The Ultimate Guide To Buying The Best Ear Muffs

The Ultimate Guide To Buying The Best Ear Muffs

Dealing with extreme sounds is never pleasant for your ears, especially if you are doing it for a prolonged time. During these circumstances, you will need something to keep you safe from all that noise so you do not develop any hearing impairments.

Nowadays, the best ear muffs are available for every budget, so there’s no excuse for you not to get a fitting set. The right choice will not only block out all dangerous decibels but will also allow for normal conversations to be held.

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The Importance Of Choosing The Right Ear Muffs

A set of standard ear plugs is alright if the noise is average – for instance, if your next-door neighbor decided it was high time to drill a couple of holes in the wall.

However, sometimes, they will not block all the noise. After spending some time in extremely loud conditions, you will find yourself gripping onto the last bit of sanity that was left in you.

Depending on how and what you use, a set of earmuffs will block all sounds to the point that you won’t be able to hear a thing. This is why you need to be very careful when choosing your ear muffs.  It all depends on the environment you are working in.

Noise Reduction Rating

Noise is measured in decibels; so depending on how many decibels the environment reaches, you will have to choose your ear muffs carefully. Most workplaces will determine the average decibels at a working site and will tell you exactly what you need to purchase.

Noise Canceling Silence

Make sure that you purchase the best ear muffs with an adequate NRR (Noise Reduction Rating). If the environment reaches 85dB and your ear muffs only cover 20dB, then you won’t get much hearing protection. Pay close attention to what you are getting.

Social Environment

As much as we’d all love to keep to ourselves safe when we are working, it’s not always possible to do that. Your colleagues may call out to you for assistance or your boss may be giving you an order. 

In this case, you may want to decide what types of noise reduction you want: do you want ear muffs that will block everything, or do you still want to hear people talking around you? Some safety ear muffs will still allow you to hear the person speaking next to you while blocking the harmful decibels that aren’t good for your hearing.

This is why it’s very important to pick the best ear muffs. If you pick the wrong ones, aside from being inconvenienced, you won’t even get the best protection.

How To Select Your Ear Muffs

As explained, ear muffs need to be carefully selected. If you don’t, you’ll simply end up with a pair of uncomfortable hearing defenders that won’t do the job properly. Here are the main things to consider when buying the best ear muffs.

Usage

Before buying a set of ear muffs, you need to carefully consider how and when you are planning to use them. Obviously, if you go for a pair of thermal ear muffs, it’s clear that you’ll be using them during winter.

Noise Canceling Earmuffs on a manekin

However, if your purpose is to reduce the noise, then you may want to give them some deeper considerations:

Noise Levels

Every environment will have a noise rating that you’ll have to consider. For instance, gun ear muffs may only need an NRR of 20dB to protect you from the sounds of a small caliber gun (33dB, if you plan on using a magnum or shoot indoors).

On the other hand, construction sites can easily reach 85dB, so you may want to pay attention to when and where you plan on using it.

Hearing Problems

People that already suffer from hearing deficiencies may need to pay even more attention to the ear muffs that they purchase. While you may be tempted to say “I can’t hear it anyway, so why bother,” keep this in mind: you CAN hear it. You just can’t process it.

The noise will still go through your ears; the only difference is that you won’t know it is further damaging your ears. Depending on the existent issues, it may cause even more problems that you already have.

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To prevent any issues, you may want to go for a set of ear muffs with a higher NRR, or you may want to go for double protection (ear muffs and ear plugs combo).

You may also want to leave the hearing aids alone while you are wearing the ear muffs since they will mess with the signals you receive. They will pretty much cancel each other.

Style

Nothing has changed much about the best ear muffs since the day Chester Greenwood designed them for the world.

Even now, you can still buy a pair of ear muffs that will look exactly like the ones Chester first designed with his grandmother. The only difference is that instead of spring steel, they will probably be made of plastic.

However, despite the fact that they were only designed to be practical, you will still find different styles of ear muffs available:

Traditional

These are the ear muffs you will find in just about every place,  and that basically looks like the headphones you used to own in your teens – the ones that go all over your head.

The distinctive features of these ear muffs are a headband that goes around at the top of your head, and two attached cups that will cover your ears.

Wrap-Around

Unlike traditional ear muffs, the headband will go at the back of your head, usually where the neck meets the skull.

These are very convenient if you have to wear a helmet or a hat, and they look very sleek as well. Some consider them to be the more comfortable option to traditional ear muffs.

Bandless

You did not read that wrong. A pair of bandless muffs is a set that is not connected by a headband, and that simply cling by themselves to the ear.

Bandless Earmuffs

This ear muff style possesses all the advantages in the insulation of a traditional or a wrap-around ear muff – except for the pressure added by the headband.

