Best Ear Protectors Reviewed and Tested
Noise pollution is the leading cause of hearing problems in all countries throughout the world. People working in noisy environments face the greatest risk of losing their hearing abilities as they are constantly exposed to loud and deafening noises. People in the construction industry and those who frequently handle firearms at the shooting range or when hunting understand the significance of wearing ear proctors to protect their ears from the harmful consequences of loud noises. On a similar note, you should make a point of wearing protective gear before heading out to the shooting range or to hunt. Below, we diligently walk you through the steps of choosing a most suitable ear protector to keep you safe as you work or have fun.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Honeywell Sports Sound
- Compact Design
- Howard Leight
- Music Playing
- Great Comfort
Criteria for Choosing the Best Ear Protectors
Noise Reduction Rating
All ear protectors come with a Noise Reduction Rating that must be confirmed by relevant authorities, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the United States, before they are released for public use. Products with a lower NRR rating could expose you to loud noises that can adversely affect your hearing. Noisy environments synonymous with loud noises such as the shooting range or a construction site necessitate the use of high-quality ear protective gear to block out any loud noises. Constant exposure to noises louder than 140 decibels drastically reduces the sensitivity of your ears with time. Different manufacturers offer different ear protectors with vastly different capabilities, some capable of reducing massive blasts of more than 140 to just 40 decibels. Consequently, bearing in mind the health repercussions, you need to pay a lot of attention to the NRR rating of the ear protector you intend to purchase.
There are substantial differences in ear protectors when it comes to the level of comfort they offer. Ear protectors with a lightweight and compact design are easy to carry around can be comfortably worn over the head without causing the user any discomforts whatsoever. Their lightweight design also means you can store them conveniently without taking up too much storage space in your backpack or bag. Heavily padded ear protectors create a perfect seal around the ears thereby completely blocking off all types of undesirable noises leaving only the most ambient ones to filter through. The ease with which ear cups are able to contour around the ears is also another factor affecting comfortability. Similarly, ear protectors with adjustable headbands can comfortably accommodate different head sizes while offering maximum protection against loud sounds.
When searching for ear protectors, you should note that design and aesthetics do not mean the same thing. The design is a reference to the functionality of a given tool. A properly designed tool enables you to blend with relative ease into your immediate surrounding and gives you the feeling that the tool is a natural extension of your own body. For people intending to use ear protectors on a hunting escapade, colors should play an important role in your decision so that you don’t give away your position. You may want to look out for waterproof ear protectors depending on the environment you intend to use the ear protectors.
Affordability is obviously a paramount factor when looking to buy an ear protector, especially considering that while ear protectors may be differently prized, there may be no significant differences in their performance. Top model ear protectors come with premium price tags which could be a reflection of its performance and durability. It is also a general rule that costly products offer reliability irrespective of the working conditions to which they are exposed and are more comfortable to allow for several hours of use.
10 Best Ear Protectors
1. Honeywell Sport Sound
The headset features a low profile design, allowing for the perfect fitting of the stock around the ears. Because the ear protectors can be adjusted with relative ease, it can nicely fit a broad range of head sizes, irrespective of whether it is a child's or a grown-up's. The lightweight and compact design of the headband, together with its easy foldable feature ensures it takes up the least amount of storage space and subsequently, can be transported from one place to another with relative ease.
It has Noise Reduction Rating of 22 decibels, which, while it is a considerably average value, is available irrespective of the configuration of the electronic ear protection feature. The implication is that when the on setting is activated, all ambient sounds going through the microphone will be amplified to an astounding 82 decibel level of noise. However, the settings do not apply to sounds louder than 82 decibels, which would result in the immediate cutting off of amplification.
The main difference between the headset and other ear protectors is that it comes with an Air Flow Control feature, allowing the ear protector to have slimly designed earcups. The advantage of this feature is that it enables you to experience exceptional comfort while using your firearm. The headset is powered by two AAA batteries capable of lasting for approximately 350 hours before requiring a replacement pair. Additionally, the ear protector will automatically shut itself off following four hours of nonstop use or when accidentally left on.
