These editor-favourite earplugs are now available in a limited edition design

loop earplugs review uk 2024 andrew footit
Loop Earplugs review: Our honest thoughtsHattie Parish/Loop

The world is a noisy place. If, like me, you're addicted to your noise-cancelling headphones, you'll know how offensively loud traffic, trains and the general humdrum of life can sound when you take them off. An assault on the ears, right?

There's also the stark contrast hybrid working throws up — the hubbub of the office pales in comparison to the peace and quiet of my WFH setup. And let's not forget snoring partners, screeching sirens and inconsiderate neighbours trying their very best to disrupt those precious eight hours, plus the creeping realisation that thumping concerts aren't exactly conducive to preserving one's hearing.

Luckily, as with most modern problems, there's an equally modern solution. Enter Loop Earplugs. You might have seen them nestled in your colleague's ears complementing a cute AF ear stack, or splashed over TikTok — they've been praised across the platform for their ability to block out niggling noises and dampen sensory overload for those prone to overstimulation.

The Loop Earplugs we're testing out:

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But these aren't your run-of-the-mill foam dampeners — Loop Earplugs use clever noise reduction technology to filter noise as well minimise the overall level of sound, promising zen-like focus, uninterrupted shut-eye or a full (but slightly quieter) experience at gigs and festivals, depending on which model you choose.

Where to buy Loop Earplugs? Buy Loop Earplugs direct from the Loop site or on Amazon.

What are Loop Earplugs?

Loop Earplugs consist of a small loop (dya get it?) of either silicone or plastic attached to a short stem (the acoustic channel) on which is mounted a replaceable silicone ear tip. When inserted correctly the loop portion sits comfortably in the concha of the ear (that hollow bit in the middle).

They come in different colours (including seasonal collections) and the Experience Plus product is available with metallic loops, elevating them from practical hearing protector to on-point ear accessory.

The brainchild of co-founders Maarten Bodewes and Dimitri O, Loop Earplugs were initially created to maintain sound quality, rather than cause muffling. 'Our co-founders were friends since high school and enjoyed going clubbing together. After a loud night out, they both had ringing ears and wanted to prevent further damage,' says Sayrade Vandermeersch, PR manager at Loop Earplugs.

'They tried all sorts of earplugs and none of them were effective, comfortable and stylish. They wanted to redefine what earplugs should look, sound and feel like and allow people to live life to the fullest.' And thus, Loop Earplugs was born.

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Loop Earplugs

The brand's mission is to help its customers "live life at their volume," with an aim to design innovative ear wear that does away with stereotypes that hearing protection can't be chic. 'Think of it like wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes — we believe hearing protection should be just as stylish.'

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The brand produces four different types of earplugs — all of which we've reviewed below.

  • Loop Experience is the brand's original product, designed to filter noise and limit decibel intake without compromising sound quality, with up to 18 dB of noise reduction.

  • Loop Quiet is a comfortable, reusable earplug ideal for work, studying and focus, with up to 26 dB of noise protection.

  • Loop Engage is designed to reduce overstimulating sounds without making users feel shut off in social settings, with up to 16 dB of noise reduction.

  • Loop Switch is the latest product offering, allowing users to flip between each of the above modes, all in one sleek earplug.

The brand also makes kids' options as well as a range of accessories.

How do Loop Earplugs work?

So how do these wonder plugs work? Unlike traditional earplugs, which use squishy foam to fill the ear canal and muffle sound, these actually have noise-filtering and sound reduction tech lurking beneath the surface.

'Loop Earplugs feature an acoustic channel and filter made of mesh and a membrane to reduce bass, mid and high tones equally for flat attenuation,' explains Vandermeersch.

While the filtration and reduction levels vary across products, there are three clever parts to each Loop earplug. First up, an acoustic resonator, which mimics the function of your ear canal, keeping sounds natural. Then there's a mesh filter that lowers all frequencies equally, reducing decibels, and this is topped off with the ear tips, which work to seal the ear canal.

The result is clear sound that sounds, well, normal, but just quieter, with background noise filtered out.

Loop Earplugs: My honest review

First impressions: these are hella cute, and I love the teeny carry case each set comes with. Everything feels compact, clean and neat, plus there are clear instructions on how to use each set of earplugs and how to clean them (a damp cloth only, please).

In each box you get a range of ear tips, a small circular snap-close case with an elastic loop to attach to your keys or bag zipper, and, if you've opted for the Plus models (available for Experience and Engage), Loop Mute inserts. These are circular tunnels that sit inside the external ring of the earplug and offer an extra 5 dB of noise reduction. You can also purchase Loop Mute separately here.

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The brand encourage users to try every size of ear tip to find the perfect fit — all come with XS, S, M and L, and the Experience and Engage ranges have memory foam as well as silicone options.

I found the silicone plugs both much easier to work with and more comfortable than the foam, but either way it takes a while to attach the ear tips to the acoustic channel stem, so don’t attempt to find your fit as you’re rushing out the door to the airport.

How much are Loop Earplugs? Prices range from £19.95 for the Quiet set, to £54.95 for the Switch.

