Earplugs for conerts?

I'm hoping a few people here know about some earplugs I can buy that have balanced attenuation, suitable for music at concerts. I'm worried about my hearing since my ears usually ring for days after I go to concerts.

So far I've heard about the ones Etymotics and Hearos make. Heros offer 12dB, but the Etys offer a bit more.
Do what I do. Get yourself to the local concession stand, grab a napkin, tear off a quarter of it, fold it up and stick it in your ear.

It sounds like I'm telling you off, but this is actually what I do. I've never shopped for balanced attenuated earplugs, but normal earplugs cut out too much of the sound, leaving you with a sort of resonance-only hearing. The napkin will protect you from the ear shattering loudness, but is good at still letting the sound through.

Maybe I should patent it.
Each time your ears ring you are damaging your hearing. I used to go to concerts without ear protection until I had a very close call.

I walked out of the concert with the usual ringing in the ears. Except, after a day or so, my right ear KEPT ringing. And ringing. I let it go for a week, then went to see my doctor. He cautioned me that the ringing may never go away. I was very upset and depressed, thinking that one of my most pleasurable pastimes was threatened. The ringing ear kept me from sleeping, because it was hard to fall asleep, and it made me not want to listen to music because everything sounded wrong.

I was lucky. After a good five weeks, the ringing stopped. I'm sure I have some permanent damage from that, but now I get my hearing checked as part of my regular physicals, and I wear ear protection while doing lots of things.... like mowing the lawn, for example.

I don't think human beings were built to withstand some of the incredibly loud noises that we're exposed to almost every day. I would urge (I'm not too proud to beg) you to take care of your hearing.

We're all audiophiles because we enjoy the distinct, nuanced sounds that our equipment provides. How sad it would be to damage the most important component we have.... our ears.

Thanks, and I apologize if I sounded preachy.... but I like my fellow Audiogoners, and I don't want anything bad to happen to any of you.
ask pete townsend?
ditto Matt8268. I'll race him to the patent office ;)
Try the soft plugs you can get at any Home Depot/Walmart that are sold typically for protection from loud machinery. You roll them tight and insert them in the canal where they expand and give good sound suppression while not specifically interfering with any particular frequency. I first used these as a paratrooper where we were issued these to protect against the loud turboprop engine noises and continue to use them with lawn maitenance equipment at home. They work very well, are cheap, and comfortable. Good idea to use something!

Charlie Daniell, DVM
I just saw the Who last year paid big bucks for fifth row seats and by the third song I had to take a break and wander back to the "cheap" seats it was the first time in my life after a 100 or so concerts that I asked myself "what am I doing" it actually hurt I guess I am not as young as I used to be or maybe I am God forbid smarter in any event with all the money I have invested in this hobby a pair of ear plugs could be considered a tweak that works.Won't get fooled again !
I'll second what Danvetc had to say, with a twist...I worked for several years, on and off, doing concert stage work (sound, lighting, security, etc.) and had to be able to clearly hear not only the music, but also my two-way radio, the stage manager barking orders or the fanatic fan explaining why he/she just HAD to get backstage...you get the idea. Anyway, I always used the expandable type from a company, I believe, called EAR. These are the bright yellow foam type of earplug and are really inexpensive. The twist is to cut one plug in half and use half in each ear. This way, the sound level is lowered enough to avoid hearing damage, but is not so muffled. An added benefit is that you don't have napkins hanging out of your ears (grin). No one will even know they are there, unless they are standing beside you looking into your ear. Just be careful not to insert the half-plugs too far, or they could be difficult to remove...especially if you have large fingers. Hope that helps you enjoy the show!
If I'm not mistaken Headphones.com has some. They are similar to the inserts for the etyomatic earphones. They are plugs that allow a portion of sound, and supposedly even attenuation over the band width, but the narrow cavity reduces the sound pressure to the ear canal. These were designed for sound engineers on the road that need to hear, but don't want to damage or be exposed to the loud live levels of a concert.

