Etymotic Music Pro Earplugs Review
January 2013 - In late 2012, Etymotic developed and released to market a new class of hearing protection. Using their knowledge of the ear and hearing from their decades of development and production of hearing aids, they have developed an active hearing protection device called the Music PRO. The overview of the technology is discussed in a prior article that can be found at http://mandetech.com/2012/11/18/etymotic-intros-new-hearing-protector-category/.
As a musician, I was given the task of testing the new hearing protection and seeing how it worked in a real working musician setting. The first observation was that the earplugs fit easily with the Accufit Eartips. For the tests, we checked both the silicone tips and the foam tips. To hold the units together during use and after they are use, there is a flexible neck cord so the units don’t fall when removed from the ear. The attachment of the neck cord was more difficult than the operation of the earplugs.
The earplugs work in three modes - off which is normal hearing, normal hearing wih a 15db sound reduction and enhanced hearing with a 9 db sound reduction. These three modes allow the units to remain in the ear all day, and they automatically work when the sound requires it. Opening and Closing the battery door turns the unit on or off. With the door open it is off, the unit does not have to be removed from the ear to open the door.
The typical use is for the first mode - normal hearing with a 15db sound reduction. In this mode, you hear everything as it happens at normal volume with no impact from the hearing protection until you get a loud sound. When a loud sound occurs, the signal is automatically reduced. Playing in a band you can hear normally in this mode, and when you head next to the drums or an amplifier, the sound reduction automatically goes into play, allowing you to still hear the music, but at safe levels.
The first observation is that there is no change in the tone of the sound coming through the earplug before the sound reduction takes place. When the sound is reduced, the two ears remain in phase and are balanced so the sound still sounds natural coming into your head. A key is the pitch of the high frequencies does not get altered dueing this sound reduction, and there is no detectable lag so the reduced sound and the through sounds come to the ear at the same time, so you do not get dizzy or queezy.
In the other setting, the gain allows for easy listening to conversation that takes place between the songs and practice. By boosting the vocal mid range, the sensitivity of the ear make it comfortable to just leave the earplugs in place and switch modes.
For a full 8 hour day, the earplugs may be a little rought on the ear, but with a break for lunch, they should be fin. The end result was that there was not ringing in the ears after, and when removed, there was not time to readjust, as the normal stuff passes through normally.
Overall a very good product for those what have no choice but to be sitting in front of the drums and amps or those setting up the front of the house sound.