Hearing is a beautiful thing; allowing us to communicate, socialise, alerting us to trouble, work more effectively and listen to music.
My career as a music photographer puts me at substantial risk of noise-induced hearing loss.
With music being such an integral part of my life, it’s important that I find adequate hearing protection, shielding me from damage without ruining the enjoyment of listening.
Flare Audio have released Isolate, a new form of earplugs that come in two versions, Aluminium and Titanium, with the latter said to be “revolutionary solid titanium micro earplugs that isolate you from noise like never before.” I was excited that these were the ones I would be testing.
The current alternatives available on the market, include the cheap, bulky, compressible, disposable foam form (approx £4 for 20 pairs) or the pricey, tailored custom fit form (approx £140). If it turned out that these Isolate earplugs worked well, then they would be a great value for money alternative (approx £49).
Isolate suggest their earplugs would allow me to “enjoy the most incredible sonic details at very safe levels”. Arriving just in time for a run of shows that would put this product to the test, from an acoustic solo gig to an electronic duo with a full-blown orchestra, I was definitely ready to put them to the challenge.They were easy to use, with simple instructions. They came with an earfoam, solid metal body with tip-locking ridges and finger grips for easy removal. The solid metal body is stylish, sleek and smart, not that this really matters, but adds to the appeal.
Once the earplug is assembled, you pinch and roll the end of the tip, pull the top of the ear backwards to open the ear canal and push the tip deep into the ear. The tips have a sticky, spongy texture and come in three varied sizes. Flare Audio suggest you start with the small tips initially and work up to the best fit. When fitted correctly “only bone conducted sound should be heard”, creating a perfect seal for maximum isolation and comfort. Having small ears (well, ear canals), the smallest tip fit nice and snug.
I had a good experience with the Isolate earplugs, the sound levels were notably reduced but still clear and the musicians’ lyrics were audible at the various types of gigs and venues I tested them at. The earplugs felt comfortable, high quality and lightweight. I did feel the need to remove them for a little while during the orchestral gig as I felt I might be missing out on the intricacies of the music, but overall was happy to keep them in and enjoyed the protection they gave me. The tips are easily cleaned with a little water and reusable, however I would suggest carrying a spare pair of tips as when I dropped one it picked up debris off the floor and I didn’t have time to run and clean it. They come with a little pull string bag for easy storage between usage. I definitely think they are good value for money, fill the gap in the market and live up to Flare Audio’s marketing campaign.
People most likely to benefit from this product within the music industry include musicians, engineers, photographers, lighting technicians and the general gig attending public. Outside of my industry Flare Audio are marketing to a number of demographics, offering “perfect sound isolation for sleeping, travelling, concerts and clubs, motorsports, motorbikes, working and high impact sounds.”
I would be happy to wear them outside of a gig, already having enjoyed them in the office and at home to block out the noise of building and renovation, that appears to be happening wherever I go in Manchester.
Music is said to have the ability to improve our mental well-being, make us smarter, happier and more productive, so I am glad to have found a product that will protect my ears without hindering my enjoyment. Therefore, I highly recommend these Isolate earplugs as an alternative to others on the market. They are currently available from Kickstarter, through the crowd-funder IndieGoGo.
For more details visit Flare Audio