View Full Version : Electronic Ear Muffs?

August 30, 2009, 09:54 AM
A class I'm hoping to do in Nov, wants electronic ear muffs. What should I expect to spend? Do cheap brands make any difference over more expensive brands?

August 30, 2009, 11:00 AM
Electronic muffs differ from passive muffs in that they use a microphone and amplifier to bring you the sounds of the outside world. They then protect your hearing by limiting what they let through. The big difference between the cheap muffs and the good ones is the way they go about limiting harmful sounds and how well they work. The cheap muffs shut off the microphone when they detect a loud noise. What that means for you is that you get a stutter effect and when the instructor is talking during shooting he will get cut off with every shot. Bottom line this might be acceptable for normal range trips but it sucks royally when attending a class. The real cheapies intended for use with power tools also tend to react too slowly to loud transient sounds like gunshots. In other words by the time they kill the mic some small amount of damage may have already been done.

Instead of cutting off the mic good mid-priced muffs like the Peltor 6S (http://www.amazon.com/Peltor-97044-Tactical-Hearing-Protector/dp/B00009363P/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=automotive&qid=1251646276&sr=8-2) and Peltor 7S (http://www.amazon.com/Peltor-97039-Tactical-Hearing-Protector/dp/B0007IKGB8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=automotive&qid=1251646359&sr=1-1) adjust the volume of the dangerously loud noises (and only the dangerously loud noises) down to a safe level. What that means to you is that the instructor comes across clearly even while there are rounds going off in the background. Bottom line you hear everything normally but nothing is loud. The 6S doesn't really block enough sound (19dba) so of the two the 7S (26dba) is a better choice. Both are kind of big and are thus better suited to use with a pistol than a rifle or shotgun.

What the step up to premium grade headphones gives you is smaller size, quicker response, and some really nice bells and whistles. The pricey Pro Ears Predator Gold (http://www.amazon.com/Predator-Gold-NRR-26-Green/dp/B001UTBS42/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=sporting-goods&qid=1251647243&sr=8-2) are small and cupped to clear the stock of a rifle or shotgun yet block as much noise as the bulky Peltor 7S. They react extremely quickly adding to their protection. They also provide up to 7db of amplification for use while hunting, investigating noises at home, or listening to the instructor. Finally they shut themselves off after a few hours saving batteries should you forget.

I use the Pro Ears Predator Gold and recommend them highly.

With any of these I highly recommend bringing spare batteries to the class.

August 30, 2009, 11:18 AM
I just received a cheaper pair as a gift from a friend of mine - I love 'm and while I can't tell you exactly what he paid for them, I did a google search on "electronic ear muffs" and found ton's of them ranging from $16 to $69.

Hope this helps.

August 30, 2009, 12:05 PM
Over the years I've owned Pro Ears, Peltor and Howard Lieght Impact electronic muffs and for the money the Impact muffs are the best bang for the buck.

The Pro Ears are fantastic but they have a price tag to match their performance. My Peltor's were purchased in 1999 and they worked great for 9 years until the speaker finally came loose from the board. I bought another pair as a replacement and they were nowhere near the quality of the old pair (I wondered why the price went for $160 to $69) and they were broken right out of the box.

This spring I was at US Training Centers facility in Illinois and I picked up a set of the Impact muffs and I was blown away. The audio quality was close to the Pro Ears, they are ultra comfy, well made and I've been using them since May on the original set of batteries (I use them for several hours each week). Plus I like the little input jack so I can hook up my iPod.... I end up using them when I mow the lawn.....

I'm sure there are other good muffs out there but those are the three brands that I have first had experience with.

Good luck.

August 30, 2009, 06:53 PM
Anywhere from $50-$200 for a descent brand. I had pro ears and loved them, but overtime I got tired of earmuffs and use ear plugs.

chris in va
August 31, 2009, 04:38 PM
I'll add one thing here.

My first (and last) muffs were Radians Maximus that had four microphones. What this did was give me true stereo sound, so I could not only hear someone talking, but like actual hearing let me know what side they were on when behind me. Most muffs I've tried under $100 only have basic stereo two mic setups and made things really weird when trying to determine where people are.

I suspect most people haven't tried a true four channel muff and are just used to the basic left/right mics.

August 31, 2009, 04:52 PM
I love my $300 Pro Ears Gold muffs. They are absolutely the most comfortable muffs I've ever worn, the seals are soft and squishy and mold around my eyepieces, the electronics are unbelievable with crisp clear "true to life" outside sounds and no annoying clipping, and the ability to set a precise gain for each ear is very valuable to me with my somewhat lopsided middle aged hearing problems. The NRR of 33 is awesome and I wish I'd purchased 'em years ago. (They replaced a weary succession of lesser brands, some of which are mentioned above. I won't badmouth, but ... I love my Pro Ears.)

That said, for a beginning student who has other critical expenses, the $25 Caldwell muffs available from Midway at http://www.intlmidway.com/intl/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?SaleItemID=348524 are a GREAT deal. They are perfectly adequate and will do the job you need. I owned a pair for a couple of years, have regularly used and handled 'em as various friends have shown them to me, and believe they are a great idea for limited budgets and for those who don't regularly spend multiple 10-hour days in muffs. I've just placed an order for a couple of these to hang out in my instructor bag, ready to lend poorly prepared students as needed.

Save up for top of the line muffs if you want, but the Caldwells are fine for your immediate needs.


August 31, 2009, 04:53 PM
I was gunna try these from Caldwell, I dont know a thing about em! http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=774928
Ill have to check out some of the above recomendations.
I went to a range that has a steel target at 300 yards and I couldnt hear my hits, will I be able to with electronic muffs?

Brian Pfleuger
August 31, 2009, 04:54 PM
I have a pair from Radians..... can't remember the style, not the Maximus.... anyway, they perform well but are not very rugged.

I'm thinking of getting these Ryobis (http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=367629) because I really want a set that I can plug my radio into.

August 31, 2009, 05:03 PM
I have a pair from Radians..... can't remember the style, not the Maximus.... anyway, they perform well but are not very rugged.

I'll second that comment.


August 31, 2009, 05:40 PM
... for those who haven't worked in sound related fields, it may not immediately be apparent, but the decibel system isn't linear, it's logarithmic. Every 3dB gain is a DOUBLING of sound volume. (I used to be involved in tracking submarines; we had to study sound characteristics in water rather extensively)

So, in Sholling's example, the difference between 19dB and 26dB isn't 7/19 or just under 37%. The difference is over 4 times the sound volume reduction for loud noise. (7dB = 3dB + 3dB + 1dB, or 2x + 2x + approximately .25x)

In other words, the difference between 19dB protection and 26dB protection is HUGE.



August 31, 2009, 07:31 PM
As someone who recently dropped $4000 on hearing aids, I strongly recommend that you get the best you can afford. Once your hearing is damaged, it doesn't return.

Just think, I also could have had several very nice guns!

August 31, 2009, 07:32 PM
I have cheap ones ($20 at gander mtn.) and They work great. you can hear everyone and speak at normal levels with ease. My dad spent $150+ on his and they are a lot nicer. If you were to wear them hunting you would better be able to judge distance (from the noise) with them. I wore mine chasing after a squirrel and I couldn't tell if he was 5 feet away or 50 feet away with mine.

September 6, 2009, 07:02 AM
I have the caldwell low profile from Midway. Very comfortable, and do a great job, while still hearing normal sound levels.