Exceptional noise reducing capabilities
Lightweight and compact design for easy storage
Amplifies low-level sounds for easy conversations
Short battery life
Causes sweating with prolonged use
2. Howard Leight by Honeywell
The beauty of it is that it has microphones that will automatically cancel out any noises louder than 82 decibels within your nearest vicinity. The ear protector is also designed to passively block 30 decibels of noise in the event that electronic ear protection feature is off. Consequently, you have an ear protector that offers you exceptional performance and protection whether the electronic ear protection is turned off or on.
Apart from canceling out loud environmental noises, it does a wonderful job amplifying ambient sounds such as voices of the people around you. Amplification comes in handy when you need to communicate with the people around you, be it at the range or in thick forest. It is particularly important when there is a need to relay particularly important tactical information without having to take off your ear protector. Consequently, the amplification feature allows you to participate in conversations with the people around you. The amplification feature is so sensitive that you will be able to hear people whisper or animals break sticks without even straining.
It features a sturdy and robust construction to ensure it last for several years with proper use. The model has several pressure points, all of which are made from rubber to give it additional protection against scratches. You will not experience even the slightest of difficulties wearing the ear protector as it is equipped with padded and adjustable headband making it fit comfortably and securely on both small and big heads alike. Music lovers will probably be thrilled by the fact that the ear protectors has a 3.5mm audio jack connector allowing you to listen to your favourite music as you do your thing.
Dual layer hearing protection
Noise Reduction Rating of 30 decibel
3.5mm Audio jack for playing music
Discomfort with hours of use
Weak amplification of ambient sounds
3. ClearArmor 141001
They feature a Snug Fit design that ensures it fits comfortably yet firmly on your head irrespective of the intensity of your work or the position you are assuming. As a result, you do not have to worry about the ear protector coming off and exposing your ears to loud noises when bend over or start sweating profusely. Also, storing the it is quite easy as all you have to do is fold them up.
With an NRR of 31 decibels, they work perfectly and exceptionally well in canceling out unwanted noise. The ear protector is, therefore, a must-have tool whenever you are going to the range or hunting with friends. To make the ear protector even more versatile, the manufacturer provides warranty and a 90-day money back guarantee.
Despite being a budget pick, the set is solidly constructed using durable and lightweight materials such as plastic that pairs perfectly with its flawless performance. The benefit to using plastic is two-fold. Other than keeping the overall weight of the whole tool down, it also considerably extends the shelf-life of the tool, giving you several years of reliable and dependable service without having to break the bank. Also, all the components of the tool are screwed together instead of being glued, as is the case with most ear protectors on the market today. Therefore, it not only meets but also exceeds the American National Standards Institute and European Standards.
Sturdy construction for longer shelf life
Exceptional performance reducing noise by 34 decibel
Padded headband for additional comfort
Too tight a fit
4. Snug Safe n Sound for Kids
With the Snug Safe n Sound earmuffs, you can bring along your kids or other children to the range or on hunting escapades without worrying about exposing their young ears to injurious noises.
Exceptional noise cancelling capabilities
Blocks background noise
Cheap construction components
5. Professional Safety by Decibel Defense
The features that set the headset apart from its closest competitors is the fact that it comes with additional padding on the headband, which you would think compromises its performance. Nevertheless, the set features a lightweight and foldable design, which, when coupled with its high adjustability, makes it quite flexible and therefore usable by both children and grownups too.
In all, the Professional Safety Ear Muffs by Decibel Defense is constructed to ensure your security and safety while not compromising on comfortability and performance. The headset ensures your hearing is protected from loud and uncomfortable noises synonymous with construction sites, hunting, and shooting firearms.
