These Noise-Reducing Earplugs Will Give You Some Much-Needed Peace & Quiet
by Andrea Hannah

Whether you're traveling or trying to catch a cat nap, relaxing in a loud place can be almost impossible. Luckily, the best earplugs for noise reduction can block out background sound while still offering maximum comfort.

The key to picking out a pair that will work for you is to consider the materials they're made from. Foam earplugs are the most popular, and with good reason — they can fit most ear sizes, are relatively cheap, and disposable. But if you prefer a pair that's a little more eco-friendly or something that slides over the ear instead of inside, consider plugs made of durable silicone.

Another factor to consider is the plugs' noise reduction rating, or NRR. Each set of earplugs has an NRR measured in decibels, or dB, and that rating can range from 20 to 34. The higher the number, the more effective the plugs are at blocking out extremely loud noises. While it may seem best to opt for something with a high rating, you'll want to consider when and where you're planning on using your earplugs. For example, if you want to pop them in on an airplane, it may make more sense to buy a pair with a slightly lower decibel rating so you can still hear the flight attendants or people around you.

Foam or silicone? Inserts or over-the-ear? To narrow the options, here's a list of the best earplugs for noise reduction out there to help you get some peace and quiet.


Best For Blocking Out Some (But Not All) Noise

When it comes to reducing noise without blocking out all sound, these super soft earplugs hit all the right marks. Made with non-toxic silicone, they come with two different sized shells so you can get the perfect fit for the size and shape of your ear. And there's no need to worry about adjusting these and then pitching them because these plugs are designed for long-term use. While at first glance the 21-decibel NRR rating may seem a little weak, that's because these plugs are made to reduce and then evenly distribute sound through your ear canal, not totally block it out. Reviewers love these for plane and train rides in particular so they can still hear the people beside them and flight attendants, but the background noise is significantly reduced, making it way easier to enjoy the ride.


Best For Blocking Out All Noise

The NRR rating on these disposable foam earplugs is the highest possible at 34 decibels, so you can be sure you won't hear a sound whenever you pop these in. They're also soft and slow to rebound, which means you can insert them in your ear and allow them to slowly fill your ear canal with zero pain or pressure. After five days, you'll need to toss them and start fresh with a new set, but at only $13 for 60 pairs, it'll be a while before you need to buy another box. The only downside is that these earplugs aren't very eco-friendly, so if you plan on using them often, it may be best to consider a reusable pair.


The Pair With The Most Secure Fit

If your plugs or headphones tend to fall out, these hooked earplugs won't budge while you're sleeping, traveling, or enjoying a concert. The patented retention rings actually make contact with seven points on and around your ear to keep them in place, while the hypoallergenic silicone stems seal off your ear canal. These plugs also feature a unique filter cap so you can adjust the level of noise you want to hear. If you want to block out as much sound as possible, just insert the filter caps for an NRR of 24 decibels, or leave the caps off to hear more of what's going on around you. One thing to keep in mind with these plugs is they aren't very discreet, so if that bothers you, consider a set that's clear or inserts directly into the ear canal.


A Pair With A Convenient Neck Cord

At only $7 for a pack of 10, these corded earplugs are a total steal. For one, they're made of soft, hypoallergenic silicone so they can easily be washed and reused. Plus, the unique tree-shaped design allows for them to work with various ear shapes and sizes. And with a 25 NRR rating, they reduce most background noise without completely blocking out sound. On top of that, each pair is attached through a 23-inch nylon cord, so you don't have to worry about misplacing them. But like earplugs with hooks, this set is pretty noticeable as well, so keep that in mind before purchasing.


Best Smart Earplugs (Ideal For Concerts)

Made with clear, hypoallergenic silicone, these high-tech earplugs fit most ear sizes comfortably, plus they match with any skin tone and are totally discreet. These earplugs are also unique — they feature a high-fidelity sound filter so that they only block out decibels that can be harmful to your hearing, but still allow lower-pitched sounds like voices to enter your ear canal. Plus, when you load EarDial's free mobile app onto your smartphone, it approximates the sound level you're currently exposed to, for example, at a concert, and how long you can continue to listen before the sound level will start to affect your hearing! Just keep in mind there's only one set of inserts, so if you lose one, you'll have to purchase an entire set to replace it.

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