Yeah Matt8268, I concure as well. The old "tear off a piece of napkin" thing has been saving my ears for years as well!
I look back at all the years of going to the drag races and such, and all the times my friends wanted to play their music WAY TOO LOUD, and I thank God I had people there to warn me ahead of time! In such cases, I always plug my ears up with something, or ask people to "turn it down!". I certainly know of many many people around me who don't even consider it, or presure others into thinking that "if it ain't loud, your too old"...and other FOOLISH PIER PRESSURE!
I'VE ALWAYS BEEN MAN ENOUGH TO NOT FOLD TO THE PRESSURES OF OTHERS HERE(again, thanks to good parenting and relationships I guess)Also, I think having some grandparents and relatives that have virtually lost most all of their hearing from factory work and heavy loud machinary over the years, I also learned from their mistakes and ignorance!
I like to think my hearing is excellent and very accute! So my best advice EVER TO ANYONE ABOUT AUDIO AND YOUR EARS, is "PROTECT YOUR EARS/HEARING!!!!"..YOU ONLY HAVE ONE SET!
In a similar setting, I was absolutley shocked to see how many people were NOT wearing hearing protection at the US Grand Prix when I attended it in Indianapolis. These F1 cars are LOUD, and with stands on both side of the front stretch, the sound does not escape easily!
I've used the Eytomic ear plugs for the past several years, even when mowing the lawn, etc. They offer the most linear attenuation that I've found so far. Highly recommended.
I know what you are talking about JCdem and the plugs you are asking about are a lot different than the suggestions put forth above. The ones i've heard about range from ones that are custom fit to your ears to ones that are generic fit for a lot less money. I've considered them for use when playing live. Tried the other routes and too much gets lost so the feel of the music coming out of my amp isn't the same. An ear doc may be able to direct you. Guitar player or another similar musician mag may also help. that said, i've found that the acoustics at big halls are so bad that even the cheapie plugs clean up the sound so i can hear what's going on better rather than a big cluttered noise assault.
Piezo brings up an interesting point. Did you know the sound pressure at the end (12 inches away) of a trombone is 120 db? How do you think the guy in front of the trombone player in a symphony feels (what--couldn't hear you--or anything else in the orchestra for that matter with this trombone in my ear). It's kind of amazing because most people don't think about those kinds of sound pressures from non-amplified instruments.
I've done the napkin thing plenty of times. It's fine if there's no other option, but I always have problems with them leaking certain frequencies, as well as blocking certain frequencies, more than others (your crumbled napkin chunk may vary).

The rollable foam EAR-type plugs are great for blocking loud noise, but cut way too much high-end from music. They make everything sound way too muffled.

The best I've tried are the Hearos rubber tree-type plugs. I believe they are made or designed by Etymotic and marketed by another company as Hearos, so the Etymotic plugs should be almost identical. They do a good job of cutting enough volume to avoid damage, while maintaining a balanced frequency range. They allow you to hear all of the high end and vocals that some of the foam plugs or napkins cut out. They take a bit of time to get accustomed to, but they are worth checking out if you go to a lot of rock shows.
I really like my etyomatic ear plugs. Worth the $10 or so. Found them much better than foam which blocks way to much of the highs. They are not truly balanced, but how far you put them in adjusts the sound level blocked. I recomend them.
I think I got mine from music direct.
My ears seem to have a problem with ear-plugs, due to sinus pressure issues probably. They are pain-inducing so I cannot wear them. The expandable ones that you squeeze prior to putting in your ear seem to work pretty well and I can use these. Unfortunately, as folks have pointed out, it actually nullifies your connection with sounds going on about you so they won't be too good for live concerts. I use the napkin thing most often and would add a 'tweak' to this. Prior to using them, lightly dampen the napkin and press a portion of the damp portion to form a plug. Works great...fits much better and does a better job. It's important to lightly dampen and not soak the napkin though for it to work best. I usually just run some water on the back of my hand and blot it up. I use this when playing drums, mowing the lawn, some live music, vacuuming, sawing and nailing during construction, etc.