It should come as no surprise that earplugs show up on coverage of this year’s National Association of Musician’s Merchants (NAMM). Hearing protection ought to be found in the pocket of any audiophile’s journey to a loud concert or venue. Still, there are several hangups about filling your ear with any material, and the resulting sound is never close to natural… no matter what the sales pitch says.
Loop earplugs hopes to change some of that. Not only do they offer some interesting aesthetics over your typical foam-in-the-ear look, the circular shape of the device provides both form and function. According to Co-Founder Dimitri, the 2.7mm tube is tuned to stimulate the ear canal and, along with 20dB of noise reduction, promises to reduce overall distortion that is passed along to the ear drum.
There is a small hole in the inner side of the ring that allows sound into the canal, then a small reduction filter is applied at the eartip end. Like many universal fit IEMs the Loop comes with 3 sets of foam tips and 3 sets of silicone for optimizing fit. I had a chance to try the earplug out on the show floor and the results were interesting. Treble and voices rang though in a different way than the full foam blockage usually allows for, and a little more clarity might have escaped as well. Its hard to tell without a proper A/B however, those looking for the opportunity to hear their concert-going associates amidst the roar of the guitar amplifier may well find the effect appeasing.
Loop Earplugs come in five colors and retail for $29.99 a pair. Dimitri let me know that black is the biggest seller (undoubtable due to the reduced flash factor) and then silver. Weather you love or hate the industrial metallic look, most would have to admit that a simple small ring in the ear looks at minimum more interesting than the hearing aid/foam vibe most earplugs offer. Friendly audiophile PSA: always listen at reasonable levels, especially for long play times – do your part to help keep overcooked treble out of high end audio.