Anyone who’s ever been to a Motorhead concert (RIP Lemmy) will tell you that, aside from being a truly awesome experience, it does have the potential to do your hearing some damage, temporarily at least. The question is though, which actually provides the better protection for your ears, in ear plugs, or ear defenders worn on the outside of the head?
Well, take a look at the specs on any typical pair of hear plugs and ear defenders and you’ll see that the sound dampening they offer isn’t all that different – somewhere around 26dB to 28dB reduction is typical. However if you were to actually compare the two, you would most likely notice that the ear defenders seem to cut down the sound to a far greater degree.
What is going on here?
Well as it turns out ear defender manufacturers are surprisingly coy when it comes their product specifications. Ear defenders do a far better job of cancelling out higher frequencies than ear plugs, and do so go above and beyond their rated noise reduction specification. At around 4000 Hz ear defenders will typically reduce 40dB, much greater than the advertised 26dB or so.
So when at all possible our recommendation would be ear defenders over ear plugs, although that might get you one or two funny looks at the next rock concert you go to!