10 Best Bluetooth Hearing Protection [2022]

Wearing a hearing protection device with Bluetooth at work
Wearing a hearing protection device with Bluetooth at work

How to choose the best Bluetooth hearing protection devices, plus our top picks.

NameForm-factorNRRAM/FM RadioPrice
3M Worktunes Connect + AM/FM Best OverallOver-ear24YBUY
Walker's XCEL 100 String Runner-UpOver-ear28NBUY
PROHEAR 030 Best BudgetOver-ear22NBUY
Honeywell Sync Wireless Earmuff Best for CallsOver-ear25NBUY
WULFPOWERPRO Bluetooth Earmuffs Best Noise ReductionOver-ear29YBUY
ISOtunes PRO 2.0 Best Bluetooth Ear Plugs for WorkIn-ear (Neckband)27NBUY
Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Best for ShootingOver-ear26NBUY
ISOtunes Free True Wireless Best for Casual UseIn-ear (True Wireless)22NBUY
Caldwell E-MAX Shadows Best for People with Mild Hearing LossIn-ear (True Wireless)23NBUY
Walker's Silencer Most ComfortableIn-ear (True Wireless)23NBUY

How to Pick the Best Bluetooth Hearing Protection

The dangers of hearing loss are very real. In the US alone, approximately 22 million workers deal with unsafe noise levels at work, with many suffering from hearing damage. And in most cases, not wearing proper hearing protection is at the root of this problem.

It’s clear that hearing protection devices (HPDs) are essential if your workplace or hobby has high levels of noise.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t have the luxury of complete silence when working. But the good thing is that Bluetooth earmuffs and safety earplugs can help remedy that. They’re specially built to protect your ears, and the Bluetooth function lets you listen to your own music.

Naturally, not all noise protection headphones with Bluetooth are the same. They have different noise attenuation levels and involve many other considerations, such as work environment and compatibility with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Furthermore, the addition of Bluetooth introduces even more things to think about, like connection quality and stability.

With so many alternatives on the market, picking the right hearing protection device can prove to be a bit tricky. Check out our article on the hows and whys of buying an HPD designed just for you.

So, to help you get the best value for your money and narrow down your choices, in this article, we’ll highlight which factors you should prioritize. We’ll also discuss our top ten favorite Bluetooth HPDs. So let’s get into it!

Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)

An NRR label is a measurement that indicates the level of external noise reduction offered by an HPD. In other words, it is a number that manufacturers use to let consumers know how much noise an HPD reduces in decibels.

When choosing HPDs, one’s instinct may be to go for headphones with the highest NRR rating. Makes sense, right?

The problem, however, is that NRR ratings are not entirely accurate.

NRRs are calculated in highly-controlled laboratory settings and under optimal conditions. As such, real-world scenarios like poor-fitting HPDs, lack of enforcement, and consistency of wearing HPDs aren’t factored in.

Thus a process known as derating needs to be considered to achieve a more realistic NRR. Derating is crucial as it gives you a more accurate look at the noise reduction capabilities of your device instead of relying on the advertised value.

NRR values are also not a worldwide standard. European countries, for instance, use the Single Number Rating (SNR) instead of NRR. Although both ratings serve the same purpose, SNRs are about 3dB higher than NRRs.

Check out our in-depth article on Noise Reduction Rating if you want to learn more about NRR, SNR, their unique derating calculations, and more.

Comfort and fit

Comfort and a good fit go hand-in-hand if you’re looking for an HPD you can wear for hours. Good comfort means less time spent taking off or adjusting your HPDs, which means less exposure to unsafe noise levels. A good fit also provides a tighter seal around your ears. This, in turn, gives you more effective noise protection.

The best kind of Bluetooth HPD does its job well and makes you forget you’re even wearing them.

When it comes to HPDs, the choice is typically between earmuffs and earplugs. Both types come with pros and cons.

Earmuffs are easier to wear and harder to misplace. In contrast, they’re bulkier and can get in the way of other PPEs like goggles.

On the other hand, earplugs are more portable, but they can be harder to put on. They also require handling with clean hands if you want to avoid ear infections.

So, the choice between the two will ultimately depend on the nature of your work.

Bluetooth stability

Stability boils down to how well a hearing protection device maintains a quality Bluetooth connection.

HPDs with robust connectivity can stay connected to an audio device at farther distances. They’re also able to work efficiently in congested environments.

