Earmold Australia have been making earplugs for Aussie riders since 1988 and now produce their own laboratory-made Lab-Flex earplugs.
We’ve tested them all over the past 10 or so years and love them all. They are our favourite way of protecting our hearing, staying in touch with the outside world (work commitments!) and enjoying music on the ride.
We have a ready stash of three types of music earphones as well as Insta-Mold and Lab-Flex earplugs on hand for every riding situation.
So which is the best?
Recreational Stereo Wires, and plugs (from $75 for plugs and $240 for earphones)
These have speakers in the cables surrounded by a rubber “boot” to isolate them from percussive sounds. These drivers are then connected by acoustic “air” tubes that go into the plug.
- Made on the spot and ready to use the same day;
- No driver or speaker inside the earplug, so they are softer and comfortable;
- Hard wearing so you can be rougher pulling on a tube rather than a wire;
- Best wind noise soundproofing;
- Two-year warranty on earplugs and electronics.
These are best for phone calls and listening to audio books as the vocals and mid-range are very clear. For music, they have deep bass, but not a lot of top end, so they’re great for modern duff-duff music.
These are great for a long trip because of the comfort of the soft plug with no driver in them. Be careful how you position the thick air tube against your earlobes for maximum comfort.
In-Ear Music and Phone monitors (from $289)
These feature a single or dual driver fitted inside the earplug.
- Better quality high-fidelity sound in all frequencies. You can get single or dual drivers which are used for musicians, so they have to be good;
- Comfortable because the cable is so thin;
- Two-year warranty on the earplugs and one year on the electronics.
If you love music, you’ll love these. Go to your music settings and turn up the bass for the best all-round sound.
Because the driver is inside the plug, it is a little bulkier than the recreational earphones.
Be careful with the delicate cords when pulling the helmet off or putting it on and don’t yank at them.
They are pretty hard wearing as mine only started to fray after about two years of rigorous daily usage.
They still worked fine, but Earmold Australia owner Aaron Dalle-Molle tidied them up so I should get several more years of wear out of them!
Lab-Flex In-Ear Music Monitors, Phone Monitors and plugs (from $120 for plugs and $299 for earphones)
I asked Aaron to make a pair with a genuine iPhone cable which is an option available with these and the recreational monitors.
The new iPhone7 has a lightning plug instead of a normal 3.5mm stereo audio jack, so these earphones plug directly into my phone, but not a Bluetooth unit. I wanted something I could wear with a helmet without a Bluetooth unit attached.
You don’t need to visit Earmold Australia or one of their agents to have the moulds done, you can go to your audiologist clinic and get a full set of ear impressions done there and post them directly to Earmold and they make the plugs from the impressions.
There is a five-to-seven day turnaround to have these made.
- Because it is a more dense compound they can be finely carved to better tolerances and create an even better fit;
- The tighter fit provides good soundproofing although the material is not as soundproof as the Insta-Mold material used in the other plugs;
- The Biopor soft premium silicone is lighter and longer lasting with a four-year warranty on the earplug;
- Earmold can make the tips clear so you can easily check if they are clogged with wax;
I asked to use a genuine iPhone7 cable control so I could use it with an open face helmet and not have to plug it into a Bluetooth unit, but you can also use a standard cord.
The iPhone cord is close to my chin, so I can easily access the controls, especially with an open-face helmet.
It’s not ideal for taking phone calls while riding as the mic attracts wind noise. However, I pull over to take calls.
I also have a pair of Lab-Flex earplugs which I wear to bed when the neighbours have a loud party and they are more comfortable when your head is lying on a pillow.
Conclusion: The best Earmold Australia plugs for you!
If you can afford them, get a pair of each!
Standard Earmolds reduce the wind noise and fatigue levels while riding, protecting your hearing.
If you’re after music, Recreational Wires are hard wearing with good sound and In-Ear Music monitors take you to the next level of sound in your ears
Go for the Lab-Flex if you want more longevity, comfort and quality sound.