Effective noise diminishing capabilities
Aesthetically attractive design
Quite comfortable for prolonged use
Difficulty blocking low-frequency sounds
6. Walker's Game Ear
This is undeniable one of the easiest to use ear protectors on the market today. Activating the noise cancellation feature, for instance, only requires simply turning a knob conveniently located on the left cup. The entire process takes less than five seconds and is quite straight forward. Turning the knob clockwise or counter clockwise also controls the volume of the speakers. As a result, you have the freedom of adjusting it in line with your preferences and circumstances. The feature effectively keeps you in touch with your environment, amplifying the sounds made by animals in your vicinity for a better hunting experience, without the need to take off the ear protector.
Because the cushioned cups and headband are connected through wire hinges, it takes very little effort to collapse the cups downwards, so they occupy less storage space in your backpack or bag. Also, the design of the paddings allows them to press firmly but tenderly on the ears creating a perfect seal that cannot be broken by running. One attractive feature of the headset is its ability to passively reduce noises to comfortable levels even after the battery has drained out. And that is not all! The ear protector comes with a 3.5mm audio jack to allow you listen to your favourite music on the go.
In all, the Walker’s Game Ear Razor muff is ideal for a wide range of applications. You can safely use the set at the shooting range, on the construction site, for hunting among other activities without ever worrying about damaging your ears.
Long battery life.
Fantastic hearing protection
Conversations are distinct and easy to hear
They even have a standard headphone jack
Comfortable fit with foam plugs
7. Peltor Sports Tactical 100
A particularly interesting feature is its Adaptive Frequency Response technology that is capable of reducing background noises thereby effectively making exchanges between users a lot clearer. The feature significantly increases the relay of important tactical information between two or more people in a critical situation.
It stands at 22 decibels, which, while it is considered an average performance, does a perfect job reducing noise to safer levels to keep your hearing ability intact. Furthermore, the ear protector can decrease wind noise as it is equipped with low-profile microphones, making it possible to use the headset under different circumstances, whether it is hunting, welding, construction, or firearm shooting.
The construction of the ear protector from lightweight materials makes the ear plugs notably lighter and capable of fitting nicely and firmly on different head sizes. The ear protectors come with two AAA batteries provide the ear protectors with adequate power making it possible for you to listen to your favourite songs at the range or while hunting.
Modern and aesthetically attractive
Lightweight and compact construction
Comfortable and easy to use
Softly padded cushions for additional protection and safety
A little bulkier than most ear protectors
8. Pro Ears Predator
The secret to the success of the ear protectors is that they go beyond just diminishing harmful noises to safe levels. They also compress the sounds, which results in a smooth, dependable sound allowing you to clearly and wholly participate in conversations with the people surrounding you. Cranking up the volume really allows you to hear even the faintest sounds like the crunching of leaves.
Five-year warranty from day of purchase
Great customer care service
Exceptional sound quality
Solid and robust construction
9. Pro For Show 34dB
Other than noise reduction, the other main selling point is weight. The headset is considerably lighter and more compact than those offered by other brands. The ear muffs are built with the use of industrial-strength and scratch-resistant plastic and feature a design that aims at overcoming common drawbacks plaguing most earmuffs. The manufacturer apparently invested a lot of resources into creating a balance between weight, reliability, and utmost performance.
It is a scientific fact that noises louder than 80 decibels can have adverse negative repercussions not only to your ears but also to your general health, making you stressful by increasing systolic blood pressure. Excessively loud noises will, over time, force your ears to adapt thereby leading to a significant drop in their levels of sensitivity. With this information in mind, it is now easy to appreciate the importance of always using ear protecting gear whenever you are in a noisy environment. Hence, the earmuffs are ideal for studying, woodworking, as well as shooting guns at the range with friends. The Pro For Sho 34dB come with a Noise Reduction Rating of 34 decibels, which is quite impressive considering its price tag.
