If you’ve landed here, you’re likely leaning towards purchasing a pair of electronic ear plugs rather than opting for electronic muffs. Although some people may claim there is no better ear protection than earmuff type models and that ear plugs are simply a cheap temporary fix, we’re here to set things straight.
Let us share with you the Top 10 Best Electronic Ear Plugs on the market, based on our research along with extensive analysis of customer feedback.
Electronic Ear Plugs Buyer's Guide
If you spend a lot of time in environments with loud noises such as shooting, you’ve probably already noticed the negative effects beginning to take hold on your hearing. Maybe you’re recognizing that you don’t hear as well as you once did, or possibly you’ve developed tinnitus (a ringing in the ears).
Whether you have or haven’t already experienced signs of hearing loss, you know the importance of protecting your ears, if you didn’t you wouldn’t be here reading this. Luckily, to assist you in choosing the proper ear plugs for your hearing needs, you can use this earplugs buyer’s guide as a resource.
For the purpose of this guide we will be speaking solely about active or otherwise known as electronic earplugs. The temporary cheap fix earplug we mentioned, that we wouldn’t advise buying for reliable hearing protection, are passive disposable earplugs; commonly made of silicon, foam or wax, only acting to block out noise rather than amplify it.
Passive ear plugs work great for blocking out dangerous sounds; however, have no electronic circuit meaning that while wearing passive ear plugs your situational awareness is quite limited.
- 1 Electronic Ear Plugs Buyer's Guide
- 2 Best Electronic Ear Plugs - The Top 5
- 3 Electronic Earplug Reviews
- 3.1 1. Etymotic Gunsport PRO - The Best Electronic Earplugs For Shooting
- 3.2 2. 3M Peltor 93824 Tactical Earplug - TEP-200 - Runner Up Best Shooting Earbuds
- 3.3 3. Etymotic MusicPRO™ MP 9-15 Musicians Earplug
- 3.4 4. Westone DefendEar Digital Shooting Ear Plugs - 78346
- 3.5 5. Walker's Silencer Noise-Cancelling Electronic Ear Buds
- 4 The Rest of the Best Electronic Earplugs
- 5 Buying Considerations for Electronic Ear Plugs
- 6 Types of Electronic Earplugs
- 7 Not Sure What Ear Plug is Best for You?
- 8 Digital Ear Plug Brands
- 9 FAQ on Electronic Ear Plugs
- 9.1 What are custom fit ear molds?
- 9.2 Why would I buy a hearing protective device that has smart protection like the devices in our top 10 list?
- 9.3 Which is better earplugs of earmuffs?
- 9.4 What is the best electronic ear protection for shooting?
- 9.5 What are the best earplugs for concerts?
- 9.6 What should I know about electronic ear protection maintenance?
- 10 Conclusion
Best Electronic Ear Plugs - The Top 5
Electronic Earplug Reviews
Not all electronic plugs come with identical features, benefits, or cover the same level of protection in every environment which is why we’ve decided to include a variety of options in our list. No matter if you’re a shooting enthusiast, industrial worker or musician, you’ll find that in our top 10 list there’s an electronic ear plug that’s will be right for you.
Topping our list, here’s a set of in ear electronic hearing protection that have been specifically designed for the shooting enthusiast for protection against continuous loud noise. With a price tag near $300 you may start to shy away; however, we reassure you, the Gunsport Pro plugs are worth every penny. The advanced circuitry on these bad boys allows the ear plugs to automatically adjust themselves with changing levels of sound.
When listening to a safe level sound, the hearing on the earplugs will be natural, as if you weren’t wearing them at all. When a loud noise is realized, the circuitry slowly adapts in order to protect your hearing from the dangerously loud noises around.
- 15dB of hearing protection when noise exceeds 86dB.
- Approved for a NRR of 25.
- High definition balanced armature sound drivers & microphones which are highly sensitive and designed specifically for signal processing.
- Flip switch – when activated, it amplifies sound and enhances directional sense.
The mission of innovation, education, and hearing conservation is perfectly displayed in these ear plugs. The hearing enhanced mode amplifies 5x which is great for those requiring high situational observance in a tactical setting. As far as comfort is concerned, the ACCO fired tips offer maximum comfort.