This is important because you don’t want to keep fiddling with your device, trying to fix connection issues with your HPD.

There are a couple of factors that determine Bluetooth stability:

Bluetooth version

Bluetooth has had multiple versions over the years. Each version has undergone several upgrades in range capacity and speed. This allows Bluetooth connections to operate more effectively and transfer more data quickly.

If you want better connectivity, go for HPDs with Bluetooth 5. This latest version has double the speed of version 4.0 and works up to 40 meters indoors. It also uses adaptive frequency hopping to avoid interference and congested frequencies.

Keep in mind that, despite the improvements, Bluetooth isn’t perfect. And wireless connections will never be as stable and reliable as wired connections. This means it’s still possible to experience audio drop-outs in specific scenarios.

If you want to be free of any connection issues, buying a wired HPD with AUX input may be a better idea.

Bluetooth codecs

Aside from audio quality, Bluetooth codecs also deal with audio latency. This refers to the delay period when a sound leaves an audio source and enters a wirelessly connected device.

Bluetooth codecs like aptX Low Latency can significantly reduce audio delay. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of hearing audio stutters or crackles. However, since HPDs generally don’t prioritize Bluetooth codecs, you can expect most models to use SBC and AAC. These are two of the lowest tiered codecs in terms of latency.

Battery life

When using wireless Bluetooth HPDs, you’ll want a pair that’ll at least last you throughout working hours. This ultimately depends on the type of battery powering your HPD.

Most models typically come with either rechargeable or replaceable AA/AAA batteries. Each has its benefits, and it often comes down to personal preference when choosing one over the other.

Naturally, devices with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries need charging once you’ve used up the batteries. And that means you’ll experience downtime wherein you can’t use the device.

On the plus side, you’ll typically get 5-16 hours of use from them on a single charge. And if your HPDs come with a charging case, like the ISOtunes Free True Wireless Earplugs, you can get an additional two full charges.

In contrast, HPDs with replaceable batteries leave you with little to no downtime since all you need to do is swap the old batteries with fresh ones. While some may feel hassled by the need to purchase batteries constantly, you can opt for rechargeable alkaline batteries.

Availability of AM/FM radio

Hearing protection devices with AM/FM support can pick up radio stations broadcasting on AM/FM channels. Even though many prefer the convenience of online music streaming services, some still prefer traditional FM radio because they can work at greater distances and without an internet connection.

Built-in AM/FM radio functionality allows you to listen to your music, even without a phone or any audio device source with you. This is perfect when you can’t carry your phone with you and use it to change your choice of music.

And, because they don’t rely on WiFi, HPDs with this function are best for those who are often on the move, particularly in areas with poor internet coverage.

While a helpful addition, not all HPDs come with AM/FM radio functionality. Therefore, those that do may come with additional costs.

Some HPDs also come with sound amplification modes that aim to amplify specific sounds. For instance, hunting HPDs can boost the sound of leaves rustling to help track animals while protecting your hearing from the sound of gunshots.

Sound quality

Although your Bluetooth HPD’s primary function is to protect your hearing, it doesn’t mean you should compromise on sound quality. Obviously, the goal isn’t to have an audiophile-level listening experience. But, in general, you’ll want HPDs with good clarity and decent volume to fully enjoy listening to music while working.

However, since HPDs are about noise isolation, their closed-back design leaves more to be desired in terms of having a wide soundstage. Additionally, because the ear cups of HPDs form very tight seals around the ears, you’ll find that they suffer a lot of proximity effect, which results in muddy bass that overpowers other frequencies.

Having said that, try to at least go for HPDs that support stereophonic sound. This helps recreate a broader soundstage that can significantly improve your listening experience.

Mic quality

Good call quality is another factor to look out for in Bluetooth HPDs, as this will allow you to communicate even in the noisiest of environments. If this is important to you, go for HPDs with noise-canceling mics.

Noise reduction in mics uses one of two technologies: Digital Signal Processing (DSP) or Clear Voice Capture (CVC).

DSP captures environmental noise, processes it, then produces a reverse soundwave to cancel it out in real-time. It’s very similar to noise cancellation in headphones.

Conversely, CVC is software that intelligently works to focus on your voice and negate surrounding noise and other loud noises. This works more as an echo cancellation technology.

