Disposable plugs are placed inside the ear canal to block out noise. They are commonly made of expandable foam. One size fits most everyone. They roll up into a thin cylinder for insertion. Once they're inside your ear canal, they expand to form a good seal. Keep the plugs as clean as possible by inserting them with clean hands. Always inspect them before reinsertion. If they are damaged or dirty, throw them away.
Sound isolating earphones with universal-fit ear tips
These earphones provide considerable sound isolation to most people, therefore the volume on MP3 players may be set lower. Noise cancelling headphones are also available which do a great job of cancelling steady state noise such as on an airplane. These devices require little maintenance. The ear tips may be cleaned as needed; if they become brittle simply replace.
Custom made plugs are preformed to fit the ear
They are usually made of a flexible rubber or silicon. They may be flanged or cone-shaped and are often joined by a cord so that they're not easily lost. Reusable plugs can be worn safely for months, depending on the type. They should be replaced as soon as they become hard, torn, or deformed. Inspect and clean them often with warm soapy water. Rinse well. Store them in the case supplied by the manufacturer.
Earmuff stereo headphones
The soft plastic cushions, filled with foam or liquid, should form a good seal against noise. If you wear glasses with wide temples, you may want to choose another type of protector. If you're exposed to very loud noise, you can wear earmuffs and plugs together. Wipe the cushions clean with a damp rag when they become soiled. Check the cushions often, and replace them if they're stiff, worn, cut, or torn. Do not modify your muffs in any way.
Special purpose headsets
When communication is required with hearing protection, special-purpose earmuffs may help you understand speech from co-workers or those transmitting signals to you by radio. Advances in active noise reduction may be effective in reducing low frequency noises that can interfere with speech. Care of special-purpose earmuffs also requires that the internal electronics are maintained.
Musicians Earplugs™ are sleeves that fit in the ear canal and a removable filter to change between different levels of attenuation: 9 dB, 15 dB, or 25 dB. Musicians and music enthusiasts may prefer to use a type of earplug that is designed to match the ear’s natural response, making sound quieter but not distorted. Filters in these Musicians EarplugsTM use a diaphragm that reduces noise levels relatively equally across all frequencies. These filters can be placed in pre-formed or custom-made earplugs. While these earplugs may be washed with water and mild soap, the filter should never be exposed to water. Remove the filter before such washing. Molds should be replaced when discolored, cracked, or obviously hardened. Never use alcohol or solvents to clean the sleeves.
Custom in-ear monitor, made of a silicone material
The benefit is a consistently comfortable fit and excellent sound isolation. Musicians can also use custom in-ear monitors to hear themselves rather than through the floor "wedge" loudspeaker monitors. This results in lower levels on stage and if the earpiece is tightly sealed to the ear without venting, it can serve as a hearing protection device. Used inappropriately, however, it can be turned up to dangerous levels. A variation for the normal consumer can be obtained from hearing health professionals for simply listening to MP3 players; the devices can be made of silicone or acrylic (although silicone seals in the ear better and most often provides better sound isolation). Keep the sound ports that fit in the ear canal clear of earwax and use a “wax loop” tool to remove wax. Do not get these wet and do not use alcohol or solvents to clean the earpieces. Wipe them with a tissue and store them in a cool, dry place between use. Consider using a desiccant (moisture absorber) container if you sweat a lot during performance.