Are you looking for earplugs that don’t have to be inserted into the ear canal but rather sit at the canal entrance?
Loop Quiet and Experience are among a select few reusable earplugs that are designed as a canal cap.
Over a couple of weeks, I have tried both in a variety of scenarios where I am looking for everyday noise reduction, including:
- Working on a computer (and relaxing) in louder coffee shops.
- Walking along busy roads in a large city.
- Listening to music at a moderate (ca. 65 dB) and at a loud volume (ca. 85 – 90 dB).
With similarly designed earbuds (that’s how Loop look), I often struggle to get a good seal, but both Loop models come with 4 different sized tips.
And indeed they pass the first test: the largest ear tips reliably seal my ears and they feel comfortable.
Both Loop models preserve the fidelity of environmental sounds surprisingly well, better than many other earplugs I have tried. They lower the volume but they don’t muffle.
Loop Experience (to the right in the image) are designed for that: the hard-plastic ring has a mesh-covered opening that acts as an acoustic filter. They help to reduce the “blaring” and distortion caused by people and TVs that are too loud.
They take the edge off noise but only reduce the volume a little bit.
For me, Experience’s noise reduction is too light for most situations where I would wear earplugs, such as when sitting in a louder coffee shop or walking along a busy road. Also, I definitely want to wear something stronger at a loud concert.
Loop Quiet are a different kind of animal: both ring and earbuds are made of soft silicone with no vent whatsoever.
They are substantially more effective at reducing noise than Loop Experience. Subjectively, I find their noise reduction comparable to that of putty or wax earplugs.
They effectively turn down the volume of louder music, coffee shops, and road noise.
And, somewhat surprisingly, unlike wax and putty earplugs (which muffle), Loop Quiet also preserve sound fidelity well.
They lower the volume of loud music a lot more than Experience, but I can still hear cymbals and other treble sounds better than with most other earplugs.
I think Loop Quiet are a good candidate if you are sensitive to noise and want a reusable earplug that doesn’t have to be inserted deep into the ear.
I have also used them at night (sleeping on my side) and find them quite comfortable, so they are a night time alternative to wax and silicone putty.
Personally, I still prefer foam earplugs at night: they reduce snoring noise a lot better than Loop Quiet and I find them more comfy for sleeping.
Both Loop earplugs amplify my own walking noises. I hear a pretty loud thump every time my foot hits the ground. I’d prefer not to use them on longer walks and would not use them for running.
They also exhibit a relatively strong occlusion effect: my own voice sounds boomy, and I can often hear my heartbeat during meditation. This is likely because they sit at the canal entrance. (I also experience this with wax and putty earplugs and many earbuds.)
I am fine with this to have a few words at a checkout counter or place an order in a restaurant, but so far I can’t get used to my voice enough to enjoy a longer conversation.
Mind you that’s not a problem if you are mostly listening.
In case you are wondering, I would say occlusion effect and walking impact sounds are about the same for Loop Experience and Loop Quiet.
Noise reduction comparison for Loop Quiet and Experience
Loop Quiet offer good noise reduction (medium) while Loop Experience only take the edge off of noise. This is by design.
I think Loop Experience can be useful to reduce blaring when watching a movie or attending a public lecture. They also make watching TV together with someone hard of hearing more bearable.
For people who are sensitive to noise, want to substantially reduce the volume of trigger sounds, or improve their focus and concentration, Loop Quiet are much better suited.
I have used both Loop models extensively in moderately noisy and louder coffee shops.
With Quiet, I am getting a soothing volume reduction across the board. With Loop Experience I am getting only a little, and higher-pitched sounds come through loud and clear.
Take a look at the following noise reduction graph (average for 16 test subjects):
(The higher the line, the more noise reduction at a particular frequency.)
Note how the curve for Loop Experience is downward sloping for frequencies >2000 Hz.
What I am experiencing mostly matches this graph: with Experience, higher-pitched sounds are comparatively less attenuated, making them stand out.
By comparison, Loop Quiet are a lot more effective against mid and high frequency sounds. As the frequency increases, the difference between Quiet and Experience becomes larger.
With Loop Quiet I get noticeable noise dampening which I find relaxing.
With respect to low frequency noise (<= 250 Hz), the graph seems to indicate that both models are pretty similar.
For me, however, Quiet are also substantially more effective against low frequency noise (e.g., music bass, fridge door slams…) than Experience.
Personally, I would not use Loop Experience at loud concerts. With Quiet, on the other hand, I would feel quite well protected at most concerts. Mind you, I would still not get too close to the speaker walls.
And, I would bring an additional pair of earplugs with a high noise reduction rating for situations where I find myself unable to get away from the speakers.
Noise reduction data
Both Quiet (SNR 24 dB) and Experience (SNR 15 dB) come with noise reduction data according to European standard EN 352-2:2020 (on the box).
(SNR stands for single number rating and is used in Europe.)
Unfortunately, neither one comes with a U.S. noise reduction rating (NRR).
