Bulky noise-cancelling headphones aren't always effective or practical for those who work in especially loud environments or just like to mow the lawn while listening to some tunes. And although active-noise canceling earplug technology has come a long way in recent years, the best solution to block out environmental noise is often still good old foam or silicone earplugs. Plugfone's latest earplug/earbud hybrid combine the effectiveness of a traditional earplug with a functionality of a Bluetooth earbud.
Earlier this year we tested the QuietOn active noise canceling earplugs, and while they did effectively filter out a great deal of outside noise, we found them to be not significantly dissimilar to old-fashioned cheap foam plugs. With no audio playback capability to listen to your own music or podcasts they felt like a bit of a tough sell.
With its Liberate line of earplug/earbud hybrids, Plugfones has focused on creating a set of noise-blocking earplugs that also have Bluetooth audio playback capability. The second generation of the model is currently being launched on Kickstarter offering a notable upgrade on the specs from its predecessor.
The Liberate 2.0 Plugfones offer up to 100 ft (30 m) of Bluetooth range and 12 hours of play time on a single charge. They weigh in at 0.6 oz (17 g) and have a cord length of 34 in (86 cm). Power, music playback, call answer and end, and volume are controlled via a three-button inline remote.
The device comes with two kinds of interchangeable SoundSeal noise-suppressing earplug fittings, foam ComfortTwist plugs with a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 23 dB, and silicone ComforTiered plugs with a noise reduction rating of 26 dB.
A set of typical earplugs will offer a NRR of anywhere from 20 to 30 dB, so the Plugfones certainly sit in a decent sweet spot to be functional for most people in a professional setting looking for basic ear protection. And for those making calls in noisy environments, a noise isolating mic will help the person on the other end of the line hear you better.
The current Kickstarter campaign offers a set of the Plugfones for between US$75 and $80 depending on how quickly you get on board. Having previously produced a model of the earbuds, the company estimates delivery of the Liberate 2.0 by October 2017. They'll be available in blue/yellow and gray/black color options.
Take a look at the Plugfones Liberate 2.0 in the video below.