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View Full Version : Active Hearing protection from...Ryobi?


ZeSpectre
July 16, 2009, 01:29 PM
Saw this in the store today. Electronic muffs from Ryobi.
http://www.ryobitools.com/catalog/tek4/safety/RP4530

They appear to be 25db earmuffs with stereo microphones and a jack to hook an ipod or whatever up to them.

I was tempted to pick up a pair and see what they are like but I'm pretty reluctant to trust my hearing to an unknown so I didn't get them yet.

Anybody know anything about 'em?

Brian Pfleuger
July 16, 2009, 01:32 PM
I don't have that pair but I do have a pair from Radians, I notice that the Ryobis also have "auto-off", which seems like a good thing until your sitting in a tree stand and they shut off on you, which is what my Radians do. Other than that, I like them quite a lot, plus, if you're out in the cold they keep your ears warm at the same time.

ZeSpectre
July 16, 2009, 08:50 PM
Well I couldn't resist so I went back to Home Depot and plunked down $70 for a set of the Ryobi Tek4 Electronic Earmuffs. (see this link to home depot: http://tinyurl.com/kumux3). It was a good day to do so as I was headed to the indoor range right after work.

The unit includes
-the headphones
-one battery pack
-one "standard" 5 hour charger
-an audio patch cable
-instructions.

The earmuffs are a funky but fun grey and fluorescent Ryobi Green/yellow combo. Honestly I don't feel all that much one way or the other about the way they look. They have a definite "Left" and "Right" side to them.

Left muff has a small microphone on the front and a screw cap that comes off to reveal the 4 volt Lithium Ion battery pack compartment. It also has a small, rubber capped, audio-in jack where you can plug in an iPod or other audio device for your listening pleasure (a headphone patch cable is included).

The Right muff has a small microphone and also the volume/on/off knob.

One thing I did happen to notice right off is that the battery pack cover is vital to blocking sound. With that cap removed you can hear sound through the left muff pretty clearly. Once the cap is installed both muffs block sound equally well. Ryobi has also apparently gone to some pains to make the muffs feel correctly balanced when the batter pack is installed.

So I put the (partially) charged muffs on and took them for a test run. Let’s be blunt, I have large ears. However the fit and adjustability of the headphones was very good and they were comfortable to wear for the entire session.

First I used them with the power off, just as regular muffs. Sound dampening was quite good with the thick and soft “gaskets” providing a good seal around my ears. I would rate them every bit as good as the top-notch Remington branded muffs I have. Then I turned them on. Sound quality was a bit “tinny” but clear. The circuit seems to play a bit more on the “safe” side than other electronic muffs I’ve worn and they “cut off” very quickly with any loud sound (even the metallic sound of two magazines clashing against each other. Recovery was fast enough to hear the echo in the range. The muffs are “true stereo” with two microphones but I didn’t really get a “stereo location” effect and couldn’t really tell where voices were in relation to me.

The volume knob rotates smoothly with a positive "click" on/off and is large/easy to find. However it’s location may be a problem for right handed rifle shooters trying to get a good cheek weld.

I expected heavy, especially with the battery pack, but it's surprisingly well balanced and reasonably light. I was disappointed by the lack of an "on" indicator light but supposedly these muffs will “auto power off” after four hours so it shouldn’t drain the battery pack too badly if left on.

With included charger it takes 5 hours to charge the included battery pack. That’s just silly. A faster charger is available but I’m not spending the money on it. They say the battery pack is good for a full 24 hours. That actually seems kind of short for a pack this size but I’ll probably never find out the true runtime.

The “iPod” jack is simply a pass-through. It’s not connected to any sort of amplifier, the battery pack, or the volume knob. Using my mp3 player at full volume the music was still pretty faint. I think this aspect is a useless gimmick.

In summary, this seems to be a well built and good quality set of electronic muffs at a pretty decent price. I think they will hold up to range use for quite some time to come and I would recommend them to a friend.

Brian Pfleuger
July 17, 2009, 06:54 PM
Do they still work as an amplifier when something is plugged in?

I'm guessing not but I'd really like a set that I can plug my two-way radio into and still have amplification when I'm not talking. Right now I use an earbud style and just run the wire under the muffs. It works, but it's not ideal.

Swampghost
July 17, 2009, 07:42 PM
My son and I use Peltor tacticals. http://www.peltor.se/int/Page.asp?PageNumber=151 Some are designed for the shooter and have the 'behind the neck' band.

The pair that I have feature a 6 DB gain, are stereophonic and the mics have windscreens.

I also can't say enough about their service. I had a board go bad and all that I paid was the outgoing shipping. They repalced the board AND 'sanitary package' which includes the foam ear seals and windscreens. I mailed out slow and they came back FAST, about 10 days as I remember. Great company, two thumbs up!

sholling
July 17, 2009, 08:00 PM
I'm a fan of Pro Ears, big bucks but worth it. The way most inexpensive electronic hearing protection works is that when they detect a sound over their set threshold they shut down everything coming though their microphones. More expensive hearing protection attenuates anything too loud down to a harmless volume. That makes conversations at a range much easier. The other factor is speed. An expensive set designed for shooting will react much faster to the crack of a shot than a set designed to use with chainsaws.

ZeSpectre
July 17, 2009, 10:12 PM
Do they still work as an amplifier when something is plugged in?

The earmuffs work as usual regardless of the iPod jack. The jack itself is simply a pass through and limits the sound of an iPod to a VERY low volume. Kinda useless I think.

The way most inexpensive electronic hearing protection works is that when they detect a sound over their set threshold they shut down everything coming though their microphones.
Correct, that is precisely how this set works.

An expensive set designed for shooting will react much faster to the crack of a shot than a set designed to use with chainsaws. Progress marches on. These respond as fast as any other electronic muffs I've worn (or fast enough that my ears can't tell the difference.)

I am in no way saying these compete with top-of-the-pricetag models, but if you want to hear range commands and such they sure beat foam plugs :D