doubling up, ear plugs+muffs

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As many have said, yes they add, but not by adding for a simple sum of the two.

Guidance is that you either add 3 or 5 dB to the higher NRR for doubling up (which corresponds to which organization is providing the guidance). 30+30=35 28+20=33 What it effectively means is that stacking hearing protection will effectively protect from an order of magnitude on the sound pressure that reaches the eardrum.

This occurs because each of the two types of hearing protection blocks different frequencies with different efficiencies. The frequency absorption curves are essentially opposed for plugs and muffs so that you get a smaller effect at low frequencies for plugs and smaller effect at high frequencies for muffs, so the "add" isn't just linear.

Regardless, you should always double up and use electronic muffs over those plugs if you can afford it.
Sure you can add them, which then translates to multiplying their corresponding linear values. For example:

log(1000) = 3
log(10000) = 4
log(1000*10000) = 7
log(1000*10000) = log(1000) + log(10000) = 3 + 4 = 7


Originally Posted by Dokkalfar
Im not sure exactly how it works (too early for me) but instead of it being 12+20, You would have something like (10^12) + (10^20).

That's only if you wanted to add/subtract the linear values. Hearing protection devices don't subtract a certain amount of noise, they effectively multiply it by a certain fraction, which is the same as subtracting a number in logarithmic form--a "29 dB" earmuff basically subtracts 29 dB from environmental noise (not quite that simple in reality, but that's how the math is supposed to work).

Originally Posted by Dokkalfar
This SITE HERE gives you a total dB of 20.6, though I don't know if adding them is the same as adding dB reduction. Sound is really weird. But given a 3dB change is a doubling/cutting in half change, that could be about right.

Theoretically, at the most simplistic level, you should be able to add the noise reduction values, but one of the main problems--among others--is that for each device measured against a human head there is some noise that cannot be reduced, and this is largely because a certain amount of noise is transmitted directly through your skull to your inner ear. For example, true 20 dB earmuffs and true 20 dB foam plugs cannot reduce noise by 40 dB when used together, even though the math would suggest it, because the same noise that leaked in before is going to leak in now regardless (in fact, it might not be physically possible to reduce noise this much without completely enclosing one's head). That's only part of the limitation (I'm no expert on hearing protection), but it's just to give you some idea of how things work.

so your saying that double hearing protection is good then.
However, your hearing is logarithmic as well IIRC, so if the power is halved (6dB), it would not actually be a significant drop in perceived noise.

Human hearing is roughly logarithmic, and in the audio world the usual rule of thumb is that it takes 10 times more power (+10 dB) to make audio sound subjectively twice as loud. By the way, halving power is represented for convenience as approximately -3 dB, while -6 dB in terms of power would approximately halve the amplitude of the soundwave.

Absolutely correct. 100 dB is FIVE times (5x) louder than 85 dB.

Nope, Zane is correct, it's about 32 times louder (in terms of power, not necessarily subjective perception). In order to get the multiplicative factor, you need to subtract the two figures in dB, divide the result by 10, and finally raise 10 to the power of the last result. In this case, the answer is 10 to the (100-85)/10 = 1.5 power, which is about 31.62. So +15 dB = 31.62 times the power.

so your saying that double hearing protection is good then.

Yes, it definitely helps. :)

Huh? What's that, you say?:scrutiny:


Dude, I'm typing this in--next time, wear EYE protection, too! :cool:;)
Does doubling up plugs+muffs have a literal additive effect in noise reduction?
Anyone else double up?

Yup. I use 29db muffs and 30db plugs. I can tell a difference between doubling and not.

But I have very sensitive hearing. Useful for hearing things others can't, bad when I go to the range or movie theaters (yup, I wear plugs when going to the movies).

The range is more than comfortable when doubled up. And I can still hear friends and range officials. I want to keep my hearing so later in life I don't have to get an aid or end up going "what? huh?" or just not being a part of the conversation because I can't hear anything.

My dad messed up his hearing in the Navy as a radarman striker in Vietnam and I seriously wouldn't want that to happen to me.

An ounce of prevention...
You should absolutely do everything you can to protect your hearing. I am another Air Force vet (Vietnam) who spent years on flight lines around F4 Phantoms and even more years on firing ranges with constant exposure to gunfire. I always took great care to protect my hearing and it payed off. The Air Force required hearing tests every 60 days and my tests always showed no damage. I watched a lot of guys I worked with who did not think it was important do serious damage to their hearing by not using protection. I am also a musician and value the gift of hearing very much. Last year I had a very bad sinus infection and started experiencing severe pain when going to altitudes above 10,000 ft., even in pressurized aircraft. I can now no longer fly at all and have developed very bad tinnitus (ringing) that is slowly driving me to insanity. The doctors have been of no help and just said "get used to it". So again, I urge everyone to do everything they can to protect your hearing. There's no getting it back once it's gone. Use plugs and muffs anytime you're going to be around gunfire or loud noise.
One thing I've noticed doubling up is that is protects from those (muff only) yawns or jaw movements that let a shot crack at full volume.

