MP-9-15 Etymotic Electronic Earplugs Review

The new MP-9-15 Etymotic Electronic Earplugs are like a “volume control for the world” for musicians, stage hands, music instructors—any one who uses their ears and wants to protect them when working in loud sound environments. The MP-9-15 electronic earplugs reduce sound level by as much as 15dB SPL without greatly altering frequency balance like regular earplugs. The MPs provide a way to have natural hearing until sound exceeds safe levels. Called wide-dynamic-range adaptive compression, their operation is automatic with nothing for the wearer to do but insert them in their ears and enjoy the concert.

Each of the MP-9-15 earplugs uses a balanced armature driver (miniature speaker similar to in-ear monitors), a sensitive microphone and Etymotic’s proprietary K•AMP® signal processing to automatically and quickly change the sound level delivered to your ears.

In the 15dB mode, the MP’s pass sound like an open ear until the external sound level crosses the 70dB SPL threshold and they begin a gradual reduction until it reaches 100dB. Also handled are any loud and sudden impact noises such as cymbal crashes that occur at any time. The 9dB mode boost all sound up to 85dB SPL but, starting at 70dB, the dynamic attenuation curve and overall operation is the same except 9dB less reduction overall.

I received a pair for review and immediately liked that they do not require custom ear molds and come with a complete assortment of reusable foam, Glider, and three-flange ear tips, a cleaning kit, extra batteries and complete instructions.

With MPs properly inserted and set to the 15dB position, it was amazing! A 100dB + SPL mix in my studio sounded great—full stereo with good stereo imaging and frequency balance—my speakers were throbbing loud but with the MP-9-15s inserted it was just a loud playback!

Amazing to me was when I stopped playback I could hear the traffic noise from the street “fade up” into my ears and if people were talking, I would have been able to converse in a normal voice. 9dB mode works the same except everything is louder and better for musicians or older people with a threshold shift in their hearing.

Now part of my kit in the recording studio for adjusting/changing microphones around loud drum kits or guitar amps while the musicians continue to play, Etymotic Music•Pro Electronic Earplugs sell for $399 MSRP. Check out http://etymotic.com or call 888-389-6684.

By Barry Rudolph

miniBio: Barry Rudolph is a recording engineer/mixer with over 30 gold and platinum RIAA awards to his credit. He has recorded and/or mixed: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, the Corrs and Robbie Nevil. Barry has his own futuristic music mixing facility and also teaches recording engineering at Musician’s Institute, Hollywood, CA. http://www.barryrudolph.com