Do you hear that? No? Well, I do. It is a faint but constant ringing in my ears that can either be like a distant static sound or a dominating noise that makes concentration difficult. It’s called tinnitus and it’s largely preventable by using quality hearing protection like earplugs, muffs or a combination of both. The problem is that passively blocking noises with plugs or muffs means that shooters, hunters and those involved in defensive or tactical situations may not hear important and useful information as they would with unprotected hearing. Fortunately, electronic hearing protection technology has advanced in recent years, bringing professional grade active hearing protection to consumers at obtainable prices.
NOW HEAR THIS: Best Electronic Hearing Protection From TFB Staff
Being the weekly host of TFB’s Silencer Saturday is a constant reminder that I need to practice what I preach. Whether I’m shooting a 5.56mm AR15 or leaf blowing the yard, I always throw in a solid set of foam earplugs. I’ve used my share of electronic hearing protection devices, but I’ve decided to upgrade to something new and asked the talented TFB Staff for their buying suggestions.
But first, let’s clarify some facts and clear up some misconceptions:
Decibels And You
Let’s take a look at the definition of a decibel.
Decibel (dB), unit for expressing the ratio between two physical quantities, usually amounts of acoustic or electric power, or for measuring the relative loudness of sounds. One decibel (0.1 bel) equals 10 times the common logarithm of the power ratio. Expressed as a formula, the intensity of a sound in decibels is 10 log10(S1/S2), where S1 and S2 are the intensity of the two sounds; i.e., doubling the intensity of a sound means an increase of a little more than 3 dB. In ordinary usage, specification of the intensity of a sound implies a comparison of the intensity of the sound with that of a sound just perceptible to the human ear. For example, a 60-dB, or 6-bel, sound, such as normal speech, is six powers of 10 (i.e., 106, or 1,000,000) times more intense than a barely detectable sound, such as a faint whisper, of 1 dB. – Britannica.com
A non-scientific look at relative sound levels may lead people to believe that a change in a few decibels, 124dB to 130dB for example, is a small change in power. However, re-read the bold part of the definition above. For every 3dB, the power of a noise doubles, meaning that 130dB is actually four times as powerful as 124dB. It’s a basic but important distinction that we should all remember when comparing perceived “loudness”.
And as much as I love and adore my silencers, I always advocate the use of hearing protection for any supersonic ammunition and some short barreled subsonic ammunition as well.
Don’t forget, shooting in confined spaces like indoor ranges can bounce harmful sounds back at you and potentially cause more damage than shooting the same weapon in an open field. Know your environment.
I’ve heard (get it) Auditory Exclusion thrown around as an emergency form of hearing protection in the past, so I thought it would be an important clarification. Auditory Exclusion will NOT protect you from hearing damage, it only diminishes perceived sounds under stress.
Auditory exclusion is a form of temporary loss of hearing occurring under high stress. As such it is related to tunnel vision and “the slowing of time in the mind”.The phenomenon is discussed in the literature on law enforcement officers and soldiers.
Auditory exclusion happens as a physiological side effect of increased heart rate. When the heart rate approaches roughly 175 beats per minute, the sympathetic nervous system is activated enough that the brain reduces the amount of attention it pays to hearing in order to focus on sight. Auditory exclusion only occurs when the increase in heart rate is caused by hormonal changes, and will not occur if an individual is voluntarily participating in an intense form of exercise. – Wikipedia
Electronic Hearing Protection – Ratings
Without diving into the OSHA and EPA testing and evaluation regulations and standards, the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) system is now a scale with a low, middle and high end rating for tested devices. Make sure to look for NRR numbers when shopping for electronic hearing protection devices.
Electronic Hearing Protection – Situational Awareness.
Where the rubber meets the road for electronic hearing protection is an active system to protect your ears from damaging sounds versus a passive system like plugs or muffs that just block some sounds from entering the ear canal. Again, in layman’s terms, active systems use an electronic cutoff to block high decibel noises while amplifying normal environmental sounds like voices and nature.
The benefits are obvious: hear range commands or warnings without having to remove hearing protection or having people yell at you from short distances. In fact, electronic hearing protection devices can amplify quieter noises (think hearing aids) to give you an advantage in hunting or tactical situations.
Electronic Hearing Protection – Wrap Up
Unlike many injuries, there is no real therapy to restore hearing damage without costly implants. And damage like the ringing from tinnitus is permanent. Pick good gear and use it to avoid a constant, lifelong ringing.
