Sonic bliss without the sacrifice
Hearing loss isn’t something you think about everyday unless you’re experiencing it. As worship leaders and musicians, we rely on our hearing, often without thinking about it. Hearing is one of the most important aspects of what we do as musicians. We hear what we play, we hear our own voice, we hear the voices of others and other instruments. Music is meant to be heard, so it’s often loud. So what are worship musicians to do about protecting their hearing while being able to play and sing excellently? Enter Minuendo Lossless Earplugs, a cutting-edge innovation that promises to revolutionize the way we experience music without compromising on hearing health. Minuendo sent WorshipGTR a few pairs of their Lossless Earplugs for our honest review. In this review, I delve into my experience with these earplugs, evaluating their performance, comfort, and overall impact on my worship and concert experiences.
The general concept of earplugs is to block sound vibrations from your eardrums by covering your ear canal. If you’ve ever used standard, foam earplugs, you know they work to block out sound. However, Minuendo promises to no only provide hearing protection, but instead of muffling all sound, Lossless Earplugs promise that in the process of blocking sound, you won’t lose sound fidelity, thereby making the volume quieter while maintaining the different frequencies.
Unboxing and Initial Impressions
The Minuendo Lossless Earplugs arrived in a sleek, minimal package, which immediately conveyed a sense of sophistication and quality. The square box included the earplugs, a compact carrying case, four types of interchangeable tips for achieving a custom fit and sound, a fastening neck leash a cleaning brush and a user manual that provided clear instructions on how to use and maintain the earplugs. I love great packaging, so the unboxing experience alone set a promising tone for the product.
Design and Comfort
The earplugs themselves boasted a simple and sleek design, featuring a discreet, low-profile form factor that sat comfortably in my ears. I have very small ears, and I didn’t feel like they were overly noticeable. The earplug tips came in four different styles to ensure a snug fit and desired attenuation levels. Tip styles include 1-Flange, 2-Flange, 3-Flange and Foam – from the lightest hearing protection at a mean attenuation (dB) of 17.8 to 28.5dB and foam offering the greatest protection at 20.5 to 33.9dB. I found the 1-Flange most comfortable with day-to-day hearing protection and the foam tips best for concert settings. The only tips that didn’t work for me were the 3-Flange, as they were too long. While wearing them, they did not feel heavy in my ears despite the quality construction. I was able to wear them throughout lengthy worship sessions and concerts without feeling any discomfort or ear fatigue.
Lossless Sound Quality
The primary feature of the Minuendo earplugs is their ability to preserve the integrity of the sound. As a worship musician, the clarity of music is of paramount importance to convey the emotions of the songs. Similarly, in the concert context, I want to hear every note and melody delivered by the artists. The interchangeable tips played a crucial role in tailoring the level of attenuation to match the specific environment. But Minuendo took it one step further offering stepless adjustments. On each earplug is a small lever that you manually adjust for more or less volume. On the lowest setting, they block out 7dB and at the highest, they block 25dB. For worship sessions, where subtlety is key, I opted for the lower attenuation filtering, allowing me to hear the nuances of the acoustic instruments and vocals.
I wore the Minuendo earplugs to an Unspoken concert, and I was impressed with their ability to reduce overall volume without sacrificing the nuanced details of the music. While there, I experimented and found the higher attenuation filters effectively controlled the decibel levels while still delivering a rich sonic experience. In fact, with my earplugs on the highest level of protection, I was able to hear the tracks behind one of the songs!
Impact on Worship Experience
I also used the earplugs in the worship service context. At my church, worship services range from around 85-95dB on a Sunday morning. I used the Minuendo earplugs when in the audience of our worship services and found they did not impact my ability to immerse myself in the music even when the overall volume was much quieter. I did have to play with the volume levers to find the right mix of my voice and the music. On stage, we use an IEM system, as a lot of churches do. However, we still find ourselves in situations where we have on-stage floor monitors and drums without shields (our youth auditorium). In these contexts, the earplugs are a game changer by reducing the stage volume and maintaining the fidelity.
Overall Live Music Experience
In the realm of live music, the Minuendo earplugs truly shone as the must-have accessory. The earplugs ensured that I could truly enjoy music without worrying about the loudness. Just a few months prior, I attended a Gable Price and Friends show. I went home ears ringing and wishing I could have “heard” more of the music. It was just loud. By contrast, with the earplugs at the Unspoken concert, the dynamic sound range remained intact, allowing me to enjoy every aspect of the music without the ringing ears and regret that usually follows these events. The versatility of the earplugs, thanks to the volume levers, enables me to switch between different attenuation levels seamlessly, like when the band is playing and when someone is speaking on a microphone to speaking to a person in the crowd.
Cost and Value
The Minuendo Lossless Earplugs are made in Norway and seem to be made with high quality materials. At a cost of $159.00, they are on the higher end of earplug prices. A quick search on Amazon for “earplugs for musicians” returns options ranging from $15 to $50. On the high end, a pair of custom-molded earplugs cost between $120-$150. With the higher cost of the Minuendo Earplugs, the company is claiming a greater value because of the the different tips and frequency adjustment options not available in these other products. However, when you consider the “cost” of losing hearing, $159 doesn’t seem like that hard of an investment. On their website, Minuendo does offer an extended warranty. If an earplug stops working (without external damage occurring) within 3 years of purchase, it will be replaced given that the non-functioning earplug is returned to Minuendo. The extended warranty does not apply to ear tips or accessories. However, with minimal moving parts and no electronics, one could assume they would last a long time.
Maintenance and Portability
The included compact carrying case served as a convenient storage solution for the earplugs and their accessories. The earplugs were easy to clean, and the durable construction of the carrying case ensured that they remained protected even when carried in a pocket or bag. Bonus, the earplugs are magnetic and stick together, making them a little harder to lose in my opinion. I keep the case in my purse so I always have them at the ready, however, the case is small enough that my husband is able to keep them in his pocket.
Given the importance of hearing for worship guitarists and musicians, it can be hard to find the right balance between exceptional sound quality and hearing protection. It’s this writer’s opinion that the Minuendo Lossless Earplugs are a game-changing solution for worship musicians. My own stage and concert experiences were transformed by their ability to maintain the purity of sound while blocking unwanted volume. From their impeccable design and comfort to their lossless sound quality and versatile attenuation options, these earplugs set a new standard in the field. The Minuendo Lossless Earplugs have undoubtedly earned their place as an essential accessory in my worship gear bag, enhancing both my worship & concert experiences.