Whether you’re working in loud environments, love to go hunting or shooting, or simply need some well-deserved shuteye, it is paramount that you protect your hearing and block out unwanted noise at all costs.
Enter ear muffs.
When you’re hearing is at stake you can’t opt for the first decent looking pair of ear muffs you see. No. You need to purchase muffs that are able to protect your hearing, are very comfortable to wear, and won’t break the bank.
We have listed the best ear muffs for a range of purposes, consisting of electronic, passive and specialty models. We have also written a buyers guide so you know what aspects you need to consider to walk away happy with your choice.
Ear Muffs Comparison Table
|ClearArmor 141001||3M WorkTunes||Howard Leight R-02524||Walkers Game Ear Pro Low Profile||Pro For Sho||Walkers Game Ear Razor Slim|
- 1 Ear Muffs Comparison Table
- 2 Ear Muff Reviews
- 3 Ear Muffs Buyers Guide
Ear Muff Reviews
ClearArmor 141001 Safety Ear Muffs
The ClearArmor 141001 is one of the very best non-electronic ear muffs on the market.
The ear muffs have been both tested and certified to American and European standards. The NRR rating stands at 34, which is good enough to protect your ears and block out noise at the range, and more than good enough to block out noisy neighbors.
Construction quality is impressive due to high-quality materials having been used, including 2 layers of proprietary noise dampening foam, and screws instead of glue to ensure that the ear muffs can take withstand daily use and abuse.
Comfort is also impressive all around. This is down to the headband featuring ½” of padding and the muffs snugly fitting over your ears with no chance of them coming loose, even when engaging in intensive physical activities. The head band also has 1 ¼” of vertical adjustment to accommodate both smaller and larger heads.
The last thing to mention is the ClearArmor 141001 compact folding design, which makes it as easy as possible to store them.
3M WorkTunes Hearing Protector
The first of the best electronic ear muffs on this list comes from the very reputable 3M. They are available in both wired and wireless formats and come in at a very reasonable price all things considered.
The ear muffs have a NRR of 24dB, but also allow you to listen to AM/FM radio and supports MP3 connectivity too, making them ideal for protecting your ears yet keeping you entertained while working in loud environments. An auto scan feature helps you find available radio stations, up to 50 of which can be saved.
The Voice Assist is a very nice touch too, considering that programming and controlling the headset manually while working can be challenging. The 2 Bass Boost options are another very welcome feature, particularly at this price, as they result in a more customized listening experience.
The last thing to mention is the comfort of the 3M WorkTunes, which is just as good as every other aspect of these ear muffs.
The headband has a vented design to give your head room to breathe. The padding is removable, so you can use the muffs with hats/helmet – another reason that makes these great for the workplace. The ear cushions have been redesigned to be as soft as possible too, without sacrificing hearing protection.
Howard Leight by Honeywell R-02524
Howard Leight is another one of the most reputable hearing protection brands in the industry. These ear muffs are more or less universally loved by anyone looking for hearing protection. This is down to several reasons.
The first thing you should know is that the NRR stands at 22 in both on and off mode. When the ear muffs are in on mode, ambient sounds are amplified to a safe 82dB.
Best of all, however, is how you can clearly tell precisely where a sound is coming from – an area in which many ear muffs come up short. This is certainly something that those looking for the best ear muffs for hunting will appreciate.
The headband is padded and has telescopic height adjustment for more of a custom fit. Air Flow Control Technology is also used to ensure that you ears and head don’t get too sweaty out there. The ear muffs also have a slim and lightweight design to further enhance comfort.
You should also know that the R-02524 has a compact folding design for storage; an AUX input and 3.5 mm connection cord is included to connect to MP3 players and scanners; and there is a an automatic shut-off feature that activates after 4 hours.
Walkers Game Ear Pro-Low Profile Folding Muff
If you’re looking for one of the best ear muffs but are looking to pay as little as possible, these are definitely the ones to go for. When you take into account that the NRR stands at 31, it becomes even more surprising just how inexpensive these ear muffs from Walkers are.
The one and only downside that we should mention and get out of the way first is how the muffs fit perhaps a little too snugly. They are still very lightweight and comfortable, but the comfort doesn’t quite compare to more expensive options.
It’s also worth noting that the headband is padded and the ear pads use soft PVC material for enhanced comfort. It’s just the snug fit that is a little bothersome for some people.
With a NRR of 31, regardless of whether you need hearing protection for the job site, to get some sleep, or for the shooting range, these ear muffs will certainly suffice.
Pro For Sho 34dB Shooting Ear Protection
This is another great pair of non-electronic ear muffs for anyone looking to spend as little as possible, yet protect their ears as well as they can. The one downside is that if you have a very large head you may not be able to adjust them enough to fit comfortably.
