If you’ve landed here, you’re likely leaning towards purchasing a pair of electronic earplugs for shooting rather than opting for electronic earmuffs. Of course, people may claim there is no better ear protection than earmuffs and that earplugs are simply a cheap temporary fix, but we’re here to set things straight.
First, check out the top 5 earplugs quickly in the table below, or continue on to let us share the Top 10 Best Electronic Ear Plugs on the market; including on our experience, research and extensive analysis of customer feedback.
The Top 5 Electronic Ear Plugs
- 1 The Top 5 Electronic Ear Plugs
- 2 Shooting Earbud Buyer's Guide
- 3 In-Ear Electronic Hearing Protection Reviews
- 4 More Bluetooth Earplugs for Shooters
- 5 Buying Considerations for Electronic Earbuds
- 6 Types of Electronic Earplugs
- 7 Not Sure Which Hearing Protection is Best for You?
- 8 Digital Ear Plug Brands
- 9 FAQ on Electronic Ear Plugs
- 10 Conclusion
Shooting Earbud 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 recognize 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 hearing protection; if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be here reading this. Luckily, to assist you in choosing the proper earplugs for your hearing needs, you can use this earplugs buyer’s guide as a resource.
For 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 silicone, foam or wax, only acting to block noise rather than amplify it.
Passive earplugs work great for blocking out dangerous sounds; however, they have no electronic circuit, meaning that your situational awareness is quite limited while wearing passive earplugs. In addition, the use of electronic hearing protection provides additional noise reduction to prevent hearing loss.
In-Ear Electronic Hearing Protection 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. So whether you’re looking for shooting ear protection, or an industrial worker or musician, you’ll find that in our top 10 list, there’s an electronic earplug that will be right for you.
Topping our list, here’s a set of in-ear electronic hearing protection that has been specifically designed for the best shooting enthusiasts to protect 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 earplugs to adjust themselves with changing levels of ambient sounds automatically. In addition, the silicone tips offer their own noise reduction, when combined with noise-cancelling, offer a Noise Reduction Rating of 25.
When listening to a safe level sound, the hearing on the earplugs will be natural, as if you weren’t wearing them at all. However, when a loud noise is realized, the circuitry slowly adapts to protect your hearing from the dangerously loud noises around.
- 15dB of hearing protection when noise exceeds 86dB.
- Approved for an NRR of 25.
- High definition balanced armature sound drivers & microphones are highly sensitive and designed specifically for signal processing.
- Flip switch – when activated, it amplifies sound and enhances directional sense.
- Long battery life
The mission of innovation, education, and hearing conservation is perfectly displayed in these earplugs. In addition, the hearing enhanced mode amplifies 5x, which is great for those requiring high situational observance in a tactical setting. Finally, as far as comfort is concerned, the ACCO fired tips offer maximum comfort.
The zinc-air batteries are small and can be difficult to replace.
Best for use as shooting ear protection on the range, out hunting, for law enforcement personal, or useful for those working in an area with high noise levels, such as on an industrial site. When engaged, these 3M Peltor Tactical Digital Earplugs with an 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 earplugs.
The winning feature of these tactical earplugs is the superior ability to perform under harsh conditions, reducing loud noise without sacrificing the clarity of amplification. In addition, the 23dB Noise Reduction Rating prevents hearing damage and makes this device one of the best shooting protection earplugs.
In cost, they come in slightly lower at a 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 included, you’ll be guaranteed to find a size that fits you perfectly.
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. So 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) can vary between 9-15dB based on your auditory environment at 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 earplugs.
- Affordably priced for a set of high-definition earplugs.
As with the GunSport PRO, this model also uses zinc-air batteries, which can be small and difficult to replace if 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 earplugs is probably quite out of budget for most; however, if you are an avid hunter or require safe hearing protection in harsh conditions and under varied circumstances, we would highly recommend these earplugs. Designed exclusively for shooters and outdoor enthusiasts, these plugs have one of the highest hearing protection levels, around 30 dB.
Main Features of Westone DefendEar:
They also offer amplification up to 86dB, allowing heightened situational awareness when you need it most. The best feature of these plugs is that they are durable and can withstand an incredible wind force without affecting sound quality. The 30 dB NRR noise reduction, low profile, discreet design and comfortable plugs make them ideal. The power of this device comes from ion batteries.
High cost, no off switch
These Walkers silencer earplugs have integrated Omni directional microphones with full dynamic range speakers, which are definitely the most budget-friendly of the bunch. However, 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, simultaneously, loud noises are being compressed to a safe level for your ears. Powered by 4, #10 batteries, these earbuds offer a 25 dB NRR noise reduction. To ensure comfort and a perfect fit, 3 sizes of buds are included and a carrying case.
Drawback(s): Sound attenuation is not as effective as the other models we covered.
Learn more Walkers Game Ear hearing devices made specifically for hunting.
More Bluetooth Earplugs for Shooters
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
Not only great for shooting, use the Bluetooth connectivity on the go.
These Bluetooth shooting earbuds from AXIL are fast becoming a popular choice for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds.
Not only great for shooters, take them with you anywhere to listen to music and talk on your phone, all while utilizing 29 NRR noise-cancelling along with smart amplification. These are low profile and offer a long battery life, offering comfortable hearing protection for hours in addition to other useful features.
- Modern, low profile design
- Connect to your phone to listen to music and take calls
- Smart amplification and noise-cancellation
- 29 NRR Rating
- Use for shooting ear protection, yardwork, construction sites and more
Long-lasting and fast charging, the AXIL GS Digital is the right earplug for you.