However, once you've got your tips secured the earplugs are easy to insert (see below), are very comfortable and feel natural, rather than giving that clogged feeling you often get from foam varieties. Each type of Loop earplug offers something different so below I've given my thoughts on each of them after several months of use.

Loop Quiet

These are my favourite earplugs the brand makes. Max decibel reduction and squishy silicone comfort? Sign me up.

I do not leave for a flight without these tucked carefully next to my passport — they drown out that jet engine roar like nobody's business — and are ideal whether you want to read in peace or settle down for a snooze (the soft silicone loops mean they don't dig in if you're a side-sleeper like me).

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'Suited for indoor activities like sleep and working from home, with Quiet the focus is on comfort and attenuation rather than sound quality,' says Vandermeersch. 'The more flattened ‘loop’ is made of flexible silicone to move freely as you do, creating minimal pressure against your ear while lying down.'

They're so effective that I don't wear them to sleep during weeknights for fear I'll miss my alarm, but at weekends when Friday night drinks have rendered my partner a thunderous snorer, they're a lifesaver. I would still hear the fire alarm go off, but sudden sounds (anyone else live in an area seemingly solely populated by engine-revving knuckleheads?) are blurred out and droning snoring is reduced to a mild hum that becomes unnoticeable.

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The Quiet earplugs are comfortable to the point that you don't really feel them, and while they are a little harder to insert as your anchor point (the loop) is flexible rather than rigid, once they're in they stay put. In several months of use and three flights they've not yet managed to worm their way out my ears, no matter how much I toss and turn through the night.

If the office is particularly noisy I'll bust them out, but generally I prefer the Engage Plus (see below) for work.

Loop Experience

Designed for music and loud events, the Experience Plus earplugs are the most jewellery-like among the Loop collection thanks to their metallic loops — choose between gold, silver and rose gold to match the rest of your bling, or the basic Experience earplugs (without the Loop Mute inserts) are available in shiny colours too, and, for a limited time, in this playful terrazzo print — a result of the brand's collaboration with London-based artist Andrew Footit.

While wearing these on a busy Monday morning at the WH office I can still hear clearly but everything is softened, without that weird full feeling in my ears or disturbances when I munch on my protein bar. I can see them being brilliant for anyone with sensory issues and on some days I've actually ended up wearing them on my commute instead of earbuds as the calm they instil is really rather lovely.

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'The Experience earplug, launched in 2018, answered the call for a sleek, comfortable earplug designed to filter noise and limit decibel intake without compromising sound quality,' says Vandermeersch. 'They make the world around you sound natural – just a little less loud.'

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I'll admit it took me a while to remember to put these in when I took them to a gig so can't speak to their ears-ringing-the-day-after reduction capabilities, but I was really impressed by how clear and rich the music sounded once I put them in.

I went to see an Indie Rock band (retro, I know), so we're talking a lot of crashy guitars, tight drum tracks and veering on shouty lyrics (a recipe for concert-induced tinnitus, basically). But with the Experience Plus earplugs in everything sounded smooth, bright and basically as it should, just without that pinching feeling loud sounds can sometimes cause.

I could still very much hear the music, with no notes altered — which figures, given they lower all the frequencies at the same rate — but there was a touch less intensity to the bass notes. The singing (both from the band and crowd around me, unfortunately) remained clear, as did the guitar tracks, but everything was just a touch softer and quieter, with fewer peaks.

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I've even taken to wearing these to a fitness class where the instructor favours eardrum-blasting tunes, and as well as making the sound much more manageable, they stay put through every squat jump, bear crawl and burpee.

Loop Engage

God knows why some people decide to leave their non-stop Slack notifications not only turned on, but also turned up, in the office, but that's the world we live in. Which is why I'm so thankful I have the Loop Engage Plus in my life.

In my job I need to get my head down as well as be available to my colleagues around me, so total noise-cancelling is a no-go. Designed to limit volume without blocking the important things — calls for your attention, alarms and hot goss — these take the edge off while keeping you very much in the mix.

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In an office setting this means they dampen the annoying scrape of a colleague's mouse, background chatter and the various pings emanating from laptops, but I can still hold a conversation with the people around me.

As soon as I put these on sharp sounds are blurred into the background and the world is a lot more peaceful. I've started wearing these on the reg now, as I've found it's so much easier to concentrate when background noise is levelled off to a low hum.

Outside of the office, these would work well for those who find loud social situations a little much, or parents who need to stay plugged into what's going on without wanting to be subjected to the intensity of every shriek from their beloved offspring.

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'Offering noise protection of up to 16 dB, Loop Engage is designed to reduce overstimulating sounds without making users feel shut off in social settings,' says Vandermeersch. 'The challenge with designing Engage was to address what’s commonly called "occlusion": the unpleasant feeling of talking while your ears are plugged up. Pressure builds up in your ear canals, making your voice echo and buzz inside your head.

'Loop Engage features an acoustic channel and single mesh filter, which does a much better job at reducing occlusion than other earplugs, all while maintaining natural attenuation so speech and conversation can flow.' Challenge completed, I'd say.

