Test 1 – The Road and Wildlife

“Our ISOLATE Ear protectors do not absorb sound, they block it.” – Davies Roberts, Flare Audio

Upon hearing this, I understood it even less and it wasn’t until I investigated further to uncover just what the hell I was experiencing. My first field test baffled me to no end,  I’d trekked through a small forest area near my home, confused by my ability to hear birds chirping and a stream running nearby. I’d thought the isolation factor wasn’t exceptional.  But, when I started walking back home, I  noticed that I could hear the environment around me in a purer tone and texture than what you’d expect while wearing an earplug. I just didn’t notice until later that the literal quality of those sounds somewhere in the trees around me was very nice, they weren’t muted or blurred enough for me to even notice it. I simply went along hearing them just fine and thinking to myself “Gosh, I can hear them so clearly, so this must not be great at isolation.” Those wildlife sounds around me were of course dimmed, but not severely muted or muffled. There is a massive difference between what earplugs do normally to sound around you and what these ISOLATE’s seem to have accomplished.

5

Later, I stood near a construction site a few blocks away and near a busy road. I could hear and feel every car drive by me…then it hit me…uhm, not the car, the fact that I could both hear and “feel” the car rumble through my entire body and my face, into my ear. I popped in the Fader’s from Vmoda and tried the same test, which resulted in a completely wonky, offset feel to everything. I could not sound locate properly anything in the area, nor could I feel the sub frequencies of a car rumbling past me over the road nearby. The construction work sounded like I was swimming underwater, muted and unclear, thick and hazy. Swapping back to the ISOLATE’s, I could hear significantly more detail and clarity for everything around me, but as if the volume were turned down, or as if it were all a music track I’d had playing on my portable player and I’d simply lowered the volume: Balance was retained, although dimmed to a lower volume overall.

I thought surely this couldn’t be possible for a piece of hardware to actually protect against specific dB levels beyond a certain point, but it seems I was wrong. Software isn’t needed, nor is active noise cancellation ala Bose or similar electronically censored and processed sound dampening. More testing was needed to confirm.

Test 2 – Tempting Fate

After a few days of playing around with these ISOLATE Pro’s outside, I came to the conclusion that I may need to tempt fate for a proper test. Putting my body and ears on the line, I did what nobody else should do: I placed the ISOLATE’s in my ears and then placed over-ear headphones on as well. I then booted up my music player and amplifier slowly but surely, getting to a dial level on my amp that I know to be absurdly loud and even dangerous. Yet, at that point I could hear and feel the music playing, a good amount of detail preserved. I copied the test at this point in volume with the Vmoda Fader with an end result of pure mud and thickness.

6

Swapping back to the ISOLATE’s, I pushed my amp and headphone as high as it could go and felt worried that my amp wasn’t driving the headphone properly, as I felt like the dB level I was feeling and hearing wasn’t sufficient enough to justify 100% full volume on a powerful amplifier with an efficient headphone. So, I took the headphone off and placed it on the table nearby, still playing high levels of volume and then removed the ISOLATE from my ears. The result was gasp-worthy, the headphone and amplifier had done their job in blasting music to such a ridiculously loud level, that I really didn’t think the headphone I used could even get that loud to begin with. This was 100% deafening levels of dB piped through that headphone and I had just been wearing it under the protection of the ISOLATE.

What astounded me most was that I could feel the sub-bass in a clean and purer manner of texture and tone than I would ever have expected. This product actually retains very nice detail in extremely loud dB’s of noise, but also let me hear birds chirping and my cat meowing nearby when I used them as test subjects. How on Earth did that happen? The Physics here don’t seem to add up, but I retested multiple times with the same end result: The ISOLATE let me retain low level sounds like birds or cars passing by, but also retained more than audible detail in excessively loud music piped directly into my face. It actually handled both ends of the spectrum here by allowing low levels of dB’s to be heard, all be it quite dampened in literal volume factor, but also protected against insane levels of loudness while keeping detail.

7

I tested with my Noble K10 custom IEM’s master mold’s made by the audiologist a while back, which are just hardened putty basically that custom IEM makers use to craft the molds for your custom monitors. These are generally a solid chunk of rubber-like matter that are made in the exact shape of your outer and inner ear canal. These molds cancel noise more than the ISOLATE. That really means little, because it is near complete muting and muffling of everything around you. I can’t feel anything around me, I had no clue my neighbor was driving right beside me while I was walking down my home complex’s private road, could not hear the birds cleanly or even hear the phone ring nearby while sitting on my couch. None of that was ever a problem when using the ISOLATE.

Is This Bone conduction?

Another revelation occurred even later on a brief car trip I took with family out of the city. Using the ISOLATE’s, I could both feel and hear the bass from the car stereo, as well as the rumble of the car rummaging over the highway. That is a sub-frequency of the tires rolling over pavement that I can’t hear otherwise, certainly always masked by something else entirely that my ears are picking up from other sources. The experience was deeply relaxing, but I couldn’t understand what was causing this very clean, very low bass experience coming from the car itself driving over highway roads, at least not until I spoke to Davies again. I learned that the result of high levels of dB protection like this has a bonus effect of actual Bone Conduction: sound transmitted from exterior sources through your body, not directly coming through the exterior of your ear as sound generally tends to. This directly led to the nice quality of bass I’d heard in Test 2 with extremely loud music blasting into my skull.