Buying Considerations for Electronic Earbuds
If you’re not sure what to look for in the best pair of electronic earplugs, 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 earplugs for electronic use, let’s take a step back and review the types of electronic earplugs, 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 buyer’s guide, finding the right electronic earplugs 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 earplugs. For example, based on this information, you can pinpoint whether you need a hunting hearing aid, electronic communication earplug, electronic musician’s earplug, or hearing protection for mowing the lawn.
It’s important to remember that each type of electronic hearing device functions differently. So 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.
NRR (Noise Reduction Rating)
The Noise Reduction Rating is one of the most important pieces of information you should consider when selecting a pair of electronic earplugs. The NRR is measured in decibels (dB) and determines how much noise is reduced within a noisy environment. The higher the NRR rating, the more sound the device with shutting out. Electronic hearing plugs use compression technology to enhance the NRR through noise cancellation further.
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 earplugs. 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 earplugs, then you know that whether you like it or not, you’ll have to dig a bit deeper into your pockets than if you were to purchase a reusable pair. For the best quality for price pair 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 earplug 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 earplugs are, if they can’t stay comfortably in your ear canal, they’ll become irritating and unbearable to wear for extended periods of time. So 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 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 earplug style model.
Batteries & Battery Life
Pay attention to what type of batteries you require and how many are needed to power your device. For example, most electronic earplugs 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 earplugs to an external device. With this capability, you can connect and disconnect the Bluetooth earplugs without taking them out. Similar to this, protective earplugs with Bluetooth capability can sync directly to your device.
You’ll find that there is an auto shut-off; however, not all electronic ear protection has these same capabilities. Auto-shutoff acts to turn off your earplugs 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 manufacturer’s warranty usually lasts for 1 year; however, many brands and models offer a longer warranty, up to 5 years. Therefore, 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
- It 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 safe hearing protection, how do we differentiate between different types of electronic earplugs?
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 situational awareness.
When a shot is fired, the electric circuit cuts instantly and compresses the sound safely. After the hazardous sound level has passed, the device returns to amplifying the ambient sounds.
Nowadays, you can purchase another form of hunting hearing aid, one which doesn’t have a behind the earpiece. In these models of the best electronic earplugs for shooting, all of the earplugs’ functioning features take place inside the in-ear-designed piece. In addition, 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 earplugs and other devices is that they may have a lower sound quality when they amplify than high-end models. As a result, many people purchase a hunting hearing aid as a substitute over expensive medical earpieces.
Shooting Ear Protection
Do you frequent the shooting range? There are some great electronic earplug options for indoor and outdoor shooting. Like 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 the top for even more protection or in environments with continuous gunfire.
Read more on hearing protection for gun ranges or hunting if hunting is your primary requirement for purchasing the best electronic hearing protection earplugs. Shooting hearing protection is critical, as shooting combines high decibel sounds with a high-frequency rate.
Electronic Communication Ear Plugs
Designed with the industrial worker in mind, the electronic communications earplugs are more than simply hearing protection. These earplugs allow for various kinds of communication to take place even within a high-noise environment. The best ways to communicate using these earplugs are:
Face-to-Face – No need to remove the earplugs while speaking to a coworker.
Radio Connectivity – Combine a radio headset and 2-way radio (these earplugs must have an in-ear mic and an input jack).
Bluetooth Connectivity – This allows you to hook up wirelessly to a Bluetooth-compatible device.
These are more commonly electronic earmuffs with a microphone for commercial warehouses or factories.
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 earplugs 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 earplugs here.
Not Sure Which Hearing Protection is Best for You?
If you’re still not sure which category of hearing protection or 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 earplug protection.
Take a look below for a little help:
Hazardous Sound – Analyzing the sound within the environment in which you work determines whether you require hearing protection that focuses more on a 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 applications, you must look for different characteristics. For example, for use in the recording studio or while performing a concert, a musician requires hearing protection to hear a full range of frequencies.
Ear Protection – You need to cover your ears to protect from physical hazards and not just noise.
Digital Ear Plug Brands
A simple search in your browser for electronic earplugs results in various products being sold by many manufacturers. 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 produces 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 various 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 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 for users who require a device that 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 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 that is focused on the prevention of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) and tinnitus.
Please read our reviews of Etymotic earplugs here.
3M Peltor Hearing Protection
Peltor is the brand that 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 produces 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 in harsh environments with dangerously loud noise levels. What makes 3M Peltor one of the best brands 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 itself to the top by designing and producing some of the best quality products on the market. Originally focused more on hearing health, 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 various models from muffs and in-ear protection. In addition, they hold the notable achievement of having created the first in-ear musicians monitor hearing earpiece. Known as ”The In-Ear 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 to every change in your ambient sound environment. This means that if a gunshot goes off or a sudden loud noise, the technology adapts by sound recognition. It works by cutting out loud noises and lowering the NRR of protection 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 earmuffs that both perform the job well, no matter your range of needs. So choose the type of hearing protection that is most comfortable for you, and there’s no going wrong.
Noise reduction can be better with earmuffs as they seal around your ears; with an electronic earmuff, you also get noise-cancellation. Electronic earmuff use is quite common for shooters; these earmuffs are better than passive plugs.
What is the best electronic ear protection for shooting?
Many people ask, ‘are earplugs good enough for shooting?’ The answer is yes, but you are missing important features, and the noise reduction could be better. You will be much more comfortable with an electronic earmuff, tactical earplug, or any other of our best shooting ear protection choices. 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 Earplugs; 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 earplugs on the market today, along with a set of considerations you should look to when deciding between them. You could even choose an electronic earmuff for shooting. 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. So, if you decide to go ahead and purchase one of the electronic earplugs on our list, we’re confident that you’ll be delighted.
Etymotic Gunsport PRO – Best shooting earbuds;
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 satisfied, serving various functions and performing exceptionally well thanks to their solid construction, smart hearing technology, and focus on safest!