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|Mpow Ear Defenders|
|Vanderfields Ear Defenders|
|3M Peltor Optime 3 Ear Muffs|
|Silverline Folding Ear Defenders|
Ear defenders are used to safeguard our hearing, an essential and easily damaged sense, against loud noises, but it is not the case that everyone will need a set that is designed for industrial use.
Many buyers may want a pair for when doing the housework, in the garden, or in the workshop, and they are also used for leisure pursuits such as shooting. Here are three that come highly recommended.
1: If you want a set of ear defenders for basic use around the home – perhaps protecting you from a noisy vacuum cleaner or, outdoors, when mowing the lawn – check out the Vanderfields Ear Defenders reviewed at No. 2 for value for money.
2: Should you be searching for ear defenders with a high NRR rating, and suitable for use in a noisy workplace such as an airport, print works or other industrial setting, we suggest you have a closer look at No. 3, the 3M Peltor Optime 3 Ear Muffs, which come with a 35dB NRR, a very good rating indeed.
3: For anyone who goes shooting, we have to recommend you seek further details about the last set on the list, the Awesafe Electronic Shooting Ear Muffs as they come complete with a microphone system for communication and are designed for the purpose.
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The Top 10 Ear Defenders
1: Mpow Ear Defenders
We begin our list with this set of ear defenders, and it’s an example of the norm if you like. These are from Mpow, and as the actual name or serial number of this model is very long, if you want to make a note of it please check the link. You will find that ear defenders resemble a set of Hi-Fi headphones, but without the cable or sound emitting devices. That’s exactly what these look like, and they are fully padded for comfort, and have an adjustable headband for fit.
There are certain industry standards that these should adhere to, and this set complies with both US and European requirements. This is a ‘passive’ set of ear defenders – ‘active’ models may actually produce noise at a low level for cancelling out higher level noises. They are lightweight and come with their own carry bag, are fitted with a double layer of professional noise cancelling foam, and are foldable. At the price, which is very cheap indeed, not bad, but perhaps not the most effective on this list.
2: Vanderfields Ear Defenders
It is not just at work where you may need ear defenders, and it’s not just adults who need them either. These handy foldable ear defenders are fully adjustable so they will be suitable for all members of the family, so when you take your kids to – for example – a motor racing meeting, a firework display or anywhere there will be loud noises, these will help. They are fully padded for comfort and come with all the certification to prove they do the job.
This set has a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 26dB; this doesn’t mean it will block out that amount of decibels – we have already explained the dB scale is not a simple one – but it is a reasonably high rating (the higher the number, the better). They can cancel up to 125dB, which is a sound level you really should not be close to in the first place! Foldable and cheap, this is a decent buy for occasional use.
3: 3M Peltor Optime 3 Ear Muffs
This is a very nice set of ear defenders that comes from the 3M brand, a household name in these quarters. This set is provided with the usual fully adjustable headband so you are guarantee a comfortable fit, plus they are fully padded ear muffs for comfort in that area. Designed for long term use in loud environments – think a print works where presses run all day and night, or an airport or other loud place – they are quality ear protectors.
The all-important NRR of this set is 35dB; that is a very good rating indeed for a set of ear muffs at this price and considerably higher than those above. They are designed with a large area inside the cup for rejecting moisture, and also come with double casings to reduce the noise further. Cushions can be replaced easily for hygiene purposes, and all in all this is a good choice among this list at a sensible cost.
4: Silverline Folding Ear Defenders
This is a nice set of ear defenders at a very, very low price, which always makes us take a second look. The old adage that ‘if it looks to good to be true, it usually is’ applies sometimes, but in this case it would not be fair to dismiss these ear muffs on account of the low cost. For a start, you get a fully adjustable headband and fully cushioned cups for comfort, and the maker is a brand that also makes a wide range of garden tools and equipment.
However, Silverline are quite clear that this set of ear muffs – with an NRR rating of 30dB – are meant for domestic use. This means when mowing the lawn, using a chain saw, or operating equipment in your workshop. They are not suitable for heavy industrial use, for which you would be much better off with the set featured above. If you want a cheap set for occasional protection in the garden, these are perfectly sound.
Key Features – domestic use, fully adjust, 30dB NRR rating, very cheap
5: Mpow Defenders
This is another choice from the quite extensive Mpow range of safety products, and again it’s a set that we would not recommend – and nor would the makers – for prolonged use in an industrial setting. They are the usual design with a headband that can be adjusted for adult or youth use, come with fully padded and double lined ear cups, and comply with all of the required certificates in the US and Europe.
This is a ‘passive’ set of ear defenders – ‘active’ models may actually produce noise at a low level for cancelling out higher level noises. They are lightweight and come with their own carry bag, are fitted with a double layer of professional noise cancelling foam, and are foldable. The NRR rating is 29dB, so that’s great for in the home – perhaps you have a noisy vacuum cleaner – or the garden. At the price, which quite cheap, not bad, but not for industrial or prolonged usage.
6: Tacklife HNRE1 Ear Muffs
Tacklife is a brand that has a range of products of this type, and in other areas too, and is regarded as producing decent items at sensible prices. There is not a lot to add about these ear defenders over the others on our list as they are the usual design, with twin fully padded cups – these ones come with 15mm memory foam for added comfort – and a fully adjustable headband that is as usual with a pair of these.
