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Old March 14, 2017, 12:16 PM   #1
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Join Date: March 13, 2017
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Custom In-Ear Electronic Hearing Protection Recommendations

Hello Everyone,

I currently have no known hearing loss and REALLY want to keep it this way. I've been using foam plugs for a long time, but I'm frustrated by the blanket reduction in decibels and not being able to hear clients talking. I'm looking to invest in some custom electronic ear plugs for hearing protection, and I'm somewhat baffled by all the choices on the market. I'm not at all interested in muffs, only in-ear protective devices. My goal is maximum clarity for speech recognition and excellent suppression of noise over 100 decibels. Other factors: background noise is occasionally an issue (wind), I don't need waterproofing, and I will need these to be comfortable enough to wear for 8 hours a day.
I've looked at esp, SoundGear by Starkey, NitroEar, HearDefender by E.A.R. (websites below)... and I just don't feel like the websites provide enough information to make me feel comfortable spending $1,000-2,000. I don't know what difference these variety of features will have: channels/bands, compression/suppression circuitry, custom programs for different environments, background suppression, response (attack/release) time, etc.

1. Does anyone have some first-hand knowledge comparing any of these products?
2. Anyone know of a national chain store that has several of these high-end devices for comparison prior to purchase?
3. Anyone have links to independent sound testing/research done on these products?
4. Has anyone had luck getting health insurance to cover part of the cost as occupational protection?

Thank you all for your time and expertise!
N0lan is offline  
Old March 27, 2017, 10:25 PM   #2
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Bump! I too want to know...
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Old March 29, 2017, 07:12 PM   #3
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I wear Etymotic. Not cheap, and you have to experiment quite a bit with all the heads that they send to find the perfect fit, but they are pretty great. I can carry on a normal conversation on the trap range with a squad shooting in the background.
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Old March 29, 2017, 08:17 PM   #4
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Do you NEED in the ear protection as opposed to electronic muffs? Muffs tend to give better overall protection by also protecting the mastoid area around the ear.

That said, in the ear protection really needs to be done by someone who can accurately get your protection to fit. I would recommend you find an audiologist (preferably one who shoots) to do the fitting.
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Old April 7, 2017, 08:35 PM   #5
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I can provide a snippet of data. I shoot steel challenge and had been wearing Pro Ears Gold muffs. These provide a good deal of protection, but also mask the sound of the steel. I recently bought Sport Ears Custom Edge 60 in-ear "muffs". I do have hearing loss and the 60s are single program which match my nominal loss.

So far I'm very pleased. The size 10 batteries are fine for my intermittent use and I can hear the steel even if I put a pair of 24 NRR muffs over the in-ear units. I can't vouch for the level of protection; it's adequate for our soft shooting 9mm 1911s, but I'd still put light duty muffs on as well for RO'ing (or indoors).

I noticed looking at the websites that Sound gear has a lanyard which seems like a convenience. Noise cancellation, available in the higher end units, would be convenient in some circumstances, but not required for my application.

I'll be interested to see the responses as they come in.
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