Now that I’m older, I no longer feel the need to be as close to the stage as possible at concerts – these days, I’d rather be a bit farther away from the mosh pit, thank you very much. (I’m so old.) In my younger days when I was placing myself practically up against the speakers, I would come away from concerts with a loud ringing in my ears, my friends and I having to shout in order to hear each other. I thought it was terribly amusing at the time, but now I cringe to think about the kind of long-term damage I may have done to my hearing. I think I hear just fine, but could it be better? I don’t know.

Moral of the story is, don’t be stupid like me – if you’re going to a concert that you know is going to be eardrum-shattering, wear some sort of ear protection. Who really wants to wear earplugs to a concert, though?

“When going out, I want to enjoy the atmosphere,” says Maarten Bodewes, Co-founder of Loop. “Most earplugs distorted the music, were uncomfortable—not to mention downright ugly. That’s why we started Loop.”

Loop earplugs are different than any others you’ve seen – they’re cylindrical and hollow, and allow sound waves to enter via a small opening and pass through an acoustic channel, enabling music and speech to remain clear while still protecting the eardrum. The unique shape of Loop’s earplugs was made possible with 3D printing technology. At the end of the sound tube, as Loop calls it, is an acoustic filter that lowers all frequencies equally.

Finally, the ear canal is sealed by ear tips made from memory foam that adjust to the shape of the ear. All of this results in 20 decibel equal sound reduction across all frequencies. Loop earplugs don’t distort or block sound, they just turn down the volume.

“It’s the perfect balance between protection and experience,” says Dimitri O, Co-Founder of Loop.

Loop worked with several different companies to develop the earplugs. To develop the acoustic channel and filter, they worked with Dynamic Ear Company, while for the 3D printing they turned to 3D Systems. To ensure comfort and fit, Loop partnered with Comply.

Loop earplugs are easy to insert and remove, and they stay put even if you’re moshing. They also look pretty cool, like a hip new accessory rather than an auditory protection device. They come in eight colors: Glorious Gold, Funky Blue, Flirty Rose Gold, Midnight Black, Raving Red, Swinging Silver, Electric White and Brilliant Black.

According to the World Health Organization, one out of three young adults is at risk of hearing loss due to loud music at concerts, clubs and events. Only 15% wear earplugs, however, despite numerous awareness campaigns about that risk. Loop hopes that their earplugs will appeal to those young adults in particular, giving them a cool-looking and effective way to protect their hearing.

Loop earplugs are available from the company’s website or from Amazon. They cost $29.95/€29.95 and include four silicone ear tips, two foam ear tips and a leather carrying pouch.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Images: Loop]

 

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