If you are someone who is required to wear hearing protection but want to listen to music at the same time, grab some coffee and start reading as we cover the best headphones that look like earplugs.
If you work in a loud environment such as a factory or power plant, you surely know the importance of hearing protection.
In fact, hearing protection is not only recommended but required by most companies that have staff working in noisy environments. In most cases, it’s an essential part of your personal protective equipment and is as important as your hardhat.
Note! If you are looking specifically for a good concert earplug, we have a separate guide on the best earplugs for concerts.
The earplugs/earbuds mentioned are all about bringing you the best wireless listening experience for any loud environment.
They offer hearing protection, are Bluetooth enabled, chargeable, etc. In short, they are a must-have for persons who frequent loud environments. So let’s get to the best earplugs that are headphones or headphones that look like earplugs.
Top Headphones That Look Like Earplugs Table
1. Best Overall: Plugfones Basic Earplug-Earbud Hybrid
First on our list of headphones that look like earplugs is from Plugfones. Plugfones is an earplugs manufacturing company that was founded to create headphones or earplugs specifically for people who work in noisy environments. Their idea was to create headphones that offer “innovative hearing protection + a superior listening experience”.
Today, they have created several hybrid earplug headphones which include the basic, guardian and liberate versions.
We have included the Basic and Liberate versions in this review. Though the Liberate is a higher grade product, we decided to place the Basic version higher on the review because at its price point of around $25, it does offer a good set of features and performance that may be good enough for most users.
However, if you need the highest degree of protection and extra features (the Liberate is not wired, for example), then skip to #4 on the review. Of course, be prepared to pay a bit more as the Liberate cost around $99.
If you are looking for a way to get immersed in your own music world, these Plugfones will be an excellent choice for you.
The Plugfones Basic Earplugs-Ear buds are comfortable, noise-reducing earplugs with high-quality audio speakers which provide the ultimate hearing protection and listening experience.
They allow you to hear outside low-level noises while listening to your choice of audio which makes them superb for noisy surroundings.
Design & Build
The Plugfones Basic is definately a headphone that look like an earplug. Other than being uniquely designed, Plugfones are also engineered to last for ages. As for comfort, Plugfones are designed to fit all ear types, be worn for hours at a time and keep your ears from experiencing any form of irritation.
Plugfones are made from durable, ergonomic soft foam and silicone to ensure long and comfortable wear time.
The manner in which the earplugs are built (three flange silicone) also ensures that they will not fall out and keep you irritation-free even if the earplug is worn for hours at a time.
The earplugs are also interchangeable, so as they become dirty, you can easily replace them.
- Interchangeable Foam Plugs with Noise Reduction Rating of 23 dBComforTwist Plugs
- Interchangeable Silicone Plugs with Noise Reduction Rating of 26 dBComforTiered Plugs
- Wireless TechnologyBluetooth 4.1
- Noise Isolating MicIsoTalk
- Compliant With ANSI S3.19-1974 Noise Reduction Standards Independently Tested[/content-box]
What’s in the box
- Comes with 1 pair of Silicone Earplug Tips and 1 Pair of Foam Earplug Tips to be used interchangeably.
- WHERE EARPLUGS MEET EARBUDS: We’ve combined comfortable, noise-reducing earplugs with high-quality audio...
- BLOCK ENVIRONMENTAL NOISE: Ideal for activities like working out at the gym, DIY-ing in the workshop, shooting...
- NOISE REDUCING EARPHONES: The Basic has a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 26 dB, significantly reducing...
[content-box color=”blue”]Verdict: Plugfones earplugs are an incredible set of earplugs offering quality build and a high-quality audio experience. They may not be as durable as other options on the list, but they are very affordable and excellent at protecting your ears.[/content-box]
2. Best Budget Option: Etymotic Research HF5 Noise-Isolating In-Ear Earphones
If you are in search of a set of earplug headphones under $100, you have a plethora of choices. There are virtually loads of earplugs that sound good enough, but most of them will not be without their fair share of fatal flaws.
It could be anything between incompatibility with most devices, a less than stellar build or the simple fact that it doesn’t quite fit your ears right.
Whatever it is, it’s hard to find a pair of earplug headphones that possess all these qualities without paying heftily for them.
This list already includes two earplug headphones under the $100 price mark, now we will introduce a third, costing $99 is the Etymotic Research HF5.
If you haven’t heard of the Etymotic HF5, you should definitely check it out because it’s a pair that should be on your radar. The Etymotic HF5 are high performance, noise isolating earphones engineered for comfort, durability and functionality.
Build & Design
The moment you open the box, you’ll realize that iconic look that looks so much like the earphones being made today.
