Hearing protection plus audio isn’t a new idea. I’ve owned several earmuffs that deliver sound through built-in speakers. All of them worked as advertised, but all were bulky, heavy and uncomfortable—especially the ones that required batteries. These little earplugs solved those problems. I get noise reduction that’s similar to earmuffs and surprisingly good sound quality from the itsy-bitsy speakers. Better yet, they’re so comfortable that I use them even when I don’t need hearing protection. Unlike regular ear buds, they don’t fall out when I’m crawling under a sink. The flimsy wires worried me at first: I figured they’d get pinched or yanked out of the earplugs. So I clipped my MP3 player to the back of my tool belt and ran the wires inside my shirt. After months of use—including one big, rough demolition job—the wires are unscathed. You can spend anywhere from $25 to $100 on earplug-style ear buds. To browse online, search for “noise isolating ear buds.” The ones shown here (MMMearbud 2600) cost about $60 and carry a noise-reduction rating (NRR) of 24. — Gary Wentz, Senior EditorFor more information on choosing hearing protection, read How to choose the best hearing protection.
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