This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are eating, drinking, and buying right now. Here, Esra Erol writes about Loop earplugs, which allow her to enjoy concerts and restaurant meals in peace.
I used to go to a lot of concerts. Back in college I had no fear: I could stand on my feet for hours, bunions be damned, and scream my head off next to the amps without a care in the world. Fast-forward 10 years and I find myself overwhelmed by loud noises. After coming across a review for the Loop Experience Earplugs, I bought a pair to see Taylor Swift among 67,000+ screaming fans. The real surprise, though? The same earplugs work to ease my poor ears at restaurants and bars, i.e., some of the loudest places I know.
In advance of the Eras Tour, my partner and I chose chaos by going to a wine bar on a Friday night. As soon as we walked in, we were hit by a cacophony of noise. When we sat down at the bar, I had trouble hearing my partner and our server over the blaring music and overlapping conversations. Sitting next to me was a young woman shouting excruciating details about a bad date, and I could feel my heart rate going up. I was uncomfortable—until I put the Loop earplugs in. It was like a soft, warm blanket had been draped over the room. I could still hear the various sounds of the bar, but I could hear my partner and server better. I relaxed, sipped my drink, and stayed for another hour. Later that night, I had no headache.
No universal earplug will reduce sounds as evenly as a custom design, but the Loop pair offers four tips to fit nearly every ear shape. They also have a noise reduction rating of 18 to 23 decibels, allowing you to hear music and voices at a safer level. Thanks to its zippered pouch, which is tiny enough to fit in the smallest pocket, you can toss them in your bag and go. They’re comfortable to wear through a lengthy dinner at a hot new restaurant, cocktails on a hoppin’ patio, or several rounds of off-key renditions of ’90s bangers at karaoke. And for people on the autism spectrum or with ADHD, the Loop earplugs can help with sensory overload from everyday sounds.
Here’s the thing: There are lots of people for whom noise is an integral part of going out, especially in places like pop-ups and food halls, where holding a conversation may not be as important as the high-energy experience. But for people with hearing loss or anybody trying to take preventative measures against hearing loss, certain dining rooms can be harmful. Soundprint—an app that serves as a crowd-sourced directory of restaurants, bars, and other venues organized by their noise levels—is an excellent resource for anybody scoping out quieter spaces. I use it. And for the times that I go to a particularly loud restaurant or bar or concerts, I put my Loop earplugs in. Plus, the gold finish blends perfectly with my jewelry.