Additionally, the type of mic you get is critical. In-line mics perform poorly in noisy environments due to their small size and poor placement. So, boom mics are generally preferred. Since they’re larger and positioned closer to the mouth, they capture your voice more accurately.

10 Best Bluetooth Hearing Protection in 2022

3M Worktunes Connect + AM/FM

Best Overall
Close look at 3M Worktunes Connect + AM/FM (From: Amazon)
Close look at 3M Worktunes Connect + AM/FM (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 24dB
  • Playtime: 8 hours
  • Battery: 2 AA batteries / Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Microphone: Integrated microphone
  • Bluetooth version: 4.2
  • AM/FM support: Yes
  • Additional features: Audio Assist Technology, Safe Volume Control Technology, On-ear controls

The 3M WorkTunes Connect + AM/FM Hearing Protector effectively blocks external noise with an NRR of 24dB. They also come with Bluetooth connectivity, AM/FM feature, and an optional 3.5mm audio input, giving you greater flexibility.

Besides giving you more listening options, the radio feature lets you switch over to your favorite radio stations at the press of a button.

These earmuffs also have Safe Volume Control, which automatically adjusts the volume to a safe listening level of 82dB to protect your hearing.

Navigation is a breeze on this device. Button controls for volume and radio tuning are clearly labeled and accessible. The Audio Assist feature even tells you what station you’re listening to so you can save your favorites.

Moreover, the gel ear cushions help to relieve pressure as they rest around your ears. So, regardless of the activity you’re into, you should stay comfortable.

Two AA batteries power the 3M Worktunes earmuffs. However, if you want something long-lasting, you can swap them for a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. You’ll need to buy it separately, but it can save you money on replacement batteries in the long run. Plus, you can purchase spare batteries you can swap with, so you’ll never have downtime.

The 3M Worktunes Connect + AM/FM earmuffs are the oldest in the WorkTunes lineup. However, they’re the only ones that offer a radio function and two battery options. The two newer models – 3M WorkTunes Connect and 3M WorkTunes Connect + Gel Cushions – do not come with a radio function and only use rechargeable batteries.

One downside to these earmuffs is the integrated mic. At times, it struggles to pick up your voice. And when it does, your voice tends to sound distant, which can be a problem in noisy work environments.

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Walker’s XCEL 100

Strong Runner-Up
Close look at Walker's XCEL 100 (From: Amazon)
Close look at Walker’s XCEL 100 (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 26dB
  • Playtime: 20 hours
  • Battery: 2 AAA batteries
  • Microphone: 2 omnidirectional mics
  • Bluetooth version: Undisclosed
  • AM/FM Support: No
  • Additional features: Wind Noise Reduction Technology, Active Dynamic Sound Suppression, Four frequency modes

Coming in second are the Walker’s XCEL 100 HPDs. These earmuffs have an NRR of 26dB, making them well-suited for various activities. Whether at the shooting range or doing yard work, you won’t need to worry about outside noise intruding on your listening experience.

Two dynamic range speakers provide impressive sound quality. You can also further customize what you hear with four listening modes, such as:

  • Universal: Amplifies all sounds in general
  • Speech Clarity Mode: Amplifies voices over general sounds
  • Hi Frequency: Amplifies high-frequency steel sounds when shooting distant targets
  • Power Boost: Provides additional amplification for those with hearing issues

Both omnidirectional mics come with Active Dynamic Sound Suppression and Wind Noise Reduction. Together, they work to capture your voice clearly during calls, keeping conversations smooth.

The Walker’s XCEL 100 run on two AAA batteries. And while rechargeable batteries are often preferred, being able to replace batteries instantly is helpful if you don’t have access to a power source.

The sturdy, all-plastic construction and ergonomic headband make for improved comfort. The clamping pressure is also enough to stay in place without feeling too tight.

These earmuffs are navigable, thanks to accessible buttons for Bluetooth, volume control, power, and listening modes. The button controls are also situated on the headband instead of the ear cup. This reduces the number of holes in the ear cup, thus improving the NRR.

Despite the excellent audio features, the XCEL 100 still comes in second to the 3M WorkTunes due to the lack of a radio function. Having no option to switch to a rechargeable battery is yet another factor that keeps them from gaining the top spot on this list.

Unfortunately, the Bluetooth connection is the weakest part of these HPDs. Even when taking into account Bluetooth interference, audio anomalies occur with a lot of movement, and the connection seems to cut out a lot.

