Extensive exposure to loud noise can lead to hearing loss over time.
The science on this is so solid, significant and substantial that the government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has put strict rules in place to ensure that employers put special measures in place to protect hearing when noise averages 85 decibels or more for each 8-hour shift. It’s a very real and devastating threat.
As a guide, the noise level is likely to be above 85 decibels in intensity if you need to raise your voice to be heard at arm’s length.
So, if that ever sounds typical for you, then you should consider investing in ear protection. Ear protection reduces noise exposure levels to the ears which prevents damage to the inner ear that may cause hearing loss.
You’ll be pleased to hear that we’ve been checking out some of the best hearing protection on the market, and after much deliberation we were able to handpick our top few favorites to review for you here today. That’s coming up very shortly.
But if it’s only now you’ve started looking into it, you may be unsure what to look out for. Which is why we’ve also put together a handy buying guide for you that will walk through all the key points to consider before you buy. It makes for a nifty little checklist.
Then we’re going to top that off with another handy section where we answer some of your most frequently asked questions on the subject.
So, without further ado…
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
When we saw the customer ratings and reviews for this beauty we just had to see what all the fuss was about!
These muffs are a best seller with the leading online retailers, and on Amazon alone there have been well over 12,000 individual customer ratings, yet the average customer rating still comes out at a phenomenal 5 stars out of 5.
At first, we thought their popularity was due to the retailer offering a significant discount. But it’s got a lot more going for it than just that…
It provides sound activated protection rather than passive protection, and can protect your ears from sounds over 89 decibels, kicking in at 0.02 seconds. Then it can reduce noise levels to your ears by 23 decibels.
If someone tries to talk to you while you’re wearing the ear muffs, you may still be able to hear them even while the noise reduction is activated because it features 2 built-in omnidirectional microphones.
It’s also very comfortable to wear because the over-the ear cups are ultra thin and rubberized, and the headband is padded.
Although these ear muffs are aimed at shooters and hunters, there’s no reason why you can’t use them for mowing your lawn or for doing woodwork and so on.
It runs on 2 AAA batteries which come included in the box when it arrives, and when they run out, it’s a breeze to pick up some more.
It’s available in a choice of 8 different color options. Our favorite is the teal.
Amazon occasionally has deals on these particular ear muffs, simply click on “Check Price” to see if there’s a deal on now. When this article was written you could get 50% off. Not that the listing price is particularly high.
- Phenomenal customer ratings & reviews
- Sound activated protection at 89 decibels
- It can reduce noise levels by 23 decibels
- Has 2 built-in omnidirectional microphones
- Runs on 2 AAA batteries included in the box
- Available in a choice of 8 different color options
- The built-in microphones are mono and not stereo
If you want to use hearing protection but don’t want to have to wear ear muffs and a headband, then this might be the best option for you. And this is the perfect option for those who are wearing safety glasses, because head bands aren’t typically designed to leave room for safety glasses.
You get 3 sizes of foam ear tips in the box, small, medium and large, and these expand in your ear to provide a perfectly secure fit.
These earbuds filter out very loud sound and have a maximum sound of 85 decibels. It will reduce outside noise by up to 22 decibels. They are both OSHA compliant and ANSI certified. It’s particularly good at suppressing steady state noise, such as engines, fans and vacuums.
And that’s not all. It also uses the latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology to automatically pair up to your devices such as your smartphone. This will allow you to listen to music via your devices and to hear any calls that come through.
It runs on 3 lithium ion batteries which are included, and it comes complete with a compact portable charging case. The batteries can last over a whopping 7 hours on a full charge.
They also have a water resistance rating of IP45, which means that they won’t stop working if you get a little sweaty wearing them.
It comes in two color options, matte black and safety green. The safety green ones are much easier to spot amongst your stuff.
We were also pleased to hear that it comes backed by a full 1-year manufacturer warranty.
It’s a bestseller with the leading online retailers, and more than 50% of those who left a customer rating on Amazon gave it a full 5 stars out of 5.
- You don’t have to wear a headband
- Comes in various sizes for the perfect fit
- Reduces outside noise by 22 decibels
- Pairs with devices for music and calls
- Can last for up to 7 hours on a full charge
- Backed by a 1-year manufacturer warranty
- Bestseller with great customer ratings
- Premium product at a premium price
- Customers have said that the smaller earplug can fall out
Here’s another bestseller with great customer ratings and reviews. And we can certainly see why customers love them so much.
They are ANSI certified, meaning they can be used during a wide range of activities to prevent loud noise from damaging your ears and triggering hearing loss. It can reduce outside noise levels by up to a whopping 25 decibels.
But that doesn’t have to mean that you have to go without music or even go without taking calls. Thanks to the built-in Bluetooth 5.0 technology, you can enjoy your favorite tunes as you work, and make and take calls, all thanks to the 80 feet Bluetooth range.
And the sound quality of the music is really good too, it’s stereo, with a nice, deep bass. And you can adjust the volume, skip songs, and answer a call just by tapping buttons on the ear muffs.
It has a powerful, rechargeable built-in battery that will give you a whopping 40 hours of run time on a full charge. And there’s even a low battery indicator, to let you know when it needs a recharge.
It’s super comfortable to wear too. The headphones are significantly lighter in weight than most other hearing protection headphones, and the headband is ultra padded. Moreover the ear pads are ultra soft and breathable. We were also pleased to learn that the ear pads are replaceable, really prolonging the product’s lifespan.
It comes complete with a user manual, a charging cable, and even a black leather bag to carry it around in.
Amazon occasionally has deals on these particular hearing protection headphones, simply click on “Check Price” to see if there’s a deal on now. However we would argue that these are still great value for money even if you end up paying the full listing price.
