The 10 Best Safety Earmuffs

Updated December 18, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

10 Best Safety Earmuffs
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 40 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. If your hobby or work has you around loud noises, such as at an airport, on a construction site, out hunting, or at a shooting range, make sure you protect your precious hearing with a pair of these safety earmuffs. Our selection of protectors can reduce outside noises to levels that are both tolerable and safe in just about any environment. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best safety earmuff on Amazon.

10. Pro For Sho

If style is important to you, check out the Pro For Sho, which are available in a wide array of colors and are relatively inexpensive, so you can get a pair to match each of your outfits. They fold for compact storage and have a high noise reduction rating of 34 dB.
  • fit into most bags and purses
  • comfortable and easy-to-clean pads
  • a bit tight on larger heads
Brand Pro For Sho
Model PAS-TL
Weight 9.6 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Tarvol 21DB

If you're not looking to spend more than a few bucks but still need to protect your ears from the booming sounds of construction or a shooting range, consider the Tarvol 21DB. They feature an adjustable headband and bright green cups to keep you visible.
  • lifetime guarantee
  • won't interfere with safety goggles
  • plastic band isn't very comfortable
Brand Tarvol
Model FBA_Tar-1045082
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Howard Leight

If you want to listen to music while you silence the outside world, try the Howard Leight by Honeywell, which play AM/FM radio. The cups provide more visible safety than others with their neon green hue, but their noise reduction is a bit less effective than some models.
  • up to 10 preset stations
  • remember last-used volume level
  • plastic housing is a bit flimsy
Brand Howard Leight
Model 1030390
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

7. Digital Supreme Pro X

The MSA Sordin Digital Supreme Pro X are built for military applications, but hunters and gun owners can also benefit from their ability to filter out only the loud noises around you. Their battery life is long, but they are rather expensive.
  • waterproof electronic components
  • high quality leather headband
  • batteries are difficult to change
Brand Mine Safety Appliances
Model MSA_Sordin_leather-gree
Weight 14.4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. Decibel Defense Professional

For those who need a simple and affordable protective solution without a lot of added features, consider the Decibel Defense Professional. They reduce surrounding noise to a dull hum and come in a variety of fun colors to suit your tastes.
  • comfortable padded headband
  • fit a wide range of head sizes
  • seal could be better
Weight 11.2 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

5. Stanley Sync Digital

The Stanley Sync Digital provide multiple options for entertaining yourself while you block out the noise from your surroundings. They feature a flexible antenna that picks up both AM and FM radio bands, and also offer an auxiliary input for phones and MP3 players.
  • bright yellow cups for visibility
  • reduce noise by around 25 decibels
  • low quality battery cover
Brand Stanley
Model RST-63012
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Honeywell Impact Sport

The Honeywell Impact Sport actually use a microphone to amplify sounds under 82 decibels, while automatically silencing noise above that level. If you don't need waterproofing, they are quite possibly the best option for shooting ranges.
  • six colors to choose from
  • not as bulky as most models
  • cushions are easy to replace
Brand Howard Leight
Model R-02524
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

3. Snug Kids

If it's your child's hearing you're concerned about, check out the Snug Kids. They come in a veritable rainbow of color options and are designed to fit comfortably and securely on smaller heads, though they can extend to fit on adult noggins, too.
  • backed by a 5-year guarantee
  • weigh just 7 ounces
  • great for protecting sensitive ears
Brand Snug
Weight 7 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. ClearArmor Shooters

Built with 2 thick layers of noise-dampening foam, the ClearArmor Shooters deliver unbelievably good ear protection. However, if you are blessed with an abnormally large head, these are going to feel a bit like a vice grip on a watermelon.
  • great value for the price
  • foldable for compact transport
  • cups swivel for a comfortable fit
Brand ClearArmor
Model 141001
Weight 9.6 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. 3M Peltor X-Series

Airline workers, rejoice! The 3M Peltor X-Series cut out nearly all noise around you and are comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time. They offer an impressive 31 decibels of noise reduction, with cups that tilt to the shape of your head for a snug fit.
  • designed not to conduct electricity
  • vented headband keeps you cool
  • pads are easy to remove for cleaning
Brand 3M Personal Protective
Model X5A
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

The Lifelong Need To Protect Your Ears

The human body has the truly amazing ability to repair and restore itself after most damages. Your body can heal from minor cuts, burns, and scrapes with such zeal that in time, all evidence of most such injuries are entirely erased. And even though larger wounds might leave scars, they will often not leave a lasting effect on how well your body works, provided you received proper treatment for the damage.

