Author Topic: Hearing Protection  (Read 352 times)

Alan

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Hearing Protection
« on: March 07, 2019, 02:06:31 PM »
If you watch any of the outdoor shooting channels, sooner or later you’ll see Walker’s Game Ear ad line, which reads… protect it or lose it. As air gunners, few of us actually wear ear protection. Those shooting unsuppressed big bores often do, and for good reason! But how about the rest of us? I often wear mine, and here are the reasons why.

Age-related hearing loss is something we all suffer from. Higher frequencies (≥ 8 kHz), are the first to go. While we don’t actually “hear” the higher frequencies, they provide our brain with needed information, which allows us to distinguish between ambient nuances. The best example I can think of, is the difference in mating calls between a Mourning dove and/or a White-Wing dove and/or an Eurasian dove. Subtle to be sure, but much easier to distinguish the differences when amplified by electronic hearing protectors. And of course, you get to hear the full impact of the pellet hitting your prey with a resounding whop!

Whether worn over the ear, or in the ear, hearing protection can be uncomfortable. Of the half-dozen pair I own, the best ones for me, are Walker’s Game Ear muffs (https://www.walkersgameear.com/razor-series-slim-shooter-folding-muff-black/). Even when wearing hunting or sun glasses, they fit well, and are not too tight. So cutting to the chase, here are a few thoughts garnered through experience.

There are three main types; around the neck (with buds in the ear), all in the ear, and over the ear. The around the neck ones are a mixed bag of tricks. If the microphones are mounted in the “necklace”, interference from clothing can be an issue. And so can the ear buds, if they don’t fit well. Most are rechargeable, with adequate run time hovering around 6 hours. Personally, I don’t like them, but you might. Price-wise, they’re in the middle of the spectrum, starting at about $60, to over $200 for those with BlueTooth capability.

I own a very expensive set of “in the ear” protectors (≈$400), replete with BlueTooth connectivity. They’re custom fitted (molded to fit your ear channel), and rechargeable. Run time is about 4 to 5 hours. They come with a mobile charging station, but if you have to charge them in the field, it takes about 3 hours. Since they have BlueTooth connectivity, you can use them with your cellphone. Some models can be adjusted via BlueTooth which isn’t as handy as it sounds (no pun intended). I should mention, they’re also easy to lose!

The over the ear types are the most common, and sell for as little as $25. The ones with the connecting strap in the back, allow you to wear a brimmed hat rather than a ball cap. Most of the lower cost ones have only one volume (gain) control. If your hearing loss is unbalanced, this is a drawback. If you spend a bit more, you get separate left-right controls (a plus in my case), and better ear cup padding. Spend a lot more, and you can get BlueTooth and recharge-ability.

All electronics hearing protection devices have some common virtues. One of those is automatic cutoff. Regardless of the ad-hype descriptions, automatic cutoff limits the peak audio loudness (sometimes adjustable) to ± 85dB depending on the price you pay. Before buying, test this feature by clapping hard near the microphone(s). This tests the cutoff threshold, as well as the delay before they turn back on. The delay should be almost instantaneous, but if not, buy a different model that is.

Recharge-ability is a nice feature if your field time is low. But if you spend all-day in the field, those with replaceable batteries make a lot of sense. Most use AA or AAA batteries, which are universally available.

I mentioned above about padding. Some inexpensive units have really good ear and strap padding, while some of the expensive ones don’t! The truth is, it’s usually the other way around! So when you’re shopping, try them on. If the retailer won’t let you, go someplace else. Or at least, make sure you can return them if you’re not satisfied. This is important, because it may take several hours of use before you realize how uncomfortable they can be.

There is one more consideration. Some “hug the stock” shooting styles, don’t lend themselves to ear protection. Regardless of the type, bumping the stock can be annoying, and flinch inducing. So whatever type you choose, take your time making your selection. Your ears will be happier if you do.


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Alan

I have an Omega compressor. If you're a fellow Guild member, and you pass through Roswell, NM, I'll fill your portable tank as a courtesy.

steveoh

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Re: Hearing Protection
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2019, 09:16:27 AM »
I'm an old punk drummer. My motto was, for what I lack in finesse, I make up with enthusiasm and sheer volume.  As a result of this philosophy, my hearing is, well, less than awesome. I have a constant tinitus in my left ear. I blame on the guitar player to the left of me, but in truth it's probably because that's the side my snare drum is on. Did I mention that pure volume requires constant rimshots. Yep. WHACK.

A few months ago I discovered some earphones made my Vic Firth, the drum stick maker.  The extra thick, extra long Rock Crusher sticks were my favorite. Sadly they are no longer made. But oh the rimshots.  Anyway these headphones have super duper foam padding and sound isolating material. I can play music in the phones at a nice non ear damaging volume, and whack the holy crap out my drums, and the balance is perfect. I could play for hours and my hearing will not have suffered.  Amazing headphones, and no batteries required. I liked them so much I got a second set for the office. Now when the guy across from me is talking loudly, I can drown him out and do so without crazy volumes of music.  Actually the headphones work well as mufflers. :)

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