I know, I know, us metalheads like it LOUD. But be real now, you either have it loud now and become deaf someday or you’re protected now and able to enjoy music forever.
Protect your ears, metalhead!
When I started going to a lot of concerts and festivals, Pia showed me her custom-made ear protectors – like the pro she already was back then. I decided to get myself a similar pair and paid around 100 € at the hearing aid dealer in town. They made a mold of the inner of my ear with a foam like dentists make molds of teeth. The result were hollow rubber plugs with an exchangeable plastic filter that lets certain frequencies through to your ear, protecting it from the loudness and noise.
While wearing those custom-made ear plugs, Pia and I could talk normally, hearing each other perfectly, while others still screamed at us, through the noise. The same way, I had to talk louder for other people to hear me and then turn away from them, so their screams wouldn’t blow my ears off.
After happily wearing my pair of custom-made ear protectors for around five years, they began to feel uncomfortable. Before I could look into the possibility of replacing only the rubber plugs and keeping the filters I lost one of them at a THE SOUNDS concert in Brooklyn last autumn. So I started researching for an alternative, since the price for the custom-made ear protectors has gone up a bit.
“Long Live Ears” is the slogan of the UK-made ear protectors Flare Isolate, which aim to minimize the hearing loss from being exposed to very loud music or noise. I’d been following this product since its crowdfunding campaign launched and was positively surprised to have the director of Flare Audio John Banerjee on the phone telling me about this revolutionary technology after I sent an inquiry to write this review. This article is not sponsored by the brand, but they were very accommodating and happy to provide information.
This is the deal: instead of putting foam or rubber in your ears and just muffling the sound waves almost completely, Flare Audio designed a way to put a piece of metal – yes, metal – in your years, which captures the sound and transfers the vibrations to your inner ear and bones so you can hear the sound resonating from inside. The Flare Audio Website describes the technology in a nutshell:
“It just so happens that your body is very well suited to conduct these sounds at a variety of frequencies to your inner ear, the effect being the sound is reduced to a low level volume… it’s like turning the world down on the dial.”
And this is how the Flare Isolate Alunimun in red and the Flare Isolate Pro Titanium look like while #unboxing:
I have to say, my green, plastic-avoiding heart cried a little while unpacking the ear plugs, because of the many resealable plastic bags that come with each pair. In every package you’ll find:
- a pair of metal ear buds of your choosing
- ear foams in three separately packaged sizes (small, medium and large)
- a little fabric bag to carry the ear plugs
I immediately noticed a slight difference in weight, since the two pairs are made of two different metals and have two different price-tags, accordingly: a pair of Flare Isolate Aluminun is available in different colors and costs around 25 £ /29 € and a pair of the Flare Isolate Pro Titanium costs around 50 £ /57 € at the moment on the Flare Audio online store.
Long live ears, indeed!
I finally had a chance to try them out at a concert and must say I like the way metal feels in my ears (pun intended)! There is definitely a difference in sound quality between the aluminum and the titanium, but both versions of the product fulfill their purpose. I had no ringing in my ears after I left the concert hall, I still enjoyed the music and caught myself answering quietly to people screaming at me in conversation.
In comparison with the custom-made protectors from the hearing aid store, the Isolates aren’t as good but they surely are a great and affordable alternative. The custom-made ones would turn down the bass more, for example, making singers’ voices and guitars more audible than bass and drums. This probably messed with my perception of the concert’s sound engineering, come to think of it. For a third comparison I also requested to review the Vibes high-fidelity earplugs, sadly without answer.
In conclusion: I can recommend the custom-made ear protectors from a hearing dealer and both editions of Flare Isolate. But I definitely urge every music fan and musician to get and constantly use hearing protection. It might be a bit of a hassle at first, but you’ll get used to it and your ears will thank you.
Do you use ear protectors? Which ones? Tell us in the comments!