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PROHEAR 030

Best Budget
Close look at PROHEAR 030 (From: Amazon)
Close look at PROHEAR 030 (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 22dB (SNR: 27dB)
  • Playtime: 36 hours (Bluetooth mode)
  • Battery: 2 AAA batteries
  • Microphone: 2 omnidirectional microphones
  • Bluetooth version: 5.0
  • AM/FM support: No
  • Additional features: Pressure Diffusion Technology, Directional Sound Knob, 3.5mm AUX input jack

The PROHEAR 030 Electronic Shooting Ear Protection Muffs are built for outdoor activities like hunting and shooting. They reduce noise by up to 22dB, providing reliable hearing protection. The slim, lightweight design also makes them easy to carry around. And as the most affordable HPD on this list, they’re our best budget pick.

With two omnidirectional mics, these earmuffs help reduce ambient and wind noise. This lets you communicate better without having to take the headphones off.

The headphones also come with both wired and wireless connectivity options. You can connect to your phone via a fast Bluetooth 5.0 connection. You can also opt to go wired with the built-in 3.5mm AUX input jack. This flexibility allows you to use the device even if it’s low on charge.

An adjustable padded headband delivers a pleasant wearing experience. Plus, the pressure diffusion technology reduces pressure on the head by 20%. This ensures you stay comfortable and focused at all times.

Aside from an NRR of 22dB, the PROHEAR 030s reduce noise by over 82dB with a 0.01-second reaction time. They also have an ambient sound amplification feature for hunting purposes. Both give you a good balance of noise reduction and situational awareness needed for outdoor activities.

Two separate volume knobs let you control Bluetooth/AUX input volume and directional sound. Depending on the situation, you can turn up the media input volume while lowering the ambient noise level and vice versa. It’s a great way to customize what you want to hear and how loud you want to listen to it.

Despite their flexibility, the PROHEAR 030s lack in the sound quality department for calls and music. When turned up all the way, it’s evident that the volume could be louder. The sound amplification feature also tends to make background noise sound tinny.

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Honeywell Sync Wireless Earmuffs

Best for Calls
Close look at Howard Leight by Honeywell Sync (From: Amazon)
Close look at Howard Leight by Honeywell Sync (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 25dB (SNR: 32dB)
  • Playtime: 16+ hours
  • Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Microphone: Pivot Flex boom microphone
  • Bluetooth version: 4.1
  • AM/FM support: No
  • Additional features: Volume Management Technology, Patented Air Flow Control Technology

The Honeywell Sync Wireless Earmuffs offer convenient wireless listening with Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity, while an NRR of 25 keeps you safe from hearing damage.

But what makes them stand out is the Pivot Flex Boom Microphone, which rotates easily out of your line of sight when not in use. It also outputs crystal clear audio even in noisy settings, making these earmuffs great for calls.

These are the only Bluetooth earmuffs in this list with a rotating external boom microphone.

The steel alloy headband ensures improved durability of these earmuffs. Comfort also isn’t an issue, thanks to soft, padded ear cups that provide all-day support for extended work days.

Moreover, these earmuffs limit sound output from audio devices to 82dB. This is crucial in ensuring your ears stay safe from noise-induced hearing loss. They also use an air flow technology that reduces noise across all frequencies, without sacrificing comfort and breathability.

Additionally, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasts up to 16 hours, even under heavy use. So, you can rest assured that they’ll last you throughout an entire day of calls and music listening.

One of the drawbacks of the Honeywell Sync earmuffs is that they may not fit all head shapes. So, they may feel tight and uncomfortable after a while, especially if you have a larger head.

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WULFPOWERPRO Bluetooth Earmuffs

Best Noise Reduction
Close look at WULFPOWERPRO Bluetooth Ear Muffs (From: Amazon)
Close look at WULFPOWERPRO Bluetooth Ear Muffs (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 29dB
  • Playtime: 10-12 hours
  • Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Microphone: Built-in noise-canceling microphone
  • Bluetooth version: Undisclosed
  • AM/FM support: Yes
  • Additional features: LCD screen, FM digital radio, supports wired and wireless connections

The WULFPOWERPRO Bluetooth Earmuffs have an NRR rating of 29dB, the highest noise protection on this list. As such, these earmuffs are best for all types of loud environments. You can mow the lawn, operate heavy machinery, and do landscaping work without risking noise-induced hearing loss.

