Whether you are cramming for an exam or trying to get yourself up to speed for a big presentation at work and have a ton of facts and figures to memorize, the last thing you need when studying is a lot of noisy distractions.
No matter where you study it often seems like noise follows you, which is annoying, distracting and hardly conducive to getting your work done. Even at the library, there’s that one dude who just won’t stop cracking his gum…
Some might say that noise-cancelling headphones are the answer. And maybe for some people they might be. However, they tend to be expensive, cumbersome and not everyone studies well with music blasting into their skull, which, we have found, is the only way they can be effective when studying.
Earplugs – yes, good old-fashioned earplugs – are a great alternative. They are lightweight, easy to slip into your pocket or purse, cost a lot less and are easier to wear. In fact, that right earplugs can quickly become one of the best tools in anyone’s study tool arsenal.
Not all earplugs are created equal though. New materials, new designs and even new colors have started appearing on the market recently, making choosing something as seemingly simple as the best earplugs for studying harder than it really should be.
With all this in mind here’s a look at some of the best earplugs for studying we have been able to track down, with our opinions based both on our own field tests and the opinions of others who have purchased the same items.
4 Best Earplugs for Studying Revealed
Our Top Pick
These inexpensive, low tech earplugs seem to fly off the shelves, and after a little time spent trying them out, it’s easy to see why. despite the lack of the bells and whistles offered by some other earplugs for studying options these just work.
These earplugs look really simple when you pull them out of the jar – they are sold in big 50 count jars – but they are smarter than you think (just like you tell your professors about yourself) They are made from soft, but not flimsy, foam and once inserted they expand slowly to fit your unique ear perfectly. The slow expansion keeps pressure low (so no need to pop your ears later) and they are extremely comfortable.
In terms of function, Mack’s Ultrasoft Foam Earplugs have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 32 decibels, which means not only will they block out the annoying noises from that gum chewing dude’s mouth but you could also wear them to the loudest death metal gig and enjoy the music from the front row without going half deaf.
The reason that these earplugs are sold in such large quantities is that they are designed for one time use only. This is key because making use of the same earplugs for studying over and over again can easily lead to ear infections, and those are no joke. Given that the 50 count jar is priced under $10, you won’t feel bad trashing these after every use though.
Mack’s Ultrasoft Foam Earplugs Specs
- Material: Foam
- NRR: 32 DB
- Reusable: No
Mack’s Ultrasoft Foam Earplugs Pros and Cons
- Super easy to use
- Very Comfortable
- Provide a very custom fit
- More hygienic, as you use a fresh pair every study session
- Very inexpensive
- Not very ‘high tech’
- They REALLY block noise, so you’ll be able to hear very little
Best Earplugs for Studying Honorable Mentions
These earplugs were actually designed to protect swimmers’ ears – they are endorsed by the USA swim team and are often recommended by doctors – but they are great for blocking out distracting noise when studying as well.
Crafted from silicone, these earplugs are easy to insert, although they don’t provide quite as much of a custom fit as our top pick, as silicone does not expand in the way that soft foam does. However, the fit is pretty good for most people and they are comfortable to wear.
In terms of noise reduction these earplugs have Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 22 decibels. Not as ‘powerful’ as the Mack’s Ultrasoft but still more than enough to block out most of the noise that will become a nuisance when you’re trying to study.
Each pair of Mack’s Silicone Ear Plugs can be reused up to six times, and they come in a handy pack of six, so you’ll be set for a good few weeks of silent study with just a single, fairly inexpensive purchase.
Mack’s Silicone Ear Plugs Specs
- Material: Silicone
- NNR: 22 DB
- Reusable: Yes, up to six times
Mack’s Silicone Ear Plugs Pros and Cons
- Endorsed by medical professionals
- Easy to insert
- Comfortable to wear
- Clear, making them less visible to the outside world
- Do not provide a truly custom fit
- Not as ‘powerful’ as some other options in terms of NRR
Looking for a set of earplugs with a bit more longevity that also travel really well? Then Eargasm High Fidelity Ear Plugs might be the right choice for you. Designed for bikers these earplugs come complete with their own durable travel case and a keyring attachment, something that may mean you are less likely to leave the house to go and study at the library or coffee shop without them.
