These days, I wear earplugs every time I ride my motorcycle. I wear the disposable foam kind that you roll up and jam into your ear canal. It wasn’t something I was comfortable doing at first, but now I actually enjoy feeling the world tune out a bit. I went through several boxes of Mack’s Ultra Safe Sound soft foam earplugs, with a very high noise reduction rating of 32. They were great, but I became tired of replacing them every few uses and I couldn’t find them in super cheap bulk prices.
I started looking for alternatives.
I found the SilentEar reusable plugs at The Earplug Store. The SilentEars have a NRR of 32, which was a big selling point. Most reusable earplugs only have a NRR in the 20s. The SilentEars are the only reusable plugs I know of that claim 32 NRR protection.
I ordered a three pack from The Earplug Store — one of each size — and before I knew it my order had arrived. I was extremely pleased with the company’s service. I was promptly notified when the status of my order changed (charged, shipped, etc). Their prices were very competitive, and their selection vast. I’d recommend them to anyone, although I’m not sure what their shipping is like out of the CONUS.
Fit and comfort
Anyway, back to the SilentEars. They remind me of shuttlecocks from badmiton. The part that goes in your ear canal is soft and sort of shaped like a lightbulb. Unlike the foam plugs, you don’t have to roll these up: you just twist them into your ear. I found the medium-sized plugs to fit me the best, and I wore them for about an hour and a half inside the house the evening my order arrived. They were about 90% as comfortable as the Mack’s Ultra Safe Sound plugs, which are pretty comfy.
Another note — I could swear I felt the little barbs of the SilentEars brush against my helmet liner. This was disconcerting. I don’t think that there was enough friction to dislodge the SilentEars; when I removed the plugs they still felt snug in my ear canal. Still, it’s something to be aware of, especially if you have ear-based heebie jeebies.
The next day I got out on Cylon and rode one of my usual short routes. The route is about 35 miles long and covers surface streets, backroads, and highway-speed straightaways. I theoretically covered speeds from 1MPH to about 90MPH (I obey the posted limits at all times). The road was dry, and I was wearing my HJC Symax flip-up style helmet.
The SilentEars were definitely better than nothing. I’ve ridden the same route without earplugs just to see what it’s like. Without earplugs, my hearing starts to feel distressed at about 45MPH. However, they weren’t nearly up to par with my Mack’s plugs. The SilentEars cut out some of the whine of the engine and the exhaust. Wind noise hardly seemed effected; it must be at a different pitch/frequency? Eggheads, attention on Aisle Five …. The wind noise was a big issue to me, as I often ride on the highways. After my ride was complete I walked up to Lady Jaye and gave her the big thumb’s down. The SilentEars were not the droids I was looking for.
Back to the drawing board
Luckily, I ordered 200 pair of foam earplugs that were mentioned in a roundup from WebBikeWorld. I’ll review those later, but for now, the SilentEars are staying in my desk drawer.
Quiet like ninja
- Well-made and well-packaged product. Each pair comes in a screw-top plastic container with a key ring on top.
- Much more comfortable than I thought they would be, judging by the size and shape of the “lightbulb,” as well as the Conan-like insertion method.
- Decently priced, if they were a replacement for disposable plugs.
- Better than nothing.
- Definitely not as quiet as the Mack’s earplugs I am used to, of the same stated NRR rating.
- Just long enough to brush against the inside of my helmet liner when taking my helmet on or off.
- Allowed for quite a bit of wind noise to pass through.
SilentEar plugs, close but no cigar. I buzz out:
Two and a half out of five STFU mugs!