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Westone ES49 Custom Musician's Earplugs

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Westone ES49 Custom Musician's Earplugs

Westone ES49 Musician's Earplugs

Westone Laboratories

The Bottom Line

As a musician, recording engineer, or music enthusiast, you should know that your hearing is extremely valuable. Unfortunately, hearing loss has become a badge of honor among rockers -- and unfortunately, once it's there, hearing loss is permanent.

Westone has long been considered a top name in hearing health products, and their ES49 -- priced at around $180 -- is a steal, considering the level of protection it offers. Reducing the dangerous volume without compromising the sound quality you hear, the ES49 incorporates custom molds with Etymotic's filters, offering 9, 15, or 25 decibels of protection.


  • Custom-fit comfort.
  • Filtered protection from high SPL exposure.
  • Excellent sound quality.
  • Fit remains good over time


  • Easy to lose.
  • Extra filters are expensive.


  • Custom-fit, vinyl earplugs available in a multitude of colors.
  • Etymotic filters, offering 9, 15, or 25 decibels of protection, allowing you to hear the full frequency range in your audio.
  • Total cost of $180, but your fees may vary by your audiologist.

Guide Review - Westone ES49 Custom Musician's Earplugs

I remember the first time I ever suffered music-induced hearing loss; I had seen Soul Coughing perform at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis on a snowy December night, and my ears rang for the next three days. At the time I didn't think anything of it -- at 15, it's hard to convince yourself that you're not invincible, let alone vulnerable to exposure-related hearing loss.

Fast forward nearly 10 years later, and I'd begun noticing a little tinnitus -- that annoying, permanent ringing in my ears. I figured that prolonged exposure while working in the music industry as a sound engineer and studio producer was finally catching up with me.

A visit to my audiologist, Judy Peterein at Washington University's Center for Advanced Medicine in St. Louis, confirmed what I had suspected: I have a mild case of tinnitus, despite having excellent hearing otherwise. As I make my living with my ears, I felt I needed to look into more permanent protection.

For $180, I received the custom earplugs with a pair of Etymtotic ER-25 filters, and the initial fitting and follow-up visit. Your prices may vary depending on your dispenser's fees.

The Etymotic filters are what make these earplugs so special. I chose the ER-25, offering 25 decibels of protection. Etymotic manufactures 9db, 15db, and 25db filters, which brilliantly allow you to hear the full fidelity of the audio around you at a comfortable, safe volume.

The Westone ER-49 works flawlessly. Mixing live audio is great with the earplugs; it's as if the volume was turned down, but I still can hear every detail and frequency necessary. Seeing a concert with the earplugs is a really great experience, too.

While the Westone plugs are expensive, they're very much worth it. Even with moderately high use, the ES-49 have remained in good shape and fitting brilliantly nearly two years later. Worth every penny!

Remember, time + exposure = loss, and at 100db, a typical concert volume, 15 minutes is the maximum exposure time before loss begins to occur -- and once your hearing is gone, it's gone for good.

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