8

The summation so far is that the ISOLATE reduces excessively high dB levels while retaining audible detail and keeps enough of the low dB emissions (birds, cars, construction work) audible, but also allows for some Bone Conduction to come into play with regard to the lower end of the audio spectrum. I realized this has to be the case, due to the very clean sub bass experience coming through my headphones during Test 2, as well as during the car trip. These ISOLATE’s block sound too much for that level of purity in the bass. That bass must be coming through my body, my bones, the side of my head, the surrounding ear area, and my face.

If you attend a music concert, you’ll be able to hear detail much more vividly than with typical earplugs. You should be able to stand right next to a giant loud speaker, assuming your ISOLATE is properly inserted, and not be bothered by the mids and treble at deafening levels…but your body will literally become an antenna for low-end frequencies more so than the mid/treble range. It will flow through your face and into your ear canal with an end result of a more pure experience that isn’t garbage quality when compared to using other plugs. Proof in the pudding, the Faders, and the mold plugs failed to retain quality and muted everything in a negative manner. The ISOLATE’s kept much more vividness and ability from top to bottom and retained much better balance across the board. Color me impressed.  This was odd because that low end coming through with the Faders and molds just didn’t feel or sound the same as when I use the ISOLATE.  I’ve not a clue why perhaps it has something to do with the Titanium and memory foam, I really don’t know.

So What Makes The Different?

The ISOLATE’s do not absorb sound as traditional earplugs tend to. Rather, they block it to a certain extent…and that certain extent is what makes them so special. They limited excessively loud, dangerous and deafening levels of volume and actually retained clarity and detail to a nice degree. It wasn’t muffled, nor muted and hazy feeling as pretty much every other plug I’ve ever used has done. They let me hear low-level instances of volume emissions, such as those birds, cars, and the work environment, but also intensely and safely limited the dangerous volume tests I performed. It seems the combination of materials used are hard coded and ideal for limitation of certain excessive dB levels beyond a certain point, as standing near-absurdly loudspeakers or full blasting max volume through headphones while using the ISOLATE below them proved to be a task that these plugs handled properly.

9

This is an ideal plug: to hear low-level emission and be aware of your surrounding, to be protected from dangerous dB levels and also retain good levels of detail from music playing around you in very loud places. Beyond that, Bone Conduction bonus is forced because of the level of isolation in play and sub-bass quality is impressive because of that at high exterior volume. Sounds feel more pure, more clean and balanced without feeling hazy versus through the mold plugs and Faders from Vmoda that I used to compare. Neither of those two retains audibility, the ISOLATEs do. That makes them unique and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in that regard.

Even our very best ear plugs aren’t particularly good at attenuating the low frequencies (that shake you to your core), that’s where the Isolate® are fantastic! at reducing the low frequencies

Mr. Allen Davey

Director

British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association

Final Thoughts

So at the end of all this, I am very impressed by what they’ve accomplished.  These are not 100% sound isolation products that drown out everything and mute the world.  Rather, they are sound limiters with a penchant for retaining balance and safe audibility factor in excessively loud environments.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that is how it really should be.  If you want to mute the entire world, look elsewhere and I’d recommend you make some earmold impressions for yourself to cover that.  However, if you want something that will keep your ears safe from harmful dB levels, as well as retain balance and good tone and texture to low end and up through into the treble region, then I suggest you try Flare Audio’s ISOLATE as soon as you can.

I think people active in construction, or on the music scene near loudspeakers often, will love these.  Oddly enough, there is an excellent relaxation factor when I use them while sitting outside.  I don’t want to mute everything, but I do want everything dimmed to the point of just being audible.  These ISOLATE’s do just that for me and I’ve been enjoying “not hearing” the normalized sound levels of the exterior environment around me.  That disconnect factor is something I enjoy and that I feel is actually required at times, at least now and then, as a reviewer who constantly has to deal with sound on a daily basis.  I want to distance myself from it and lately, I’ve been enjoying that escape through less sound than usual with this ISOLATE.  Highly recommended.

Great job, Flare Audio! Another new year, another superb product.  Flare Audio is one of a few companies that insists on pushing boundaries and exceeding the limits of socially accepted memes in the audiophile world…and naturally, their new ISOLATE is no different. I expect no less from them at this point.

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About The Author

Senior Reviewer

Self Proclaimed Musicality Guru, Photographer, Audiophile and part time Ninja. I started my audio journey back in 96' and haven't looked back. My ultimate goal in this life is to experience as many Hifi rigs as possible...because I am an audio addict.

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  • wasaki

    This should be used for flare R2 Iems, I’ll try one .

    • 24bit

      I love them. Once people get wind of how well they perform at music concerts or in loud construction type areas, they’ll sell very well.

      • WiseOwl

        Hi 24bit, How would you say they might work for the following types of noises: fireworks show/spectator, thunderstorm, gunfire/about 100 yards away? Thanks!!

        • 24bit

          I got to use them for the 4th of july fireworks earlier this month! They were amazing, I could hear and feel everything without wincing and blinking each time a big one went off. I loved it, was the first time I’d ever used anything during a fireworks display and I didn’t have anything else to compare with, but I can’t see myself ever not using them in the future. A bonus was being able to sit amid a crowd of thousands and not fully hear any annoying little kids or jerk people nearby, was lovely.

          I live in Cleveland, not sure if you’ve been here during severe storms but we are lightning and thunder central (outside of Florida IMO). We get some huge thunderclaps and this month has produced some bad ones in my area. I’ve slept with the Isolates on and was not so bothered by Thunder. The problem is that you’ll feel the thunder regardless of what plugs you use, so that is bound to wake you up. But, the rain pounding on the windows and the roof have been muted enough to not be so bothered enough to be awoken by it. Big thunder though, really nothing you can do about that.

