another ear protection question


deadeye dick
December 8, 2013, 01:52 PM
I have been using Harbor Freight ear muffs with no problems. I shoot off of my rear deck at my home exclusively. Hand guns only--.45,.38-.357-9mm. My question is what are the advantages and disadvantages of muffs vs. electronic protection. I have no ear ringing at all with the muffs. I usually shoot at least 100 rnds. at a session. What say you guys. thanks

If you enjoyed reading about "another ear protection question" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
December 8, 2013, 06:08 PM
Electronic muffs allow you to hear people talking and hear deer walking. Basically they are the same as muffs except they have a microphone on each ear and a speaker in each ear. By adjusting the volume you can hear normal conversation but still have the hearing protection of muffs (the electronics in the electronic muffs basically turn off the ear speakers when a loud noise is detected.) Most electronic muffs give you stereo sound, so you know which direction sound is comong from.

Edit: I would (and do) use foam earplugs under the muffs, aka double bagging it, whenever I shoot or mow the lawn. The only time I use the muffs by themselves is when hunting or using some tool that's not too noisy (e.g. 1/4" electric impact wrench).

December 8, 2013, 07:18 PM
Hearing loss is.

Painless - - generally you don't feel it
Progressive -- you won't notice it until it's too late
Permanent -- gone and gone
Preventable -- gotta make the effort and do it right

Lots more info here...
and here...

I also use muffs + plugs. Some call this "doubling up" and it addresses two different ways that hearing loss can occur.

And you can slap on plugs and/or muffs, BUT if not used properly, they will not provide adequate hearing protection.

December 20, 2013, 02:45 PM

A 25dB NRR doesn't actually mean you subtract that from the outside noise. The recommendation is that you cut 5dB off of the NRR and apply that.

IOW, 165db - (25dB-5dB)=> 145dB exposure per shot.

That detail in the noise exposure guidelines is often missed.

Would someone answer that dang phone!?! ;)

December 20, 2013, 04:24 PM
So do the ones that you can hear people talking work good enough? Sounds great and to good to be true. I fear they would accidentally not block the loud noise or worse yet, amplify it accidentally. Get the channels crossed or something.

December 20, 2013, 05:29 PM
The biggest problem I see with electronic muffs is that they appear to encourage people to buy muffs with a low NRR rating. Seriously, a NRR of, say, 19 to 25 just isn't going to magically become a NRR of 31 or 33 because it has electronics. The electronics only let the voice filter through; the padding in the muff still has to stop the noise.

I use an electronic muff, but the NRR is 33.

December 20, 2013, 07:10 PM
So do the ones that you can hear people talking work good enough?

Depends upon what you mean by "good enough"?

High NRR/SNR plugs should always be worn with muffs. The combination is just the NRR of the plug + 5dB for the muffs. This may seem counterintuitive, but plugs and muffs cover different portions of the audible spectrum with different efficiencies and noise is logarithmic instead of simple being added. As a result your plugs provide the basis of your protection and the use of quality electronic muffs gives you the best ability to hear range commands.

Don't shoot with others or on a range where there are commands, don't worry about getting electronic muffs.

Sam Cade
December 20, 2013, 09:01 PM
Folks, listen to hso about this stuff.

He does health and safety professionally and high enough on the food chain that he might actually be considered an expert. :evil:

December 21, 2013, 10:31 AM
Most folks don't realize how much sound slips under the muffs because of their shooting glasses breaking the seal right there next to their ears.

Once they try plugs underneath they're hooked.

December 21, 2013, 01:59 PM
Take to heart what Sunny Slopes says -- ear damage is a bad thing. I've been wearing hearing aids for 5 years and you DO NOT want to do that! Oh, and that ringing you don't have? I have it ALL THE TIME now, due in large part to not wearing enough ear protection when I was shooting at a younger age. I recommend double protection -- the foam ear plugs are super cheap and worth the cost.

December 21, 2013, 03:26 PM
Here's the info straight from OSHA:

The cheap foam earplugs achieve 50% of their rated reduction (if properly worn). This sounds bad but is in fact better than silicone plugs and hard foams, which may only achieve 25% of their rated sound reduction.

According to OSHA, if you "double up":
Estimated Exposure (dBA) = TWA (dBA) - {[(NRRh - 7) x 50%] + 5}
Where NPRh is the higher of your two hearing protection devices (plugs or muffs)

So, if I double up my electronic muffs with foam earplugs I get 17.5 dB of attenuation. My 308 with 20" barrel is probably about 140 dB after attenuation is factored in. That's still really high. So high in fact, that I'm thinking about having my 308 barrel threaded and adding a suppressor. That's going to be over a thousand in expense, but it's worth it if it saves my hearing.

December 22, 2013, 12:07 PM
And the plugs just aren't that expensive if purchased on the web. This is a good source:

I've also tried washing and reusing foam earplugs, with varied results. Something on the outside of some varieties of foam plugs seems to wash off, preventing them from holding their shape during insertion. Still working on figuring that out. Anyone have any suggestions on this?

December 26, 2013, 10:10 PM
Where the muffs DO help over just plugs is that they help protect the mastoid bones surrounding the ear from being exposed to the noise vibrations which they tend to transmit to your middle and inner ear causing damage.

Sorry, HSO, my phone isn't ringing, but those damn crickets sure are active this time of year.....;)

MY tinnitus started with Jimi Hendrix and headphones about volume 9, and I use hearing protection to keep it from getting worse. As others have mentioned, once lost, it does NOT come back and it can only take ONE shot from something like a 357 to cause permanent damage and loss

If you enjoyed reading about "another ear protection question" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!