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  • Hearos Xtreme

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  • How We Tested

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Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The Hearos Xtreme were great at blocking sound in our testing.

Best Overall
Hearos Xtreme

Our top pick is the Hearos Xtreme for their superior sound blocking and comfort combination. They came in third in our lab sound-blocking tests and first in objective testing for sound blockage and comfort while being worn in various scenarios. They also placed second in a poll of Reviewed staffers for comfort and sound blocking, and tied for second in the subjective testing for reuse, storage, and overall experience.

They aren’t uncomfortable, but you know they’re in—you just don’t necessarily care thanks to the blissful silence they provide. You can order a set of 100 pairs or just 14 pairs, which is nice if you don’t plan on using them long-term.


  • Fantastic at blocking noise

  • Comfortable

  • Sold in smaller packs


  • None that we could find

Credit: / Jackson Ruckar
Best For Small Ears
3M E-A-Rsoft

The 3M E-A-Rsoft might be a better choice if you value comfort over sound blockage or just have fussier ear canals, as they’re smaller than the Hearos. They came in second place on our sound isolation test, but didn’t score quite as high on the in-ear sound blocking test, partially due to how fiddly they can be to insert. Once you get a good fit, though, they excel. At one point during the testing process, my partner and I were cleaning our apartment and had the dishwasher, AC, and vacuum running simultaneously, and of all the pairs I had on hand, this was the one I reached for when I decided the noise was too much.

They’re only available in a set of 200, which is a bit irksome if you’re looking to purchase them for a short trip, but each pair is individually wrapped so you can easily take what you need (though that can create a lot of plastic waste in the process). The box also has a small hole punched in it to demonstrate roughly what size to roll the plugs to for insertion, which is a nice clever touch.


  • Great at blocking noise

  • Fit well in smaller ear canals


  • Tricky to insert

  • Sold only in 200-packs

How We Tested

Who am I?

Hi, I’m Rena Behar. As a former researcher and editor at the Wirecutter and strong sleep aficionado, I take my product testing (and sleep comfort) very seriously. I’ve researched products ranging from printers to vibrators and know how to weed through reviews like nobody’s business. I also live on a busy Brooklyn street, so I know how important it is to block out the nighttime noise.

The Tests

Each set of plugs was subject to a number of tests. We started in the lab, where we played pink noise—which sounds a lot like static but is designed to provide equal power across an entire frequency range—from a speaker next to our Head and Torso Simulator, equipped with each pair of earplugs one at a time. We used SoundCheck software to measure how much sound each set blocked.

For objective testing, I slept in each pair for one night, paying attention to comfort, ease of insertion, how well they stayed in, and how much sound was blocked. I also wore each pair in my apartment while trying to do work with Terminator 3 on in the background (it’s astonishing how many earplugs can’t stand up to Arnold’s voice) and while walking around downtown Brooklyn, attempting to drown out construction, traffic, and after-school crowds. I also noted whether there was any difference in effectiveness with a new pair versus reusing a pair.

Related content

A number of Reviewed staffers also tried each pair for about 15 to 20 minutes, noting sound blockage and comfort levels, so we could evaluate which were better across a wider range of ears.

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

For objective testing, I slept in each pair for one night, paying attention to comfort, ease of insertion, how well they stayed in, and how much sound was blocked.

After I’d worn all of them, I blasted them with my window unit air conditioner on one side and a fan on the other to see how well they might hold up to the elements, given that some Amazon reviewers had complained about their plugs drying out in the box over time. We also rated the level of wear and tear each pair showed — would you be willing to reuse them? — along with portability and overall experience for the subjective factor.

What You Need To Know About Earplugs

If you want proper sound blockage, you need to make sure you’re inserting the earplug correctly (all of the packages have instructions on how to do so) and that it fits your ear shape. If you try multiple times and still can’t get a pair to work, you may need to try a different size (some come in small, medium and large options) or a different brand.

These earplugs were tested mainly for sleeping, not for band practice or loud bars. There are other types of earplugs designed to better maintain acoustic integrity if that’s what you’re after. Though it can’t hurt to try these out about town if you’re routinely exposed to high decibel levels, such as the ones you might find standing in a subway tunnel.

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

According to a physician-reviewed article at Healthline, wearing earplugs every night for a prolonged period of time might lead to a buildup of earwax getting pushed to the back of your ear, leading to potential temporary hearing loss or tinnitus.

Regardless of how loud your noise situation is, if you find yourself needing to wear earplugs every night, you may just want to move instead. According to a physician-reviewed article at Healthline, wearing earplugs every night for a prolonged period of time might lead to a buildup of earwax getting pushed to the back of your ear, leading to potential temporary hearing loss or tinnitus. Bacteria can also build up on the earplugs, potentially causing ear infections. To minimize your risk factors, it’s suggested that you don’t use the same set for too long.

Other Earplugs We Tested

Product image of Flents Quiet Time
Flents Quiet Time

The Flents Quiet Time were so close to being great but somehow just couldn't cross that final hurdle. They’re a bit firmer than some of
the other picks, so they don’t roll up as easily, making them trickier to insert. It also made it more obvious when they seemed to have softened up later. They felt like they lost firmness after being carried in a hot bag, almost as though they had slightly melted. Something about these seemed to trigger my tinnitus as well, something I noticed in a few of the lower-ranked pairs.