          As for gunfire, I couldn’t say, never shot a gun before or been near one using any plugs. Couldn’t chat at all on that subject.

  • Kane Harrison

    So they are a small turned piece of metal with a Comply foam tip. I’ll make my own thanks, it’s about £3 in parts if you use aluminium.

    • 24bit

      Send them to me for review when they are done!

    • Christopher Loughrey

      Yeah, they seem very expensive for what they are. I’m sceptical. Everything on Kickstarter seems to be excessively priced

  • George

    I use ACS moulds but own some r2’s and they’re brilliant so am tempted by these. How do they compare to pro level plugs such as the ACS ones? Also I believe it is penchant not pension.

    • 24bit

      I’ve never used any of the ACS plugs before, sadly.

  • Nevets

    Can you estimate the SNR or NRR values for these? I use 3M 1100s for protection at concerts (I have tinnitus) and I’d like to understand how the Isolate PROs compare.

    • Ole Alfheim

      I’m always very keen to hear more details on this… I got tinnitus as well, and I feel that even with foam plugs my tinnitus temporarily get worse for days after the concert, most likely due to their inability to block the very low frequensies very well… Hopefully the Flare Isolate will fix this! 🙂

      • David

        Hi Ole.

        Get better earplugs if you already have tinnitus. I had tinnitus and used foam because I thought they were the maximum protection. They pretty much are in the higher frequencies but they are terrible in the lower. This gave me serious ear injuries which I think are nerve based. By using the foam, my nerves tried to hear the higher frequencies so it basically raised the volume, or rather, increased my sensitivity to sound. Of course, our ears are not able to just raise the sound for one frequency so it increased it for both the lower and the higher. This meant my ears probably had to contain bass sounds about 25 db higher, which is extreme.

        This resulted in oversensitive hearing which only recently got better from about 9 months ago, although it’s unlikely to ever be the same. At least now I can listen to normal conversations.

        It doesn’t have to be these ones, there are a lot of great brands out there. And these ones are probably not proved to be secure by scientists although they certainly show promise. Just invest in some really good plugs that you can use for a long time. It’s worth every penny.

        • 24bit

          I agree, these are not for you if you want to block bassy regions. These Flares retain good low end throughout in loud places, so these are no no’s for you I would think. Also sorry for the late response, didn’t see your comment until David here responded to you.

          • David

            So they don’t block the bass/low frequencies? Mainly they balance the middle and high range?

            They sure are a bit confusing considering how they work differently from ‘normal’ earplugs. I use molded earplugs with filters at different db myself which basically blocks all frequencies at the same levels(with only a difference in about 5dbs), the lowest to the highest. These are extremely expensive though and very sensitive to water. Also, considering I hear sounds at -5 db(didn’t know that was possible either before I did a hearing test) it means that the maximum filter of 25db is not enough in some extreme situations like concerts. That’s why these sounds like an interesting alternative.

          • 24bit

            I mentioned a few times in my review here that they retain low end frequencies better than any other isolator or plug I’ve ever used. I honestly dont know if they were a fluke design or specifically designed that way, but a lot of people agree they do a fantastic job of keeping low end and blocking mid/high band freqs.

            I also shower with my Isolates lol, it is a very Zen experience, low light baths/showers with them in. Sounds weird, but the experience is really addictive.

            Near loud speakers, bone conduction will occur, no earplug will block all that, some of it is going to run right through your eye balls and your face meat and your teeth. With these flares, the higher end frequencies are blocked, but I can still hear the music without it sounding totally drowned out. These plugs are for those who want to retain thump and sound, but stay protected from high amounts of volume and high frequencies. It isn’t for people who want to block everything. There are lots of tips that isolate muchhh better than these, but I’ve never heard any that do such a nice job keeping balance and not sounding like I am under water.

          • David

            I see. I think it is mostly a language barrier for me. So then it sounds like it has a similar block rate of foam plugs but makes the sound a lot clearer and less muddled?

            Thanks a lot for the quick answers! These plugs sure seems cool. It’s nice to see some innovation in this field.

            And you are right, but even far from loud speakers 25db is not enough for me. 😛 To avoid ear irritation my ears can stand about 75-80db for 1-2 hours. For reference, 85db is what most people can handle for 7-8 hours without damage. Most concerts are at about 100-120db, at that point it takes about 15 minutes for most people to risk serious ear damage. When people feel pain in their ears it’s usually at 125db, so don’t trust your instincts on this one. Protect your ears peeps! (and also, note that 83db is double the volume of 80db. The db levels are logarithmic and not linear.)

            Sorry for my educational post combined with my questions. I’m sure you already knew most of the information. But considering how much I have suffered myself from my lack of knowledge I want to spread the word to other people who might read this. I hope it didn’t feel like I hijacked your article! In the end though, it shows how important this product is.

            These are the closest to the ones I use I could find on an english site, for reference. They are custom silicone ER earplugs: https://store.sensaphonics.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=ERSERIESPLUGS

          • 24bit

            Correct. These Flare Isolates are not mean’t to block a lot of sound. They keep good low end, good amounts of bass. They block problematic or dangerous higher frequencies. There are many sets that block sound much better. But, these Flares are intended to let you hear what is around you without dangerous loudness, or without loosing too much bass.

            No problem at all, mate. I love helping and answering questions 😉

          • Paul

            Are not meant to block a lot of sound? Their Indiegogo page states “ISOLATE® is not like any other ear plug; it blocks all sound from entering your ears including bass frequencies for the first time ever”. Which one is correct now?