This is a nicely made product in comparison to some others, and comes with a decent warranty and the peace of mind of a known brand. The NRR rating is a high 34dB; this makes this product usable in industrial settings as well as in the home, but for limited periods only. Bordering on professional level, this set of ear muffs comes at a good price – and have a soft leather casing for added comfort – and would be good if you want something for when things get loud all of a sudden!
7: 3M Peltor Optime II
Another of the Peltor Optime range from 3M, these are very similar to the previous set in many ways. This set is provided with the usual fully adjustable headband so you are guarantee a comfortable fit, plus they are fully padded ear muffs for comfort in that area. Designed for long term use in loud environments – think a print works where presses run all day and night, or an airport or other loud place – they are quality ear protectors.
The all-important NRR of this set is 31dB; this is not the best rating – lower than the previous set from this range – but it is decent enough to be usable in industrial settings, if not for prolonged periods of time. They are designed with a large area inside the cup for rejecting moisture, and also come with double casings to reduce the noise further. Cushions can be replaced easily for hygiene purposes, and at the price you are getting a decent pair of ear defenders that are better quality than some on this list.
8: Pretex Professional Ear Defenders
These very standard ear defenders, in terms of being the usual design, are very cheap indeed, so worth a closer look. They claim to have a unique filling for added sound protection and comfort, this being a combination of ‘liquid and foam’. The headband is, as usual, fully adjustable for all sizes, and the cups are well padded and have large spaces for increased comfort in prolonged periods of usage. So far so good, and remember they are less than a tenner.
They are labelled as ‘professional’; we’re not entirely sure about that, although an NNR of 31dB is decent but not necessarily impressive. They would be suitable for very loud noises over short periods of time, but we’re not certain they are suitable for all day use in a print shop, for example. If you want a set of ear defenders for use in the home and around the garden, however, they could be the choice for you at the price.
9: Awesafe Electronic Shooting Ear Muffs
There are a couple of areas of use for ear defenders that we haven’t mentioned; one is agriculture where drivers of tractors and other heavy machinery may want to wear a pair of these, and the other is shooting, for which this particular set of ear muffs is intended. These are designed with slim earcups, especially so the stock of a gun does not interfere, and they are 22 NRR rated, which is not very high, but there’s a reason for that.
When shooting, you are subjected to loud noise for an instance, regularly, rather than for long period. You also need to be able to communicate with others, especially if hunting, Thus, this set of ear defenders has built-in battery powered microphones and a headphone system – it will adjust accordingly the louder the noise – so you can protect your hearing perfectly, and still understand what is going on around you. The most expensive set here, but quite specialised and perfect for the intended purpose.
Ear Defenders Buyer’s Guide
Of all the senses, our hearing is one of the most delicate. It is important that we protect our ears against loud noise, as it is surprising how easily our hearing organs can get damaged. Damage can occur through prolonged exposure to noises louder than a certain level. People who previously worked in noisy environments, for example, have been subject to hearing loss as a result, and many a rock star from the days of super-loud concerts has also suffered irreparable damage.
In the working environment, we now have carefully devised Health and Safety Regulations to keep us as safe as possible in all areas of the workplace. We might groan and moan about these rules, but they are there for a reason. It was not that long ago, after all, that employees were expected to operate heavy, noisy and often dangerous machinery and equipment with little or no protection at all. These days, regulations insist on Personal Protective Equipment – or PPE – as a matter of course, with severe repercussions if these rules are overlooked.
The thing about hearing loss is that in normal circumstances it cannot be corrected. Slight loss of vision can usually be overcome by finely tuned spectacles, but the hearing process – while relatively simple – can not be rectified so readily. This is why we need to take the greatest care to protect our ears in noisy environments, so today we are looking at the top 10 sets of ear defenders. Before we go into detail here’s a quick look at how they work, and why you need them.
How It Works
So, as we have explained, ear defenders are essential and – in some workplaces – are also a legal requirement. For the record, the ‘safe’ noise exposure level is set at a maximum of 85dB – that’s decibels. This is the recommended maximum noise level for an 8-hour working period (in fact, the recommendation is for under 85dB). The use of the word ‘safe’ is confusing here, as this is not a safe level for the public to be constantly exposed to.
For example, the average car driving by a reasonable distance away will register around 60dB. A lawnmower or jackhammer will be around 100dB. The problem is, decibels are not a linear scale; what we mean by this is that 70dB, for example, is not a little louder than 60dB; it is a LOT louder!
So, 85dB is the maximum exposure level for an 8-hour period. Beyond that, there is what is known as the ‘3dB Exchange Rate’. For every extra 3dB, the safe time limit is halved – so you should not be exposed to 88dB for more than 4 hours at a time. It sounds complicated, but when you get used to it, it’s actually quite simple.
So, how good are ear defenders? Mega Phone vs Ear Defenders, enjoy the video below!
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Important Features to Consider
As all bar one of these is of the usual ‘passive’ style of ear defenders, and each has padded ear cups, an adjustable headband, and are priced very similarly, we really need to talk about one thing – the NRR.
A little further explanation may be needed; first, as we said earlier, the higher the NRR the better. This rating is effectively the amount by which external sound will be reduced by wearing the headphones, but it does not mean that a 35dB set will reduce by 35dB; that will only happen if the sound is exactly 100dB, the median point at which it is measured.
If a set is rated under 30dB NRR it is not likely to be suitable for prolonged use in loud areas, so look for higher ratings if that is your requirement. If you want something for use around the home, any level of NRR will do.
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We hope this guide has helped you find the right ear defenders for your requirements.