After reading Brad Kelly's review of the Flents Flitemate earplugs (Tape Op #86), I ordered a pair for myself. I tried them in several different applications, but I wasn't excited as Brad was; in my ears, they don't block enough energy to protect my hearing at a rock concert, in a loud bar, or even on an airplane. Granted, they do offer a more frequency- balanced sound than the typical disposable foam earplugs, which can filter out so much of the highs that the music in a club or hall can sound overly muffled, but that's because the Flitemates let through too much of everything — at least in my ear canals. For "lighter" applications, I prefer Doc's Proplugs (#35), which are ear protectors marketed to surfers and other watersport enthusiasts. These come in several sizes/shapes, so a fitting is required. For me, Proplugs exhibit more useful attenuation than the Flitemates — flatter too, even in the lows — and they're more comfortable for extended wearing. Plus, they're much easier to keep clean. For "medium" applications, I've been relying on a pair of V-MODA Faders (; $15 MSRP) from Ear Armor, Inc, who describes these as "high fidelity tuned earplugs". They look very much like V-MODA's Remix line of in-ear headphones, with metal bodies, silicone ear-tips, and a flexible cord between the earpieces. Faders are available in three different colors, and three different sizes of ear-tips are included. When properly inserted in my ear canal, the "frequency response" of what gets past them is reasonable, and they're not so dead that I lose excitement wearing them at a concert. Moreover, on an airplane, they take out enough airplane rumble and white noise, without making me unaware of fellow passengers or flight attendants trying to get my attention. By the way, the cord between the earpieces is just long enough to prevent dropping or otherwise misplacing them, without the longer cord of headphones dangling and tangling when not plugged into something. Because everyone's ears are different — in terms of both physical shape and high SPL tolerance — I can't tell you if you'll share the same conclusions as me, but for the cost of three Starbucks coffees, you can buy a set of Faders to try for yourself. Also, an upgraded Faders VIP version ($20 MSRP) is now available with improved ear-tips, removable cord, and a smartly-designed case that can be used with the earplugs' cord bundled up inside it or the cord positioned outside for hanging the case around your neck. Very cool — because dropping your earplugs on a club floor is a bummer. ••• Speaking of dropping things, we geeks and engineers tend to carry various objects that would not fare well in a fall. A couple years ago, I bought several sheets and a roll of egrips (, a soft, alien skin-like material that is super-grippy — but neither rough nor sticky. It offers a ton of shear friction, but it has no inherent tack of its own. Therefore, it doesn't pick up dust, hair, or whatnot, but when you try to move something across its surface — like your finger — it grabs really well. There are plenty of YouTube videos showing egrips in action if my explanation doesn't make sense. Egrips can be applied like gaffers tape; although it stays put, it peels off without leaving any residue. In addition to general sheets and rolls, you can buy egrips "skinning" kits for specific devices. I have clear strips and panels of egrips strategically placed on my laptops, tablets, and smartphones, as well as on some of my mics and portable recording and test gear. -AH

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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