Electronic Hearing Protectors: All You Need to Know About
Whether your profession demands of you to wear hearing protectors or you are simply a person who enjoys hunting, I believe this article will help you decide whether you want to get passive hearing protectors or electronic ones.
We will explain what are the differences between these two types of hearing protectors and why are in some cases electronic protectors better, even though they are much more expensive. But as I like to say: “Quality over quantity!”
Passive vs Electronic Hearing Protectors
In cases where you need just a basic sound protection, you can probably choose passive protectors. They are equipped with a spongy structure that can absorb noise around you, which results in audio being suppressed and silent. When you need a basic protection, this result is all you need.
The issue with it is that it suppresses all kind of sounds, which means even low-level audio and speech, which leads to you not being able to hear what other people have to say. So if you needed to be able to hear other people, then this kind of sound protection would be ineffective.
No, in these cases you would need higher quality ear protectors, which would, at the same time, keep your ears protected from any bursting noises and allow you to be able to talk and hear people without having to take of earmuffs.
That job is suitable for electronic protectors, also known as active protectors, though they do not offer a real active noise reduction technology, so that is something to keep in mind. They block higher sounds and sudden loud noises, like shots from a firearm, while at the same time allowing all other audio to come through, so you are able to hear what is happening in your environment.
This is particularly important in some professions (i.e. factories, construction sites etc.), so they could be able to cooperate with their colleagues in a noisy environment in order for them to do their job more efficiently.
Apart from that, this could also be important in certain hobbies, like hunting. When searching for a prey, huntsmen need to be able to hear everything in their environment because every little sound matters and could potentially lead to the animal.
But, at the same time, you want to protect your hearing from a gunshot noise, so it is recommended to have at least some ear protection. That’s why active protectors are very useful in this case.
How does electronic hearing protectors work?
I have always wondered how do these types of earmuffs work. How do they block only some audio and how do they know which audio to block. And after doing some research, it all became clear to me. Now, let me tell you something about it if you are as curious as I was.
First, let me tell you that electronic hearing protectors use sound resistant earmuffs as well as passive hearing protectors. The difference is noticed when you find yourself in certain situations though.
Let us imagine two situations.
First, imagine yourself in a not so noisy environment wearing electronic earmuffs.
Ok, so this is how it works:
They have certain microphones on the outside which pick up any sound from the environment. Since we are in a more or less peaceful environment right now, earmuffs will not activate. You will have a feeling that spongy earmuffs are turned off - which is exactly what it is.
These protectors have audio limits or let’s say that sound is divided into categories. If the sound is not too high and is acceptable by protector’s standards, it will not turn on so you will be able to hear everything as if you are not wearing anything.
Now, let us imagine a situation where we work in a loud environment, i.e. factory. When you find yourself in this situation, audio levels are often beyond the limits set by the protector, so now, when a loud sound reaches those outside microphones, it gets processed and decreased to the appropriate level so your hearing could stay protected.
It this situation, those loud sounds would be reduced and all other sounds whose level is below the limit would stay clear. That means you could still hear your co-workers and talk to them without any issues.
Sounds pretty amazing right? Yes, I thought so too when I first did research on this topic.
Disadvantages of Electronic Hearing Protectors
You may think that electronic muffs are a complete improvement in any aspect compared to passive ones, and for the most part, you would be right. But as with any product out there, there are few disadvantages.
First, there is a matter of price. While passive protectors can be found for a really low price ($10+ dollars on Amazon), which makes them widely accessible, electronic protectors are, in general, much more expensive, ranging from $25 to over $350 for the highest quality products.
Next, electronic protectors use batteries. This means you will have to think about charging them before you use them. Life of a battery depends on the quality of the product. Higher quality products have much stronger and lasting batteries, but they are much more expensive.
And lastly, since electronic protectors have some type of hardware, they are more robust than their passive counterpart, which makes them heavy. That means some models are not so comfortable to wear for a long time. Same as with previous disadvantage, this could be dealt with by looking for more expensive versions.
How do I choose which one to buy?
Now you are probably wondering how to choose between a large variety of electronic hearing protectors since there are a lot of options with different traits. Eventually, it all depends on your individual needs, so you when buying one of these, you will have to consider all the factors, from product’s characteristics to your personal budget.
Depending on the reason you are getting an electronic protector, there are several things you should keep an eye on.
1. Different circuit for both ears
This allows sounds to come from the right direction, which is really important for hunting, where you need to be able to figure out from where the sounds are coming from, so you would be completely aware of your environment.
2. Different buttons for controlling volume
This means that both earmuffs would have different buttons for changing the volume. This is useful, for example, if you have damaged hearing or if you are working in an environment where only one side of it is really noisy.
3. Buttons for setting up the frequency
This is important if you want to set up the sound level limitation of your choice. Sometimes you can feel that automatic setup is not correct or it doesn’t suit you, so in those cases, it is important to have this option.
4. Audio plug
If you’re a type you like listening to music while working, this option might be handy for you. You would be able to connect the protector to the external device, like your mobile phone and enjoy the music, which could be really relaxing if your job is stressful and you feel like you need to wander off for a few minutes.
5. Button for turning off the device
To preserve battery life, it is important to have an option to turn the device off so the batteries don’t suffer. That way you can work longer hours without charging the protector, which means higher productivity.
6. Not too thick
If you are using the protector for i.e. hunting, it is important for you that earmuffs are comfortable and not too thick, so it wouldn’t cause you discomfort when aiming your gun.
Sometimes it’s really important that the protector can be bendable or easily put away without having to take a lot of space. If the device is flexible enough, it would make it much easier for you to carry it with you if it can fit almost anywhere.
There are usual protectors with a normal headband, but sometimes it is easier to have it with a neckband instead. It depends on your preference, as well as on your needs.
9. Different colors
If you are using the protector for work, then the color is not really important, most of the time, except if you are working on highly dangerous jobs. On those jobs, you should pick a color that can be seen from far away or in complete darkness.
But if you are a huntsman, it is crucial that you blend in with the environment, so in this case, you should pick a specific mix of colors depending on where do you go hunting.
Final Word: On electronic hearing protectors
Well people, now you are ready to get your own electronic hearing protector. I am sure this article will be helpful to you when the time for making a choice comes. Just remember to make a clear list of everything you need from a protector, so you could make the right choice and so you could not spend more money than it is necessary.