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Your thoughts, please, about electronic hearing protection

Discussion in 'Shooting Gear and Storage' started by Monkeyleg, Oct 27, 2006.

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  1. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Member

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    I have a gun-related website that gets a very respectable number of visitors. And I've been trying to convert that traffic into dollars by running banner advertising.

    Only one advertiser has so far been successful, but he's only on 17 of the 1600+ pages on my site.

    A good friend is a firearms instructor, and offered to let me in on buying and selling products that only his affiliate group sells: electronic hearing muffs.

    Cost to me would be $24 a set, and retail is anywhere from $35 to $40, plus shipping.

    He sent me a set, and so far I'm impressed, although I haven't done a full range test yet.

    My questions for those of you who are willing to reply are:

    1. What decibel level (85, 90, 70, etc) do you consider to be acceptable?

    2. How much static do you consider acceptable? (These muffs don't have much, but there's a little bit).

    3. What other features or creature comforts do you look for in electronic shooting muffs?

    Up until now, I've had no experience whatever with the electronic muffs. My instructor friend uses these all of the time, and is very happy.

    I've looked at the major brands, and I know that you get what you pay for. But I don't know how much of a difference there is between the muffs my friend is offering, and what's currently selling.

    Any opinions/advice is much appreciated.
     
  2. bogie

    bogie Member

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  3. browningguy

    browningguy Member

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    I think they are quite usefull in limited circumstances. For example I am using them hunting this year, you can turn them up and actually hear game moving better than without them and then they shut down when you shoot. I think an 85 db cutoff is great, anything less and even loud conversation shuts them down. Gander mt. sells a set for around $30 that I've been using. The only down side is when you are shooting at a range or sporting clays event they are constantly cutting out, so I wind up just turning the volume control off.
     
  4. Werewolf

    Werewolf Member

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    I've got a Peltor set - forget the model (tactical something or other) but they ran $169 on Midway USA and they work great - no way would I go back to the $40 to $60 dollar electronic muffs. Tried el-cheapos before and believe me there is a big difference in comfort, sound quality and sound dampening between them and the real deal. The difference between my current set of Peltors and the cheap kind others let me borrow and that I've owned is dramatic to me.

    You get what you pay for and IMO any electronic muffs selling in the $40 range aren't worth the plastic used to make them.

    Regarding DB sound reduction levels - the muffs should have specs that show this. A 22db reduction is acceptable, 25 to 27 is better and 32 is great (and costly).

    Any muffs that reduce the total sound level below 85db do the job since levels above that can cause hearing damage. See the specs of the muff in question

    Any static is extremely annoying to me so none is what is acceptable. That said a good set of electronic muffs that amplifies will actually amplify the sound of the air/wind enough that you think you're hearing static when in fact you're hearing ambient sound you normally don't. One of the big differences between the el-cheapo muffs and the really good ones is the el-chepos do in fact generate static. Again the specs will indicate this in the S/N ratio. My experience though is that the el-cheapo muffs don't report a complete set of sound specs which is another strike against them.

    I've learned the hard way that when it comes to firearms and the accessories that go with them one truly does get what one pays for. In the long run more is spent going the cheap route and not being satisfied than just buying the good stuff first and having it do the job better as well as lasting a long time (which more often than not cannot be said about the cheap stuff).

    My recommendation is to not bother selling the el-cheapo muffs unless having a reputation for selling low cost accessories doesn't bother you. There's a place for sellers of low cost stuff for sure (Walmart) I've just learned not to bother with it anymore.
     
  5. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Monkeyleg,

    If you search this forum and in gear you'll find lots of electronic hearing protection information where it's been discussed before.

    The desired result of wearing any hearing protection, electronic muffs included, is that the noise levels the wearer is exposed to is limited to below 90 dB for a continuous exposure for an 8 hr day. The hearing protection has an NRR rating that indicates how many dB of noise they protect the wearer from. If you've got NRR 20 muffs and the noise level is 100 dB then the muffs protect the wearer from 20 dB of that 100 dB noise and the wearer is exposed to 80 dB (a supposedly safe level of exposure). If the noise level is 115 dB the wearer is exposed to 95 dB which is an unsafe level of exposure. If you add ~5dB to the noise exposure the individual is exposed to then you cut the acceptable exposure time in half each time. 90 dB - 8 hrs, 95 dB - 4 hrs, 100 dB - 2 hrs, 105 dB - 1 hr, 110 dB - 0.5 hrs, 115 dB - 0.25 hrs, 120 - 7 min, ...
    So, your wearer using NRR 20 muffs in a 115dB environment gets 95 dB of exposure through the muffs. This is acceptable if they reduce the time of exposure to 15 minutes without the muffs or 4 hrs. with the muffs.