          • 24bit

            No mate, they are not made to block a lot of sound. They are made to only block dangerous high frequencies and dB levels, as well as retain as much low end bass as possible. It will block the low end as anything covering your ears will, but this is a unique isolator that for whatever reason is able to retain hood heft in very loud venues near loud speakers of very loud places, you can still hear things around you in a somewhat balanced manner and that is what makes them unique. They try to retain balanced without totally muting everything, so you can still hear things around you, but also block dangerous high frequencies and dB levels.

          • Nils Sps

            Hey guys,

            As I suffer also from tinnitus and sound oversensitivity, I’m looking for what you are mentionning as better solution for blocking the sound. I’m using ACS 27 but they don’t block enough sound for me so I’m using Hearos Extreme (some foam earplugs) which feel more effective to me. Would you know any better solution for blocking maximum sound ?

          • Neusymar de Lima

            You seem to be a pro on the subject. I am considering what to purchase. My wife snores a lot and I cannot sleep, and have not found anything to help yet. Could you advise me what might work best for this problem?

  • Robbin Poh

    How’s the effect from the Isolate Pro vs the basic Isolate?

    • 24bit

      Couldn’t say, I’ve only (not) heard this version. lol

  • Johannes Ruprecht

    Looks cool..but I don’t know where to buy these plugs.. mh..

    • headfonics

      The link is at the top of the article, first sentence, first line.

      • Johannes Ruprecht

        Damm, I started at the “The ISOLATE” line. Thx a lot

  • Adam Dennis

    My standard ISOLATE’s just turned up at my office and I have to say that I am VERY impressed, and these are just the lower tier ones. Will have to see how they perform at my Band’s practice session on wednesday.

    • 24bit

      That’s awesome, mate!

    • I just read this review and it was originally posted 15 days ago and so I am wondering if you have used them at a band practice yet? If so what your experience was like in that environment?

      • Adam Dennis

        Fantastic. So little ringing after practice, and compared to my Alpine in-ear defenders, the frequency response was so much better. Would definitely recommend these for practice and gigs.

  • David

    Do you know what the DB levels are for high, middle and lower frequencies? I have found that info to be hard to find.

  • prej

    Does somebody bought them from indiegogo ? I read that there is a lot of case when you don’t receive your product from this website. Was it OK for you ? Is it possible to buy them from a more “reliable” website ?

  • DuffingtonQC

    Hi there.

    I got mine through Kickstarter and I love them.

    Just a quick question, how do you change the foam bits that go in the ear as I think I need to put a smaller one in one ear. I have lost the packet that explains how to do this.

    Many thanks

    • 24bit

      Just gently pinch and pull. They slip off just like normal IEM ear tips.

  • Piers

    I’m slightly confused here. Why have you not compared them to high fidelity filters such as the ACS Pacato? Comparison with low fidelity plugs seems kind of pointless

    • 24bit

      I don’t have access to every noise blocker/protection product. I compare with what I have or what I can obtain.

      • You should definitely obtain comparable quality earplugs for a representative result. Reviewing with low quality / small sample size of competition is a waste of time, akin to comparing the 0-60 of a Jaguar test drive car against your personal Toyota and the neighbour’s Prius because that’s ‘what you can obtain’.

        Long-time earplug user (and custom earplug owner) checking in. I’ve used loads of plugs – Elacin/Etymotic generic plugs (the christmas-tree shaped ones, which are excellent for the price), cheap foamies, rubber buds on headbands, squishy dense plugs which expand to fill your ear canal and various other esoteric products.

        I came to the realisation that you’re inevitably going to get bone conduction, and once you start attenuating external sounds to this extent voice occlusion becomes a big issue. I suspect these ISOLATE earplugs do nothing for occlusion, so your own voice will ‘boom’ in your head if you have to talk.

        I’ve used ACS Pro 20s for the past few years but I’m not afraid to evaluate other products on merit. I approached ISOLATE’s products with an open mind. I’ve not had a set in my ears yet, but as a sound engineer I feel I’m able to study their published information and come to a fairly accurate conclusion.

        ISOLATE’s own dB comparison chart (from their Indiegogo page) has a reference of 60.3 dB (what? A-weighted? C-weighted?) and their foam, aluminium and titanium products. 60 dB is not whisper quiet, but it’s nowhere near what I’d consider loud.

        The BBC advises a peak listening level of 80 dBA in their radio studios, which is DEFINITELY louder than you’d listen at home (compare it with listening to music loud in the car). I’m listening to some pop music at 80 dBA and it’s pretty loud. You’d struggle to have a shouted conversation over the top! Most live music venues will have SPLs easily exceeding 90 dB, rock concerts will probably peak at 100 dB. There’ll definitely be transients around that. (3 dB increase is double the acoustic energy, 10 dB / octave is perceived double volume. dBs are logarithmic).

        Remember, our ear’s response is not linear and depends on the volume of sound it hears. It’s far less sensitive to mid range at 60 dB than it is at 80 dB and above. ISOLATE just take the flat “block everything” approach, and their chart doesn’t have any reference to Impulse Peak Insertion Loss, something just as important to measure. If Flare’s (one size fits all) earplug doesn’t fit your ears properly, you won’t form a proper seal, and you risk unintentional exposure to very loud sound.

        My ACS Custom Pro 20s (custom moulds which automatically block an amount of sound, plus filters that attenuate in three bands – IPIL of ~ 32 dB and average additional attenuation of ~20 dB across the spectrum, weighted to the mid and high range) cost £150.