With these earmuffs, you can choose between a wireless Bluetooth connection or a standard stereo headphone cable.

When selecting the former, you can connect two different devices at the same time. This feature allows you to switch seamlessly between a phone and a tablet. It also helps with productivity as the earmuffs are great for taking calls. The best part is that you can avoid the trouble of manually connecting and disconnecting each device.

If you’re more of a radio listener, the WULFPOWERPRO Bluetooth Earmuffs won’t disappoint. The built-in FM radio antenna has high reception sensitivity and channel memory. This allows you to scan your radio station frequencies and access your favorite programs. The LCD screen also lets you know what station you’re on.

Comfort is quite good with these earmuffs, thanks to a pair of soft ear cushions and a PU leather headband built to fit all proportions.

The rechargeable battery and charging port, although a nice touch, could be of better quality. With careless handling, the port could break easily. Additionally, the overall battery life noticeably decreases with each charge. This results in having to charge the earmuffs more often.

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ISOtunes PRO 2.0 Bluetooth Earplug

Best Bluetooth Ear Plugs for Work
Close look at ISOtunes PRO 2.0 Bluetooth Earplug (From: Amazon)
Close look at ISOtunes PRO 2.0 Bluetooth Earplug (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 27dB (SNR: 32dB)
  • Playtime: 16+ hours (music and talk time)
  • Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Microphone: Noise suppressing microphones with echo cancellation technology
  • Bluetooth version: 5.0
  • AM/FM support: No
  • Additional features: SafeMax Volume-Limiting Technology, IP67 water, and dust resistant design

The ISOtunes PRO 2.0 are professional-grade hearing protection earplugs that provide excellent durability and noise suppression suited for work environments.

With an NRR of 27dB, these earplugs are one of the top three HPDs on this list, boasting the highest noise protection rating. They come with SafeMax technology that limits volume to 85dB. And like the others, they’re also ANSI-certified and OSHA-compliant, so you know you’re getting quality hearing protection.

These earplugs are essential for heavy-duty tasks in industrial settings like construction sites or factories. Aside from their high noise reduction capacity, they also have heat-activated foam ear tips that expand in your ear canal, further reducing external noise.

The ISOtunes PRO 2.0 have a tough rubber exterior and chrome-plated brass ear stems. And being equipped with redesigned ear hooks, these earplugs can withstand daily wear and tear. They even have an IP67 rating that makes them sweat, water, and dust resistant.

Bluetooth 5 connectivity lets you listen to music from your phone or take calls. And with an echo noise canceling microphone, you’ll experience clear calls anywhere. This feature blocks continuous noises like engines, drills, saws, etc. So, if you take a call at work, you and the person you’re talking to will have no problem hearing each other.

The earplugs’ cable is short enough to stay out of your way. But it also ensures you won’t accidentally drop or misplace an earbud. Controls-wise, they feature a redesigned volume and music controller with larger rubberized buttons. This makes them easy to locate and operate, even without looking.

The ISOtunes PRO 2.0s are certainly a step up from their predecessor, the ISOtunes PRO. The latter only has a 10-hour battery and an IP55 rating. These improvements allow the PRO 2.0s to last longer and provide more protection against environmental conditions.

The ear hooks do a great job staying on your ear, but the actual ear tips can be problematic. They do a decent job of blocking out external noise but tend to come off when pulling out the earbud. So, there’s always the risk of them getting stuck in your ear canal.

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Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Electronic Hearing Protector

Best for Shooting
Close look at Peltor Sport Tactical 500 (From: Amazon)
Close look at Peltor Sport Tactical 500 (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 26dB
  • Playtime: 42 hours
  • Battery: 2 AA batteries/Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Microphone: Durable recessed microphones
  • Bluetooth version: Undisclosed
  • AM/FM support: No
  • Additional features: Dynamic Suppression Time, Clear Voice Tracking

The Peltor Sport Tactical 500 earmuffs offer reliable hearing protection, excellent comfort and have essential features ideal for recreational shooting. So, it’s no surprise that these earmuffs are our top pick for the best hearing protection for shooting.

With an NRR of 26dB, the Tactical 500s provide the protection you need to enjoy hunting or shooting at the range.

The earmuffs measure gunshot energy using Dynamic Suppression Time. They then apply the appropriate suppression time, depending on the type of gun used. This helps reduce echoes and protects your hearing, which is especially helpful if you’re switching between indoor and outdoor shooting ranges.

