Protect Your Hearing With These Otherworldly Earplugs
Hearing impairment can affect people at any age, especially musicians and fans who are regularly exposed to high-volume sound. Subjective tinnitus, the ringing and other audible vibrations that typically occur with noise-related hearing loss, can be difficult to treat—and it’s precisely what Elliot Cash, founder of the custom earplug company Crystal Guardian, aims to prevent.
Cash, a guitarist, first learned about custom earplugs while working for one such manufacturer about a decade ago. He found the plugs to be a world apart from the off-the-shelf foam variety, and wondered why so few young people he knew used them. “It was mostly established musicians and performers,” Cash says of their clientele. “Custom earplugs were seen as a luxury item. I’m trying to make them more of a staple item.”
Since starting his venture, which he’s been running from his home in New York’s Hudson Valley since 2019, Cash has perfected the process of making his personalized plugs. To create the right shape, Cash invites patrons to sit for a fitting upstate, or at pop-ups he holds in various locations, where he places a foam block inside the ear canal and backfills it with silicone to form an impression that serves as a mold. (Those who can’t make it to an in-person appointment can have an impression made by an audiologist, and send them to Cash.) The resulting forms are enhanced with acoustic attenuation filters that reduce sound by 10, 15, 20, or 25 decibels on a flat, even level throughout the frequency range (as opposed to the foam versions, which only filter out high-end end sounds); Cash also offers solid versions for swimmers, concave ones for light sleepers, and a model with an impulse filter for use around loud, short-term noises such as nail guns or fireworks. Because each piece is fitted to its user’s anatomy, they’re very comfortable to wear. For an extra $20, he’ll enhance the implements with glitter in a color of your choice.
The multiple applications of Cash’s top-quality creations, which he offers at about half the cost of more established producers, has led to a wide range of customers, from budding D.J.s to construction workers. After all, whether you encounter loud noises at work or while having fun, everybody deserves good hearing.