Drawback(s): The zinc air batteries are small and can be difficult to replace.
Best for use on the range, out hunting, for law enforcement personal, or anyone working in an area with high levels of noise such as on an industrial site. When engaged, these 3M Peltor Tactical Digital Earplugs with a NRR of 23dB, are designed to deal with high impact noises by reducing their volume to a safe level and amplifying ambient environmental sounds for the best situational awareness. These are runner-up for the best electronic ear plugs.
Winning Feature: The superior ability to perform under harsh conditions, reducing loud noise without sacrificing the clarity of amplification is the winning feature of these tactical ear plugs.
In cost, they come in slightly lower in price than our number 1 pick, making them a more affordable option for your ear protection while still offering several great features. Powered by either a portable charging station via USB or 3AA Alkaline batteries. Thanks to the various plugs and sizes that are included, you’ll be guaranteed to find a size that fits you perfectly.
Drawback(s): Strong winds have been noted as affecting the sound quality. Many people who review this product comment that a slight delay in the sound transmission could be at fault for making it hard to measure perception and auditory depth.
Going back up in price, the MusicPRO by Etymotic is as the name states, designed and built for the musician or simply the music lover. Whether you’re in a crowd, on stage, or jamming with friends, a set of these plugs will offer natural listening quality with incredible clear sound.
MusicPRO Main Features:
- Automatic adjustment hearing protection (called adaptive noise reduction), which can vary between 9-15dB based on your auditory environment in every moment.
- Full fidelity for input up to a level of 120dB (protects well against percussion sounds).
- Two mode functions (natural hearing and enhanced sound) allow you to switch between either without taking off the ear plugs.
- Affordably priced for a set of high definition ear plugs.
Drawback(s): As with the GunSport PRO, this model also uses zinc air batteries which can be small and difficult to replace in you have larger hands. Other than this, some people comment that the bass comes off slightly muted with these earplugs.
The price point on a pair of the DefendEar Digital Shooter ear plugs is probably quite out of budget for most; however, if you are an avid hunter, or require safety hearing protection in harsh conditions and under varied circumstance, we would highly recommend these ear plugs. Designed exclusively for the shooter and outdoor enthusiast, these plugs have one of the highest hearing protection levels around, 30 dB.
They also offer amplification up to 86dB allowing you to have heightened situational awareness when you need it most. The best feature on these plugs is they are durable and can withstand an incredible force of wind without affecting sound quality very much. The low profile, discreet design and comfortable plugs make them ideal. The power of this device comes from ion batteries.
Drawback(s): High cost, no off switch
Definitely the most budget friendly of the bunch, these Walkers silencer ear plugs have integrated Omni directional microphones with full dynamic range speakers. The winning feature of this Walker hearing protection device is its advanced technology.
The combinations of Digital Sound Processing and Sound Activated Compression work together. These two features ensure that all of the amplified sounds you hear are crisp and clear while, at the same time, loud noises are being compressed to a safe level for your ears. Powered by 4, #10 batteries, these earbuds offer a 25 dB NRR. To ensure comfort and a perfect fit, 3 sizes of buds are included as well as a carrying case.
Drawback(s): Sound attenuation is not as effective as the other models we covered.
The Rest of the Best Electronic Earplugs
Not quite making the top 5, these next 5 electronic plugs will do the job just fine. Check out which type of situation for which each hearing protection is best suited.
Hush Smart Ear Plugs by Hush – Buy from Amazon – Sound Blocking Sleep Assistant
SportEar Ghost Stryke Ear Plugs – Buy from Amazon – Enhancement & Protection
Sensear Smart Plug SMPLUG63 – Buy from Amazon – Radio Compliment
Sound Gear by Starkey Hearing – Buy from Amazon – Hunters & Industrial Workers
E.A.R. ShotHunt™ Hunter’s Earplugs – Buy from Amazon – Sport Shooting Enthusiasts
Buying Considerations for Electronic Ear Plugs
If you’re not sure what to look for in the best pair of electronic ear plugs have no fear, our guide will provide you with a detailed list of all the most important must have and desirable characteristics you’ll want to make sure you keep your eyes on.
