Earplugs for Concert Photographers

If you're a music photographer, you've no doubt been asked by your fellow concert photographers which earplugs you use. I know I've had this conversation several times, and I thought it would be a good topic for a blog as I try to make this a more regular thing.

There are tons of earplugs out there, from cheap foam earplugs that you can often find being given away at the promo table at most shows or being sold at the merch table, to high quality musician's earplugs. If you're a concert photographer, odds are you're going to want something a little higher in quality than those cheap foam things that will fall out of your ears. I know, I used those for the first concert I ever shot. They worked, but having to constantly fix them in my ears was annoying.

So what are your options and how much should you spend? I'll say that if you're professional concert photographer - i.e. you work directly for bands as either their show or tour photographer and are constantly shooting full shows - you should absolutely invest in the highest quality earplugs you can find, but if you're shooting shows through a media out and being paid very little or not at all, you can certainly find good earplugs at a reasonable price. These earplugs from SureFire are cheap and will do the job, as will these from Alpine Hearing Protection.

Then you have better quality earplugs for anyone from $10-$30 more than the ones linked above, like these (also Alpine) or these from Earasers, which come in 3 sizes and have replaceable gels available at a discount for when yours eventually wear out, and the Westone earplugs for about $45.

Finally, you've got high end earplugs like these $300 bad boys from Etymotic Research, which offer 24dB of noise cancellation. Those are what you should own if you're a working professional concert photographer and are getting the big bucks, but if you're shooting shows as media, stick with the much cheaper options.

I personally use Earasers. I bought them at a 40% discount through another photographer as part of his sponsorship promotion a little over a year ago, but they're super comfortable and priced reasonably enough for what they offer and how they fit in my ears. The only negative I find is that they're difficult to hold onto due to the entirely silicone construction, and I drop them a lot as a result - I've almost lost one of them on separate occasions, which is obviously a problem in a dark venue when a band is about to come on and you're next to the main, scrambling with a flashlight to find your missing earplug before the band starts playing.

That's the only downside to Earasers, and it could be easily fixed if they would offer an option to buy earplugs that are tethered to a string like other earplugs so that they can hang around your neck between bands, and you can't lose them trying to put them back in their case or in your ears. But they're very comfortable, at least for me, and they're always what I recommend to anyone looking for earplugs. Your mileage may vary from mine, but I'm happy with them overall and should definitely replace buds with fresh ones.

*Obligatory disclaimer: I'm NOT sponsored by Earasers and I get nothing from them for promoting their stuff. I'm just a guy who likes his hearing.