so do your research. Although I’ve never used them, the ER·20® XS High-Fidelity Earplugs look like a good inexpensive set. No matter what, using a quality pair of earplugs will reduce aural fatigue and potential hearing loss.
To clean your Musicians Earplugs™, remove the filters and use soap and water only. Allow them to dry completely before inserting the filters.
Kate Redding, RPT