Lightweight for easy transportation
Exceptional sound protection
A little tighter around the ears
10. 3M Peltor TacticalPro
In other words, the set effectively filters out undesirable noises allowing in only those that are friendly to your ears. Additionally, it is similarly compatible with several models of portable radios, thus making it a versatile and flexible ear protector to use in giving your hearing that additional protection.
Using the headset is quite a straightforward and easy endeavour. All you have to do to control the headset is use the included touchpad. The touchpad comes with three buttons and features an ergonomic design to ensure ease of use. Pressing and holding down the middle button makes it possible for you to hear all ambient sounds around you with exceptional ease, eliminating the need to strain, as is the case with some ear protectors. The headband is tightly sealed with the help of gel cups, which are additionally quite comfortable. Lastly, the ear protectors have an input jack allowing for a connection between the headset and a portable audio or communications device.
Considering all the features of the 3M Peltor TacticalPro Communications headset, it is easy to see why it is considered one of the best ear protectors on the market today.
Good sound reduction
Great hearing enhancer
Easy to use
Ear Protectors in Construction Environments
Construction employees are exposed to potentially harmful noise every day on a job site. Any sound exceeding 85 decibels can cause noise-induced hearing loss. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards require workers exposed to loud noises to use ear protectors. Therefore, employers are required to devise a hearing conservation program. This program is purposely prepared for staffs that are exposed to a noise level of 85 decibels for eight hours in a work day. How does the program work?
Monitoring the level of noise on a job site is always the first phase of an effective program. It involves identifying the workers exposed to sound levels of more than 85 decibels. It also entails determining specific equipment and tools that produce the noise. The tools may include jackhammers, saws, forklifts, heavy equipment, etc.
Since most of the processes around construction sites are set, it is difficult to eliminate noise. The following are some of the possible controls that can be executed:
- Replacing all outdated equipment that produces much noise with new equipment that features built-in noise dampening substances.
- Lubricating and maintaining all equipment since worn out parts can produce a loud noise.
- Building a temporary noise barrier, for instance, placing plywood on a generator and put a fire-resistant material in the box.
Execute practices that can help reduce the amount of time workers are exposed to the noise. They include:
- Move tools such as saws to a secluded area to distance the machine from the rest of the workers.
- Run noisy equipment where there are fewer employees on the construction site.
- Rotate the workers so that particular workers are not always exposed to high noise levels.
Q: How do I protect my hearing while handling tools which produce loud noises?
A: Protecting your hearing and safety should be your first concern whenever you are handling a tool which produces potentially harmful noises. That being said, there are a variety of measures you can take to keep yourself and your friends safe such as wearing proper protections throughout the process. You can use ear plugs, foam plugs or earmuffs to ensure you do not gradually lose hearing sensitive with following the consistent use of loud tools.
Q: What factors should I consider before purchasing ear protectors?
A: There exists a wide range of factors to pay close attention to when deciding on the most suitable ear protector for any given activity, the most important of which is noise reduction rating (NRR). Since measure how effective a set of ear protectors can keep your ears safe from extremely loud noises, a higher rating means better protection compared to a lower rating, obviously. Similarly, you should never compromise on performance and comfort. Comfortable ear protectors should be devoid of any unnecessary pressure that could make the set uncomfortable after a few hours of use. Neither should you overlook affordability, aesthetics, and design.
Q: How do I ensure my ear protectors fit me perfectly?
A: It is important that your ear protectors fit you firmly so as to create a perfect seal. To achieve this, you will have to adjust the length of the headbands until you have the desirable perfect fit. Most ear protectors with the adjustable headbands should be able to fit perfectly without you having to struggle too much as they are meant for different head sizes.
When it comes to choosing the most suitable ear protector to keep your ears safe from the damaging and harmful consequences of loud noises, you have several brands and ear protectors to choose from. With this in mind, you need to exercise a lot of caution, so you do end up with a poorly constructed ear protector. It would be a shame to lose your hearing a time when the market is flooded with very functional and reasonably priced ear protectors.