Be safe, have fun and we’ll see you here on the blog.
Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Earmuff
The Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Earmuff offers the ultimate in safety and ear protection. The safety is delivered through distortion-free amplification (up to a safe 82 dB) of important low level sounds like range commands and conversation. The protection comes from instant blocking of any noise above 82 dB.
Designed for use at the range or in the field, this earmuff also features low profile earcups that won’t interfere with when aiming. The headband is padded for comfort, and telescopes to ensure a secure, custom fit. An external audio jack lets the earmuff do double duty as stereo headphones when connected to an MP3 player or other audio source.
- Built-in directional microphones amplify range commands and other ambient sounds to a safe 82 dB, providing more natural listening and enhanced communication
- Actively listens and automatically shuts off amplification when ambient sound reaches 82 dB; Noise Reduction Rating (NRR): 22
- Features low profile earcups for firearm stock clearance; adjustable headband for secure fit; compact folding design for convenient storage; classic green color
- Includes AUX input and 3.5 mm connection cord for MP3 players and scanners. Integrated power/volume knob
- Includes 2 AAA batteries; automatic shut-off feature after 4 hours increases battery life; approximately 350 hours of battery life; works well and long with Polaroid AAA Batteries
Walker’s Razor Slim Muff
The new standard in low profile hearing protection
These ‘Razor’ thin muffs were engineered from the ground up with the goal of having the lowest possible profile without compromising the hearing protection and amplification properties of the muff. Delivering an impressive noise reduction rating (NRR) of 23dB, the Razor series are sure to protect your hearing, without interfering. The Razor series also feature Walkers new comfort fit headband for all day shooting, and come in a host of color options.
Designed And Engineered In The U.S.A.
- Razor” ultra-thin rubberized cups
- Two Omni Directional Microphones
- Provides sound Activated protection over 89 dB at 0.02 reaction time
- Noise reduction rating of 23dB.
- Operates on 2 ‘AAA’ batteries- included
Capture Electronics – NoizeBarrierTM Micro high-definition and rechargeable electronic earplugs offer unsurpassed situational awareness and clear communication, while providing hearing protection from loud noises. The dual-mode NoizeBarrier earplugs offer active hearing protection as well as hearing enhancement for extremely effective sound localization and detection. NoizeBarrier Micro High Definition Electronic Earplugs offer unsurpassed situational awareness and clear communication while also providing hearing protection from loud noises.
The dual-mode NoizeBarrier earplugs offer active hearing protection as well as hearing enhancement for extremely effective sound localization and detection. The noise-isolating ear tips combined with proprietary sound processing electronics produces an earplug that responds to your environment. The earplugs provide normal situational awareness when sound levels are safe, a higher level of protection (up to 15 dB) when there is sustained loud noise, and maximum protection (up to 40 dB) from loud impulse noises. With a simple press on the touch pad, the enhanced hearing mode provides 5X amplification of soft sounds, while maintaining the impulse noise protection. NoizeBarrier earplugs can be worn all day without the need to remove them to hear. SPECIFICATIONS: NRR: 25 dB(Foam Tips); 25 dB (3-Flange Tips) Frequency Response: 40Hz – 16kHz Transducers: Balanced armature receivers (speakers), Wide bandwidth, low-noise MEMS microphones Battery Performance: Earplugs: Up to 16 hours Charge Station: 20 earplug charge cycles
- Up to 40 dB of impulse noise protection
- Up to 15 dB adaptive noise attenuation
- Hearing enhancement mode – amplifies soft sounds up to 5X
- One-button touch pad, 2-mode operation
- Accu-Technology high-definition sound quality
MSA Sordin Supreme PRO X – The US Military Earwear Standard Edition – camo headband and green cups equipped with foam seals. Sordin Supreme Pro X is developed to conform to international mil-specifications and other extreme conditions. These headsets produce excellent digital sound reproduction. With the msa supreme pro x you can now communicate with your friends when out shooting, even when others are shooting around you. The electronic design makes it possible to combine very low current consumption with high performance and instead of cutting off peak sounds it compresses them down to al level of 82 db(A). The MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X are hearing protectors that reproduce a natural and realistic sound. You should have perfect locational hearing without any disturbing noise. Superb sound quality and high amplification will actually let you hear better when wearing our hearing protection without letting any harmful noise in.