    Before we get too excited about how well we're being protected remember that firearms produce anywhere from 130 to 170dB that the hearing protection has to work against. 130 dB-20dB=110dB. So even with muffs you're limited to 30 minutes of continuous exposure. Shooting by yourself the short pulse of noise from the gunshot isn't continuous and you'd have to add all the fractions of a second in each pulse to total the actual exposure time. So if the impulse noise is 1/100th of a second for each shot you could add all that up to make your exposure time. Slow single shots would extend your time on the range. Running your 1976 M16 on the range, not so long.

    The problem that may be encountered with inexpensive electonic muffs from unknown manufacturers is that the earcup/pad quality may be inadequate to provide the indicated protection for extended use and the circuitry may be slow to respond allowing the wearer to be exposed to a fraction of the noise pulse before the microphone/speaker shuts down.

    I don't know of any tests measuring the cutoff speed on any of the electronic muffs out there.

    I'll shut up now.;)
     
  6. thumbody

    thumbody Member

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    I was given a cheap pair from Harbor Freight. They worked fine when we were shooting .22s .38 specials .357s and .40s in the back yard. I then used them at an indoor range where someone was shooting something extremely loud (maybe .460,or .500 S&W, or .480 Ruger ).
    I was about 6-8 lanes down. I wish I would have put some plugs in as my ears were ringing for days after .
     
  7. bogie

    bogie Member

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    Your ears are still ringing - you just aren't noticing it.

    When I shoot matches, I wear 29db plugs, and a pair of the Peltor shotgunner electronic muffs, with the sound up. Why? So I have protection _and_ I can hear the range officer's instructions.
     
  8. RNB65

    RNB65 Member

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    I would never trust my hearing to cheap electronics.
     
  9. thumbody

    thumbody Member

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    Yes I am still noticing it.
    My ears are terrible. Combination of shooting,running farm machinery,chainsaws,working in a stamping plant(all without hearing protection) and heredity(Grandmother Father & brother all wear or wore hearing aids for ages).
    I have one but it is a pain to wear (seems to amplify everything but what I want to hear). When I started my present job 12 yrs ago I was 32 yrs old, the Dr. giving me my physical looked at my ear test results and said " You have the ears of an 80 yr old man".
    So yes I do notice the ringing mostly when it is real quiet like when I'm wearing GOOD ear protection.
     
  10. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Thumbody,

    It's called tinnitus. It's due to damage and it's especially noticable when you're in a quiet setting (or wearing hearing protection). I'm listening to it crystal bell rattle right now, and it never goes away. http://www.ata.org/

    If you can wear plugs and muffs together you should.
     
  11. HCfan

    HCfan Member

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    As many have already mentioned, the cheaper muffs are far below standards compared to the higher priced, and better quality, muffs.

    My first pair were the cheaper ones and they failed twice on me. The first time was when the batteries died and all of a sudden the range got quite loud. They still offered some protection but not down to the 85db's that you want.

    The second time the board went out and again, the range became loud. Thankfully for me, I had learned the first time and was wearing plugs also.

    The muffs that I have now are:

    http://www.bandpusa.com/sordin.html?gclid=CKX-_peCmogCFShCYwodDwkgXA

    I needed something that was thinner then normal and also amp. more then normal (genetic hearing loss).

    I paid $350 for mine so it looks like they have come down in price.
     
  12. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Member

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    Thanks for the replies.

    These have a noise reduction rating of 27 db, and are supposed to offer protection down to 85 db.

    I'll try them out at the range this weekend and see how they do.

    They're made in China but, then, so's just about everything.

    I've had a pair of Silencio shooting muffs for years, and they work really well, although they're not electronic.
     
  13. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    I want to be sure to understands something for their own safety. No manufacturer can make that claim without employing noise cancellation technology and that does not work with gunfire. Electronic ear muffs we would use on the range are nothing more than standard muffs with a microphone, a speaker, associated electronics to shut the microphone off when the signal ramps up very quickly and batteries to power the whole thing. They can provide no more hearing protection than passive muffs. A 150 dB gunshot will only be reduced to 130dB if the noise reduction rating of the ear muffs is 20 dB. The wearer will be exposed to that 130 dB noise, not 85 dB.
     
  14. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Member

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    Thanks for correcting me, hso. The microphone on the muffs cuts out at 85 db.

    I put them on again, and realized I wasn't hearing static, just the sound of air moving and other noises I generally don't hear, as Werewolf described.
     
