Last year we came across an interesting, Amsterdam- based (successful) IndieGogo campaign, which claimed development of earplugs allowing increased control over the peripheral volumes of life.
Of course in our world hearing health is paramount and something all too frequently looked at within a bipolar setting…either you wear something or you don’t. I don’t have to tell you what the pitfalls of either practice is, but for the latter (in my opinion), it is the lack of control one has over their device that really affects my willingness to use. Traditionally, once an earplug is inserted, sound is muffled and important moments may be missed. With Knops, this issue is directly addressed as the core of their technology; one which allows users four sound settings for more control over the levels and prevalence of outside volume.
The analogue earplug’s settings range from -0db – -30db, with the first holding no volume adjustment. As the earplugs are inserted and the dial set to this first mode, further turns of its wheel yield -10db, -20db, and -30db depending on level of quiet desired. I tested the product in a variety of situations and would have to say that, and also remember that this would only be the beginning of a healthy hearing lifestyle, there is a distinct difference between the settings. Naturally, the most distinct comes between the 0db and -30db settings, which would mimic the results of traditional earplugs, but the two middle ground settings do offer a sense of volume relief in many, day to day situations. I wouldn’t recommend -10/-20 for a club environment, instead sticking to the -30db (which i also wouldn’t say is the kind of total silence presented by Knops), but for everyday occurrences on the metro or in the park, or to prevent unconscious eavesdropping, it does work. For example, a crying baby at a restaurant or a co worker who never shuts up, these are the kinds of situations where you may not even be aware of the relief such a product can provide.
Knops offers a more stylish solution to the traditional earplug as well, as it comes in two colors (black & white) and offers a stainless steel or gold plated Knurled ring. Also, as the product is analogue their is no electronic-caused distortion due to its distinctive flat response curve meant to mimic the ears natural response to sound stimuli. The price is a little high though, as it ranges from €59 (original) – €111 (Knops Gold Plated Ring). For us, it would also be nice to feel more of a distinction between the db settings as I found it difficult to land on and identify the two middle settings, especially while on the go.
All in all, though, Knops and its team seam to be on the right track with an interesting product and admirable approach. We’ll see if earplugs become the outfit-staple fashion accessory the team may hope for but, in the meantime, increased control, choice, and mobility will always be a good thing.