All moving components are made of steel and circuit boards are lacquered and therefore water protected. Two separate splash proof microphone to reproduce the ambient sound within the headset aux input for connection to external radios digital electronics compress sound without chopping the incoming the sounds waterproof battery compartment and microphones close fitting slim design with neckband to allow more comfort when using helmets all electronics functions incorporated within a slim 3-button key-pad over 600 hours of battery life from 2xAAA batteries (supplied) battery save function and low battery warning system high passive attenuation. Guarantee: 5 years on the electronic
- Cups shaped to fit both right hand and left hand shooters
- Well shielded waterproof microphones for optimum sound direction location
- Waterproof battery compartment
- AUX input permits connection to external sources, such as communication radios, dog tracking devices, and MP3 players
MSA Sordin Supreme PRO X –US Military Grade Earwear
Special Edition – black headband and ear cups with fitted gel seals
Sordin Supreme PRO X is developed to conform to international military specifications and other extreme conditions. These headsets create excellent digital sound reproduction. With the MSA Supreme PRO X you can now communicate with friends and coworkers when out shooting, in the workplace, at a concert, or at any place with continuous loud noise.
Superb sound quality and high amplification allows you hear better when wearing these hearing protection ear muffs. This is all done without letting in any harmful noise. Peak sounds are compressed to a level of 82 dB and quieter sounds are not dampened. You will have perfect situational hearing without any distracting noise.
All moving components are made from steel and the circuit boards, microphones, and battery compartment are water proofed allowing for use in the most rugged of situations. The sturdy headband features a removable cover allowing for different patterns to be worn depending on your surroundings. Two separate microphones are included to reproduce ambient sounds. Within the headset is an aux input for connection to external radios and other electronic devices.
The built-in electronics make it possible to combine very low battery consumption with high performance for over 600 hours of battery life. A compact three button keypad grants control of all electronic functions. A low power mode and low battery warning system is also provided. Two AAA batteries are required and are included.
SNR = 25 dB, H = 28 dB, M = 21 dB, L = 16 dBANSI, NRR = 18 dB
- Equipped with the MSA Sordin Supreme GEL Comfort Earseals
- MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X – US military grade earwear
- Dampens harmful noise to 82dB. Amplifies safe noise four times
- Foldable and slim design of cups suitable for both left and right-handed shooters
- Very low battery consumption: 600 hours of battery life
Targeted NRR of 24 dba for Passive sound protection. Suppresses gunshot noise and amplifies low sounds using proprietary 3M technologies. Gunshot recognition and suppression technology optimizes noise protection based on the firearm being used and the environment in which it’s being used. Clear voice tracking technology seeks voice amongst the noise to improve speech intelligibility and situational awareness. Engineered for optimal fit and comfort. Foldable and adjustable.
- NRR: 24 dB noise reduction rating
- IDEAL FOR both indoor and outdoor shooters and hunters
- DYNAMIC SUPPRESSION TIME measures the energy in gunshot noise and automatically sets suppression time for reduced echoes and increased comfort
- CLEAR VOICE TRACKING seeks voice within background noise and actively filters noise for improved speech intelligibility
- DURABLE RECESSED MICROPHONES prevent damage and reduce wind noise
- VENTED HEADBAND adjustable, improves comfort when worn with hats
- RUNS ON 2 AAA BATTERIES (not included)
The 3M PELTOR EEP-100 Electronic Earplugs are built tough for the working professional. They help provide protection when it’s loud, but allows you to hear normally when it’s not. Ambient sounds can be heard at a level below 82dB. Improves your ability to communicate with nearby colleagues, as well as hearing warning signals, approaching vehicles, or sounds in machines and processes. Speech and weak signals can be amplified helping to enable face-to-face communication between workers without earplug removal. Ideally suited when there is intermittent, varying and/or unpredictable noise; if you are removing your hearing protection to communicate; where enhanced situational awareness is required (e. g. moving vehicles/equipment are present, alarms need to be heard, for maintenance personnel); or if you regularly move between loud and quiet areas. Applications might include road/building construction, maintenance, general/heavy manufacturing, airport ground crew, forklift drivers, and autobody shops. The small and lightweight design helps improve the overall comfort and user experience and makes it compatible with most head borne Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as helmets, hardhats, eyewear and face shields.