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I have found they're a little uncomfortable after a few hours, but it's nothing that simply taking them out and refitting them doesn't sort. As with the Experience earplugs, these are also available as a more basic version without the Loop Mute inserts.

Loop Switch

These babies are brand new (they came out October 10th) and are a little chunkier than the above options — understandable as they're a 3-in-1 product, and feature a tiny dial that allows you to switch between Quiet (25 dB), Experience (21 dB) and Engage modes (17 dB). And unlike the individual products they also have a dedicated left and right earplug.

Naturally twisting a teeny dial already in your ear is a rather tricky thing, but thanks to the left and right denotations you end up with the protruding switch (just enough to hook a fingernail over) pointing upwards, where there is a little space to manoeuvre.

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'The Loop community told us they wanted a 3-in-1 product that made switching between auditory situations totally seamless,' says Loop’s Co-Founder, Dimitri O.

'With Switch, you're the maestro of your auditory universe. You can fine-tune your hearing protection throughout the day with a simple, tactile twist — offering three distinct attenuation levels, each with its own unique acoustic flavour. Whether you're eavesdropping on conversations (17 dB), jamming to your favourite tunes (21 dB), or seeking serenity and focus (25 dB), we've got you covered.'

So, how did I get on in my 'auditory universe'?

On the Quiet mode you of course don't get the silicone comfort of the Quiet earplugs, but the sound filtration and reduction feels pretty much the same, albeit with slightly more of a 'clogged' feeling than with the original product.

The Engage mode felt the most like the original, but it was hard to decipher much change between the Quiet and Experience modes.

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Not being able to see the dial while wearing the earplugs did mean I had to take them out a few times to ensure I was using the correct setting, but I can't fault the overall comfort, wearability and noise filtration.

Personally I think I'll stick to my individual earplugs as I love the soft silicone loops on the Quiet, but these are certainly a cost-effective option for those seeking noise reduction in differing environments.

How to insert Loop Earplugs

Once you've found your fit and preferred material, take the ring of the Loop Earplug between thumb and index finger and place the bud into your ear — you can pull gently at the top of your ear to make this easier.

Then once the ear canal feels sealed, twist the earplug until the ring is sitting comfortably in your ear. The brand suggests twisting clockwise, but I've found turning the loop upwards (so clockwise on my left, anti-clockwise on my right) works better for me. Essentially, the loops shouldn't be sticking out or visible from the front.

Some piercings may get in the way — particularly if you have a conch piercing — but my tragus wasn't any bother at all.

To take the earplugs out use slow, twisting motions to gradually break the seal — no toilet plunger action please, as this can damage the eardrum.

Who are Loop Earplugs for?

After trying them, aside from those with hearing issues, I can't see who wouldn't benefit from using Loop Earplugs, but they're especially useful for those with sensitive ears, those who need to concentrate in co-working spaces, those who struggle to sleep due to noise and people who experience over stimulation in loud environments.

They're also a practical solution for live music-lovers who don't want to miss a beat but also don't fancy destroying their eardrums in the process.

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'We offer various styles, all designed with different lifestyles and aims in mind, ranging from those reducing noise for a deep sleep, for noise-sensitive people, to those who just want to take the edge off (i.e. loud co-workers), and lastly allowing wearers to still enjoy the likes of festivals and gigs, in a safer manner. We give people control over how they want to hear the world,' says Vandermeersch.

'Many people opt not to wear earplugs, which is a shame, because they can help prevent everyday challenges like stress, migraines, hearing damage and sensory overwhelm. Loops have a direct and positive impact on mental health. Think of them like sunglasses: you wouldn't think twice before throwing your shades on in the sunshine.'

Are Loop Earplugs good for ADHD?

Because there is a link between sensory overload and ADHD, Loop Earplugs can be beneficial for those with ADHD. If distractions mean you struggle to focus or sounds can trigger hypersensitivity, then it might be worth giving Loop a go.

The brand recommends Experience and Engage for those with ADHD and who are noise-sensitive or neurodivergent.

Are Loop Earplugs good for blocking out snoring?

Well, they can drown out aeroplane jets, so yeah, I'd say so. More to the point — when I wore the Loop Quiet earplugs on a flight it was only when I took them out to order a drink that I realised the guy in front of me was snoring comically loudly (seriously, people were staring, poor bloke). To conclude: both jet engines and hilariously loud snoring are no match for these babies.

Do Loop Earplugs help with concentration?

From my personal experience, that's a big fat yes. Whether you want laser focus with the Loop Quiet or simply the more calm environment the Loop Engage offer, there's no doubt filtering background noise and lowering the overall volume is conducive to a more quiet, and therefore productive, mind.

Are Loop Earplugs good for tinnitus?

If certain sounds trigger spikes in your tinnitus or you're noise-sensitive then Loop Earplugs can help. However, you need to choose the right ones, as completely blocking out sound can increase the ringing sensation in your ears, making the tinnitus worse.

The brand recommends Loop Experience Plus as they mask noise without completely silencing it — meaning you can still be social — and, all importantly, dampen sounds which might act as triggers for tinnitus.

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