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Vibes Earplugs

A discreet design from the new brand keeps post-concert tinnitus away

by Nara Shin
on 28 March 2016

As warmer weather approaches, festival season is nigh—and there's a new brand on the block wanting to keep one of our most invaluable assets protected. Not an iPhone case, but earplugs specifically intended for live concerts. Minneapolis-based Vibes, founded by Jackson Mann, joins others like Dubs, EarPeace and Etymotic Research in providing a more usable alternative to foam earplugs. Leaning toward a more discreet look, Vibes is made from four parts (fewer parts reduces vibrations and increase durability). Its inner tube and filter reduces noise while keeping the sound as true as it can. For the audiophiles: Vibes purportedly offers 22 dB sound reduction across frequencies with a Noise Reduction Rating of 15 decibels. They also have a lower level of variance in decibel reduction compared to other brands; the range being -14db to -25db or a total variance of 11.

Tested out at a concert this past weekend at Terminal 5, the earplugs held us up from Fairground Saints' acoustic guitar set all through the screaming crowd for Carly Rae Jepsen. Vibes certainly do their job of keeping the ears protected; there wasn't a hint of ringing or temporary hearing loss as take-home show souvenirs. However, we felt compelled to pull the Vibes out for the final two songs to bask in the full CRJ experience. We'll be tweaking with inserted depth and the interchangeable ear-tip sizes (each pair comes with two additional options) to see if that helps with the slightly muffled experience—but it's also worth nothing that sometimes concertgoers don't realize how loud sound systems are and simply aren't used to the lower volume.

We especially like how Vibes' hard outer sound tube makes it easy to insert and remove and keep your grip—God forbid you drop one when you're taking them out of the case. (Speaking of, EarPeace's carabiner equipped aluminum case is useful, but we've lost a few plugs due to the lid unscrewing unintentionally while dancing.) Vibes are $24 from their webshop and Amazon. The brand has partnered with Hear the World Foundation to help fund hearing aids, surgeries or education with each purchase.

Images by Nara Shin

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