It’s rare for any company to discuss a health problem associated with their industry. This makes V-MODA’s new line of Fader earplugs a welcome curiosity.
They claim to be “designed and tuned by professional DJs, producers and doctors.” As in, not the hard high-end cut offered by foam earplugs.
Ok, sounds like something I’d like, but where to test them. . .
Of the storied clubs on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, perhaps none is more infamous than The Viper Room. The black on black on black decor has all the visual appeal of an unlit cave, but you don’t go for the ambience. You go for the music.
The night I went (not coincidentally), LA-based rockers Former Future played the closing set. They played loud.
Perfect. Earplugs in, I reveled in my multitasking ability to review a product and rock out at the same time.
Now keep in mind, I am one of those people who brings earplugs everywhere. I stick my fingers in my ears when ambulances and fire trucks go by. I have long since passed the point of caring when I get looks for said behavior. Instead I have moved on to “no, what’s wrong with you that youaren’t wearing earplugs.” So the idea of wearing earplugs is as natural to me as sunglasses are to everyone else (though, admittedly I’m never without those either).
But I’m extremely fussy about earbuds, finding most uncomfortable, at best. The fit of the Faders was good, but the silicone tips became bothersome after a few hours. Everyone’s ears are different, and as I said mine seem different-er than most. If most earbuds fit/are comfortable for you, then I’m sure these will be too.
The other problem is solvable, but amusing none the less. With the Faders in, I had a few questions of “what are you listening to?” You see, they look exactly like metal earbuds, and with the attached safety cable, it looks like you’re listening to your iPod. This really isn’t an issue as the cable is detachable, just more an FYI as to why people are looking at you funny (presuming they don’t already).
V-MODA’s claim that the Faders are filters, not a hard cut like most ear plugs, seems reasonably well founded. I could hear voices and cymbals reasonably well. Perhaps not as good as with my custom ACS ER-25 plugs, but those are a lot more expensive. A direct comparison wasn’t possible due to the ER-25’s filter no longer fitting correctly into the custom-molded earplug, rendering them useless. All the more annoying since I actually paid for the damn things.
I would have thought 12 dB worth of reduction wouldn’t have been sufficient. After a night at the Viper Room, though, my ears weren’t ringing. Other than the above-mentioned mildly uncomfortable tips, I’d say the Faders worked great.
For those (like myself) that think cheap foam earplugs are too stifling, the $15 Faders are a no brainer. I’d still recommend a good set of custom plugs, but if you only go to concerts once and a while, these will probably do just fine.
Brent Butterworth and Geoff Morrison combine their years of gear testing and knowledge in one überblog of irreverence and techiness.
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