Weighing a ridiculously light 0.45 lbs. you won’t even notice that they are on your head; made even better by the fact that their lightweight design doesn’t appear to work against their durability. The headband is also padded and the ear covers soft. When on your head, it’s good to see that the muffs have a slim profile too.
The NRR is even better than the Walkers model, standing at 34, making the muffs suitable for a wide range of loud activities.
Walkers Game Ear Razor Slim Electronic Muff
The last of the best ear muffs on this list comes from Walkers. These stick to the company’s ethos of designing inexpensive yet high quality hearing protection and enhancement products.
The only downside is that the ear muffs aren’t quite as omni-directional as they are advertised to be. The omni-directional aspect can be considered to still be good, but not quite excellent.
The NRR stands at 23, which is impressive considering that these are electronic muffs. The HD speakers are one of the best aspects of these muffs with their full dynamic range that results in clear balanced sound. Volume can be controlled via a single knob.
The muffs feature a 3.5mm jack so you can connect iPods and other MP3 player devices; feature a headband with a soft padded design; have an ultra-low profile, and foldable design.
Ear Muffs Buyers Guide
Different Types of Ear Muffs
Electronic ear muffs work to block out sound while allowing you to hear and maintain conversation with others. They are cleverly designed with microphones, amplifiers and speakers all present that manage to amplify and transmit low volume sound, like voices. As they are electronic, they require batteries to function.
Passive ear muffs have one job and one job only – to protect your hearing. While electronic ear muffs work to both protect your hearing from loud noises and amplify low volume sound, passive muffs simply protect your hearing, blocking all sound in the process. They are certainly more inexpensive than their electronic counterparts, and can also be softer and slimmer too.
Specialty ear muffs are made specifically for a wide range of people. This can range from babies and kids to factory and forestry industry workers. What people typically mean by specialty ear muffs are those that give you the ability to listen to AM/FM radio in loud environments, like loud job sites.
The most important factor in selecting the right ear muffs for you is primarily dependent on what activity you want to engage in. Ear muffs for sleeping, for example, should and are designed differently than those used when hunting or shooting.
Ear muffs designed for sleeping are designed to be as slim and comfortable as possible, so you can drift off to sleep undisturbed by your partner’s snoring, when flying, the party going on in the apartment above, and so on.
Shooting and Hunting
Everyone who has gone hunting will tell you that being able to hear low level sounds around you is paramount. Electronic ear muffs should almost always be used for shooting and hunting because you will want to eliminate the hearing damage shooting a gun can cause, while also being aware of your surroundings.
Some jobs, particularly those that involve loud noises on construction sites, require the use of ear muffs. Don’t think that you necessarily need to have a loud job to get full use of ear muffs, though. If you want to mow the lawn or engage in other loud activities, it is important that you protect your hearing too.
Electronic models will suffice, but if you also want to be entertained in the process of working, having some form of entertainment like listening to the radio is a real plus too.
Factors to Consider
Besides the different types of ear muffs and the purpose that you plan to wear them for, there are a few other aspects that you should take into account.
All hearing protection, regardless of whether it is ear plugs or ear muffs, receives a NRR rating – also known as Noise Reduction Rating. The NRR rating is the best method of comparing ear muffs and should always be the first thing you look at before looking at the muffs in more detail.
If you’re thinking of purchasing electronic ear muffs you should be aware of how long you can expect them to last before needing to change batteries. You definitely don’t want to be caught unaware and risk damage to your hearing.
You can expect to get around 500 hours of usage before the batteries need replacing, but not many people are exactly going to keep count. It is therefore a good idea to look for muffs that feature low battery indicators.
If you’re planning on wearing ear muffs day in, day out or for any extended period of time, you better make sure that they are as comfortable as possible to wear. If the comfort is lacking, you may be tempted to take the muffs off, which is the very last thing you should ever do when being in loud environments due to the potential irreversible damage to your hearing.
Besides just how soft the muffs feel on your ear, a padded headband is a real plus, and weight also needs to be considered. The best ear muffs are those that protect your hearing while also being so well-designed and lightweight that you often forget that you are even wearing them.
Similar to comfort, profile is another important aspect to consider. If you want to get some shuteye, not only should the ear muffs be comfortable to wear, but they should have a slim profile to them.
Some useful features may include an AUX jack to connect to MP3 players so you can listen to your favorite tunes, AM/FM radio, and a shut-off timer.
Not all ear muffs take the same batteries. So it is a good idea to make sure that your purchase a model that takes batteries that can easily be purchased. The cost of the batteries is another thing that you should take into account.
All good ear muffs should be adjustable, but their range of adjustability may differ. If you have a rather small or large head, make sure that the range of adjustability is generous, so you are able to get the most comfortable fit as possible. The correct fit also means that you can wear the muffs as intended so there will be no chance of your ears being exposed to loud noises.
If you’re working outdoors it is inevitable that you will sooner or later be caught out in the rain. It is therefore important that you only purchase ear muffs that are water proof and won’t damage when exposed to water.