Photo: CURVD

These Comfortable, Discrete Earplugs Turn the Noise Down on Loudest Parts of Traveling

Technology + Gear
by Nickolaus Hines May 17, 2024

Flights are the ultimate test of what people can handle when it comes to tight, crowded public spaces. Reclined seats, shoeless passengers, and an over-talkative row of new companions all stand in the way of relaxation. But getting some comfortable quiet (if not the full peace and quiet) is as easy as popping in some CURVD Everyday Earplugs.

Full disclosure: I am not typically an earplugs fan. I would typically rather live through the noise while traveling — be that a loud jet engine drone or all-too-clear music seeping through hotel walls — than squeeze some bright orange foam into my ears. Added to that, I have small ears that force cheap disposable earplugs to slowly, and then quickly, pop out. I’m also vain. The case against normal earplugs is clear on that point.

Complete noise cancellation is another thing I’ve never been all that interested in. It’s always better to be aware of your surroundings when traveling — for hearing passing cars, sirens, something calling your name over a loudspeaker because you’re close to missing your flight, etc. The Everyday Earplugs soften, not silence. The general din of modern life is moved to the background with CURVD, and sharp loud noises are made less sharp.

The brand has studies showing up to a 30 decibel sound drop (taking the noise level of standing next to a whirring washing machine down to a humming refrigerator, for example). Third-party, EPA-certified tests show a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 15 decibels and a single number rating (SNR) of 28 decibels. These are built for the casual user not for gun ranges or manufacturing sites though, and there’s a good chance those decibel numbers don’t mean much to the casual user just looking to dim the noise. Practically speaking, the sound reduction is enough to make a big concert seem like you’re in a more intimate setting or turn the noise level of a loud coffeeshop closer to the sound in a library during story time.

When it comes to fit, four tip sizes match the smallest to largest ears. The shape matches the brand name, and does its job well of holding in a comfortable position. They twist to neutral, upper, and lower positions to fit the shape of your outer ear cartilage, and stay in and comfortable even for long periods of activity (or just turning heads on a travel pillow).

They’re also built for reuse: there’s no plastic in the construction, and the silicone is washable. The packaging skips plastic as well, and the small case is aluminum. The add-on carrying case is silicone as well — and a must-have addition for travelers prone to losing the little things unless they’re clipped to a bag.

On a recent flight to LA from Denver, I popped these in and got some escape on the quick, but oversold, flight. They came even more in handy when it became clear just how thin the walls of my room at the Westin Bonaventure were. As insightful as the late-night family therapy calls going on over speakerphone in the next room over, it was a time much better spent with the noise muted through some earplugs.

Working at a travel publication, travel is almost always just as much about work for me as it is about seeing the world. That means remote working in some pretty loud places. CURVD earplugs make it easier to focus in hotel lobbies, coffeeshops, and small noisy nooks.

It’s easy to forget how much unwanted noises can negatively impact the travel experience. That is, until you’re inevitably faced with unwanted noise the again the next time you venture out. For about $30 for the earplugs and travel case together, these CURVD earplugs have earned a place clipped onto my go-bag forever more so I’m always ready for when that time comes.

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