Your hearing is vitally important, and if you’ve ever left a concert with your ears ringing, you know just how fragile it can be. That’s why professionals that work in hazardous noise environments always wear hearing protection.
3M Peltor has an extensive line of electronic earplugs in the TEP and EEP series.
EEP – Electronic Ear Plugs
TEP – 3M Peltor Tactical Earplug
LEP – Level-Dependent Active Ear Plugs
We explain the difference between the two later in the article, but first, we will review the 3M Peltor TEP 200.
The TEP-200 is Peltor’s only offering in the electronic inner ear hearing protection category. As a result, they really compare best to other electronic outer ear hearing protection such as the Peltor Tactical Pro, which is aimed at the same target consumer.
The first thing to note is that they have an outstanding NRR of 30 with the Skull Screws ear tips. This is much higher than the NRR 26 of the Tactical Pro and higher than other brands such as the Clarus Pro, which only has an NRR of 25. This makes it an outstanding choice for boisterous environments.
3M Peltor TEP-200 Comfort
The TEP-200s rate high on comfort. Users tend to report finding them very comfortable for all-day wear. In addition, the kit comes with 4 sets of replaceable tips, and additional ones are available for purchase in several materials and sizes, so finding a comfortable fit shouldn’t be a problem with a little trial and error.
Long Battery Life & Rechargeable Feature:
The 3M Peltor TEP-200s have an interesting recharging design to extend battery life. The case holds 3 AA batteries that you can use to recharge the earplugs. Micro-USB through the case is also an option. The earplugs themselves have a long battery life that can last up to 16 hours of continuous use. In addition to this, you also have the ability to charge on the go with the case.
One issue users have reported with the TEP-200 is the quality of noise reproduction. The noise amplification does not tend to be as crisp as over-ear electronic hearing protection. Wind noise in outdoor environments, in particular, is a problem as it can drown out all other sounds you may want to be amplified.
This is a general problem with the inner ear electronic hearing protection category more than just this product. It’s difficult to fit the electronics necessary for the noise amplification into such a small package, so quality issues, compared to the larger over-ear electronic hearing protection, are not surprising.
3M Peltor TEP-100 vs. TEP-200
The Peltor TEP-200 Tactical Earplug Kit is a newer model, and there are several differences between them and the Tep-100. First, you’ll notice that TEP-200 has an NRR of 23dB, much lower than the TEP-100, which is 30dB. Second, the battery life will last you about the same time, up to 16 hours of continuous operation. You can then recharge them via Mirco USB or a 3 AA battery.
The design of both models is the same, which means that there shouldn’t be any difference in the comfort they bring. As far as the price, the 3M Peltor TEP-200 has a slightly higher price than the TEP-100.
Both improve situational awareness and helps protect your hearing from harmful noise levels; any Peltor electronic earplug helps, has a great price for what you get, and you can’t go wrong with any of the models.
3M TEP-100 Peltor Ambient Listening Earplugs. Utilizing state-of-the-art, sound-level-dependent hearing protection technology, the TEP-100 is a compact, lightweight, and rechargeable electronic earplug designed for military, tactical law enforcement, construction, manufacturing, and maintenance applications.
Ambient listening earplugs help protect your hearing and can help improve situational awareness and communications in challenging environments. Integrated with state-of-the-art level-dependent technology, the TEP-100 helps provide hearing protection in noise and situational awareness in quiet environments.
Peltor Ambient Listening Earplug Features
- Rechargeable electronic earplugs help reduce loud noise while amplifying low-level sounds
- Intuitive one-button operation turns unit on and off and selects high or normal volume setting
- Lithium-Ion battery provides up to 16 hours of continuous operation between charges
- Portable charging case powered by 3 AA alkaline batteries or USB (Micro B) port
- Choice of replaceable communications ear tips designed to fit most ear canal sizes: UltraFit™ Communication Tip (23dB), Triple C Communication Tip (27dB), and Skull Screw Communication Tip (30dB)
- Tactical earplugs and portable charging station (with cover and USB ports closed) are IP67 compliant and water-resistant
- immersion of up to 1 meter for 30 minutes)
- Innovative microphone port design helps protect eartips against water ingress.
- A portable charging station helps protect earplugs in wet and austere environments.
- Compatible with most head borne Personal Protective Equipment such as helmets, hardhats, eyewear and Faceshield
- Optional earplug cord can be attached to earplug for additional security
- GSA APPROVED PRODUCT GSA CONTRACT #GS-35F-228BA
Hearing protection falls into two major categories, inner ear and outer ear. Inner ear protection is inserted into the ear canal itself. Oftentimes this is a simple piece of foam, but as you’ll see in this Peltor Tep-100 review, it can be considerably more advanced.
Outer ear protection is better known as earmuffs. These are cups that sit over the ears, typically with a headband running between them.
Each type of hearing protection has its advantages. For example, inner ear protection offers greater protection, referred to as Noise Reduction Rating, or NRR. It is also more comfortable to wear with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as hard hats or helmets.
Outer ear protection or earmuffs are generally more comfortable for long-term wear and easier to remove and put back on if walking in and out of a hazardous noise area. However, if you wear them outside on a hot day, they may start to feel too hot on your ears. In addition to this, generally, you can’t wear earmuffs with some helmets.
My Criteria For Choosing The Right Hearing Protection:
No matter what type of hearing protection you are considering purchasing, the main consideration is always NRR. NRR is measured in decibels (dB), and the higher the number, the better the protection it provides.
The more challenging the noise environment, the higher NRR you will want to purchase. For more hazardous noise environments such as indoor shooting ranges, factories, and construction sites, you will want an NRR of near or above 30.
Outdoor activities such as hunting or mowing the lawn typically require a much lower NRR in the lower 20s. More protection isn’t necessarily better or worse; you need to make sure it’s appropriate for the environment you will be using it for.
With inner ear protection, next, I look at comfort. Inner ear protection can get uncomfortable, if not downright painful, when worn for a long period of time. The outward pressure on the inner ear canal can lead to soreness when worn for hours. After being on your feet for a long shift, the last thing you want is pain caused by your hearing protection.
Finally, with any electronic hearing protection, battery life is always a concern. The noise amplification technology is only as good as long as it has power, and short battery life can limit the practical usefulness.
Electronic vs. Non-Electronic Hearing Protection:
Within each category, there are electronic and non-electronic offerings. For example, non-electronic hearing protection blocks the sound entering the ear by creating a physical barrier.
The Best electronic ear plugs include a microphone to pick up sounds that aren’t hazardous to the user and then relay them through the physical barrier of the hearing protection. The result is that you are protected from the sounds that will harm your hearing but can still hear the ones that won’t, such as human speech.
Inner ear electronic hearing protection, such as the Peltor TEP-100 we’re reviewing today, is some of the most advanced on the market. So let’s dive in and take a closer look.
You may also want to check out the Walker Game Ear Hearing Amplifier Review.
If you’re looking for inner-ear electronic earplugs which will protect your hearing from hazardous noise levels, then the 3M Peltor TEP-100 Tactical Earplugs are one of the best earplugs to consider.
The overall level of protection, comfort and form factor make them an excellent choice. In addition, they have a high 30dB noise reduction rating, so if you are going shooting at an indoor range or out hunting, they’ll provide a high level of protection.
They have a long battery life, so that you can use them for up to 16 hours straight. In addition, these earplugs come with a portable charging case, which allows you to recharge the batteries on the go.