I first heard about Plugfones through Reddit (surprise surprise) when I was looking for a way to incorporate my music/route directions with ear safety. I’m not a fan of impulse purchases, but after reading a few good recommendations/reviews and it probably being payday, I made the purchase.
I typically don’t use headphones in the morning for commuting and only wear them on the weekends on long or solo trips. I also have never worn regular ear plugs before. I was relying on my Apple earphones for music before this purchase.
So I was a little shocked at how much noise these headphones actually reduce. Like so shocked I contemplate if they’re safe since I can barely hear my motorcycle turn on with them in.
Let’s go over the features before I give you my review.
Noise Reduction Rating: “An official Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is a certification of the number of decibels that a noise level can be reduced by the proper application of the device or item being tested.”
Plugfones provide a NRR of 25 dB, protecting ears from harmful noises.
Just to point this out, it’s not the loud sound of your exhaust that causes hearing loss/damage, it’s the wind!
They have a variety of different colors to choose from, all claiming to serve a different purpose but still hold the same NRR of 25dB. The only ones that offer “more” protection and are compliant with OSHA standards are the Contractor VL Plugfones.
For more information on safety, check out this chart on noise exposure limits. The better you protect your ears, the longer you would be able to comfortably ride.
The Plugfones come with 2 inserts: traditional foam and silicone.
In terms of noise reduction, these earphones work better than my normal Apple ear buds. Before I bought these, my ears would be ringing after a long trip. Or worse, I was damaging my hearing by blasting my music so loud to hear it over the wind. The only downside is the initial shock of how much noise these earplugs cancel out. I still get a little anxious when I start up the bike because I can’t really hear much anymore. Sometimes on the road I can’t hear a car pull up next to me. So I would definitely make sure that you’re paying attention to your surroundings even more than before.
So far, I prefer the silicone inserts over the foam ones. The shape of the silicone inserts fit better in your ear and don’t fall off as soon as you put on your helmet. I still have trouble keeping both in my ear, but so far the silicone inserts don’t easily fall out like the foam ones do. If you prefer foam inserts or have your own, you could potentially modify those to fit these ear plugs. All you would need to do is make a hole through the foam inserts to make them compatible with the earplugs.
My biggest complaint with these earplugs is the cord. With my Apple ear buds, I could change or pause the song with the remote that’s integrated into the cord. With these earphones, I have to stop, remove my gloves, and adjust my music playlist. It gets even more frustrating when I have directions on and my earphones start slipping out of my ear. Instead of being able to fix this by quickly adjusting the volume, I have to stop on the side of the road to fix the problem.
Overall, I prefer riding with these only on long trips. When I commute, and normally lane split, I want to be able to hear cars or other motorcycles approaching me, so I choose to not wear them.
Update (9/15/17): These headphones are still better than my Apple earbuds in terms of protection and general wear when I’m riding. I still think the plugfones should come with remote on the cord, which I think their new line does. After 6 months of constant use, one of the headphones intermittently stops working and sound only comes through one earphone. Not sure if they’ll replace it for me or if I can exchange it with one of the newer plugfones from their line, but I’m trying.