The earpieces are rechargeable via a micro-USB jack on the pocket-sized charging case. The case also provides easy and convenient storage of the earpieces when not being used. Kit contains portable charging case, 1 pair 3M PELTOR Electronic Earplugs, 1 pair 3M PELTOR UltraFit Eartips Small (23dB), 1 pair 3M PELTOR UltraFit Eartips Medium (23dB), 1 pair 3M PELTOR UltraFit Eartips Large (23dB), 1 pair 3M PELTOR Triple C Eartips (27dB), USB charging cable, and user instructions. 3M strongly recommends individual fit testing of hearing protectors. If the NRR is used to estimate typical workplace protection, 3M recommends that the noise reduction value be reduced by 50% or in accordance with applicable regulations. Disclaimer: 3M industrial and occupational products are intended, labeled, and packaged for sale to trained industrial and occupational customers for workplace use. Unless specifically stated otherwise on the applicable product packaging or literature, these products are not intended, labeled, or packaged for sale to or use by consumers (e. g. , for home, personal, primary or secondary school, recreational/sporting, or other uses not described in the applicable product packaging or literature), and must be selected and used in compliance with applicable health and safety regulations and standards (e. g. , U. S. OSHA, ANSI), as well as all product literature, user instructions, warnings, and limitations. Misuse of 3M industrial and occupational products may result in injury, sickness, or death. For help with product selection and use, consult your on-site safety professional, industrial hygienist, or other subject matter expert. For additional product information, visit www.3M.com
- PROTECT YOUR HEARING: Helps provide hearing protection in environments with hazardous noise.
- EXTERNAL MICROPHONES: Helps you hear communication and your environment without earplug removal (speaker limited to 82dB).
- COMFORTABLE: The small and lightweight design helps improve overall comfort and user experience.
- EASY TO USE: Intuitive one-button operation powers earpiece on/off and selects volume level.
- RECHARGEABLE LI-ION BATTERY: Provides up to 16 hours of continuous operation. Rechargeable via micro USB.
- BUILT TOUGH for the working professional. Water and dust resistant (IP54).
- VERSATILE: Ideal for use where there is loud, intermittent noise such as in construction, manufacturing, autobody repair, and/or for people who regularly move in and out of noise such as maintenance personnel, supervisors, safety managers, forklift drivers, when using power tools, etc.
- KIT CONTAINS: Pocket-sized storage and charging case, 1 pair 3M PELTOR Electronic Earplug, 1 pair 3M PELTOR UltraFit Eartips Small, 1 pair 3M PELTOR UltraFit Eartips Medium, 1 pair 3M PELTOR UltraFit Eartips Large, 1 pair 3M PELTOR Triple C Eartips, USB charging cable, and user instructions.
- Industrial/occupational use only. Not for consumer sale or use.
- Made in the USA with globally sourced materials
Megaphone Speaker – PA Bullhorn with Siren Alarm Mode, Handheld Microphone, AUX Input, Volume Control
- (3) Megaphone Modes: Talk + Siren + MP3/AUX
- Convenient Coiled-Cord Handheld Microphone
- Button Activated Continuous Siren Alarm Tone
- Adjustable Volume Control
- Connect & Stream Audio from External Devices
- Aux (3.5mm) Input
- Simple Button Control Operation
- High-Powered Audio Reproduction
- Wide Bell Diameter for Extended Sound Projection
- Ergonomic Pistol Grip & Lightweight Chassis
- Battery Operated: Requires (8) x ‘C’ Batteries, Not Included
- MAX Power Output: 50 Watt
- Audio Projection Range: Over 1,700’+ Yards
- Sound Processor: Dynamic Piezo Driver
- Dimensions: 9.0” (Diameter) x 13.8” (Length)
The Pyle PMP53iN Megaphone PA Speaker features high-powered audio projection. With each iteration of flagship megaphones, Pyle has improved the battery life, power, and housing ergonomics — all designed with a form-fitting handheld design in mind. An impressive 50 watt power output allows you to control the crowds up to 1,700 yards away! Additional megaphone features include a wired handheld microphone for voice and talk projection, built-in continuous siren alarm mode, adjustable volume control, Aux (3.5mm) input jack to connect and stream audio from external devices — and it’s all battery operated, requiring (8) x ‘C’ batteries (not included). Control the crowd and enjoy versatile audio projection ability with the Pyle Megaphone PA Speaker System.
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