With the right care and attention, and with enough time broken bones set, tissue replenishes, and many diseases are successfully fought off. However, not all types of damage the body faces are endured equally. And ironically, one of the most pernicious and lasting types of injury the body faces comes from a source that can't even be seen with the naked eye: a sound wave.

The human ear is a complex, delicate system that, when functioning properly, does a wonderful job of translating waves of sound into a signal the brain can process and understand. The basic process merits a brief description. When a sound wave enters the ear canal, it meets the eardrum, a taut, slender membrane often called the tympanic membrane. This membrane vibrates in response to the sound waves, and these vibrations are enhanced and amplified by three minute but essential auditory ossicle bones of the inner ear, the hammer, anvil, and the stirrup (properly the malleus, incus, and the stapes).

The amplified vibrations resonate through fluid filled cochlea, which send vibrations to another membrane, the basilar membrane, which is lined with sensory hair cells that send electrical impulses to the brain and which are finally (nanoseconds later) interpreted as sound.

The inner ear operates like a precision built machine, with each minute component essential to proper overall function. Damage to any portion of this "machine" results in overall impaired function, also known as hearing loss.

Noise induced hearing loss can come as the result of an acute trauma, such as the powerful blast of an explosion or the roar of an industrial or automobile accident, but more often than not, hearing loss caused by exposure to sound is a slow moving process of accumulated damage that leads to chronic, often irreparable damage.

Regular, long term exposure to loud noises slowly but surely damages those all important hairs of the inner ear, eventually reducing their ability to transmit signals to the brain properly. And once damaged beyond a certain degree, these cells will never properly regenerate.

Protecting your hearing, therefore, is a lifelong undertaking. Unlike with decisions such as weight loss or fitness goals, you can't simply decide one day to restore your hearing through some change in lifestyle; you have to protect it each and every day.

Understanding Decibels And Damage

Most experts concerned with aural health agree that noise levels of 75 decibels or below can be continuously endured by the human ear without any risk for either acute or chronic hearing damage. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (or OSHA), noise levels as high as 85 decibels are safe for the duration of an eight hour work day. Any noise levels above this merit the use of protective hearing gear, as damage becomes increasingly likely as sound levels rise past this threshold.

As many people lack clear frame of reference of decibel levels, a few examples can help to create an understanding. A typical conversational speaking volume approximates 65 decibels at two to three feet of distance. An idling piece of industrial equipment (such as a large tractor or bulldozer) or an active lawnmower can operate at around 90 decibels. A jet aircraft at a few hundred yards can create more than 100 decibels. A nearby peal of thunder may reach 120 decibels, while the crack of a firearm can surpass 150 decibels with ease, which is the sound level at which an eardrum can be perforated or even ruptured by the force of the sound wave.

Thus it is that people who work in construction, a factory, on the tarmac of an airport or the deck of an aircraft carrier, or anyone else who is around sounds both consistently noisy and/or occasionally overwhelming simply must wear ear protection. The expression deafeningly loud is not mere hyperbole, after all.

Choosing The Right Safety Earmuffs For You

There are some situations in which you want maximum hearing protection, and that's that. You don't stand on the line at a shooting range in order to have a chat, for example. Shooting noisy firearms calls for maximum noise reduction, so opt for safety earmuffs rated at a 30 decibel reduction or higher. This can bring the perceived crack of even louder rifles down to tolerable levels.

On the other hand, there are times when communication is imperative for productivity and/or safety, as when working on a busy construction site or at a logistically complex airport. In these cases, you need earmuffs that reject much of the sound around you, but doesn't totally curtail hearing. There are safety earmuffs available that can "compress" loud, sharp sounds down to safe and tolerable levels and which can actually amplify those quieter noises that you want to hear, such as the words of a colleague.

If you work in an environment where you will be wearing safety earmuffs for most of the day, you owe it to yourself to invest in a top quality piece of hardware. This can mean spending several hundred dollars on your safety earmuffs, but the comfort these units afford, both in terms of physical and aural comfort, is well worth the cost. And the long term preservation of your hearing you will get from good safety earmuffs is absolutely priceless.

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Last updated on December 18, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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