They did tie for second place (along with the Hearos Xtreme) in the Reviewed office survey, which suggests that you may agree that the
potential upgrade in comfort is worth their inconveniences.


  • Blocks out noise well

  • Comfortable in the ear


  • Stiffer than other foam earplugs

  • Tough to get a solid seal

Product image of Mack's Slim Fit Soft Foam
Mack's Slim Fit Soft Foam

The Mack’s Slim Fit were also a very strong contender, tying for the third-place slot with the Flents and mere fractions of points away from bumping out the 3Ms. These slide into smaller ear canals like a dream, and provided consistently solid sound blockage, scoring first place on our lab sound tests. Their sound testing in the objective tests, however, just wasn’t quite as good, and they were middle of the pack in the office poll.

I did make a small user error during their testing at one point and inserted them with slightly damp hands (you're supposed to make sure
your hands are clean, after all). My ear canals hated that, so make sure your hands are dry before trying your insertion. They were still
so comfortable that I almost didn't mind that their sound blockage didn't feel quite up to par with the others.

If our top picks don’t work for you, both these and the Flents would be a very good next choice to try.


  • Slide into ears easily

  • Block out noise well


  • None that we could find

Product image of Happy Ears
Happy Ears Listen

If you want a set of reusable earplugs that you can easily transport, the Happy Ears Listen are a good choice. They’re incredibly stylish (not a phrase frequently used for earplugs), but despite their aesthetic appeal, we have a few objections.

They aren’t quite as comfortable for side sleeping due to their hard plastic stems. They also scored the lowest on our sound isolation test, even though they placed second on the objective test and tied for first with the 3Ms on the subjective. They come in small, medium, and large to help you find your best fit, but you do have to take your best guess when you order since the sizes are sold separately.

Editor's Note: Happy Ears is currently out of stock at Amazon, but you can purchase them directly from Happy Ears.


  • Aesthetically pleasing

  • Hold up better than foam


  • Stiff stems, making side-sleeping uncomfortable

  • Different sizes sold separately

Product image of Honeywell Howard Leight MAX-1
Honeywell Howard Leight MAX-1

The Howard Leight Max1 is another set that did well. Their flared base feature is great for in-ear adjustments and judging the depth of insertion. They were more challenging to insert but some Reviewed staffers swear by them, so they’re worth a shot if our other options aren’t a fit.


  • Flared bottom ensures better seal


  • Challenging to insert

Product image of Moldex 6800 Pura-Fit
Moldex 6800 Pura-Fit

Moldex Pura-fit didn’t insert easily and they lost their shape by the morning. They rebounded eventually but we had concerns about their possible reusability and general comfort. They came in last place in our subjective testing, and I could never forget I was wearing them, while somehow still hearing most of what was around me. I consistently struggled to get a reasonable fit despite being able to hear them expanding in my ears, a somewhat bizarre effect.


  • None that we could find


  • Don't fit well in ear canal

  • Noise still leaks in

  • Concerns over durability

Product image of Mack's Ultra Soft Foam
Mack's Ultra Soft Foam

Mack’s Ultra Softs is very plump for earplugs, and they’re also an unpleasant beige color. If you have large ear canals and are drawn to the visual appeal of chunks of putty, these may be for you. However, they shouldn’t be your first try, despite being awarded “Amazon’s Choice” if you just search the site for earplugs.


  • Offer a robust seal


  • Slightly large

  • Not attractive looking

Product image of Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone
Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone

Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone is a good option if you don’t want to actively insert anything into your ear canal. You just roll up the waxy material and then smooth it over your ear. It’s more comfortable for side sleepers. If it weren’t for the cave-like echo, you could almost forget you’re wearing them. But these silicone earplugs don’t block as much sound, and the sticky material can pick up hair and pillow fuzz.


  • Keeps material out of ear canals

  • Comfortable for side sleepers


  • Doesn't block out noise well

  • Get dirty really easily

Product image of Liberty Dura Plug
Liberty Dura Plug

Liberty Duraplugs were among the least comfortable options. My notes included the phrase, “I hate these, they’re just tiny foam, how are they so uncomfortable,” and it proved very challenging to get a good fit. They managed to somehow irritate my ear canals without actually staying in my ears.


  • None that we could find


  • Uncomfortable

  • Ill-fitting

  • Foam irritates ear canals

Product image of Honeywell Howard Leight Laser Lite LL-1
Honeywell Howard Leight Laser Lite LL-1

The low performance of the Howard Leight Laser Lites came as a genuine surprise given their popularity in other corners of the internet and generally strong brand following. I woke up at 6 a.m. to yank them out of my ears. They came in fourth in our lab noise reduction test and had the lowest score in the staff survey.


  • None that we could find


  • Uncomfortable

  • Don't block out noise well

Meet the tester

Rena Behar

Rena Behar


Rena Behar is a valued contributor to the family of sites.

See all of Rena Behar's reviews

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