Some people are highly sensitive to headbands, causing them headaches, which is why a pair of bandless ear muffs for men or women would be the ideal solution.

Headphones

Ear muffs and headphones have always looked similar, so the people came up with the question: why not both?

It’s troublesome to constantly carry both your headphones and ear muffs with you, so to make things more convenient, they styled them to be both sound-givers and sound-takers. And the only thing that’s different is a small, very unobtrusive wire.

Communication Needs

As mentioned, you may or may not need to hear your coworkers or any other warning signals at your workplace. In that case, a set of passive ear muffs will work just fine for you.

They will block out the noise, and you will be able to finish your work in peace, without feeling like sounds from the outside are deafening you.

On the other hand, if communication is an issue for you, then you may want to go for ear muffs with radios. You will hear the signals over the radio while blocking all of the dangerous noise.

Communication earmuffs

This option will also allow you to listen to music while you are working – and who doesn’t feel more motivated and productive when they hear their favorite song playing?

Some active ear muffs have a special construction that will allow voices in (for instance, your coworkers) while keeping the other noises out (for example, that drilling machine that drives everyone insane).

Before purchasing the best ear muffs, think about your communication needs: do you need to hear the others around you, or is it irrelevant?

Convenience

A set of ear muffs are very convenient to have over your ears when you are working – but how would you feel if you constantly had to take them off just to hear what your coworker said to you? That wouldn’t be very convenient for you, would it?

In these circumstances, you may want to purchase the best ear muffs for noise reduction that will also allow you to hear the “filtered” signals that you were supposed to hear.

Another feature that you may want to consider is whether or not it has a folding design. If you tend to move around a lot, then you’ll need something that will allow easy storage.

It will spare you a lot of trouble, especially if you always have your hands full aside from the ear muffs.

Comfort

If they are not comfortable, you probably won't wear them – or you will barely be able to wait until you can take them off. You need to make sure that the fabric is soft enough for your ears, and that the muff will cover just enough to stay comfortable.

Comfort Review

Also, make sure that the headband is tight – but not too tight. You want to be able to block out all sound, but if you block out the blood circulation, that’s not very good either.

A band that is too tight will leave you uncomfortable and suffering from headaches all day long.

Our Recommendations On The Best Ear Muffs

Shopping for the best ear muffs is never easy, regardless of how much you know about the features. To someone who is not very knowledgeable on the subject, every ear muff set will look the same – but with slight variations.

To make things easier for you, we compiled a list of the best ear muffs so that you can pick the one that is most convenient for you:

Best Electronic Ear Muffs

In our opinion the best electronic earmuffs:

Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff

These ear muffs are the best thing to protect you from any hazardous noise while keeping you connected to the world around you. The ear muffs will actively audit the environment and shut off the amplifications once it feels that it has reached 82 dB.

These ear muffs feature two very comfortable ear cups that adjust perfectly over the ears. The design is also very convenient since you can fold it in a compact form that can easily fit in a pocket.

Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff

Even though they block all hazardous noise, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to hear anything. Thanks to the conveniently-placed microphones, the environmental sounds and range commands will be amplified by a safe 82 dB.

These ear muffs can also be connected to a mp3 player or phone through a 3.5mm connection cord, so if you are bored and want to listen to some music, you can always blast that bass, and it will sound great too.

Here’s an overall list of features that the Howard Leight provides:

  • Amplification of low-level sounds up to 4x
  • Protects against harmful, high-level noises
  • ​Soft headband allows for a greater comfort
  • ​Can be folded for better storage
  • Can be connected to any device (phone, iPod, MP3 player) and used as headphones.
  • Features a 4-hour automatic shut-down if the ear muffs are not in use.
  • Technology based on a patented Air Flow Control for a better sound attenuation

Overall, this seems to be a very sound option, regardless of the environment. Whether you want something to block all noise or just to block a particular noise, the Howard Leight muffs are for you.

Pros

Cons

  • Great noise reduction rating
  • Affordable price
  • ​Light and compact; does not take a lot of space in your bag
  • Easy to remove and put back
  • You can hold a conversation even if you have the ear muffs on
  • Can cause the user to sweat if used for a longer time
  • The batteries have to be periodically replaced

Caldwell Low Profile E-Max Electronic Ear Muffs

These is the more stylish option for those into camouflage designs. If you’re planning to go on a hunting trip, then these ear muffs are just the thing for you.

Once a loud noise is detected, the ear muffs will shut off for half a second. With an NRR of 23, these are the perfect ear muffs for you.

That, however, is the case with gunshots. If the noise goes over 85 decibels and persists that way (for instance, the use of a drilling machine), the microphone will stay off, and your hearing will be protected.

