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Thread: Ear Buds/Hearing Protection durability

  1. #1
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    Ear Buds/Hearing Protection durability

    Does anyone use ear buds to combine communications with hearing protection? I am hard of hearing, and would like to protect what hearing ability I retain by wearing hearing protection, basically ear plugs.

    I also like to hear music while riding. Wearing ear plugs and then turning up the volume on helmet mounted speakers seems at odds with each other. Wearing ear plug speakers allows me to adjust the volume sitting still and eliminates the need for volume adjustment while riding.

    A Big Ear, Inc representative told me that on average, their ear plugs with speakers, the BE-1Cs, last about 2.4 years before they are returned for service broken because ear wax builds up in the speakers, preventing sound from coming out.

    How long do your in-ear plugs/speakers last? The product prices seem to be a down payment on something you then pay ~$80 every 2.4 years to maintain. Does anyone have another way to protect hearing and listen to music? Could you speak up, I can't heat you?

  2. #2
    Curmudgeon At Large Bobmws's Avatar
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    Disclaimer: I sell some of these as a part time business.

    I personally have a set that is 12 years old. Some people are harder on them than others. I have a few customers that regularly need repairs every few years, and others that don't have issues. I can't say if the failures are use (more miles) related or not. Biggest issue is people using the wires to remove them.

    A speaker tube blocked with earwax in not a cause for an $80 repair. Frankly those who are ear wax 'producers' are generally aware of that and take more precautions in their personal hygiene. BTW, ear wax is caused by over active oil glands that produce lubricant for the skin in the ear canals. The excess oil that is not absorbed in the skin gathers dust & dirt to become earwax.

    Some advances in technology have increased the sturdiness of stress relief at the solder joints to the speakers helping to reduce wire breakage failures. Sometimes a speaker just fails. If the set is a few years old, replacing one speaker usually results in the older speaker sounding weaker, so replacement of both is recommended.

    Custom molds generally retain their shape for years, but your ear canals can change shape due to weight gain / loss (as little as 10-12 lbs) or illness.

    So, how long do they last? There is no definite answer. If they work for you are they worth a maintenance investment every few years? If you want communication or music you need protection as well. I was just fitted with $5000 hearing aids due to damage incurred years ago, some from riding, some from things that go bang, most from my work environment, so it's your choice.
    Bob Weis
    '04 K12RS - Hannigan Hack
    www.earplugco.com

  3. #3
    Outlander Omega Man's Avatar
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    Ear protection for me is a problem, I've got Tinnitus. It's the crazy ringing-well actually a cross between a whistling tea kettle and a summer night-that you may have heard of. If I use ear protection it leaves no background noise to diffuse the ringing. When I run heavy equipment I use muffs with FM radio inside. On the Motorcycle, with the helmet, I just started to listen to music on a I-Pod. It's not perfect but with the wind noise of the helmet and the Tinnitus-which is a conversational volume-it helps. I recently switched to Skull Candy ear buds which are about $10.00 at Target. They provide a good balance of noise suppression and I enjoy the background music. The Skull Candy buds are comfortable for quite some time. and priced well enough that when I wreck them I don't feel to bad. Gary
    "Well they say.. time loves a hero but only time will tell.. If he's real, he's a legend from heaven If he ain't he was sent here from hell" Lowell George
    2009 F800GS 1994 TW200
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  4. #4
    Just me rad's Avatar
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    Arizona Al makes these, he attends most of the rallies and posts on the sport touring forum. They are Big Ears with special remote speakers. They work fantastic for sound quality, zero pain, good noise canceling. I have used a number of different ear buds, including the expensive er-6’s and these are far better.

    Using ear plugs or these molded ones and dumping my noisy Schuberth helmet and getting rid of my GS has brought me relief from my Tinnitus.

  5. #5
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    For most of us with titinitus, selling a bike ,etc., will not make it go away-I wish!Hpw much does Arizona Al charge for the ear molds?

  6. 10-27-2010, 01:37 PM
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  7. #6
    Tame Racing Driver Stig's Avatar
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    I use a pair of these Sony ear bud headphones on my RT and am very pleased with them. They do a fine job blocking out most wind and engine noise come with a few sets of removable (for cleaning) rubber ear pieces. I prefer the softest ear piece, which remains comfortable after several hours of riding. I also like that the wires come in at a 90 degree angle, which means that the backside of the headphone does not stick out very far, and doesn't get crushed into my ear canal by the helmet.
    Craig
    New York's Hudson Valley Region
    2009 R1200RT
    MOA #146131 IBA #55715

  8. #7
    tbourque
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    I tried several off the shelf plugs and was not happy. Mostly because when I put my helmet on (I wear a full face that fits snug) the earplugs would loose their seal and I would get outside noise. I tried three different styles. Then I went to a local audiology specialist and was fitted professionally. It took a couple of times to get the fit right, so I was glad I had someone who was selling the product also doing the fitting. There was a 90-day fit guarantee and they stood behind it. Fortunately, I was aware of the fit as soon as I put them in and we refitted on the spot. We did get it right and I am very happy with my earpieces. They fit well and the speakers are high quality. The cost....about $250 and very well spent. Ditto on the previous remark about durability. Although I've had them less than one year, the specialist was very specific in saying the durability is directly linked to removing the pieces by the body and not by the wires. $250 when compared to permanent hearing loss is very cheap!! As for ear wax buildup, the units are easy to clean with something small.