Now that you have an idea of the best ear plugs for electronic use, let’s take a step back and review the types of electronic ear plugs, go through some of the main brands, and provide a FAQ to answer your most burning questions.
As previously mentioned at the beginning of our buyers guide, finding the right electronic ear plugs for you starts with figuring out what type you require. You can answer these questions by analyzing the hazardous sounds in your environment which you’ll need protection against.
Also, it’s important to identify whether you require task specific ear plugs. Based on this information, you can then pinpoint whether you will need a hunting hearing aid, electronic communication earplug, or electronic musician’s ear plug.
It’s important to remember that each type of electronic hearing device functions differently. To choose the best earplug, you must focus on the specific characteristics of each that are important for the task and environment in which you’ll be wearing them.
The Noise Reduction Rating is one of the most important pieces of information you should take into consideration when selecting a pair of electronic ear plugs. The NRR is measured in decibels (dB) and determines how much noise is being reduced within a noisy environment. The higher the NRR rating, the more sound the device with shut out. Electronic hearing plugs use compression technology to further enhance the NRR through noise cancellation.
Read more about the highest NRR earplugs – click here for more.
Clarity and Amplification
The best electronic earplugs for construction and other uses are those with a mode that allows you to hear ambient noises clearly as if you weren’t even wearing ear plugs. Whether you are seeking noise-cancellation or amplification, how clear the sound is at various decibels, is important.
This capability of the electric circuit reduces ambient noise to a level that isn’t harmful to your ears. Normally noise cancelling earplugs function by cutting or compressing sounds above 85 dB to a safe level. As mentioned previously, this allows your plugs to achieve a much higher NRR than regular earplugs.
Cost & Quality
If you’re investing in a pair of electronic hearing ear plugs then you know that whether you like it or not, you’ll have to dig a bit deeper into your pockets then if you were to purchase a reusable pair. For the best quality for price pair that is safety approved, you will be looking to spend anywhere from $150 upwards of $350. To set your budget, it’s best to think about your risk level when selecting the best earplugs. Expect the costs to increase if you also plan to buy accessories.
The more high impact noise in your environment, the more protection you will require, meaning that the quality of the materials in the electric ear plug must be substantially greater to provide full protection. Just like anything, you get what you pay for with electronic protection for your ears.
No matter how great your new pair of ear plugs are, if they can’t stay comfortably in your ear canal they’ll become irritating and unbearable to wear for extended periods of time. Make sure you are instructed on how to properly use your electronic hearing protection so that you’re aware of the correct way to insert your plugs for maximum comfort.
As one final note on comfort, not one size fits all when it comes to hearing in-ear plugs. Some individuals may require custom fitting while others will need to decide on another model; all of this will depend on the size of your ear canal or whether you have existing medical problems within the inner ear which inhibit you from wearing an ear plug style model.
Batteries & Battery Life
Pay attention to what type of batteries you require and how many are needed to power your device. Most electronic ear plugs use 2 standard AAA batteries. Another important consideration is how long one set of batteries will last, so you can bring extra with you if needed.
Audio Jack or Bluetooth Connectivity
Although not entirely necessary, this design feature allows you to connect your electronic ear plugs to an external device. With this capability, you can connect and disconnect the bluetooth earplugs without taking them out. Similar to this, protective ear plugs with Bluetooth capability can sync directly to your device.
You’ll find that on most electronic earmuffs there is auto shut off; however, not all electronic ear protection have this same capabilities. An auto shutoff acts to turn off your ear plugs after a specific duration of inactivity, anywhere from on average 2 to 4 hours.
Most companies provide coverage against defects arising due to faulty workmanship or defective materials. The standard manufacturers warranty usually lasts for 1 year; however, many brands and models do offer a longer warranty, up to 5 years. It’s always best to check the manual or warranty card for specific coverage details for your electronic ear protection.