        Ok, £150’s a chunk of change, but they fit my ear canals perfectly and I can wear them all day without discomfort. Any generic earplugs inevitably never properly isolate or work their way loose as the ear canal sweats.

        ISOLATE products to me represent poor value for money. If you want to spend £30 or £50 on (albeit nicely CNCed) metal bullets with a rubber grommet — which may not fit your ears properly, reducing your protection and attenuation of average & impulse noise — go for it. But don’t expect these to be miraculous cure-alls…

        Personally, I’d be concerned about these earplugs possibly being difficult to remove from the ear canal, whereas my ACS customs sit flush and are easily inserted and removed with no danger of them getting stuck. Made from silicone, they’re also light and hygienic, whereas metal bullets I bet would be quite heavy and possibly uncomfortable after wearing for more than an hour. Not sure I’d want to sleep with them in. And not sure how the metal would react to lots of sweat…

        Personally I’d rather buy customs. Guaranteed to seal into my ear canals properly and have measured and verified attenuation levels from a company which has a lot of experience in the market. There’s loads of companies who produce customs for the music, industrial and motorsport markets. I know with the ACS Pros, you can also swap out filters and even buy full sound blocks (think mini rubber bungs) should you want to completely deaden outside noise.

        As always, caveat emptor. I’m sure the company makes good sounding IEMs, but I think I’ll skip these earplugs. Unless you need to completely block noise, and wearing Peltors is too inconvenient, I’d recommend you save your cash and buy something like the Etymotic ER20 or ER20xs one-size plugs. (check their tech specs for their attenuation figures)

        • badblue

          I work in an oil refinery, as a welder and I have been using the titanium ear plugs at work and they are so far, amazing. I bought them because they were cheaper then the molded ones I can get, and I don’t have a bad thing to say about them. They are comfortable, easy to insert and remove and don’t seem to be bothered by sweat either.

          • 24bit

            I shower with mine…it is a very Zen experience haha.

          • Fábian Wolarski

            today I showered with a drugstore plug (3m Pomp Plus).
            for comparison’s sake, could you tell me how the water sounds with the Isolate? Are there a lot of highs missing? and what about the towel? Do you hear something while drying yourself (towel rubbing against skin)?

          • 24bit

            Never had to review the sound of water before! Is this an audiophile reviewers first? haha 😉

            Honest, the sensation of having isolators in and sticking your head under the shower is just addictive to me. I don’t know why, but I enjoy the hell out of it. I find it very relaxing and I’ve not tried it with other blockers yet. As for the towel, absolutely. All that sound goes right through your head and into your canals despite you wearing blockers.

          • Fábian Wolarski

            thanks.
            btw: I just saw this review from a user who is used to ACS 15 and tried the Isolates out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIW0NpbVSEo

          • I’m glad they work for you at least, any ear protection is better than none! Does your employer offer any plugs?

          • badblue

            They do, but just simple foam ones

        • Piers

          I find the universal fit ACS Pacatos are pretty comfy and only cost about a tenner. I tried a few and found these to be the only ones that don’t suffer that awful occlusion effect

          • Fábian Wolarski

            frequency curve is nothing special though: https://www.acscustom.com/download/Pacato/Pacato.pdf
            you can find similar curves in simple plugs from 3m

          • True, but those are the lowest attenuation earplugs. I would always recommend people go for the ER20 at the very least.

          • Their universal fit Pacatos and ER20s are great for occasional gig goers, I recommend them to everyone who see live music. The Pro 26 customs are even better if you have the money.

        • Fábian Wolarski

          they need normal (standard) attenuation measurements, so we can compare.
          they reference signal is truly strange. why not use a flat signal? and where is the db scale?
          but it looks interesting. because I look for something that attenuates more from 0-1000 than the rest, because that is the day-to-day noise that stresses us (traffic and so on).
          they don’t claim to have designed them for musicians

          • The graphs they publish show the attenuation levels – the reference signal is likely pink noise (equal acoustic power per octave), I can’t currently access the text of the BS standards as I can’t log in to the BSI site (it’s horrendously expensive to buy the documents on their own!)

            The curve is just the mean of the attenuation figures – Y axis is decibels (attenuation), starting from zero dB and increasing in attenuation as it rises; the X axis is the centre frequency of the tested octave.

            They do have standard attenuation measurements, and ACS earplugs are independently measured by the British Standards Institute to comply with various UK regulations. Here’s the Pro 20 spec sheet including attenuation measurements: https://acscustom.com/uk/downloads/PRO%2020%20SPEC%20SHEET.pdf

            In the UK, BS EN 352-2:2002 (and related standards) detail the acoustic and subjective testing methods for these kinds of plugs. ACS go by BS standards for their testing and relevant figures. (I simply talk about ACS as I’m familiar with the product as a user)

            The ISOLATE has gone through none of these industry body tests from what I can see, so they can’t emphatically claim any kind of standards-compliant noise attenuation comparable with other manufacturers’ products. Basically, they’re saying, “trust us.”

          • Fábian Wolarski

            to understand their messurement you have to understand that the software they used is designed for other purposes (though it could be used to show the real attenuation graph (with subtraction), which it doesn’t).

