Etymotic Research ER20 ETY-Plugs Hearing Protection Earplugs


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I used to use these when working in a factory then switched to the cylindrical (not the conical ones) foamies. Found they blocked the sound better. Continued to use them when working in data centers.

what happens if you get in an accident while wearing them?

You are presuming that the ear plugs reduce awareness. If the purpose is to reduce wind noise they may actually make it easier to hear emergency-related sounds such as horns or sirens by attenuating the wind noise. Additionally, using appropriate noise attenuation reduces noise fatigue in the short term and permanent hearing loss in the long term. So, appropriate noise attenuation is actually in the interests of safety.

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I think they were more asking about the pokey thing sticking out of your ear. If you get knocked on the side of your head, will it get jammed into your eardrum or brainbone?

Something I discovered while explaining ER20’s at a programming conference: a lot of audio knowledge has drained out of our culture. Lots of young techy guys will give you a blank look if you talk about how something has flat frequency response. But if you ask them about the Fourier Transforms they studied, they will happily tell you about the frequency domain. It’s like that one Feynman story about how Brazilian science students could recite the definition of polarized light from the textbook, but couldn’t apply the knowledge to the scene outside their window – except it’s supposed young programming wunderkind in freaking Silicon Valley!


I used to have a couple pairs of the Etymotics that I got to wear to concerts, and they were ok but I found them pretty uncomfortable. I now have some Alpine Music Safe ones that are smaller and way more comfortable, and I find that they sound better as well (meaning less muffled). They even have swappable bits that let you make them a bit more or less decibel reducing.

Here’s the ones I am talking about.

The first thing I thought of was those light-up valve caps. Stick some LEDs in these things and sell them on the club scene!


No, it sort of lays down in the canal there. I do not find them any more intrusive of jabby than the earbuds with sugru I also use. I am not worried about the plugs causing more damage in hit. I may have bruised outer ear, but I can live with that.

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Yeah, but is that what they do?

Music and speech remain clear, but quieter and safer. Foam earplugs reduce the high frequencies, resulting in muffled speech and music, but ETY-Plugs provide almost equal sound reduction (20 dB) across the range of hearing

isn’t wind noise rather broad-band? not sure this will give you an advantage in the motorbike scenario.

If you reduce 90dB wind noise down to 70dB, you are still going to be able to hear emergency sounds. 20dB is a moderate reduction. Foam earplugs attenuate up to around 33dB. You aren’t trying to hear whispers or squirrel chirps, after all.

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David Hough has a great chapter in More Proficient Motorcycling about how crucial ear plugs or other noise reduction for motorcyclists. Helmets do not reduce wind noise and over the years we will lose our hearing.

TY for your comments.

Big fan for use at concerts. I also have some of their pricey headphones, but for all their cleverness with the earpieces, the thin cable to the plug picks up a lot of wind noise.

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I don’t know, there’s a HUGE difference in wind noise when I switch from a shorty half helmet to a full face one. With the full face, I might as well be riding in a car.

I have a set of these that live on my keychain. I wear them during rehearsals, or when I’m suddenly at a concert. Or on the train. I suspect that I could spend more for custom ones that sound better, but I’d rather have ones that I don’t mind loosing every so often.

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Bought these in 2010 and they are good to have at the ready when at a concert, just in case it gets too loud. They work pretty well considering the price, letting most of the sound quality through, thought you won’t hear things like the sizzle of a high hat, etc.

Now that these finally come with a cord, I would recommend them to a friend.

The military has these for pilots. They reduce most ambient noise while still allowing voices to be heard. The military ones were a soft rubber. I could sleep with my head laying sideways with them in without any issues.

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How does it tell the difference? It isn’t like wind noise travels in some special kind of air that no other sounds get to use.

I have a couple of something like these that without which I wouldn’t be able to cope with a concert.