The 10 Best Electric Ear Muffs
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in June of 2015. Many people don't realize how fragile their ears are. Loud noises from your job or your hobby can easily and quickly cause permanent hearing damage. Instead of waiting until you experience a problem, be proactive and protect yourself from concussive blasts caused by firearms or consistent resonant frequencies from equipment on construction sites with a pair of these electric ear muffs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 08, 2020:
Wearing ear protection any time you will be around extremely loud noises, especially for extended periods of time, is vital to preventing hearing issues in the future. So, if you are going to be working around loud equipment, shooting guns, or doing anything else where the noise level will be reaching above 85 decibels, you should be wearing protective ear muffs. While you could certainly reach for non-electric versions, they just can't compare with the models on this list when it comes to functionality.
For example, the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X and Honeywell Impact Pro feature 3.5-millimeter audio jacks so you can listen to your favorite tunes, while still protecting your hearing. The 3M Peltor Sport Tactical 500 steps things up a notch with Bluetooth, so you can sync it with your phone to ensure you don't accidentally miss an important call.
While all of the options on this list offer decent situational awareness thanks to the inclusion of microphones that amplify low-level sounds, few are as effective as the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X and 3M Peltor SV Tactical Pro. This shouldn't come as a surprise though, considering they are often used by military and emergency personnel.
During this update, we noticed that we incorrectly included the Howard Leight Thunder Series T3H the last time. While they are a great option for someone who needs a pair that connects to their hard hat, rather than slips over their head, it turns out these are not actually electric, so they didn't warrant a spot here. They were replaced by the Walker's Razor Quad, which we like for their four microphones that do an impressive job of picking up ambient sounds. However, they would be even better if their amplification was directional so you could hear where the noises were coming from.
May 01, 2019:
Choosing the right pair of electronic ear muffs is vital to protecting your hearing in noisy environments. If you are going to be using them in the field, where they may be subjected to rain and other harsh environments, and there is a chance you may be running after prey if you don't down it in a single shot, there is no better choice than the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X. The fact that they are often used by military personnel should tell you everything you need to know. If a slim profile is what you are after, you will probably appreciate the Walker's Razor Slim, Howard Leight Impact Sport, and Walker's Game Alpha Power. The 3M Peltor SV Tactical Pro, MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X, Howard Leight Impact Sport, and Honeywell Impact Pro all feature AUX jacks, allowing you to connect them to an external communication radio, dog tracking devices, and more. While on the subject of connecting to external devices, if you want to stay connected when on the range, or just want to be able to listen to music without having to deal with any annoying cables, you'll like the Bluetooth capabilities of the Peltor Sport Tactical 500. While we have included a lot of premium models on our list, we didn't leave out those on a tight budget. If this sounds like you, you'll want to check out the wallet-friendly Walker's Razor Slim, Caldwell Low Profile E-Max, Walker's Game Alpha Power, and Champion Traps and Targets 40974. Anybody that wears a hardhat all day long, but still wants to protect their hearing will want the Howard Leight Thunder Series T3H.
How Is Sound Perceived?
All sounds require a medium, whether air, water, or solids like glass or metal.
While the outer ear may seem like a simple piece of flesh attached to the side of the head, its design actually plays an important role in hearing. The outer ear acts to collect and funnel sound waves into the ear canal. The term sound simply refers to the energy created by something vibrating rapidly. For instance, when a book is dropped onto a flat table, the surface of the book quickly vibrates back and forth.
This vibration is sent out into the surrounding air. Ripples of this vibration are created in the space between the book and the ear perceiving it. As the ear picks up those vibrations, it sends them to the brain to be interpreted as sound. The process happens so fast, there is often no perceived time between the book dropping and the brain receiving the sound. This is because sound waves can move through the air at an astonishing 343.2 meters per second: referred to as the speed of sound.
Ears can only perceive sound because of the air which the sound vibrates through. All sounds require a medium, whether air, water, or solids like glass or metal. The speed of sound is also changed as it goes through different mediums. The wavelengths experienced from sound created in the air are much faster than if the noise was created and heard underwater. If the medium is removed, sound cannot exist. The first person to discover this concept was the famous chemist Robert Boyle, who vacuumed the air out of a jar containing an alarm clock, in order to silence it.
How Do Electric Ear Muffs Protect The Ear From Damage?
A decibel(dB) is the unit used to measure the intensity of a perceived sound. Damage to the ear is caused by sounds with very high decibel levels. The reference sound is 0dB, which is the smallest sound audible to the human ear, just above total silence. The sound of rustling leaves or the fingers rubbing together is said to be near 0dB.
High quality electric ear muffs will also filter out high decibel explosive sounds, such as gunshots or fireworks.
The decibel scale is somewhat tricky, involving a complicated formula to determine where a sound registers on the scale. This is due in part to how complex the human ear is. The ear can pick up the sound of breathing and the sound of a jet engine. This capacity for hearing is incredible, as the jet engine is somewhere near 1,000,000,000,000 times as powerful as the sound of breathing.
The decibel scale is an exponential scale, meaning that while a sound at 10dB is 10 times louder than a sound at 0db, a sound at 20dB is 100 times as loud as a sound at 0dB. The intensity of sound determines how damaging it can be to the ear. A normal conversation is carried out at around 50-60 dB, and can be continued for as long as the participants wish to carry it on with no damage to the ear. On the other hand, a construction worker driving a bulldozer is being exposed to 85dB of sound, which is enough to cause damage in just 8 hours.
Electric ear muffs drastically reduce these damaging noise levels, protecting the ear from the sounds above 85dB which can cause noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus when heard over a long period of time.
High quality electric ear muffs will also filter out high decibel explosive sounds, such as gunshots or fireworks. If these sounds are allowed to enter the ear canal, they can cause immediate damage to the ear by rupturing the eardrum or damaging the bones of the middle ear. If the sounds are strong enough, they may also tear the stereoscilia which line the inner ear. Wearing electric ear muffs eliminates this worry. They are designed to filter out these explosive sounds, while still picking up normal conversational tones.
Keeping The Ears Healthy
A part of protecting the ears from damage is keeping them healthy with daily practices. Earwax, also called cerumen, is a point of some confusion in the health community. Though earwax may be a bit unsightly, it is actually of vital importance to ear health. Earwax serves as a lubricating, protective, and antibacterial agent within the ears. Ear canals with a healthy lining of cerumen will typically experience less itching, dryness and develop less ear infections.
Though earwax may be a bit unsightly, it is actually of vital importance to ear health.
Most of the time, the ear canal is very self regulating; old earwax is constantly being moved forward to the outer ear opening, where it dries, flakes, and eventually falls out. This process is helped along by the motions of the jaw; chewing, yawning, and talking.
In some cases, earwax can become pressed against the eardrum, resulting in partial hearing loss. As earwax is not produced near the eardrum but in the outer third of the ear; this is not due to wax production. Cerumen blocking the eardrum is usually caused by a person inserting foreign objects such as cotton swabs into their ears. These objects may remove a small amount of wax, but they push most of it back to the ear canal.
In minor cases of clogged ears, there are simple home remedies to promote ear health while being mindful of the sensitive ear. A common practice is to put a few drops of baby oil or glycerin into the affected ear. This softens the earwax, and can help prevent impaction. Other methods include the use of hydrogen peroxide or a saline and water wash which acts to irrigate the ear canal.