            I know the software: http://www.roomeqwizard.com/

            What the graph shows is:
            1) a reference sweep with 60 db MAX(!), and that max is only valid if they used a calibrated SPL meter.
            why is the curve not flat, or at least almost flat? because they used a shitty speaker or a non liniear mic instead of a SPL meter.
            2) the same sweep beeing somehow forced to pass the plugs before hitting the mic

            So you have to subtract 2) from 1) to get the attenuation.

            we both agree that they should provide an indurtrie standard messurement like ALL the others do.
            Actualy we should demand it together as users. I wont buy it without this at least.

          • I completely agree. The problem is, people see the nice log graph, don’t know how to interpret it – or don’t ask about the test method. I hate products with shoddy marketing, particularly when they make bold claims about hearing protection. Your hearing is so important it’s worth far more than £25.

          • Fábian Wolarski

            now that I see that the values go below 0 lol….wtf? the graph is close to useless

          • More than that, while the graph scale is pointless (though accurate), the test method leaves a lot to be desired. They’ve deliberately not shown the effects of bone conduction using a dummy head. While OK for demonstrating laboratory conditions blocking, it’s not adequate for real world marketing.

            They also essentially acknowledge that custom earplugs will produce a superior attenuation to the generic earplugs I presume they have used for comparison. The wood holder for the earphone driver will not be the same shape and absorption as a human ear canal so it means the generic earplug results are useless.

            They also didn’t use a reference source of tone from an external source, they used a headphone driver (DT770?) which will have a coloured frequency response.

            Nobody’s ears are perfect holes like on their test rig, so the seal with a cylindrical metal plug is never going to be as good, hence the foam tips which will affect the attenuation. I think some people will end up forcing them into their ears to get a good seal, and I suspect they’ll hurt their ear canals.

          • Fábian Wolarski

            I actualy had sent an email to them asking for industry standard tests, and they replied:

            “Hi Fabian,

            Sorry for the delay in replying.

            Both our products are currently with test houses and we are waiting the results. As soon as we have the results we will post them online.

            Kind regards,

            Tristan Mill

            Technician”

        • Fábian Wolarski

          I found this, where they show how the test was done. It’s like I said before. sweeptests. Since this is completly diferent form the industry standard test, because bone conduction is not taken into acount at all, it is useless for comparison to other products: Hi Martin,
          I used a pro headphone unit to test Isolate at full level which was over 100dB. Please don’t pay attention to the dB numbers on the left of the graph, this is because the software was run as a reference trace to compare dB difference between tests, not overall level, thus this is why I ran a reference trace first so that dB difference could be shown.
          Kind Regards
          Davies

          Also an oficial coment there on the link:

          “Hi Martin,
          I used a pro headphone unit to test Isolate at full level which was over 100dB. Please don’t pay attention to the dB numbers on the left of the graph, this is because the software was run as a reference trace to compare dB difference between tests, not overall level, thus this is why I ran a reference trace first so that dB difference could be shown.
          Kind Regards
          Davies”

          which means that the dB values are useless also, even between the measurement and the reference, since nothing is calibrated.
          The only thing we can see on the graph is by comparing the foam with the Isolate, which shows that they perform much better up to about 700HZ. But we see nothing absolute here. bone conduction will vary a lot over the frequency range

        • God_Zilla

          Chris, question for you: Would you say that these are worth it over basic foam ear plugs or not worth it at all? I used to have a pair of ACS ER15s when I was DJing and clubbing loads, but then I left them in a taxi and decided that as I was getting older and clubbing a lot less I couldn’t justify spending another £150. Since then I’ve been making do with the foam ones. I’m wondering if it’s worth taking a punt on £25 for these.

          • Could be, but these will just plain block sound as opposed to attenuate. For anything less than a gig I doubt you’d hear anything at all, I wouldn’t feel safe wearing them in normal situations.

            I’d rather spend £10 on the universal fit Etymotics as opposed to £25 of weights with a rubber seal on them… or start saving for some new ER25s. It is nearly Christmas!

        • 24bit

          “You should definitely obtain comparable quality earplugs for a representative result. Reviewing with low quality / small sample size of competition is a waste of time, akin to comparing the 0-60 of a Jaguar test drive car against your personal Toyota and the neighbor’s Prius because that’s ‘what you can obtain’.”

          Incorrect. There are no other Isolators anything remotely close to the level of the Flare Isolate for what they do. Nothing on the market does what they do that I am aware of. These are an industry first. The aim of sound blockers is to make you as close to def as possible. The aim of the Isolates are the total opposite of that and to make you as spatially aware as possible while blocking only the potentially damaging dB levels that are absorbed into the materials of the product, as well as retaining a balance in the presentation.

          There is no reason to obtain $500 sound muter’s so I can tell people they mute sound more than the product that wasn’t intended to bring you closer to being deafened.

      • Piers

        I just think you’re comparing apples with oranges here. I really do recommend trying some proper filters, they only cost a tenner, so are definitely worth it.

  • Jason Kelly

    Hi Chris, please don’t think I’m being rude, but do you get any financial kickback for a review? I’m very interested in purchasing a set with curiosity in mind, and am curious to how independent reviews actually are.
    I feel however until independent observations and independent analysis based tests are done as to their claims, that paying such a high price especially for the titanium edition, and the benefit they claim over the aluminium aircraft grade which they say is 8-9db noise reduction, is a hard sell as unless you only really use these in the home for bedtime or navigating through noisy city areas, I can see these easily misplaced while at work or in a night club for example.
    I worked as a coach builder with some very heavy and industrial equipment, and not only me but others frequently lost one as you take them out for conversations and a break, also workplaces often being dirty environments and unless inconveniently washing your hands, because they attract so much dirt when rolled up or just handled which can cause ear infections, I would have thought to expensive and inconvenient for anything but for as mentioned above.
    With this in mind, how many are going to fork out upto fifty quid for these, the kickstarter campaign attracted about only £450 in funding and indigogo higher at the moment because of a couple of business packages purchased, however good they claim to block out unwanted noise I think it will be a niche market unless costs are lowered, I would also assume that is why other manufacturers of ear protection products have never thought to take this route, even if they are aware of the benefits in using superior materials because of these reasons.
    Also to add these are also at a 30-40 % discount price!

