Quality Molded Earplug Questions


So while everyone keeps talking about what cymbal/snare/shell pack is best, I'd rather ask about the 2nd most important piece of gear (after a drum throne) - earplugs!

Since Christmas is rapidly approaching I'm considering asking for a "donation" towards quality molded earplugs. I already have the Vic Firth Iso headphones but they tend to get uncomfortable after a short period and I really have a difficult time hearing dynamics. My view is that my ears need to last forever so I have no problem looking for something around $250+ that will hopefully last me a lifetime. I'd also like to have some sort of monitoring if possible, but it doesn't need to have 4 different drivers with crazy EQ and Neil Peart whispering in your ear. I've heard to look for an audiologist, but that's about my starting point

As far as use, I'd like them to last a long time. While I'm only an intermediate drummer, I jam with friends twice a week for about 3-4 hours each session which is when the plugs would get the most use. But we are looking to play out so having some sort of monitor ability would be nice.

What should I look for? What's the process to go through? What brands should I check out? Positives/negatives? Any advice would really help my search - and maybe a few others here a DW.



Platinum Member
I use these:


These are the same thing as the $30 AHEAD ear plug kit shops carry.

There is a thread on this subject, in this section with a few other opinions.

I don't think there's much difference between these Radian plugs, and something done through an audiologist.
2 part molding goop is 2 part molding goop. It's rated for 26 db reduction.

I haven't noticed a change in the sound of a drum or cymbal like with headphones. The sound level is just a lot lower with these.
The only reason I started a new thread was that the other threads had either a low budget or specific things as washable or most recommendations were for headphones. Not that these are bad!

Your recommendation is good, but I would like something maybe with a way of monitoring if possible. Thanks for the response!

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
My view is that my ears need to last forever so I have no problem looking for something around $250+ that will hopefully last me a lifetime.

Wishful thinking, nothing lasts for a lifetime, especially if you use it a lot and its going to be inserted into a body cavity.

I'd also like to have some sort of monitoring if possible.

That's a whole nother ball game. In ear monitors.

Neil Peart whispering in your ear.

Neil would whisper "Earplugs? Why would you subject your audience to sounds/volume you're not comfortable with?" He's down on ear protection (last I heard).

As far as use, I'd like them to last a long time.

What's a long time? The acids in your body fluids are going to break down anything you'd comfortably put in your ear eventually.

While I'm only an intermediate drummer, I jam with friends twice a week for about 3-4 hours each session which is when the plugs would get the most use.

An audiologist is going to push whatever he sell's, like a MD pushes drugs. If he sells WESTONE, he'll tell you WESTONE etc.

Get the ones KarlCrafton suggested. For $10 you're in the game. Start there.

I've been through the molded earplug experience. In ear monitors you'll not have much choice, but my advise is don't spend the big money on plugs. The RADIANS are cool b/c they're cheap and they work as good as the expensive molds.

Your body changes (if ever so slightly) over time, its ultimate to have a cheap molded plug that can change with it. Expensive molds don't change, they degrade, become hard, uncomfortable... you're stuck w/them.


Well-known member
I've using the custom molded Westones for a long time, as in probably for 15+ years. Just had my second pair made earlier this year. They are not cheap about $175.00 USD with the 15 db filters and the mold made by the audiologist. I love them and never pick up a stick without them.


Platinum Member
A guitar player I work with has the type dmacc has.
I asked him about them. He said they were nice, wasn't raving about them being superior though.

I think the 26 db Radians I molded myself are better for me. I'd rather have 26 db protection than 15 db, but the sound might be more "open" with the 15's I guess.

I'm with Les on this, and spending big bucks for the same thing isn't what I would do.
I have no doubts as to the protection of the molded plugs I made myself vs. the ones my band mate uses.

packfan88c, you gotta do what you feel comfortable with, but I'd look into it before spending the money on the ear plugs.

In-ear monitors are another story. I'd go to a reputable shop in your area and ask people that use them "in the real world" what types they like.
I asked about them, and headset mic's and got several opinions. I didn't go that route, but I did get some options depending on how much I wanted to deal with things.

Good luck!

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
I did the WESTONE plugs years ago (chronicled the history in another post), here's a quick review:

I got a deal on them (or so I thought at the time) for $150, which included everything- the visit, exam, mold, plugs. i was done with the cheap plugs, wanted to spend the money on what at the time I thought was the best.

The WESTONES came, I had chosen the 15 db filters. So I'd paid the $150+ and was determined to love them and I did, or so at least I had my self believing I did.

As time went by (maybe a year of hard use) the WESTONES stated to break down, they were permanently stained a gold colour from my ear wax.

I had to occasionally clean the small bit wax that accumulated out with a flat toothpick, which turned into a routine maintenance chore. The filter(s) eventually worked themselves loose due to the plug material becoming hardened/shrinking from my ear wax/body heat, exposure to the elements etc. When the filters wouldn't stay put, I lightly super glued them in place.

Super glue doesn't last and so at a gig I lost one of the filters, not really a problem, till I checked on the price to replace it. One filter cost $40+ and there weren't any aftermarket knockoffs (at the time, still don't know if there are any) I could find. By this time my WESTONES were hard(ened) and uncomfortable to wear, It was an easy call not to spend the $40-$80 to replace the filter(s).

I wish RADIANS were an option when I purchased the WESTONES.

Thinking back on the WESTONES, the best part of the whole experience was getting to see my ear drum on a monitor screen (via a scope) in the exam, after years of drum/cymbal/band noises it was still healthy/intact.

I can say the WESTONES (or any comparable plugs) do not provide any better protection than a do it yourself mold you can buy for $10 and at $10 who cares if you loose one, and you can have a fresh pair for only $10 anytime you want them, no audiologist visit, no waiting.

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
I think you're probably better off getting in ear monitors, because as far as I know, you can't just fit monitors to moulded musicians plugs, which is what everyone else is referring to when they talk about filters.

I bought some moulded musicians plugs about 6 months ago, they're great, 25db attentuation, comfy and protecting my ears but now that I've been given play along tracks from the new bands/projects that I joined I regret not getting IEM's.

Moulded musicians plugs are ideal for jamming BUT, if you do need to monitor then I would be spending the money on IEM's and just get some of those cheaper 'hearos' or the alpine plugs for when you don't need to monitor.


Silver Member
I think you'll find if you can bring the overall level of sound down, you can monitor everything a bit more clearly, almost to the point where you won't find the need for an expensive in-ear monitoring system.

Despite Les' experience with molded earplugs, I've had nothing but success with mine, and recommend them highly. I've never had issues with excess crud forming, losing or damaged filters, or any other problems. They fit great each and every time, and give a consistent sound that helps me play.

Interchangeable filters [I have -9db and -15db], and custom-fit earplugs have proven to be the best investment I've ever made for myself.

I use them live with standard drum monitors, in the studio with headphones, and when I go see other live music [or anything with a high db level].

It's possible to find them frequently on sale, and it's always good to have yourself checked out anyway. You can never be too safe.