Electronic Earmuff Noise

One ongoing source of annoyance is the omission of critical specifications by manufacturers. A prime example is electronic earmuff noise. This is the hissing sound that can be heard in most audio systems when you turn up the volume without other input and is dependent upon the design of the preamplifier circuit. Some common muffs have so much noise that the claim of being used to heighten hearing to detect quiet sounds is essentially meaningless. These also have a high enough noise level to be really annoying at volume levels suitable for range conversation. As a result you turn them off and gain nothing over cheaper passive muffs. This noise level could be specified in dB for a given condition just like the NRR rating or the maximum amplified level. Since it is not, it is impossible to tell before buying a pair whether or not the noise level is too high for usability. Unfortunately, even the low noise units do not specify this and are probably losing out on some sales as a result.

One example of the latter are the Honeywell Howard Leight Impact Sport (20dB NRR) and Impact Pro (30dB NRR) muffs. These are high quality muffs and are very quiet. At least the Pro says it can amplify animal sounds up to 5X. Both of these have similar low noise levels compared to some other brands. Once I discovered this using a friend’s pair, I bought two Impact Pro’s (one for the wife) and donated my existing electronic muffs.

My recommendation, if you are looking into electronic muffs, is either buy Howard Leight Impact Pro units or go to a sporting goods or firearms store in person where you can try out various brands.

The spambots are getting out of hand :  Please leave comments using the post in my comments category.  🙂