On top of that, you also get Clear Voice Tracking. This feature tracks and amplifies voices over ambient noise for better communication.

These ear muffs won’t interfere with your shooting thanks to a low-profile and lightweight design. They even have specially designed cut-outs at the lower part of each ear cup to make room for the gunstock when aiming.

The Tactical 500’s adjustable headband can fit most head shapes regardless of size. It also has ventilation cut-outs for better breathability when worn with hats. Moreover, the earmuffs feature a textured rubber-like shell foam for each ear cup, creating a comfortable seal around the ears.

Although these earmuffs run on 2 AA batteries, you also have the option to use a rechargeable Li-ion battery. This gives you greater flexibility because you can opt for a longer-lasting battery depending on your specific needs.

The Tactical 500 earmuffs are the newer version of the 5-year-old Tactical 300s. The most notable improvement in the 500s is the addition of Bluetooth connectivity. In contrast, the 300s only come with a 3.5mm audio jack. The newer model also has a slightly higher NRR of 26 versus 24 for the 300s.

One frustrating thing about the Peltor Sport Tactical 500 is the tight battery compartment. It takes a lot of effort to pry out batteries when it’s time to swap them, and sometimes even requires breaking out tools to get the job done!

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ISOtunes Free True Wireless Earplug

Best for Casual Use
A pair of ISOtunes Free True Wireless
A pair of ISOtunes Free True Wireless

Key features

  • NRR: 22dB
  • Playtime: 7+ hours per use, 21 hours total (3 full charges with charging case)
  • Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Microphone: Noise suppressing microphones with echo cancellation technology
  • Bluetooth Version: 5.0
  • AM/FM support: No
  • Additional features: SafeMax Volume-Limiting Technology, IP45 sweat and water resistant design

If you need an HPD for day-to-day use, the ISOtunes FREE True Wireless Earplugs are a good option. They’re lightweight at 4.5 grams each, making them easy to wear and store. And with an NRR of 22dB, they’re effective at blocking most ambient sounds. As such, they’re our favorite truly wireless HPD for casual use.

The ISOtunes FREE’s dual omnidirectional microphones have CVC background noise canceling technology. This, combined with Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, lets you make clear calls in noisy environments, whether you’re wearing one earbud or both. Additionally, their SafeMax Technology limits volume to 85dB. This ensures you’re safe from loud sounds that could affect your hearing.

Battery life is decent, as a single charge gives you about 7+ hours of playback. The protective charging case also provides two full charges for a total of 21+ hours. Just remember to fully charge your earplugs and case before heading out to maximize this.

Using these earplugs outdoors is hassle-free because they’re IP45 sweat and water-resistant. So, they’ll stay safe in light rain or when you’re sweating a storm.

Unfortunately, because of their small size, you may struggle to reach adequate listening volumes during noisy activities. So, you’ll find that it’s a bit of a challenge to hear your music over extra loud noises.

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Caldwell E-MAX Shadows

Best for People with Mild Hearing Loss
Close look at Caldwell E-MAX Shadows (From: Amazon)
Close look at Caldwell E-MAX Shadows (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 23dB
  • Playtime: 5 hours
  • Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Microphones: Dual directional microphones
  • Bluetooth version: 5.0
  • AM/FM support: No
  • Additional features: Adjustable ambient sound amplification, suppresses sound to a safe listening level

If you have mild hearing loss, the Caldwell E-MAX Shadows are great for protecting your ears from further damage. They have an NRR of 23dB, which is good enough for the general loud noises we encounter in day-to-day living. Their sound amplification feature also lets you hear conversations better, allowing them to function somewhat like hearing aids.

The Shadows’ dual-microphones work great at capturing your voice effectively. They also filter out background noise so that your voice sounds clear to the person on the other end. And with Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, you can rest easy knowing that you won’t have to miss any important calls while you’re on the go.

Achieving the right fit is critical for blocking out unwanted noise. The Caldwell E-MAX Shadows come with six tip sizes to customize the fit to your liking. The tips are also easy to remove and install smoothly.

The Shadows’ low-profile wireless design is also a big plus, making them easy to store and use anywhere.

These earplugs feature on-ear touch controls. You can control volume levels by swiping up to increase them or down to decrease them. They go into automatic pairing mode once you remove them from their charging case, making Bluetooth pairing a breeze.

