The loudness wars of electronic music are all but completely eradicated from the dance music community. We’re still blasting tops and rocking subs harder than ever, just more consciously and with more careful ears. Ear safety is on the rise, and artists and venues are starting to provide earplugs for their fans and attendees (free or otherwise). Some companies are trailblazing new technology to preserve our ability to hear the music while preventing tinnitis and other forms of hearing loss. One such group has revolutionized the traditional form of the ear plug, reimagining the technology in a device they call “acoustic filters”.
Doppler Labs start in New York City circa 2013 with a mission to bring “hearable” auditory protection without sacrificing sound fidelity, comfort, and bank accounts. DUBS, their first project, were developed as a way to reduce sound by 12dB using low- and high-pass filter paths designed to attenuate sound, not muffle it. For more of the tech specs, click here.
“We engineered the DUBS for optimal listening, using low- and high-pass filter paths to account for different frequencies so that the listeners hear crystal clear sound that maintains the original audio balance. We wanted the acoustical experience of the DUBS to be like turning down the volume knob on a stereo system instead of the muffling experience created by normal ear plugs.” – Dan Wiggins, Doppler Labs co-founder
We had a chance to test out their revolutionary product in a handful of settings to bring their mission statement to practice and see if their claims ring true in the field. From the club to the bar, work to the car, we expected nothing short of perfection. What we got was that and a little more.
- True attenuation with little to no muddling of sound
- No painful ringing in the ears after usage at a loud venue
- Comfortable and ease insertion and removal
- No physical or auditory fatigue during or after prolonged use
- Conversation within close vicinity are easily distinguishable from ambient noise
- Carrying case does not accommodate keychain attachment
- One size fits all, rather than fitted ear piece attachments
Remember the old trick of pressing on the tragus and leaning in to hear better in the club? DUBS are the commercially available product form of this trick. With their tube and chamber-based filter design, DUBS essential bottleneck the sound ergo bleeding off low frequencies and cutting off unnecessary highs. Because the way tonalities are perceived based on the strength of their frequencies, it is important to selectively attenuate rather than providing a non-discriminating blanket muffle.
While the conveniences of the product’s packaging and ergonomic have room for improvement, Doppler Labs have successfully reinvented hearing protection technology to provide a more practical and effective solution. For a generation that prides itself on being closest to the speakers, we need Doppler Labs to save us from ourselves. DUBS, released on September 23, 2014, are the first in a long line of products aimed at changing the way the world approaches hearing protection.
Doppler Labs announced their first collaboration with Coachella, introducing their second product—a simplified version of their flagship. A pair of the DUBS Earplugs were included in each Coachella ticket package, with both DUBS and the earplugs available for purchase on the campgrounds. Altogether, the promotion was a wild success and I, myself, saw countless individuals wearing them. Perhaps ear safety will finally be a thing of future?