Consequently, while these are interesting earplugs for everyday noise reduction and people with noise sensitivities, I don’t recommend Loop as a hearing protector in an occupational setting if you are in the U.S.
Note: I purchased these in the U.S.
Both SNR and NRR are single number ratings that indicate the expected noise reduction for most wearers (in a lab) in decibels.
But, they are based on different standards and test procedures, so they are not directly comparable.
When both numbers are available for a given earplug, the SNR is typically a few decibels higher than the NRR.
- Etymotic’s ETY plugs (triple-flange Hi-Fi earplugs) have an NRR of 12 and an SNR of 18 decibels.
- 3M’s 1100 foam earplugs have an NRR of 29 and an SNR of 37 decibels.
Loop noise reduction compared to other earplugs
In the following I am focusing on Loop Quiet, the medium noise reduction earplugs (blue line). Quiet and Experience we have already compared in the previous section.
The comparison is not to knock any of these earplugs, but rather to give you an idea of what you can expect with different choices and to find the best earplug for your situation.
(Again, the higher the line in the following graph at a particular frequency, the more effective the earplug is on average at that frequency.)
Compared to wax earplugs (another medium noise reduction choice):
Loop Quiet are about as effective as wax up to ca. 1000 Hz. Higher mid and high frequency noise are more effectively reduced by wax earplugs.
But more is not always better: wax earplugs will more strongly muffle your music, and environmental sounds in general.
Quiet are a better choice for preserving sound fidelity because their noise reduction is much more even.
On the other hand, if you want to block out the sounds of crickets outside your bedroom window (or other high-pitched sounds), wax will do better.
Note: The sounds of many types of crickets fall in the range from 3000 to 8000 Hz.
Now let’s look at snoring noise and foam earplugs as another example:
The loudest parts of snoring noise are typically below 1000 Hz. You can expect a comparable performance for both wax and Loop Quiet.
However, as you can see in the graph, Moldex PuraFit (7700, SNR 36) [and many other foam earplugs] are a lot more effective across the entire frequency range than Loop Quiet.
It is not even close:
Loud snoring is going to be more than twice as loud with Quiet than with well-fitting PuraFit.
On the other hand, if you are sitting in a coffee shop with foam earplugs, you are going to be seriously isolated and would have a hard time to communicate.
All in all, I find Loop Quiet perform very nicely when I want to reduce the volume of my environment rather than block as much noise as possible.
Occlusion effect and walking impact sounds
With both Loop Quiet and Experience I am getting a relatively strong occlusion effect:
My own voice sounds boomy. Also, when meditating in a quiet environment, I can hear my heartbeat in my ear.
I can have a brief chat with no issues, but it takes quite some getting used to the changed voice when holding a longer conversation.
I get a comparable occlusion effect with many standard earbuds and wax earplugs, and I think this is because all of them seal the ear close to the ear canal entrance rather than deeper in the ear.
“Can’t have your cake and eat it too.”
I get the benefit of not having to insert something deep in the ear and the disadvantage of having to tolerate a stronger occlusion effect.
Also, both Loop earplugs noticeably amplify my walking impact sounds. Every time my foot hits the pavement, I hear a relatively loud “thump.” Again, this is related to where these earplugs sit in my ears.
A while ago, I tested Loop Experience (among other earplugs) specifically for exercising in a gym and got heavy impact sounds when running on a treadmill.
While I like the noise reduction of Loop Quiet in a café, for me, both Quiet and Experience are not well-suited for walking or running.
If you are looking for earplugs for exercising and being on the move, please read my post Which Earplugs Work for Working out.
Unlike most other reusable earplugs, both Loop models are designed as a canal cap: they sit at the ear canal entrance rather than going into the ear.
If you don’t like something in the ear, Loop Quiet in particular are a good option.
They noticeably lower the volume and soften everyday noise yet still keep me in touch with what is going on around me. And despite having no acoustic filter, they attenuate noise quite evenly across the frequency range.
I particularly enjoy using them in a louder coffee shop.
To be clear, almost all foam and many triple-flange earplugs are substantially more effective but they will also isolate you more.
On the flip-side, if you want to isolate yourself as much as possible or fend off loud snoring noise, Quiet’s medium noise reduction will likely not be enough.
(Take a look at my study earplugs post for options that block out more distractions.)
Loop Experience are an ongoing experiment for me.
They lower the volume less than most other Hi-Fi earplugs I have tried. Also, they reduce high frequency noise less than other frequencies, so these frequencies become prominent.
They do reduce distortions and blaring when listening to louder music or attending public lectures, so I find them helpful in some situations.
However, the effect is much more subtle than with Quiet and the noise level range where I would prefer them is quite narrow.
For me they help too little in a louder café or against city noises.
Both Loop models are not ideal for exercise and longer walks because they amplify the sound of my own footsteps too much.
Like many other canal caps, they also make my own voice sound boomy.
I find this OK only for having a brief chat. For longer conversations, I’d prefer Hi-Fi earplugs that go deeper into the ear. But, in my experience, if you want a canal cap, the boomy voice is hard to avoid.
*Noise reduction data and standards as reported by the manufacturers.