The earphones look like they may be a tad bit fragile at first glance, but they are quite sturdy and are fitted with a cable that’s built to last a long long time.
Speaking of durability, Etymotic offers a 2-year warranty on the HF5 as a demonstration of their confidence in the product.
The Etymotic in-ear earphones are all about balance and sound quality. Fans of Etymotic will love the Etymotic Research HF5. The clarity and speed of the earphones allow them to texture notes in extraordinary ways. It delivers a close to faultless music experience even in eminently noisy environments and is built on superior noise isolation.
- 85%+ response accuracy from 20 Hz – 15 kHz
- Achieves highest output sensitivity in its class
- Provides 35Db noise isolation[/content-box]
What’s In the Box?
- HF5 in-ear earphones
- Assorted ear tips
- A filter changing tool
- A protective carrying pouch
- Connectivity Technology: Wired
- High performance balanced-armature drivers
- Reinforced 4 ft cable
[content-box color=”blue”]Verdict: While $99.00 might not be small change, if you have no problem raising such an amount for a set of earplug headphones, you will be treated to a classic set of in-ears that deliver an unparalleled all-rounded audio quality experience and chic design that is well worth the price.[/content-box]
3. Best Sound Quality: Liberate 2.0 Bluetooth Plugfones
If you thought the Basic Plugfones was great, get ready for awesome! For around $100.00 it’s hard to think of a set of earplug earbud headphones that have a better-combined build and audio experience than the Liberate 2.0.
According to Plugfones, the Liberate offers ‘the ultimate hearing protection + wireless listening experience.
Not only because they feature a replaceable tip design that helps keep them new, clean and fresh, but also because they are great for virtually all types of noisy surroundings.
This set of headphones feature a noise reducing inline microphone for calls, up and down volume buttons, Bluetooth antenna, and ruggedized play and pause buttons, a sweat proof design, a water resistant USB charger and song progression buttons.
Finally, the Liberate is engineered to last with a flexible wire casing, so they can take some roughing up.
Design & Build
Plugfones is all about simplicity and functionality. The Liberate 2.0 look minimal, but functional.
The Liberate is a Bluetooth earplug, so you won’t have to deal with a long wire extending to your phone or music player. The device is designed to fit all ear types as well as keep your ears irritation-free, even if it is worn for hours at a time.
- Noise Reduction Ratings (NRR) of 23 and 26 dB
- IsoTalk™ Noise Isolating Mic
- Bluetooth 4.1[/content-box]
What’s In the Box?
- Liberate 2.0 wireless earplug-earbud hybrid
- Two pairs of ComforTwist Foam Plugs
- Zipper case
- Micro USB charging cable
- quick start guide
- NOISE REDUCING EARBUDS & MIC: We’ve combined comfortable, safety-rated earplugs and our own custom tuned...
- BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES: Liberate features ComforTiered replaceable tips, NeverOut 12 hour battery & fast charge,...
- WORK EARPHONES: Get premium sound & protection in your earbuds for work. Guardian has ANSI-certified Noise...
[content-box color=”blue”]Verdict: Offering a clear, robust and powerful audio experience, the Liberate 2.0 is one of the best set of headphones on the market. You have to dig deeper into your pockets, but they’re totally worth it.[/content-box]
4. Best For Loud Workplaces: ISOtunes Xtra Bluetooth Earplug Headphones
ISOtunes Xtra is a masterpiece in noise reduction and enchacement technology. With an ANSI-certified Noise Reduction Rating of 27 dB and 100% OSHA compliant for use in the workplace, this Bluetooth earplug offers greater noise reduction than most other earplugs that are headphones out there.
In fact, coupled with the noise reduction tech, this earplug includes a steady state noise cancelling mic for clear calls in loud environments.
The mic even offers noise suppression and echo cancellation technology which provides crystal clear calls and music. Beyond that, these earplugs offer ofther cool features:
- Premium aptX streaming sound quality,
- A custom fit memory wire for stability in harsh environments or for use during rigorous work exercise.
- IP45 water and sweat resistance, and Bluetooth 4.1 compatibility.
- SafeMax Technology limits volume output to 85 decibels, which ensures that your hearing will never be damaged.
- Comes with 3 pairs of foam eartips and 3 pairs of silicone double-flange eartips.
- Offers up to 8-hour battery life and 180-hour standby time.[/content-box]
Who is This For?
The ISOtunes Xtra is great for people working in harsh environments and for use when doing rigorous work. This includes manufacturing workers, builders, etc.
However, it may also be used by those who simply want to enjoy their music in quiet environments such as office workers.