As these prioritize hearing safety over anything else, you’ll find that audio quality has taken a hit. While listening to your favorite tracks, you may miss some details in your music. If you’re an audiophile, look elsewhere. Otherwise, they’re good enough for casual, safe listening.

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Walker’s Silencer BT

Most Comfortable
Close look at Walker's Silencer Bluetooth (From: Amazon)
Close look at Walker’s Silencer Bluetooth (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • NRR: 23dB
  • Playtime: 8 hours
  • Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Microphone: Integrated omnidirectional microphones
  • Bluetooth version: 5.0
  • AM/FM support: No
  • Additional features: Sound-Activated Compression technology, Four frequency modes

If you prioritize comfort over everything else, the Walker’s Silencer BT earbuds are perfect for you. They come in three ear tip sizes with a patented Sure-Lock system. This features a small silicone hook that secures the earbud while providing maximum comfort and fit. Even when performing strenuous and fast-paced activities, the earbuds will remain securely in place.

Tactile, rubberized on-ear controls make it easy to adjust your listening volume. You can also use the Walker’s Link app (on iOS and Android) to monitor battery levels and set program settings. Like the previously discussed XCEL 100, these earbuds also offer four listening modes: Universal, Voice Clarity, Hi Frequency Boost, and Power Boost.

When used on the range, the sound-activated compression feature suppresses gunshots as they occur. This, along with an NRR of 23dB safeguards your ears from harmful noise. The integrated omnidirectional mics also come with dynamic wind reduction. They help reduce wind noise from all directions so you can take phone calls even in windy environments.

Like the WULFPOWERPRO Bluetooth Earmuffs, the most significant drawback here is the battery life. Although rated for 8 hours, the battery tends to die exceedingly fast. This could result from using lower-quality batteries, but that is speculative. Bear this in mind if you plan to take them anywhere without a reliable power source, like hunting.

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Notable Mention

Although the 3M Worktunes Connect + AM/FM takes the number one spot on this list due to their additional features, the 3M WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector HPDs also deserve a mention for their reliability and effectiveness.

3M WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector

Key features

  • NRR: 24dB
  • Playtime: 30 hours
  • Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Microphone: Integrated microphone
  • Bluetooth version: Undisclosed
  • AM/FM support: No
  • Additional features: Audio Assist Technology

The 3M WorkTunes Connect offer a modern and comfortable headphone design. They have an NRR of 24dB, 40mm high-fidelity speakers for premium sound quality, and Bluetooth connectivity.

These headphones also have a variant with an AM/FM function, as featured in our list of top HPDs for lawn mowing. For more details, you can also check out our full review of the 3M Worktunes line.

The 3M WorkTunes Connect’s one-button interface and voice/audio assist technology allow easy navigation of the basic controls. Together, they let you perform multiple commands just by using one button.

Some examples of these commands include:

  • Power On/Off: Press and hold
  • Pause/Play Music: Press once
  • Skip to Previous Track: Press thrice
  • Enter Pairing Mode: Press twice
To see the complete list of input button commands for this device, you can always refer to their user manual.

The 3M WorkTunes Connect has a built-in rechargeable battery with an auto shut-off function. This prevents battery drainage if you forget to turn off your device after use. They also have a convenient battery indicator that lets you know when they need charging. Moreover, the device works with all standard USB chargers using the supplied micro USB cable.

Wearing the 3M WorkTunes Connect for hours is no issue, thanks to their lightweight design. Soft ear cushions allow prolonged wear without causing fatigue or excess tension. And since they’re wireless, you don’t have to worry about them getting tangled or snagged.

Although the ear pads are soft and comfortable, the ear cups are a bit on the shallow side. So, those with more prominent ears may feel the speaker grills pressing against their ears after some time. And coupled with the earmuffs’ strong clamping force, wearing them may get tiring after a few hours.

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4 comments

  1. The single button 3m one is honestly pretty bad ergonomics wise. there is basically no room inside the cups for your ears so the speakers sit right on them. Because of this, wearing them for an extended period of time causes a sore spot on my ear. if I continue wearing them it eventually creates an open wound.

  2. Thanks for a very thorough review. I think that your choice of the 3M Worktunes was an excellent one given the much higher cost of the others. I was involved with the initial development of the predecessor years ago when it was developed as a Peltor product.

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