Technology Product Reviews

Review: Ear Plugs

Alpine FlyFit

Thursday 23 August
Review: Ear Plugs

Juliet England - August 23 at 08:00

Three product reviews for the price of one this month – the FlyFit, SwimSafe and SleepSoft ear plugs from Dutch firm Alpine, and which the RNID has marketed for six years.

With deaf and hard of hearing people disproportionately more likely to experience problems from pressure changes when travelling or swimming, these products seem to fill a need. However, you don’t have to have a hearing problem to find them pretty useful.

As one more snoring than snored against, I was possibly not the best person to try out the SleepSoft earplugs, although they proved a handy weapon against my ongoing battle with an upstairs neighbour’s fondness for loud late-night TV.

Designed to be long lasting and reusable, these earplugs have special acoustic filters to keep out disruptive noises, including snoring. But you can still hear helpful sounds such as alarm clocks. Equally, you shouldn’t feel too isolated when wearing them.

Although the stiff plastic casing seemed initially impenetrable (until I worked out how it slid open), and the instructions written in minuscule type, these are minor quibbles.

All three of these products were easy enough to fit. They all come with a small insertion tube, although I wasn’t quite sure what advantage this gave over just popping it in your ear. Made of thermoplastic material, the protectors are designed to be worn for long periods, overnight in the case of the SleepSoft ones.

Because everyone’s ears are different, it’s possible to tailor these products to suit you. If you happen to have a narrow ear canal, you can trim the earplug carefully with scissors. If it’s too long, you can try cutting off a small section of the filter.

The FlyFit protectors regulate the unpleasant pressure you can experience in your eardrum during take-off and landing, while also blocking out engine noise, screaming babies and other sounds you don’t want to hear. The idea is that you arrive at your destination feeling less frazzled.

I wasn’t jetting off anywhere myself, but did find the FlyFits effective at reducing noise on a rowdy London-bound train. (Although to be honest my hearing aids have a setting which lets me do this too.)

Pressure differences in the ear can also irritate swimmers, and the built-in filter in the SwimSafe earplugs has a small opening to tackle this. They can stop water getting in the ear when showering as well as swimming or playing water sports. And they could also be good for children with grommets or if you have an infection or perforated eardrum.

These products seem reasonably priced at around a tenner each, £13 in the case of the swimming ones, as well as user-friendly and reliable.

www.rnid.org.uk/shop/products/ear_and_hearing_protection/

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