    • 24bit

      Apologies for the late response. Missed yours among the barrage and I think I was responding to another comment while you made this one 5 months ago, otherwise I can’t figure out why I didn’t see your comment. So sorry about that.

      Swapping from the Titanium to the lower end model results in less balance and more loss of the low end. The Titanium is absolutely the more linear feeling. Why? Not a clue for sure. My theory is that is has to do with the specific angular design, meshed with a solid body and the foam tips in just the right way. I can take those tips and jam them on other isolators and they just don’t do the same job at all, so something else is going on for sure. What that is, I’ve not a clue haha.

      These not being slung together on a strap or string is a problem. It scares me each time I go out with them, but not once has either flopped out of my ear. We need to be responsible with it and not careless because you are right, they can get lost so easily.

      • DEATHPROOFBUM

        Better late than never, thanks for your reply.

      • disqus_hoah9Mf9yw

        Hey sorry, just want some clarification. So the aluminum version reduces more of the low end? I’m basically using these for reducing engine noise of buses, which has lots of rumble around 60hz and between 100-250 hz (I measured). So would the aluminums work better for me?

        • 24bit

          Either would work the same, at least in my opinion. The Pro version stabilizes hectic sound more than the standard aluminum. Meaning, if there were a lot of bass and shrilling sounds around you, the Pro will do a better job making everything more linear feeling. That Hissss and Pop of Bus breaks won’t be as apparently vivid on the Pro as it would the standard. But, I think a constant low rumble, ignoring anything else, would be reduced the same amount.

          Pro version seems to negate very harsh upper end more efficiently than the standard. Both versions seem to house the same “response” when it comes to rumbly bass experiences from a powerful engine. Honestly, in this case I’d not recommend the standard, but the Pro. You’ll hear things clearer overall than the standard while also reducing potentially hazardous treble too.

  • Marshie

    How do you know what size to get?

  • Zabou

    I am considering those in order to block extremely low frequencies at night due to construction works (railways) in our street. We no longer sleep as those low frequencies are not attenuated by foam ear protections (3M EAR Soft FX) and we are desperate for a solution! Any hint, advice, suggestion is more than welcome!

    • 24bit

      These would not suffice for you. These are made to retain as much of the low end as possible, so you’ll both hear and feel that sound surely if you use this Isolate. I would suggest you try a custom earmold kit and make your own ear impressions. That way, you can flatten and control the depth of the mold in your inner ear and you’ll be able to sleep on your side without too much of a bother. I did this, it works great for when I want to nap during the day and there are lots of things happening elsewhere in the house.

  • Dani Sánchez

    Me siento estafado, en el mes de septiembre hice un pedido a través de Indegogo por importe de 55 Libras, y a fecha de hoy 30 de Noviembre no he recibido el pedido. Nadie responde a mis email y paypal (mi forma como hice el pago), no se hace responsable de reclamar.

  • Dani Sánchez

    In September I did an order across Indiegogo for amount of 55 Pounds. Today On November 30 I have not received the order. Nobody answers to my e-mail and paypal (my form since I did the payment), he does not become a person in charge of protesting.
    I feel defrauded and want to inform all those that could be interested, in order that they avoid to be defrauded.

  • Halldór Freyr Sturluson

    i got mine some time ago and have just tested them a little bit, i have never used thing like this before and i was testing it out here at sea and went down where the machine is and they worked great and i also still heard everything so i wasnt sure they were working right or not but know i know. great review and looking forward to trying them at a concert. i also have a friend that is a bass player and he ordered too and says they work great. thank you

    • 24bit

      Months later, do you still feel the same? I assume you are like me here in this case, and have found that the Isolate is useful in other environments as well. 🙂

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  • Run

    I have PTSD and I’m having trouble with noisy environments like stores and other places with many people. I do want to attend normal conversations, though. Is this product suitable for my situation?

    • 24bit

      I’ve been asked this question by others who have told me they had PTSD and even severe anxiety due to loud, noisy environments. In theory, it would help out. In actual practice, I couldn’t possibly say for sure it would help you or not with absolute certainty. But, I have heard positive feedback from two others who shared this issue with you who have contacted me and who purchased the Pro model, so based on that, I recommend it strongly. If you want to dim the exterior world but still be spacially aware, I’ve never come across anything as good as the Isolate for this, so I absolutely think you should try it at the very least.

      If you do buy, please drop a message back here and let me know, as well as everyone else. I am sure everyone would love your incite and experiences after you give it a try.

      • DGSLP

        I’ve just ordered a pair for every member in my family. I want to test them out before recommending to veterans with PTSD/mTBI who tend to get over stimulated by loud noises but are sufficiently hypervigilent to refuse to wear noise canceling protective devices. My thought is that this may take the edge off and decrease angry outbursts resulting from over-stimulation.

  • Tarles Choris

    The biggest problem about this product is the advertising. It basically says it will block sound, like snoring at night. It does not. So I’ve been deeply disppointed especially for that price. It reduces the sound and allow you to hear EVERYTHING at a comfortable volume (and it does it well, as said in the article) but definitely doesn’t “shut” anything. Be aware of that before buying. Except at loud music venue, I don’t personaly see any use for this.