One cool aspect of these earplugs that are headphones is that they’ll accompany you on long international flights or a string of domestic flights without needing a recharge.
- ❎ BLOCK NOISE: heat-activated memory foam eartips expand like earplugs to significantly reduce outside...
- 🎵 WIRELESS MUSIC & CALLS: wirelessly play music and take calls 30+ feet from your device with Bluetooth 4.1...
- 🔋 EXTENDED USE: up to 8-hour battery life and 180-hour standby time. Memory wire neckband rests comfortably...
[content-box color=”blue”]Verdict: The ISOTunes Xtra is a great in-ear headphone for accompanying you wherever you go – whether its a loud and demanding environment or a long international flight.
They are both stylish and functional. It’s a secluded listening experience that you may not enjoy otherwise.[/content-box]
5. Best Noise Reduction: ISOtunes PRO Bluetooth Earplug Headphones
The ISOtunes PRO earplug headphones is quite popular, and for good reason; it offers greater noise reduction than any other in-ear earplug headphone available on the market today.
This little device has an ANSI-certified Noise Reduction Rating of 27 dB which means it will drown out a lot of noise!
In fact, the ISOtunes PRO doesn’t simply eliminate incoming noise from the surroundings, it also includes a noise-cancelling mic so you can enjoy clear calls in loud environments.
Costing about $89.99, these beauties offer about the best sound you are going to get from a set of earplugs while listening to music without damaging your hearing.
Moreover, you can enjoy this superb audio experience for up to 10-hours as well as 240 hours standby time.
This means they are a great fit for those who travel a lot, they will be with you for your entire flight without needing a recharge.
Design & Build
Right from packaging, you can tell that these earplugs will hold up pretty well. They are made of high-quality plastic and look and feel superbly durable.
They are also IPX4 waterproof and sweatproof which means they won’t get easily damaged from bringing them to the gym or even poolside.
Moreover, the ear tips are constructed of materials that are workplace compliant.
If you work in a highly active environment, you don’t have to worry about the device falling out your ears as it includes a custom fit memory wire for stability during rigorous work. In fact, many people use them while exercising.
- Steady-state noise-cancelling mic
- SafeSound Technology limits volume output to 85 decibels
- Premium aptX streaming sound quality
- IPX4 water and sweat resistance
- Bluetooth 4.1 + EDR compatibility
- aptX® high definition audio playback[/content-box]
What’s in the box
- ISOtunes Pro earbuds
- Hard-shell carrying case
- USB cable for charging
- Triple-flange silicone ear tips
- 3 pairs of ISOtunes Pro Comply ear tips
- BLOCK NOISE: heat-activated memory foam eartips expand like earplugs to significantly reduce outside noise....
- WIRELESS MUSIC & CALLS: wirelessly play music and take calls 30+ feet from your device with Bluetooth 4.1...
- USE ALL DAY: 10+ hour battery life and 240-hour standby time gets you through long days without having to...
[content-box color=”blue”]Verdict: The ISOtune set of earplug headphones features quality build, excellent sound and long battery life. They would ideally be the best set of earplug headphones to get yourself regardless of whether you workout or not.[/content-box]
Why Use Headphones That Look Like Earplugs?
These days, there are better designed and more comfortable earplugs that also double as headphones!
These earplug headphones keep the world d around you quiet and serene, offering hearing protection while simultaneously allowing you to enjoy crisp music. It’s the best of both worlds!
Earbuds are no longer simple tools which you plug into your ears and forget about.
We already mentioned the importance of headphones that look like earplugs in the workplace, but maybe you don’t work in an extremely loud environment. Maybe you face a crowded subway every evening, maybe you visit a noisy gym quite often, and maybe your neighbours are party animals or maybe your partner snores all through the night.
To shut out all that noise, you could use one of those large, ugly earmuffs, or one of those uncomfortable earplugs. Both are uncomfortable and not very stylish. So, what about an earplug that doubles as a headphone? Earplugs that are headphones? Yep, they exist and we will review 5 of the best today!
What Can These Earplugs Do?
So what are these earplugs that look like headphones? Or should we say headphones that look like earplugs?
The best earplug headphones on the market today can connect to Bluetooth enabled devices allowing you to get unrivalled hearing protection while you listen to music or receive phone calls (they include built-in microphones).
In fact, many of these devices allow magnetic USB charging. What’s better than cancelling the noise in your environment to enjoy your own quiet? Or replacing that quiet with music?
Who Are Bluetooth Earplugs For?
As mentioned before, if you work in a noise polluted environment where hearing protection is a must or if you just work in a very noisy environment, these earplugs will certainly improve the experience.
