For those of you whom experience the world as being loud and chaotic, or whom find certain noises unbearable, there is hope. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for dealing with sounds, there are quite a few options.
Ranging from cotton balls in your ears to top-of-the-line noise cancellation technology, there are so many options for turning down the volume of the world around you. But because there are so many products, many of which are unbearably uncomfortable, how can you find something worth the effort and cost?
I have personally bought many products over the years to help me cope with sound. Some I still have, some have been replaced, while others just went straight in the trash or back to the store. So the ones I am sharing here are either ones I personally use or know to be worth the investment.
Option #1: Noise Reduction
Noise reduction (also known as passive noise cancellation) means a barrier is created between your eardrums and the vibration of sounds around you. The old cotton-balls-in-the-ears trick is a noise reduction strategy. But technology has come a long way, and now there are some pretty awesome options to reduce the intensity of noise without compromising the quality of sound. I’m talking about high-fidelity earplugs (also known as musician’s or concert earplugs). My personal favorites are Vibes.
Vibes High-Fidelity Earplugs have single-handedly reduced my “generalized anxiety” of being in public. I didn’t realize it was possible to be calm riding public transit until I did so wearing a pair. They were great as-is, but they got even better when I found these XS Earbud Tips that work with them. I personally found the flange tips the most secure for my ears and the foam tips to be a great extra layer of noise cancellation for my earbuds. I have also discovered that Mack’s Earplugs can be used to make a temporary custom mold to hold the Vibes in place for more comfortable extended wear–just be careful not to get wax inside the little filter tubes–it’s mega hard to get out!
Other passive noise cancellation options include earplugs, earmuffs (of the fashionable sort) that muffle a little noise, and noise-reduction earmuffs (of the unfashionable and mostly uncomfortable sort–the Decibel Defense earmuffs are an exception on the comfort front). I have tried a lot of earplugs over the years, and because of my small ears, I prefer the Nanos XS earplugs from Hearos. I also like the Mack’s Earplugs (above) because they don’t actually go into your ear canal, and although I don’t like that my hair gets caught in them, I do find them quite comfortable and excellent for sleeping when my partner is in a snorey mood.
Next Up: Option #2: Noise Masking (coming soon!)