Types of Electronic Earplugs
Thanks to advancements in technology the price of in ear electronic hearing protection has substantially gone down, and is more affordable for the average earning individual. Along with a reduced price, buyers often favor this form of ear protection for the following main reasons:
- Small and lightweight design
- Does not inhibit the user from wearing a hat or shooting glasses
- Fitted properly to feel as if you’re not even wearing them
Now that you know why active earplugs are a popular piece of safety hearing protection, how do we differentiate between different types of electronic ear plugs?
Hunting Hearing Amplifiers
Typically small devices that fit behind the ear and have a tube that connects to a hearing tip, fitting comfortably inside the opening of the ear canal. These devices amplify ambient sound for more situation awareness.
When a shot is fired, the electric circuit cuts instantly and compresses the sound to a safe level. After the hazardous sound level has passed, the device returns back to amplifying the ambient sounds.
Now-a-days, you can purchase another form of the hunting hearing aid, one which doesn’t have a behind the ear piece. In these models of the best electronic earplugs for shooting, all of the functioning features of the ear plug take place inside of the in-ear designed piece. The NRR level on hunting ear protection is normally lower to allow for more situational sense.
Hunting hearing aids typically provide a similar level of hearing protection at a lower price. The difference between these ear plugs versus other devices is that they may have a lower quality of sound when they amplify than the high end models. Many people end up purchasing a hunting hearing aid as a substitute over expensive medical ear pieces.
Electronic Earplugs for Shooting
Do you frequent the shooting range? There are some great electronic earplug options for indoor and outdoor shooting. Similar to hunting hearing amplifiers, but more focused on compressing loud noises and letting low dB noises reach your hearing.
You can combine these with an additional pair of passive muffs over top for even more protection, or in environments with continuous gun fire.
Read more on hearing protection for shooting, if hunting is your primary requirement for purchasing the best electronic hearing protection ear plugs.
Electronic Communication Ear Plugs
Designed with the industry worker in mind, the electronic communications ear plugs are more than simply hearing protection. These ear plugs allow for various kinds of communication to take place even within a high-noise environment. The best ways to communicate using these ear plugs are:
Face-to-Face – No need to remove the earplugs while speaking to a coworker.
Radio Connectivity – Combination of a radio headset and 2-way radio (these earplugs must have an in-ear mic and an input jack).
Bluetooth Connectivity – Allows you to hook up wirelessly to a Bluetooth compatible device.
Electronic Musicians Ear Plugs
Great for allowing natural sound hearing while amplifying and increasing the ability to listen to the auditory environment in the same moment. These ear plugs protect your ears from sudden loud sounds and allow for crisp hearing and communications without the need to keep removing and re-inserting them. You can learn more about the best musician’s ear plugs here.
Not Sure What Ear Plug is Best for You?
If you’re still not sure which category of earplug you require, it’s best to ask yourself some questions regarding the environment you will be wearing them in.
Figure out which hazardous sounds you need to protect your hearing from and isolate the specific task in which you require your electronic ear plug protection.
Take a look below for a little help:
Hazardous Sound – Analyzing the sound within the environment which you work determines whether you require hearing protection that focuses more on range of frequencies, pitch, or intensity of noise.
Task Specific – Whether you require your electronic ear protection for the construction site, the tarmac of an airport, in the recording studio, for firearms practice or other task specific application, you must look for different characteristics. For example, for use in the recording studio or while performing a concert, a musician requires hearing protection which allows them to hear a full range of frequencies.
Digital Ear Plug Brands
A simple search in your browser for electronic earplugs results in various products that are being sold by many manufactures. All of this may leave you wondering how exactly to choose the best brand. No matter how great a product may seem, the important thing is to make sure the brand is reputable and is producing a safety compliant product.
A few things to look for in the brand are:
- They are properly certified or not,
- Their products are covered by warranty
- They are a part of the registered Safety Supplier (RSS) Scheme
- They list out the restrictions and warnings for use and wear
Lucky for you, we’ve weeded through a variety of brands and have chosen 3 of the best ones to highlight.