These earplugs are great for:
People Who Work In Noise Pollution: Factory workers, power plant workers, construction workers.
People Who Experience Noisy Environments Frequently: Lawn care workers, DIY’ers, racing fans, gymnasts, sports shooters, landscapers, farmers, bus and train commuters, builders, contractors, frequent flyers.
If you are any of the above persons or work in a similar environment and want to work comfortably while listening to music, audiobooks, or podcasts, then earplug headphones are a good fit for you.
Why Not Buy A Noise Cancelling Headphone Or A Earplug?
Why not buy a noise cancelling headphone like the Zivigo ZV 700? Traditional noise-cancelling headphones and earmuffs will work well for low noise environments such as the subway or a noisy bus.
However, if you are working in a noise polluted environment, then you need that extra protection.
Additionally, if you work in a noisy environment for extremely long periods, then you need that protection as well. In fact, if you are going to experience loud bursts of sounds in short periods, such as a shooting range, then you need earplugs.
Certified Noise Reduction Earplugs
Good earplugs should be noise-cancelling certified. A certified Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 26dB ensures hearing protection as well as allows you to enjoy your music in peace and quiet. In addition, a volume limiter of about 85dB protects users from long-term hearing damage and complies with OSHA workplace standards.
Earplugs with these standards show that are well designed as well as industrial lab tested and certified for noise reduction and hearing protection.
Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) Explained
NRR is a measurement unit used to test the effectiveness of different hearing protection devices to reduce sound exposure in a given environment. That’s classified by the potential to minimize the noise in dB (decibels). As such, hearing protectors need to be tested and approved by ANSI (American National Standards) according to OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration).
The higher the NRR associated in a hearing protector, the better it is at reducing noise. However, earplugs are always better at reducing noise at low frequencies, while earmuffs work well at middle frequencies.
The Highest NRR Earplugs
When buying earplugs, the highest NRR rating we’ve seen ranges at around 33db. However, you’ll need to be careful when comparing the NRR provided by the importer or manufacturer. Some advertise earplugs with 36-38db NRR, but a closer inspection reveals that they use the SNR (Single Number Rating) obtained by using European Standards.
In the U.S, EPA regulations state that all hearing protection safety must be tested using NRR. However, SNR might be indicated on the label for products also sold in the European market. As such, earplugs with the highest SNR rating range at 37dB.
How NRR Changes The Decibels Of Exposure
When you wear hearing protection headphones, the level of noise exposure depends on its NRR protection. However, the hearing protection earplugs used may not reduce the surrounding noise by the exact number of decibels indicated on the protector.
For instance, if you’re at a rock concert with 100dB level of noise exposure while wearing NRR 31dB earplugs, your exposure level may not be reduced to 69 dB. Instead, to get the actual amount of reduction applied in decibels, you take the NRR number indicated, subtract seven and divide the solution by two.
To illustrate this, we can use the previous example. That means your noise reduction level will be: (31 – 7)/2 = 12. That means if your noise exposure level is at 100dB and you’re wearing a hearing protection earplug with an NRR 31dB, your noise exposure level will be 88 dB. However, you must wear the hearing protection earplug headphones properly to maximize its noise reduction capabilities.
Testing Whether Your Earplugs Are Effective For Your Needs
When trying to determine whether your earplugs are effective for reducing noise in your environment, a general thumb rule is to ensure they properly seal your ear canals. Here is a quick fit test developed by NIOSH to help know whether your earplugs are right for you:
- Start by listening to a pulsated test noise without wearing the hearing protection earplugs. You can use either our normal speakers in a quiet room or consider getting over-the-ear headphones.
- Adjust the volume until you can hardly hear the test noise. That means the sound should be almost at your hearing threshold.
- Fit your earplugs
- Listen to the second audio track on the NIOSH website and try to see whether you can hear the noise. If the earplugs are well fitted, you shouldn’t hear that noise, but you can try refitting your earplugs several times if you can hear the noise. That means you should consider getting new earplugs if nothing changes after several attempts.
Thee you have it, the best earplug headphones to protect your ears. These are the best earplugs that are headphones available in 2020. Despite the fact that earplug headphones weren’t a niche product years ago, they have since exploded onto the mainstream market due to necessity. And while this may come as a surprise to many, it’s not really that hard to see why they have gained massive popularity over the years. After all, they isolate noise and make your music much clearer and easier to hear.
Allowing people to block out background noise while enjoying music is a big deal. If you are in need of an earplug headphone, try one of these on the list above. They are keeping workers around the world connected and protected and they can do the same for you.