Archive Monthly Archives: July 2018

Best Earplugs for Musicians

Today I want to talk about the three best earplugs for musicians. It's important to pick the best earplugs to better protect your hearing and to make sure that you can have a long and healthy career making music and being able to hear things.

All of the best earplugs for musicians are affordable - under $30. And it's amazing how big a difference there is between $14 earplugs and $25. Note: I've included affiliate links down below if you want to purchase any of these - the commission the links generate really help support the this site, but do not influence  my recommendations.

So I've tried a lot of ear plugs I've played in a band over the past 20 years. During that time, I've mostly worn earplugs at practice and gigs. But even still, I have started to develop hearing issues already, and I'm 35. I usually play bass in a band, which means I'm sitting close to the drums and the transients from the snare and the cymbals really do a number on your ears.

So that's driven me to tried nearly all of the earplugs over the years to find the best earplugs for musicians. I've come to the conclusion that there are three pairs that you really should consider.

I'll tell you what my preferences are and also my bandmates' preferences are after having tried these out ​

So the three best sets of ear plugs for musicians are the dubz acoustic filters, the vibes earplugs and the eargasm ear plugs and I'll tell you what each of these does well and what they don't do so well. ​

Best Earplugs For Musicians: Dubz

The the dubz acoustic filters come in a nice case, though it's a little bigger than necessary. Still, it's clean and portable. They're very comfortable and they slide into your ear really easily. They have a little bit of a tab that you can hold onto (the filter). Which makes them so easy to insert, remove, and adjust. And yet they still look pretty discrete when you're wearing them.

I think in terms of comfort and ease of use these are probably the best of the bunch but in terms of sound they're the worst of the 3 - but still better than any other earplug I've tried. .

The Dubz ear plugs kind of just uniformly mute the sound or turn down the volume. First, it's not quite as much gain reduction as I would want for a multi-hour practice in a small room near a drummer. That's why I would mark them down a bit.

Best Earplugs For Musicians: Vibes 

The vibes earplugs come in a case that's not as nice as the others.  The vibes are very comfortable, although the they have just a little tiny handle which makes them a little hard to get out. It's not like complicated at all, but you've got to think about it for a second, as opposed to the Dubz which have the juicy filter.  ​

Nonetheless, the  vibes earplugs are really comfortable and these do a great job of attenuating the sound across the whole frequency range. They say it's a 15 decibel noise reduction. It feels like more than that to me.

Of the three headphones or earplugs, here I would say this is probably the best for musicians in terms of turning down the sound the most, but still doing it in a fairly musical fashion. And this is what I would recommend for rhythm guitarists bass players and drummers and rhythm guitarist. Maybe for keyboard players too.

They're the best earplugs for musicians that don't need as much definition on their sound - that don't need to hear the nuance of the texture. That because these just do a great job of cutting sound down to a more manageable level where you won't have a ringing in your ears after practice. Even if you're standing next to the drums or playing the drums. But it leaves everything still sounding good and musical

Best Earplugs for Musicians: Eargasm

Now the final one is the eargasm. Great name. They come in a big fancy box and they probably have the nicest holder of all (it's a twist off cylinder with a key chain attachment). Although to be honest, I would never put it on my key chain because I don't like to have big things in my pocket.​

With these you have to kind of open your ear a bit get them in and out, and they are definitely the hardest to earplugs of the patch to use. Though that's not saying too much. They're also the most discrete of the group.

 And they do a really good job. They claim to be reducing  the noise by 16 decibels. But what I found with these is that they don't seem to do this uniformly, which is for better and for worse. They allow a lovely amount of mid-range and high end material through, while throttling down on the lower frequencies. 

For example, neither the lead guitar player or the singer in my band ever wore earplugs because they couldn't hear the nuance of their playing that they wanted to hear. Until they tried these earplugs. Literally, the guitar player ordered at practice after trying mine.