  15. distra

    distra Member

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    +1 on the Peltor. I have a set of tactical muffs on sale for $69 from Cabela's. They are great, no static, clear sound and I think an 82db cutoff. I liked them so much that I got my wife a set. Much improved over regular muffs. As for the cheaper ones, you get what you pay for. Most people I know who started out with those have upgraded to the Peltor.
     
  16. gwine

    gwine Member

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    HCfan said
    12 dB amplification doesn't seem like much. I tried the Walker PowerMuffs with 50 dB and I basically heard next to nothing, due to my (profound) hearing loss. I need more like 80 dB just to hear normal conversation.

    Wish I could find a set that worked for me . . . :(
     
  17. cavman

    cavman Member

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    So if I understand correctly, the best that one can do on the range is to double up with plugs and muffs, both being of "standard" designs?

    One can't reduce damage any further with any of the "cancelling" muffs?

    cavman
     
  18. Werewolf

    Werewolf Member

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    Cavman...

    The advantage of the electronic muffs is not so much that they reduce noise more but that due to their amplification abilities you can hear what's going on around you clearly instead of becoming effectively hard of hearing which is the case with standard muffs and earplugs.

    Good electronic muffs have an NRR of between 25 to 32db (which varies based on frequency of the loud sound) which is as good as standard muffs and in my experience are way more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time.
     
  19. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    I bought a set that fit pretty well, but have gone back to plugs and muffs. Dampening loud noises is a great idea that doesn't quite work for me.
     
  20. cavman

    cavman Member

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    Thanks. I didn't realize that the cancelling technology was ineffective regarding gun reports.

    Going around the hardware store I see these 'el cheapos' that are rated ~28-32 and wondered if there were better out there. I assumed that because these always felt flimsy in my hands, (the blue one's stocked at Lowe's, which have snapped in two pieces twice so far), that there must be far better out there, in terms of effective protection.

    However, it seems there are merely better made 28-32 rated muffs, that's all, rather than better protecting muffs.

    THR, Encylopedia Randomfactoria!

    cavman
     
  21. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Member

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    OK, no range report as of today. Just the "doin' dishes with my wife report."

    I could hear my wife's voice only slightly better when wearing the electronic muffs rather than the Silencio muffs . And I must stress the phrase "slightly better."

    For reasons known only to dogs, my dog barks loudly when I wash dishes. So, I put on the electronic muffs. The microphone shut off everytime he barked. But I could still hear a muffled bark through the foam padding. The manufacturer would do much better to expand the area of foam and vinyl cushioning around the ears.

    Maybe there are several similar models for sale on the 'net. Or maybe the one I'm testing is the same one that everyone else has seen.

    I don't want to offer a junk product. At the same time, I know that I cannot afford $150 to $350 ear protection. Those Silencio ear muffs have done well over the years.

    Thanks again for all the replies. I'll let you know what I think about these $40 muffs after a range visit.
     
  22. CypherNinja

    CypherNinja Member

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    The only place I shoot at is an indoor range that gets a respectable amount of business, so I never bothered with the electronic ones. They would be constantly cutting out.

    I got some Leightnings (31db) and haven't regretted it. Conversastion's still possible, just speak up slightly.
     
  23. carpettbaggerr

    carpettbaggerr Member

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    You mean some people don't hear that noise all the time? :scrutiny:

    Huh. Who'd a thunk it....
     
  24. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Member

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    Oh, it gets worse than that, carpettbaggerr.

    Last year I had two surgeries on my right inner ear. The first was to remove a growth of skin (technically referred to as "a tympanoplasty with a mastoidectomy to remove a clusteotoma").

    The second surgery was to make sure that blasted clusteotoma wasn't coming back. But it was also for the surgeon to remove the tiny little bones inside the inner ear that enable one to hear, and to build new bones from artificial bone. This was real microscopic surgery.

    IOW, I'm not going to sell a product that I know will result in that surgeon making $5000 for one hour of work.
     
  25. strambo

    strambo Member

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    They are geat for home defense scenarios too. Obviously, gun, flashlight and cell phone would be the top 3 things you grab, but after that putting on a set of electrononc ears would be good. They will amplify that noise you thought you heard downstairs while protecting your hearing should things get loud when the perp kicks your bedroom door in.

    On the range I wear plugs and electronic ears, great combination. Best of both worlds, good protection and can hear at normal conversation level.

    I could see buying cheapies if you always wore plugs under them. If the electronics fail, still no hearing damage. At least I don't think the speakers would have the power to transmit the gunshot at a level that would defeat your plugs.:confused:
     
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