The earplugs themselves are made using hypoallergenic silicone and feature attenuation filters designed to block unwanted sounds more evenly without making the sounds you do want to hear too muffled. They are designed to be washed and reused and can last for several months. They do offer great sound quality and are easier than some earplugs to remove as they have small ‘pull tabs’ to do so.
The only real downside of these earplugs – which look really cool by the way, both in and out of your ears – is that they only have an NRR rating of 21, so if you are trying to study at home while your roommates engage in yet another Call of Duty marathon across the hall they may not be all that helpful to you. On the other hand they will be perfectly suited to library study.
Eargasm High Fidelity Ear Plugs Specs
- Material: Silicone
- NRR Rating: 21 DBs
- Reusable: Yes
Eargasm High Fidelity Ear Plugs Pros and Cons
- Easy to wear, easy to remove
- Very good-looking
- Come with their own rugged travel case
- Good sound quality
- More expensive than other options
- Lower NRR rating means they may not be right for very noisy settings.
Although designed originally for musicians and the concert goers that listen to them live these earplugs can just as easily be used by those hoping to get in a few hours of quiet study.
The biggest selling point of these earplugs is their appearance. They are very small and come in three different sizes so you can get a close to perfect fit. And, we found that when you are wearing them they are so discreet people have to get very, very close before they can see them.
Made from soft silicone with a plastic tubing to insert and remove them, these earplugs are comfortable to wear for long periods of time and easy to get in and out. They are designed to be reused multiple times and can last for up to six months with regular wear. Oh, and they come with a REALLY cool little travel case.
Again, the one downside for using these earplugs for study is that they may not block out all the noise you want them too, although they do a good job of dampening most of the worst of it.
Vibes High Fidelity Concert Ear Plugs Specs
- Materials:Silicone and plastic
- NRR: 22DB
- Reusable? Yes, for up to six months.
Vibes High Fidelity Concert Ear Plugs Pros and Cons
- Very discreet
- Reusable and sturdy
- Come in several different sizes for a better fit
- Come complete with a very cool little travel case.
- Lower NRR rating than some options
- Do not expand to fit the ear precisely.
What To Consider When Shopping for the Best Earplugs For Studying
These are just some options available to those looking for the best earplugs for studying, there are others. But whichever you eventually choose there are some things as to keep in mind as you shop to help ensure you make the right choice for you:
Do you want a set of earplugs that provide a very customized fit? Maybe you have very small, or very large, ears that won’t be accommodated well by some standard sizing. If that’s the case your best option will be a foam earplug like our top pick, that will expand to fit almost exactly, but keep in mind that this will mean that you will be able to hear very little at all and that foam earplugs cannot be reused, so you will have to use a fresh pair every study session.
If you are very busy, or like to travel super light, carting around a big jar of foam earplugs may not be something you want to do. Or, if you are the forgetful type, having a pair of reusable earplugs that you can keep in your bag at all times and not have to think about too often may be something that appeals to you.
OK, so you want a pair of earplugs to help you study in peace. But how much noise do you want to block out? If you study best in almost complete silence, and you really want to shut the world out, then our top pick are the best possible choice for you. On the other hand, if you are in a situation where you’ll still need to be aware of some of the sounds around you – for example, sitting totally oblivious to everything in the middle of a busy coffee shop may not be the safest idea – then you may want to opt for earplugs with a lower NRR.
Bells and Whistles
Do you like little extras, like carrying cases that look cool (but also protect your earplugs from dust and dirt by the way) or keychain attachments? Do you want to hide the fact that you are wearing earplugs at all? Then one of the pricier options that offers these things might be a better choice for you than simple (but very effective) foam earplugs.
Earplug Use Tips and Advice
There are also some things you need to keep in mind to use any pair of earplugs safely. Don’t forget, your ears are super sensitive, and putting anything in them at all, especially your ear canal, has to be done with great care so;
- Always wash your hands before inserting your earplugs to prevent inserting germs and bacteria into your ear canal right along with them.
- Always wash your hands (again) before removing your earplugs, for exactly the same reasons as stated above.
- Remove and insert your earplugs gently and never yank to get them out. The eardrum is a very sensitive organ and easier to pierce than you might think.
- If you choose reusable earplugs, make sure you always clean them according to the manufacturer’s instructions after every single use and then ensure they are stored away from dirt and dust so that they stay that way.
- Don’t store silicone earplugs in direct sunlight as that will weaken, and eventually perish, them.