Apothecary Products, the owner of the Flents brand, has changed the branding of several of their most popular earplugs, including the Quiet Please, one of my favorite earplugs for blocking low frequency noise.
For decades known as Flents Quiet Please (or Quiet! Please) by earplug lovers, these cylindrical PVC earplugs are now called Flents Protechs Quiet Please.
I find this name change confusing; why not keep things simple?
And I am not the only one that is confused:
I have received many comments (and seen reviews) asking whether not only the name is different but also the performance has taken a hit.
Given the importance of these earplugs in my (and perhaps your) repertoire, I decided to look into this matter in detail and write an answer post.
I will also be looking at an alternative in this post.
My latest order of the Quiet Please earplugs came under the new Flents Protechs name; I have now used about 70 percent of my most recent 50-pair container.
For the sake of brevity, in this post, I will call earplugs under the new name Protechs QP or new formula, and the old formula Original QP (since both contain the word Flents).
Have the earplugs themselves changed?
I think they have.
I have noticed changes in both density and durability, but not in size or wearing comfort.
Also, in the noise reduction label (still NRR 29) the product number is now 68002A while it was 68002 before.
Fortunately, at least in my ears, low frequency noise reduction effectiveness remains virtually the same, which is very good (see below).
What I can’t make sure is that the changes have something to do with the rebranding.
I usually buy these earplugs in bulk, so it takes me a while before reordering. The changes may well have already occurred under the old branding.
Alternatively, there could now be more variability between different batches (e.g., due to different or several manufacturing facilities being used).
What has and what hasn’t changed?
Size and color of the Protechs QP and the Original QP are virtually identical.
These are my current measurements (calipers):
Density and durability
The Protechs QP feel noticeably less dense when rolling them up. I can roll them up and insert them much faster than the Original QP.
Subjectively, I don’t notice a noise reduction performance difference between the two during the first night.
But, the new formula (or batch) deteriorates faster:
With the Original, I got about about five to six days of good noise reduction, while the Protechs are spent after three days.
After that, I have a hard time making them properly seal my ear canal at all. I always try, but I often fail and toss them out.
Now, my ear canal is quite large, so I do need these earplugs to expand vigorously.
If you have a small ear canal, you might get more than three nights out of the new formula and perhaps prefer the somewhat reduced density.
On the flip side, if you have an even larger ear canal than I have, you might not even get three days out of them.
I definitely prefer the density of the Original QP over the new formula.
Noise reduction, in particular low frequency noise reduction
I had three pairs of the old formula left, so I was able to do a comparative noise reduction test. To keep a pair, I performed only two earplug insertions (two different days) for the old formula and three for the Protechs QP (a new pair on each of three different days).
In the graph, you can see the average noise reduction I have been able to achieve against pulsed noises at increasing frequencies (1/3rd octave steps).
Original Flents Quiet Please (green line) seem to do a bit better against both low and mid frequency noise, but the difference is small. I would have to do more trials to establish this as a fact, but I am running out of the old formula.
For practical purposes, when they are new, the Original and Protechs QP reduce noise equally well.
On day three, however, the Original QP are still going strong while the Protechs are noticeably worse.
In particular when I need good low frequency noise reduction, I have to change to a new pair.
How do I know when I have to change?
In the last couple of months, I have gone through at least 30 pairs of the Protechs QP.
I hear a noticably boomier sound when I do the fridge door slam noise reduction test on day three. Moreover, from day four on, the Protechs need a lot longer to expand enough for them to mute the sound of my bedroom AC unit.
All in all though, Protechs Quiet Please are still a very good choice for reducing low frequency noise, provided you change them more often. So I still recommend them.
Below I have added my data for the Moldex Pura-Fit (review), one of my favorite tapered PU foam earplugs.
Pura-Fit (NRR 33) are more effective overall, but in my ears, Protechs QP (NRR 29) are substantially more effective against noise <=125 Hz.
Note however, Pura-Fit are a lot more durable and hence economical than both Quiet Please formulas. I usually toss them out for hygienic reasons rather than performance reduction.
What are my alternatives to Quiet Please (barrel shaped, good low frequency noise reduction)?
I have also been using Mack’s ThermaFit (right-most plug in the photo) for quite a while now.
They too are barrel-shaped PVC earplugs, have roughly the same size as Quiet Please, and are somewhat denser.
And, their low frequency noise reduction performance is on par with that of the Protechs QP.
I can use ThermaFit for about 5 to 6 days, so the durability is better than that of the Protechs, comparable to the Original QP.
They are good earplugs, and would be my night-time low-frequency plugs if Quiet Please became unavailable.
But, alternating between them and the new QP (i.e., night 1, ThermaFit; night 2 Quiet Please;…), I find the new Quiet Please more comfortable.
Asking myself, “What would I rather have in my ears for the night?” the answer is clear:
It’s Quiet Please, so they still are my favorite earplugs for low frequency noise reduction at night, and I grudgingly accept that I have to go through more pairs and pay more.
But, if things don’t work for you as they used to, give ThermaFit a try.
If you are looking for other alternatives, also read my post What Are the Best Earplugs for Low Frequency Noise?
Why are they so hard and what’s that smell?
I have read comments that Quiet Please are coarse and hard earplugs. In my experience, this has always been the case but only when you initially roll them up.
The trick is to take your time to roll them into a slender cylinder using increasing finger pressure. In the ear canal (under body heat) I experience them as soft and low pressure.
In fact, most PU foam earplugs that initially appear soft when rolling them up exert substantially more pressure in my ear.
I find the new Protechs Quiet Please as comfortable as the Original.
They do have a stronger smell (PVC smell) than PU earplugs (e.g., Pura-Fit) but again, this has always been the case.
I also did the sniffing test on Mack’s ThermaFit, also PVC.
They smell pretty much the same.