Etymotic (pronounced “et-im-oh-tik.”) and meaning ”True to the Ear” describes the company’s mission to create products that correctly assess hearing and improve on the lives of the people using their hearing protection. Their products are best for anyone who has already experienced hearing loss, for those who want to protect their hearing, and users who require a device which will enhance their listening experience. This engineering-driven, development and manufacturing business has deep roots within the hearing aid industry, and is backed by extensive acoustic research.
From their start in 1983, followed by the invention of insert earphones in 1984 they have continued to grow. To date, 100 patents have been developed. Innovation is what continues to grow them; it doesn’t look like they plan to stop anytime soon. Along with their research and development, Etymotic Research is an ongoing sponsor of a project called Dangerous Decibels, a public health campaign which is focused on the prevention of Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) and tinnitus. Take a look to find out more at Dangerous Decibels.
Read our reviews of Etymotic earplugs here.
3M Peltor Hearing Protection
Peltor is the brand which falls under a larger corporation called 3M, founded in 1902. Since the beginning, they have been manufacturing military grade safety equipment you can depend on. Specializing in personal safety equipment, 3M with Peltor, produce products that keep the needs of the outdoorsman and shooter in the forefront. They promise superior quality when communicating, and offer a balanced degree of comfort and protection. Their continued mission of helping protect people at work, at home and for life is mentioned across various positive reviews around 3M Peltor products.
3M is a global leading manufacturer of protective communication headsets for use in harsh environments with dangerously loud noise levels. What makes 3M Peltor one of the best brands out there today is their focus on function and design with every product they put on the market. With the latest advancements and backed by customer inspired innovation, the company continues to offer some of the best protective hearing products today.
A made in the USA company, Westone has been in the business of manufacturing custom earpieces for hearing protection since 1959. Created by Ron Morgan in Colorado, his company quickly elevated themselves to the top by designing and producing some of the best quality products on the market. Originally focused more on hearing heath, the company now covers in-ear monitors for professional use, protective hearing gear for the military and products for hearing around the home.
Over the years, Westone has branched out to create a variety of models from muffs and in-ear protection. They hold the notable achievement of having created the first in-ear musicians monitor hearing ear piece. Known as ”The InEar Expert” they have now become masters in audio tech.
FAQ on Electronic Ear Plugs
What are custom fit ear molds?
Take a look at this video by Etymotic to see exactly what a custom fit ear mould is and the process to create one.
Why would I buy a hearing protective device that has smart protection like the devices in our top 10 list?
Smart protection responds with every change in your ambient sound environment. This means that if a gun shot goes off, or there is a sudden loud noise, the technology adapts by way of sound recognition. It works by cutting out loud noises and by lowering the NRR of protection in order to respond to noises from the background that are creeping into a hazardous zone.
Which is better earplugs of earmuffs?
The answer to this question depends on you really. There are many high quality models of plugs or muffs that both perform the job well, no matter your range of needs. Choose the type of hearing protection that is most comfortable for you and there’s no going wrong.
What is the best electronic ear protection for shooting?
Many people ask, ‘are earplugs good enough for shooting?’ and the answer is yes, as long as you make sure to buy the best protection for shooting. After comparing many brands and models, we concluded, the best protection for the gun range or field, is the Gunsport PRO.
What are the best earplugs for concerts?
When shopping around for concert earplugs, the best ones to choose from are V-MODA, ISOLATE, DUBS, or any of the Eargasm range of products.
What should I know about electronic ear protection maintenance?
This video features the Etymotic Music Pro Ear plugs; however, much of the information on general maintenance applies to all in-ear electronic ear protection.
Well, there you have it, all of the best electronic ear plugs on the market today along with a set of considerations you should look to when deciding between them. The use of electronic hearing devices effectively protects your ears in every moment and under all circumstances, making them a superior choice for not only your hearing protection, but for improving your situational awareness. If you decide to go ahead and purchase one of the electronic ear plugs in our list, we’re confident that you’ll be extremely satisfied.
Etymotic Gunsport PRO – For the hunter and shooter;
Etymotic MusicPRO™ – Best for the musician;
Walker’s Silencer Ear Buds – Best for the industrial worker.
The rest of the bunch will also leave you more the satisfied; serving various functions and performing exceptionally well thanks to their solid construction, smart hearing technology, and focus on safest!