- Bestseller with great customer ratings
- Reduces outside noise by 25 decibels
- Pairs with devices for music and calls
- Powerful, rechargeable built-in battery
- Lightweight, comfortable & breathable
- Because the volume controls are on the ear muffs, you cannot see the volume buttons etc. unless you take them off
When we saw the NRR rating on these ear muffs, we knew they deserved a place in our shortlist. And when we learned how affordable they are, we were blown away. It’s no wonder they’ve proved to be a bestseller with the leading online retailers.
If you’re looking for the best possible, most effective hearing protection, this is what you’re looking for. It can reduce the noise level of your surroundings by up to a whopping 37 decibels! That’s an industry leading NRR rate if ever we saw one. And, of course they are both ANSI certified and OSHA compliant.
You can use them in all kinds of settings, from lawn mowing and snow blowing, through to using power tools in your home workshop or taking gun range shooting.
They’re super comfortable to wear too, thanks to the ultra comfy padded headband and smooth padded ear cups.
We also love how convenient they are for taking out and about or for stowing away without taking up too much space. This is because they can be folded up really compactly.
It’s available in a choice of 7 different color options. You can go for a sleek black, a khaki green, or choose from 5 different, much brighter color options, making them easy to spot and identify as yours.
It has had thousands of customer ratings on Amazon, and over three quarters of customers gave it a full 5 stars out of 5.
And if all that’s not enough, it also comes backed by a full money-back guarantee.
- Bestseller with great customer ratings
- Reduces outside noise by 37 decibels
- Both ANSI certified and OSHA compliant
- Folds up compactly for storage/transport
- Available in a choice of 7 great color options
- Comes backed by a full money-back guarantee
- No Bluetooth connectivity for listening to music or taking calls
Talk about flying off the shelves!
On Amazon alone, these ear muffs have attracted well over 22,000 individual customer ratings, and that’s just from those who bothered to leave a rating. And better yet, the average customer rating still comes at a very impressive 4 and a half stars out of a possible 5 stars.
They have also been awarded the title of Amazon’s Choice in the category of “ear protection for lawn mowing”. Such a title is only given to products that are both of excellent quality and are also available at a good and reasonable price.
Of course they can be used for more than just lawn mowing. You could use them for leaf blowing or in your workshop, or even in construction.
These ear muffs have a Noise Reduction Rating of 24 decibels, meaning that they reduce noise levels to your ears by 24 decibels.
But the star feature of these earmuffs is that you can also use them for streaming music via Bluetooth. That should help you get through carrying out more mundane tasks. And they produce excellent sound quality too.
And that’s not all - you can also make and take phone calls on it too, without having to remove your ear protection. All thanks to the Bluetooth connection to your smartphone and the integrated microphone.
It runs off a lithium ion battery which is included in the price, and it’s comfortable to wear with it’s padded headband.
- Simply flying off the shelves
- Excellent value for money
- Won Amazon’s Choice title
- Reduces noise by 24 decibels
- You can use it to stream music
- You can make and take calls
- Provides passive hearing protection rather than active
Best Hearing Protection Buying Guide
As promised, here’s your buying guide. It will walk you through all the key points to consider before you buy.
Noise Reduction Capability
This should be your first and foremost consideration, since it is the noise reduction capability of the hearing protection that serves to prevent any damage to the fragile inner-ear that can lead to hearing loss over time.
We recommend hearing protection that reduces noise by at least 20 decibels, in other words, one with a 22 decibel Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). But you can get some that offer up to 30 decibels of noise reduction.
Another way to determine whether a set of ear muffs or earplugs offers sufficient hearing protection, is to check whether they are ANSI certified and/or OSHA compliant.
Active Vs Passive Hearing Protection
Active hearing protection actively suppresses noise from the users’ surrounding environment. Whereas passive hearing protection merely acts as a barrier from that noise.
Comfort, Over-the-Ear Earmuffs Vs In-Ear Earplugs
Not only should your hearing protection equipment be comfortable to listen through, but it should also be comfortable to wear.
To that end, we favor over-the-ear muffs to on-the-ear muffs. And a padded headband is nice to have too, especially if you’re going to be wearing it for hours at a time.
Or alternatively, you could go for in-ear ear plugs that conform to the shape of your ear, negating the need for any headband at all. If this is of interest to you, we would recommend our number 2 pick, the ISOtunes Free True Wireless Earplug Earbuds.
If you’re buying hearing protection for personal use rather than for your employees, you can also consider whether you like the overall look of the hearing protection.
Some hearing protection goes beyond merely reducing noise levels to protect your ears. Some allow you to listen to music as you work or even make and receive calls.
If this is of interest to you, then we would recommend our picks numbered 2, 3, or 5.
Value for Money
Hearing protection can really vary in price. On the one hand you’ve got some that cost under $20, and at the other end of the spectrum, you can get some that cost over $250. So, if you have a set budget in mind, or even if you don’t, we strongly recommend that you check prices as you go along. Truth be told, you don’t need to pay more than $100 for good quality hearing protection.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most effective ear protection?
Out of all of the hearing protection equipment that made our shortlist, the one with the most effective hearing protection is hands down our number 4 pick, the Professional Safety Ear Muffs by Decibel Defense…
This is because it has an NRR rating of 37 decibels, which means that it can reduce the noise levels in the immediate surroundings by up to a whopping 37 decibels. This is in contrast to most other similar forms of hearing protection which typically reduce outside noise levels by between 20 and 25 decibels.
At what noise level is a hearing protection recommended?
We touched upon this briefly in our introduction, but it bears repeating here. Hearing protection is strongly advised when you are exposed to 85 decibels of noise over an 8-hour period.