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Lifewire / Jason Schneider
Decent sound block
Prone to getting dirty
No size customization
The EarDial are great earplugs for the money, especially if having a low profile design is top of your list.
The EarDial HiFi Earplugs are a pretty well-engineered product for something you might otherwise think is really simple. Earplugs are, on the surface, just small little blobs of material that you use to plug your ears, so you might not think there’s that much that goes into it. But considering how important it is to protect your ears when going into loud environments like woodworking, live music concerts, etc., it’s nice that EarDial has taken the time to put some science behind the design.
The other reason for this is because often, with traditional foam earplugs, you sacrifice a well-rounded sound spectrum in lieu of safe decibel levels. This can lead to a muffled, sometimes bass-heavy experience at a concert. EarDial’s plugs aim to more accurately dampen the sound with a more true-to-life spectrum. We spent a week with our pair, testing them in everyday life, during sleep hours, and even at a loud concert.
Beyond the sound spectrum engineering (we’ll get to that in the performance section), the number one thing that EarDial puts in its marketing materials is the low profile look of the HiFi plugs. This can be nice, especially if you’re planning on wearing the earplugs in public at a concert, because once you put them in your ear, they’re very hard for anyone else to see—it made it really tricky to take a good picture of the earplugs once they were put in someone’s ears.
They’re entirely clear, and most of the build is made up of a two-tiered, cone-shaped form. It almost looks like a mini chocolate fountain. There is a very small rubber fin sticking out the back that makes it easier to insert them in your ears, but otherwise, these are among the smallest earplugs we’ve tested. They are less than an inch long each, and just over half an inch wide. The case itself isn’t much bigger about an inch and a half long, too. This all contributes to the “stay out of the way” mindset that EarDial has taken in the approach of the earplug design here. It’s a refreshing approach when you consider just how silly those bright orange foam plugs can look.
One of the most important features for earplugs is how comfortable they are to wear. This is similar to earbud-style headphones, but is perhaps more important in this case, especially if you plan to use the earplugs to block outside noise when trying to sleep. The HiFi earplugs from EarDial definitely offer a soft, cozy build. This tends to detract a little from the durability, but once you put them into your ear, you’ll hardly notice they’re in there.
They’re built of soft, hypoallergenic silicone (though, to be fair, all medical-grade silicone is hypoallergenic), which means it shouldn't irritate most wearers’ ear canals and will sit, and shape nicely to your ears. We were able to wear these comfortably for long concerts and for sleep, and because they don’t stick out of your ear that much, they don’t interfere with bedding when lying down. In fact, the only better fit you’d find is if you got custom-molded earplugs.
They’re built of soft, hypoallergenic silicone (though, to be fair, all medical-grade silicone is hypoallergenic), which means it shouldn't irritate most wearers’ ear canals and will sit, and shape nicely to your ears.
The flipside of the comfort coin is the durability offered by soft material. If you’re putting such a premium on comfort, then the material kind of has to be soft, which means it won’t be as durable as something more rigid. In our week with these, we didn’t notice any damage, even after stuffing them in our pocket, pulling them in and out of our ears, and the like.
This is possible thanks to the sturdy-feeling keychain carrying case that comes with the earplugs, so as long as you make sure to store them there, you should be fine. We’d guess that after a long time owning plugs like these, some parts of the build might start to wear away, such as the small pull tab on the edge, so we recommend being careful. What’s nice is, because they’re clear silicone, they should be easy to clean in the long term.
One final note: EarDial claims they’ve included “earwax protection” to keep the filter unobstructed, but they give no other information on this point. We think this is mostly marketing speak, as we did find a bit of buildup in the earwax department.
Obviously the main purpose of an earplug is to make the sound around you quieter, and to be honest, most earplugs do this pretty well—even the bulky foam ones you'll find at hardware stores. What these budget earplugs don’t do well, however, is maintain the integrity of the sound spectrum. Instead, they muffle most of the mids and leave muddy bass peeking through. EarDial has aimed to fix this by employing lab-tested filters (housed in the central cylinder) that will help to flatten that sound spectrum a bit. In our tests, this held true—when we wore these earplugs at most concerts it felt like we just turned the master volume down. This didn’t work so well with particularly complex sound spectrums, like heavy conversations or crowd noise, but it worked great for musical purposes.
We’d guess that after a long time owning plugs like these, some parts of the build might start to wear away, such as the small pull tab on the edge, so we recommend being careful.
On paper, these earplugs promise to drop the volume about 11 dB, which is helpful, because most concerts tend to break 100 dB of volume—a sound level you really shouldn’t be present in for more than 20 minutes. Lowering that by 11 dB will give you a bit more time, and won’t cause the same levels of hearing damage as not wearing earplugs. And all of this doesn't have to come at the expense of the sound quality itself.
As far as earplugs in this price point go, this is actually a pretty simple package. You’ll get the two earplugs of course, and you’ll get a really sturdy aluminum case that also has a lobster-style keychain clip on it. You aren’t getting multiple size tips, or different style filters like some of the other high-dollar plugs, but because these are so soft and easy to fit into your ears, we don’t think this is a huge deal. EarDial has included an interesting mobile app here, though. Some earplugs, in our opinion, tend to lean too far in the technical gimmick direction, especially ones from companies like Bose. These aim to help you adjust the amount of noise isolation using apps, active noise-cancelling tech, and even adjustable filters.
The app will display the dB level, but it will also tell you exactly how long you can stay in that area without notable permanent hearing damage. permanent hearing damage.
In most cases, these gimmicks don’t work. EarDial has, instead, included a very simple decibel meter app that uses your phone’s microphone to try to read the noise level of the room your end. This is really helpful because, in medium-volume spaces, you might not actually know that the volume is too loud for you. The app will display the dB level, but it will also tell you exactly how long you can stay in that area without notable permanent hearing damage. This is a really nice, simple companion to the package that helped us a few times to decide whether we should be wearing plugs at all.
On a per-earplug basis, the foam earplugs you can purchase in larger quantities tend to cost nickels, rather than dollars. These EarDial earplugs typically cost just under $30. That might sound like a lot for something that blocks sound, but what you're getting is a beautiful sound-isolating experience. The comfort level is befitting of the price tag, too, and it’s even nice to have the added bonus of a handy dB reader app to go with it. We are a little concerned about the durability of the rubber in the long-term (though it’s worth noting that EarDial promises the elasticity will afford a good degree of durability). But, if you want something that puts sound quality and comfort first, then this is probably worth the money.
Loop Earplugs (View on Amazon): This little-known option forgoes the tiny pull tab for some handier, grippier loops. These won’t be as low-profile, but they do seem more durable.
Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs (View on Amazon): The slightly more premium Eargasm plugs give you multiple sizes, a sturdier case, and slightly better sound-blocking tech for your extra money.
Vibes High Fidelity Earplugs (View on Walmart): With a bunch of different tips, and a much more earbud-like form factor, these are an entirely different wearing experience.
Premium earplugs with a price that matches.
Overall, you need to be in the market for premium earplugs to even be considering something at this price point. That might be the case if you attend a lot of concerts and want comfortable earplugs that won’t overtly muddy up the quality of the sound you’re listening to. If you are in the market, these earplugs are actually a really great purchase, one that will work great for concert-going in particular. But they might be too pricey if you just need the occasional hearing protection.