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I see some websites selling aviation custom earplugs. What are the differences, if any, between aviation custom earplugs and regular custom sleeping or custom musician earplugs (i.e., flat-response attenuators)?

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    $\begingroup$ Could there be an issue of needing to relieve air pressure differences when climbing or descending? Putting an airtight thing into your ear doesn't seem like a great idea in the aviation context-- wouldn't pertain to open-cell foam earplugs but might pertain to some others-- $\endgroup$ Jan 17, 2023 at 17:40

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Aviation earplugs for use in piston engine airplanes needs to attenuate frequencies under 200Hz, because both the engine exhaust and the propeller wash pulse hitting the windshield are in the range of 70Hz for a 2 blade, 4 cyl engine, and a little over 100 Hz for a six cylinder with a 3 blade prop, or some mix of the two, so these are the dominant frequencies. The rest is white noise from the air stream.

This requires the earplugs to have mass to them, as foam earplugs have relatively little low frequency attenuation. There is a brand called Isolate Earplugs that use a metal cylinder, aluminum or titanium, with a foam rubber tip, which gives it mass. So look for earplugs with that feature. Isolates work well but they are about 40$ per set.

I make home-made ones by wrapping golf club ballast tape (lead sticky tape) around the shaft of a 3M Push-In earplug, and covering the tape with heat shrink tubing. If you don't like the idea of lead tape in your ear, even if its hidden under a sleeve of heat shrink plastic, you could use some other foil material, with somewhat less performance, but still better than foam earplugs. In left to right in-ear testing using headphones with a low frequency tone at high volume, my homemade ones performed better than even the Isolates.

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