I confess to being an earplug obsessive. I have a favorite brand (Howard Leight Laser Lites) and I buy my ‘plugs in bulk, scattering them like candy in bags, drawers, and pockets for easy-access silence. It’s an affordable luxury I recommend to anyone.
But my earplugs are disposable, and I like the idea of getting something a bit more durable and functional. Enter the dBud. These are a pair of adjustable ear plugs currently raising funds (and fully funded) on Kickstarter. They have a built in slider that lets you switch between “open” and “closed” positions, reducing noise intake by 15 decibels or 30 dB. Their creators, Swedish company EarLab, promise that a built-in “acoustic filter” (basically a fabric mesh — there are no electronics in the dBuds) also allow wearers to block out loud sounds, while still hearing nearby noises, like conversations. Build in magnets round off the design features, letting you click the buds together for safe keeping. It’s a neat package, and the adjustable filtering mechanism seems to be in vogue right now. A similar product called Knops is also raising funds on Kickstarter (though they’re pricier — $62 a pair instead of $49).
The question is, do the dBuds work as well as EarLab promises? The company’s promo video is very flashy, but at the end of the day, these are just earplugs with a built-in slider. They don’t offer the sort of sophisticated sound filtering you get with electronic buds like Doppler’s Here One. On the other hand, they don’t have to be charged, and I very much hate the idea of charging my earplugs. Hopefully we can get our ears on a pair of dBuds to test their claims for ourselves some time soon.