Caldwell Low Profile E-Max Electronic Ear Muffs

These ear muffs can easily be connected to any device, such as your smartphone, your iPod of your MP3 player. As a result, even if you are bored and do want some sound in your life, you can connect them to your favorite playlist.

The headband has a soft padding, so you will not be bothered or feel uncomfortable because of it. Plus, it can be folded in a more compact form that can easily fit in your bag.

Overall, the features that these ear muffs provide are as follows:

  • NRR rating of 23 dB, which can attenuate/cut off sounds going over 85 dB.
  • Sound amplification for environmental noise that will make it easier for you to hold conversations
  • Two microphones with real stereo sound
  • 3.5mm jack that allows you to connect to any device.

Overall, the Caldwell is a trustworthy device that can safely protect your hearing in extreme conditions but can also keep you entertained. They are definitely some of the best ear muffs that you can buy.

Pros

Cons

  • High-quality insulation protects your hearing
  • Compact design that can be folded to a fit
  • Affordable price
  • Long battery life
  • Functional construction
  • Some people complained of the strong smell that resembles diesel fuel

Best Industrial Ear Muffs

In our opinion the best earmuffs for industrial work:

3M Peltor X-Series Over the Head Earmuffs

Designers really went all out when it comes to the X-Series Peltor. Now, not only are they highly protective of your hearing, but they also look very modern – with a glossy addition. Made out of non-conductive materials, they can offer protection that will go even beyond your hearing.

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One nice feature of these ear muffs is the fact that the headband was made with a split-bridge design. Thanks to this, the weight of the item is distributed much more evenly, and you’ll be more comfortable wearing them.

The noise reduction rating of this device is 31 dB, which makes it much stronger than your average ear muffs. These are the kinds of earmuffs that you can safely use when the external noise goes over 100 dB.

Here are its main features:

  • Dual molded cups that provide superior noise protection
  • Headband with an electrically insulated wire
  • ​Noise reduction of 31 decibels
  • One size fits all
  • Headband traditional style that goes over the head

Many users would say that these are the best Peltor ear muffs, and for a good reason: they’re convenient, they look cool, and are basically the most efficient non-electric ear muffs out there.

Pros

Cons

  • Modern and attractive design
  • Lightweight construction
  • Comfortable fit
  • Soft replaceable cushions
  • Bulky construction, so they may take a lot of space
  • Since they’re light, they may not be as sturdy

Decibel Defense Ear-Protecting Earmuffs

There’s no denying that these are the best ear muffs for men, although there’s no reason why ladies shouldn’t wear them too. They’re very stylish, very powerful, and you will look like a boss wearing them.

These are probably the most comfortable ear muffs you’ll find out there, and that’s mostly due to the heavily padded headband. Plus, they are foldable and lightweight, making them very easy to carry.

Decibel Defense Ear-Protecting Earmuffs

These ear muffs can reduce up to 37 decibels, making them the perfect addition to every hazardous environment.

They are also easily cleaned due to the waterproof material that covers them, and they are definitely among the best ear muffs for noise reduction.

Pros

Cons

  • High noise reduction
  • Attractive design
  • Very comfortable to be worn for a longer time
  • Some users say they do not block low frequencies very well
  • They may not be suitable for people wearing glasses

Best Shooting Ear Muffs

In our opinion the best earmuffs for shooting:

Pro For Sho Maximum Hearing Protection

These ear muffs are perfect for those who are tight on space since they are not as bulky. When folded, you can easily drop them into a larger pocket or a bag, and they’re so lightweight that you won’t even know you have them.

Their construction is pretty solid. They will fit tight – but not too tight – on your head so that you’ll receive superior hearing protection. It can easily cut off 35 dB on the shooting range, making it the perfect accessory regardless of the weapon used.

Pro For Sho Review

Here are the features that you’ll want to know about:

  • 34 dB NRR protection
  • Padding over the foldable headband to ensure comfort
  • Industrial Grade sound reduction that is suitable for anything from studying to hunting.

If you are looking for something light to keep you on the shooting grounds, then these are the best ear muffs for you.

Pros

Cons

  • Affordable price
  • Not bulky, easily carried
  • Solid construction
  • High sound protection
  • Some customers complain that they are too tight

Final Thoughts

There are a couple of things that you need to keep in mind when you purchase a new set of ear muffs: how comfortable they are and how much noise they block.

Of course, it’s great if you have a set of ear muffs that stops every sound trace, but if you get a splitting headache because of it, then it’s not worth it.

Think about your daily habits and then figure out which set would be the most convenient for you. Finding the best noise canceling ear muffs is not easy, but it can be done.

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