And what these do is they let a lot of the higher frequencies in and don't reduce those as much as they do the lower frequencies so you can still really perceive the high fidelity content or the high frequency content. ​

Concluding Thoughts on the Best Earplugs For Musicians 

It turns out there isn't just one "best earplug" for all musicians. So I would say that if you're a singer or a lead guitar player or just a tone freak, the Eargasm earplugs are probably the best ear plugs for you. And if I was going to a concert to watch as an audience member I think the Eargasms are far and away the best earplugs in terms of retaining as much of the content that you want to hear and just lowering it to a safer volume

If you play another instrument it's probably better to go with the  vibes earplugs because the overall reduction in sound will protect your hearing best, but things still sound good. 

The Dubz get honorable mention for being really convenient to use, and would probably be best for the type of person that's constantly taking earplugs in and out. 

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10 Best Free Reason Rack Extensions (Summer 2018 Edition)

Today I want to show you the 10 best free reason rack extensions. Now I've done a video like this previously, but the free rock extensions are changing all the time.

So this is the summer 2018 version.

They're available at the Propellerhead shop. Just log in and if you're running reason you should be able to download these and get them into your rack and start doing a lot of fun stuff.

If you're also looking for the best free VSTs, I made a post about that earlier.

Before we go any farther, I'd just like to invite to let me know if you know of a great free rack extension. If so, please leave a comment down below. There's probably 20 to 30 free rack extensions available, so I've tried to do a bit of editorializing about the ones that I've enjoyed a lot. 

They're not listed in any order. Without further ado, the best free Reason Rack Extensions (Summer 2018 edition). 

KiloHartz Chorus

The first one I have here is the chorus by KiloHartz. This is just a really nice really usable chorus gets those great smooth sounds. Just a few knobs that really can get you going exactly where you want and a wet dry knob mixed in which is always good.

Kuassa Silencer

The second one is a silencer or noise gate by Kuassa. Now the Reason mixer does have a  nice noise gate built into it. But the reason I'm adding this to the list of best free rack extensions is because sometimes you'll be building a device and need a noise gate in the middle of your effect chain. For example, if you've  patched a lot of distortion in the middle of it and you don't want that distortion feedback to get to a reverb or a delay that's down the line. And so it can be really useful to drop a noise gate actually in the middle of a patch. 

SoftTube Saturation Knob (probably the best free Reason Rack Extension)

T he next free rack extension is a perennial favorite: SoftTube's saturation knob. It's really simple. We've got one big knob that controls saturation and you get to choose whether or not certain frequencies aren't affected by the saturation. So for example with a bass guitar kick drum you keep the low frequencies from having the saturation applied to them. This thing sounds beautiful. It's super easy to use. 

That Music Company's T2 Phaser

The next one is the T2 Phaser by That Music Company. I actually bought this before it was available as a free rack extension. This is a really powerful phaser, and the interface is a little complicate. There are a lot of controls (frankly maybe too many controls), but it comes with a ton of great presets. Presets on presets. 

That Music Company's Distort Chain

That music company has made all of their rack extensions available for free download, and this is just a really cool sort of sound destroyer. It's a great sound design tool that's with three different modules that you can turn on or off with different distortion or filtering for total sound destruction. And there's LFOs for high pass filters to delays and modulators. And they each have their own individual wet/dry knobs. They can be modified by an LFO. They've got a couple of parameters you can tweak. And different distortion modes, including bit crushing. Also a lot of great presets. 

That Music Company's Mr. Overdrive

That Music Company again! Mr. Overdrive is just a really good overdrive from That Music Company which has a built in filter which is always nice and also a bit of a stereo widening effect and a wet dry knob.

Turn 2 On's Pipeline

This is  a weird, wonderful filtering device. It's kind of like the Audiomatic, but it focuses more on pipe-like sounds. It models dozens of tubes, from plastic PVC to industrial broilers, and includes a wet/dry knob. This can quickly get you into a realm of far out sounds when you need just a little something extra.

AirRaid Audio's Elements DS-LFO

This is a great dual lfo CV generator - if you don't already have Pulsar. Pulsar is better, but this guy is free. I use external LFOs to generate CV signals all the time, and this is a great free rack extension for doing that. 

There you have it, the best free Reason Rack Extensions, in my humble opinion. Do you think I missed any? What do you think the best free Reason Rack Extensions are? Let me know in the comments below and maybe they'll make the next list!