Hearing protection comes in different shapes and sizes. From foam to silicone material, generic to custom fit, and solid plugs versus filtered, the amount of choice can make the purchase decision difficult. People are becoming increasingly aware that they need to protect their ears if exposed to loud noises and the effects on their hearing if they do not. But when it comes to purchasing the pair that is right for you, it can become confusing.
In this blog we are focussing on an important feature of protection earplugs – filters. What they are, the different types and their properties. As a result, it should help you take control of protecting your hearing and make an informed choice on which type of filtered hearing protection is the best for you.
What is a filter?
A filter is designed to reduce sound. They come in different decibel (dB) ratings, and will reduce noise by the amount of their decibel (dB) rating. The higher the dB number, the quieter the sound will be reaching your ears. In Snugs world, we have a range of filters from 5dB to 30dB, all of which can suit different individual needs.
Interestingly, every 3dB increase in sound is double the loudness as decibels work on a Logarithmic scale. That is to say the table isn’t linear as it increases like multiplication tables from schools days. So noise gets louder, and more damaging, very quickly!
Filters are attenuated. The term ‘attenuation’ is the process of making sound less or weaker. Some specialised filter types that are listed below offer different types of attenuation depending on their job. As they all work differently, it is important to pick the right one for you.
Music filters are for acoustic music and audio. Their flat attenuation ensures that all frequencies across the range (bass, middle and treble) are lowered equally, so they do not alter or distort the sound. This type of filter is used by professional musicians, such as a drummer in a band, to protect their hearing. If you have the chance, watch the movie ‘Sound of Metal’ on Amazon Prime, which highlights the worse case outcome of playing the drums and not protecting your ears, particularly when on-stage performing – it’s loud! The film shows how it started with ringing in his ears (Tinnitus) and ended in complete loss of hearing. For someone working in this industry, loss of an essential tool – your ears – has a profound impact on life and ability to do what you love. After all, once you lose your hearing, you cannot get it back. Which makes the use of filtered hearing protection all the more important.
Work filters are designed to soften and lower loud, damaging noise. Most damaging sounds are at a higher frequency, so they lower the sound intensity at the higher frequencies more than at lower (bass) frequencies. They do not offer flat attenuation like Music protection filters, but are shifted to attenuate at higher (treble) frequencies – essentially to cutoff these higher frequencies so they are not as loud.
This type of filtered protection is common in the industrial work place to meet health and safety work standards, as legally you must use protection if exposed to noise over 85dB. They are also suited to those who like to do DIY and gardening, which involves working with loud machinery.
When shooting a gun or standing near fireworks, this explosion of sound has the effect of generating a very high sound impulse signal. Therefore, the filter needs to remove these short burst impulses (phases). In those cases. you are not as concerned about the sound distortion from an acoustic music perspective, you just need the sound blocked for the very short period of that gun firing or explosion event. Therefore, our shooting protection have a special ‘impulse’ filter.
I’m Young – No Need for Hearing Protection?
It is a given fact that human hearing can degrade over time. According to Johns Hopkins University, hearing loss can affect one in three adults over 65 years of age. Protecting our hearing now for later years is a wise step. Simply put, give your long-term hearing health a boost, protecting yourself from intense traffic sounds, heavy bass, very loud speakers and other high intensity soundwaves. Use hearing protection to try to isolate or cut the levels that can cause irreparable damage to our hearing. It’s a simple low impact health project to reduce some levels of sound rumble in our lives, this can be as simple as turning the volume down that can have a long term benefit.
SnugsShield Filtered hearing protection range
All Snugs filters are made by Digital Equipment Company (DEC) to the highest quality and are fully CE certified. They consist of a patented membrane that allows some sound through but at a lower level of intensity. The tighter the membrane the less sound penetrates.
The membrane is waterproof – so small that water particles will not pass through, making them waterproof. It is also air permeable, which means air particles can pass through and hence equalise pressure and ventilate the inner ear canal. This is most noticeable on an airplane when ascending/descending and you experience changes in altitude.
SnugsShield hearing protection have the following filter choices:
- Music Acoustic filter – this is 20dB Pro Flat attenuation
- Industry – dampening filter for very loud noise – 30dB rating
- Shooting – specialised filter for shooting noise – 19dB impulse filter
- Motorsport – under-helmet filter for wind noise
You can read more on the Shield range and order here
The different dB filters in our SnugsShield products are included as standard, and offer the most suitable level of protection for the different use-case scenarios. However, the filters are interchangeable and if you would like a different dB filter to put into your Snugs, you can order spares on the replacement page here, where we have a full range of different dB rated filters available. The beauty of this is you only need one pair of earplugs, and you can change the filters depending on what level of protection you need.
Other benefits of using SnugsShield Hearing Protection:
- Custom fit to your ear shape and size to offer a supreme level of comfort compared to an off the shelf generic earplug. You wouldn’t even notice they were there when partying at a music gig, and great for the workplace as it reduces the number of staff removing them from their ears due to discomfort
- Maximum protection – custom fit means made to measure, which offers the perfect in-ear seal. This provides maximum noise isolation and so protection for your ears
- Washable – made from a hypoallergenic silicone which is easy to keep clean, making them hygienic and reducing chances of ear infection
- Environmental benefits – as they are reusable, they can last you a lifetime. Much better for the planet than using disposable earplugs
- Personalised – we offer a number of different colours, including glitters, allowing you to create a pair personalised to your taste. You may even wish to have a spare set in a different colour