    + you pay for the 3 pairs of foams and you should only need one . But yes you need to try it to be sure …
    + the foam can be easily damaged too, be carefull because they are expensive.

    • 24bit

      It certainly does not block snoring, I agree. I think that was an unwise advertising statement in their ads. I have no answer for why those statements are in their ads, sadly. This product was intended for:

      -Music concerts, loud offices, urban busy street corners, factory workers, airport workers, any place that is annoyingly or dangerously loud but that you need to still retain spacial awareness and balance from top to bottom.

      This product was not intended for:

      -Blocking snoring, noisy kids, trains or cars, loud equipment or anything at all that is bothersome in dB level that you want to drown out to the point of nearly being inaudible.

      • Tarles Choris

        yes that’s a shame but they still publish these ads, i’ve seen it this morning on Facebook. They got even worse because they mention the snoring now. They really sell the product like you will get ultimate peace for your ears.
        They expose to a huge disappointement, like me, in my case just a waste of 50€ for misinformation / lying advertising. Even if I admit that the product looks good for what it’s made for … But I had to read this article + comments to understand.

        • 24bit

          I’m with you on that. I am baffled by the ad phrasing they’ve chosen.

      • Theresa Ann Casper Nelson

        So, what would you, sound guru, recommend for blocking out snoring? Oh and I would still need to be able to hear the alarm clock in the morning.

        • 24bit

          I’d not recommend this Isolate for that, lol. I don’t think most blockers will block so much noise that you’ll not hear someone snoring right next to you. Perhaps, on the other side of the room if it is a sizable room, but certainly not near by. If they do block close (which there are products that allow that) then you probably won’t hear the alarm clearly.

          I’d try Macks Earplugs first, you’ll need to research to find the one rated at 32db. Start there and if that doesn’t work, I’d try the Rooth C&P models intended for sleeping. These Flare Isolates are intended for the opposite, as mentioned. You’ll hear everything around you, but linearly and muted, safe from dangerous dB levels. Best of luck!

          • Theresa Ann Casper Nelson

            I read your review and saw the comments here pertaining to snoring so I figured, “why not ask him what COULD work for snoring?” I’ll look into the Macks Earplugs. We’re not across the room but we are in a king-sized TempurPedic bed. That means I can’t feel him move but I can definitely HEAR him! LOL!

          • 24bit

            I can hear my cats purr and the fan in my room when I have the Isolates in. So, it wouldn’t at all be suited for this. But, the Rooths have some buyers saying it helped their snoring situation, so that is probably the best place to start. Please make sure to post here if you opt to buy those other models, let me know how it went!

    • enzomedici

      I was going to buy these, but not after your review. Thanks. I don’t want to hear everything. In fact, I don’t want to hear shit…nothing…nada. I will keep looking for something that blocks all sound.

      • Kerry Seagrave

        I was buying them to also block sound bt if they don’t no point. Have you found anything that does?

        • 24bit

          There is certainly a point in trying to save your ears from damaging sounds, all while retaining spacial awareness in dangerous places. That was the aim of this product. They were poorly marketed on that factoid and I am glad to bare the responsibility of correcting that problem the company had with ads on this topic.

          They are not full noise blockers. If you want something closer to total muting of sounds around you, there are plenty of other products. As I mentioned already, try custom iem mold kits ($20USD, do it yourself kits). The Vmodas I spoke about in this review block noise better as well. So, you have a ton of options out there.

          You have virtually no options if you work in a very loud place and need hearing protection, but also want or need to still hear things around you. Bad idea to mute everything in a factory or construction zone. Ideally, you want to block the dangerous dB levels and still be audibly aware of your surroundings. That is what the Isolates here do, they retain sound enough for you to hear it, but block the potentially dangerous levels of sound all while retaining a balance.

  • Tiffany Rose Elston

    i’ve had problems with ear infections for years, and pain caused by wind passing by my head. even light breezes in the spring and summer will make my ears ache painfully. I’ve not been able to cycle or skate or run due to this, and im wondering if this might work to block the wind to my ears while still being able to hear well enough to be safe.
    it seems like it might be worth a shot, two decades without being able to bike makes me sad 🙁

    • 24bit

      Can’t say anything about the ear infections, but the cheaper model should suffice for you for wind reduction.

  • How effective will these be at cutting out wind noise inside a motorcycle helmet? I need to be able to hear car, horn and road sounds, as well as the audio from my helmet speakers – only the wind noise needs to go.

    • 24bit

      Not very, I tested that on an electric scooter that tops at 20mph and the wind noise was very prevalent, but not bothersome. There, but muted and toned back significantly. Wouldn’t recommend these to you, as their aim is to let you hear most things around you clearly but protect from dangerous dB levels. So that omnipresent woosh will only be muted a bit with this product.

      If your aim is to reduce that sound and still hear stuff around you, then this is a good product and either model will be okay for that. The Pro model tanks more bass than the aluminum, so either or will suffice. Not sure what the legalities of using plugs while driving is, but if it is legal, I’d recommend them.

  • RaceFan

    Would these (or the newly released mini version) be adequate for drag racing? Would you recommend the aluminum or titanium? Thanks!

    • 24bit

      The Pro would be much better for you in this regard because it handles low end better than the standard. I’d opt for the Titanium, and yes, I do think it would help you a lot in hearing the sounds around you while being protected from loud, sudden noises.