A Hearing Aid For You From Doppler Labs

The term "hearing aid" strikes terror into the hearts of audiophiles of all ages. Glasses? OK. But "hearing aid"? No one wants to admit to needing one so that's why you need a set of DUBS Acoustic Filters now.

These are not "hearing aids" in the traditional sense of the word. They are designed now to help you avoid having to use a hearing aid later.

Okay, I hear you: you are among the smart ones who bring "ear plugs" with you to concerts where the "ear-splitting" SPLs can do serious damage over not too long a period of time. The problem with standard ear plugs is that they don't attenuate frequencies in a way that sounds "flat" to our ear/brain system. Instead the high frequencies are the first casualty—seemingly all of them—which is why some people risk damage: you paid all of that money and damn it you want to hear the cymbals!

DUBS Acoustic Filters™ is the first product from doppler labs a new start up tech company founded by Noah Kraft, former Microsoft executive Fritz Lanman and former SONOS transducer engineer Dan Wiggins.

The idea here is an "ear plug" that uses dynamic attenuation to attenuate by an average of 12dB while preserving relatively flat frequency response as well as an "ear plug" that looks cool and not like a medical device.

The technology uses 17 components made of premium materials like stainless steel, ABS, polymer foams and silicone (the "ear bud" like ear canal interface). The end result is a compact, attractive looking product available in four colors (including a few that are electric) that doesn't make you look like you have a mini-enema bag hanging from your ears.

So does the technology work? Yes, as long as you are in need of no more than 12db of attenuation. I didn't go to any loud live rock shows recently so I put a pair of DUBS into my ear canals, played my stereo at stupid levels monitoring with an SPL meter to about 100dB peaks, which brought it down to around 88dB. Still plenty loud. The sound was not 100% transparent to the source but 12dB lower but compared to my usual ear "plugs" the balance was far more neutral. When I spoke I heard fairly neutral sibilants.

Last week I had to use a powerful circular saw to shorten the end of our Christmas tree/Hanukah bush and wearing the DUBS kept the levels comfortable and I could easily and clearly hear my wife whining "Let's just take it back to the nursery and let them do it. You're going to screw it up".

When I removed them from my ears (after making a perfect cut) no ear pain or residual ringing from the loud saw.

These things work well within reason (they do not produce perfectly linear attenuation but do a much better job than my usual muffling "plugs". They cost $25.00 and make a great stocking stuffer. What is your hearing worth?

Doppler Labs

sunderwood's picture

I developed tinnitus in my right ear about 19 years ago. I figure it was caused by working inside a noisy factory. I started wearing earplugs anytime I was at work up until I retired two years ago. I continue to wear them anytime I am using any kind of noisy power tool, the lawnmower, leaf blower or hedge trimer. Everything wears out eventually, but I would like to be able to hear my music as long as possible. Sometimes I hear these guys riding down the street with their stereos turned up so loud you would think their car is going to come apart any minute. I guess they like it. I hope they are enjoying it now, because I expect when they get to their senior years they will be stone cold deaf. I have worn earplugs to concerts and was actually able to understand the vocals better.

StonedBeatles1's picture

Being a tinnitus sufferer I always wear ear plugs and/or ear muffs to shows. There are several brands of musician ear pugs that don't just reduce the high frequencies but the whole frequency band equally so music still sounds like music without the muffled effect. And they're at 32db.

Personally, I think that plugs may cause more harm than good at times since they can push ear wax deep into your ear canal and sometimes the sheer power and volume of a loud concert causes ear plugs (foam or hard plastic) to rattle and hum causing bone conduction all the way from your ear canal to the eardrum itself!

Still protecting ones ears is vital cause if you think hearing loss is bad severe tinnitus can be much more upsetting and debilitating.

AnalogJ's picture

Westone also makes a similar product.I tried a model comparable to the ETY, about $20. It's designed to attenuate to allow you to hear music "naturally". I tried them at a couple of concerts. I felt like I was listening through wool felt. It rolled off the high end and they dried the sound, ribbing a bit of the harmonic structure. I kept putting rhythm in and taking them off. After a while, I just felt they were robbing too much of the music.

Are these any better?

Miro Muzlai's picture

It is sad that this was not available some 40 years ago.Had some of the artists and producers and recording engineers used this in their youth, before recording their works, they may have created decent sounding records. The early Led Zeppelin and even Born to Run may have sounded good. Wishful thinking!

jmoray's picture

My son plays the drums, and we went to a music store; they sell the $3.00 pieces of junk as well as "this style" of ear plug. I have tried them, they make a huge difference. He never practices or plays at a bar without them. I suspect if you can't find this brand easily, ANY music instrument store can help.

firedog55's picture

I have some custom made ones - you can choose from 9db to 25db of attenuation, in increments of 3db. Mine are 15db. They work flat, as yours do.

There are other brands on the market. Etymotic makes them also. You can even buy non-custom ones on Amazon. There are models that allow you to switch the inner db filter and choose the level of attenuation you want.

Timbo in Oz's picture

Use the web to collect lots of small contributions and sue. Surely you have SPL regulations in the USA?