I've also noticed there is a considerable difference in how much calmer and relaxed I feel on the range this way.

Never had problems hearing commands by speaker or voice.

Its also nice to be able to take your muffs off while scoring or reloading and still be protected when someone else lets rounds fly in an adjacent stall or range.
i made the mistake of shooting my dads single six in 22 mag no ear pro, 3 cylinders later i was totally deaf in one ear for the rest of the day, ringing in both for 2 more
Bliggida and others, I agree - there are many good reasons to double up when shooting. I do it primarily for redundancy - two lines of defense if, as others have mentioned, the muffs get partially or wholly removed. But it's good to know that, as assumed, there is some additional protection from combining plugs and muffs. I've never had the slightest trouble hearing anything I need to hear - voices, etc., even doubled up. I think I have excellent hearing - that might explain it. But the ads and discussions with references to hearing range officers, fellow shooters, etc. have always puzzled me, as I've never had any such trouble. Given the pressure waves/shock I've felt sometimes at my usual indoor range from someone touching off some sort of hand artillery in the adjacent stall, I've grown even more satisfied that I keep my hearing protected to the maximum practical extent.

I also shoot at an outdoor range and follow the same practice there - full double hearing protection, shooting glasses, and baseball cap (for flying brass) are in place before I even approach the firing area. I insist on the same for her when the gf is in town and accompanies me to a range. Seems plain nuts to do otherwise.
So I think its safe to say that we all pretty much agree that wearing double hearing protection is a good thing. has anyone tried using two sets of ear plugs rather than ear muffs??? sometimes I forget my ear muffs and only have ear plugs. I wonder if this would work??
@ Blues Brother

I haven't tried double plugs, but I doubt it would work very well. Part of how they work is by expanding to fill the gaps/form of your ear. If you compact two plugs and shove them in, I don't think they will expand as well.

Plus, I would imagine that it would put extra pressure on the walls of your ear and not be very comfortable.

But who knows. Give it a try sometime and report back!
The problem I've run into with doubling up is I can't hear range commands. I need to get some amplified earmuffs though, that would solve that problem. I have found it's much more comfortable to shoot with double protection, especially when you're shooting next to a guy with a .300 win mag that has a muzzle brake. That day was just plain painful.
Let's clear up some things by going to the experts:

"Decibels are measured logarithmically. This means that as decibel intensity increases by units of 10, each increase is 10 times the lower figure. Thus, 20 decibels is 10 times the intensity of 10 decibels, and 30 decibels is 100 times as intense as 10 decibels."

"Properly fitted earplugs or muffs reduce noise 15 to 30 dB. The better earplugs and muffs are approximately equal in sound reductions, although earplugs are better for low frequency noise and earmuffs for high frequency noise.

Simultaneous use of earplugs and muffs usually adds 10 to 15dB more protection than either used alone. Combined use should be considered when noise exceeds 105 dB."

As you can see even 1 decibel extra in NRR is very important, and the extra 10-15 from combining plugs and muffs is a huge gain in protection.

Wear both!
Well.....When I worked on flight decks you had 150+ db going on. Doubling up made a significant difference.
I double up at the range, but not always when hunting. I do take plugs, but they get uncomfortable & I am not going to risk a shot to pop them back in. Until now, anyway. Week before last, I was in the stand with light failing. About to give up, I saw a pair of coons heading for my free corn & popped one with my 7 mag. The other was running around, and it took three shots total to anchor that little moving target. My ears are still ringing badly. It has me in a really lousy mood.
I never wore ear plugs when hunting. I need to be able to hear a deer!!!! Its only one shot anyway when hunting, so its not a big deal for my ears.
Are the foam disposable ear plugs the best kind? I see much more expensive sets that claim to be better. which are best??
has anyone tried using two sets of ear plugs rather than ear muffs??? sometimes I forget my ear muffs and only have ear plugs. I wonder if this would work??

I hope you're joking, but just in case anyone seriously considers this to be a good idea, DON'T.

Not only are you likely to end up having to see an ENT to dig the "bottom" plug out (mom said don't put beans in your ears for a reason), you're going to wreck the NRR of the things by compressing them into dense little pellets.

Foam the best? Best bang for the buck, yep. Better than almost anything else? Yes. Best available at any price? Probably not, but I defy anyone to find a higher NRR rated plug than the disposable foam plugs.
I don't care what your shooting a 22 or a 50 Cal please wear hearing protection. Take it from someone who's on 100% disability from hearing loss( Driving truck Running Heavy Equip Shooting) Wear your hearing prot. Everyone here is a adult but I'd hate to see you go through what I have from hearing loss.
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