    Good luck!

  9. #8
    Just me rad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kantuckid View Post
    For most of us with titinitus, selling a bike ,etc., will not make it go away-I wish!Hpw much does Arizona Al charge for the ear molds?
    I'm sure you are correct, there must be all different levels/degrees of the malady.

    I guess I was lucky, most of mine was caused by long rides on a bike with very poor wind management and a terrible helmet. The ringing would stay with me for days on end after a long ride or tour. Getting on a bike with good wind management and a quieter helmet got my titinitus under control so I hardly notice it now.

    I think Al's ear buds were a couple hundred bucks, if I remember correctly.

    Here is a link to another thread about Al on this forum and it includes AlÔÇÖs email.
    http://forums.bmwmoa.org/showthread.php?t=44776

  10. #9
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    I bought some earbuds last year that work well for about $20. They are Altec Lansing. I bought them at Best Buy. They had a large selection of "noise-isolating" earbuds, most in the $20 range. I use them with an MP3/Radio combination. As far as I can see, all the earbuds described as "noise-isolating" are basically ear plugs with a built in earbud. Noise-cancelling earbuds use electronics to reduce background noise, but are much more expensive, and reviews I have read by riders indicate they are not nearly as effective as noise-isolating.

    When I put these earbuds in with the music turned off, they work just as well as my earplugs.
    Glenn
    2003 F650GS Dakar

  11. #10
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    I sneak this comment in whenever it fits: Noise induced hearing loss is progressive and the damage accumulates without recovery. I have long been at that point that the ringing never stops. I also have long been involved with protecting what little hearing I have left-this means I never-NEVER!- run anything that makes noise without the muffs or plugs. ATGATT should include this idea.

  12. #11
    Outlander Omega Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kantuckid View Post
    I sneak this comment in whenever it fits: Noise induced hearing loss is progressive and the damage accumulates without recovery. I have long been at that point that the ringing never stops. I also have long been involved with protecting what little hearing I have left-this means I never-NEVER!- run anything that makes noise without the muffs or plugs. ATGATT should include this idea.
    If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself .
    "Well they say.. time loves a hero but only time will tell.. If he's real, he's a legend from heaven If he ain't he was sent here from hell" Lowell George
    2009 F800GS 1994 TW200
    Part of the Forum Threadside Assistance Program

  13. #12
    Yankee Air Pirate
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    the iPlugz from EAR Inc. are simply fantatic. Complete isolation from outside noise due to the custom size, and great drivers.. the more expensive version twos are built specifically for people with some hearing loss.

    When I wear mine, as compared to simple ear bud headphones the difference is amazing. with ear buds I have to crank the music up, with these I can be at half volume.... oh yeah I have a Nolan N103 with speakers built in, I havent used those at all for 6 months cause I like the fitted iPlugz better. Here's the link:

    http://www.earinc.com/p2-iplugz.php

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omega Man View Post
    If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself .
    To give perspective of age: I started to damage my hearing in the 1950's as a shooter on a rifle team. Practiced in the basement of the Topeka,KS police station basement with concrete walls,floors ceiling and no hearing protection worn by me or anyone else! There were cops shooting pistols while we were there too! Later when in Goodyear plant during start of OSHA , the company was issuing hearing protection gear,etc., and some would sign off on the stuff and refuse to take it or wear it. I can remember guys that said" they just want a way to avoid the blame if we have a problem"... I suppose they were wondering the same thing,i.e., if I'd only known...

  15. #14
    Brett
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    I use SHUR ? ear plugs. They come with a container of different options, cost $90.00 and most of the plugs are washable. I just wash them with Dawn and let them dry and reuse them over and over. Always use the I-pod when riding. Over 95,000 miles in five years same phones still sound great, I think lol

  16. #15
    Where does this road go?? Gottago's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rad View Post
    Arizona Al makes these, he attends most of the rallies and posts on the sport touring forum. They are Big Ears with special remote speakers. They work fantastic for sound quality, zero pain, good noise canceling. I have used a number of different ear buds, including the expensive er-6ÔÇÖs and these are far better.
    I also have Arizona Al's earplugs now for about 5 years. They are fantastic. What's different with Al's is the special tube from the speakers to the custom molded ear plugs. And if you're real careful and it gets plugged you can pull it out and snip off the plugged area and reinsert it. I think the price is approx. $200. Best money I've ever spent. Gotten me across Nebraska in the middle of summer without going mad.

    Side note: Rad - is that an ipod remote and who makes it?
    "If they are running you out of town
    get in front of the crowd and make it
    look like a parade!"

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