New Howard Leight Digital Electronic Ear Muffs

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Post by mikemyers on 2/19/2019, 4:12 pm

Maybe seven or eight years ago I wanted to replace my old earmuffs with something more appropriate.  After a lot of research, I ended up buying the Howard Leight Leightning L3 muffs, with an NRR rating of 30.  Several years later, I became interested in "electronic ear muffs", which included an audio jack, allowing the user to listen to music or whatever while shooting.  I didn't understand the technology, but got another set of Howard Leight Impact Pro earmuffs.  They seemed similar to the L3, and included an audio jack.  They were bulkier, and heavier, but for practice I thought they were similar.  

My L3 muffs are showing signs of wear, and I wanted to know how both of the muffs I now have compare in terms of specs, so I called Honeywell Tech Support, and had a fascinating discussion with Lucas Gallardo.  He answered the questions I wanted answers to, along with questions I hadn't yet thought to ask.  When I asked if there was anything new, he told me about that as well.  There are now three styles of shooting earmuffs, those like my L3 which are designed to acoustically reduce the noise level of gunshots to a safe level, Electronic (analog) earmuffs, like my Impact Pro muffs, and a newly released series of Electronic (digital) earmuffs.  The analog electronic muffs and the newer digital electronic muffs both use electronic circuitry to reduce the sound.  Since analog is slower than digital, the newer digital muffs react more quickly to control the sound that reaches your ears.

The Impact Pro analog circuitry doesn't function unless they are turned ON.  I thought the on/off and volume control was for music being played using the audio jack.  When turned off, the sound is essentially the same as when I use the non-electronic L3 earmuffs.   Once turned on, the volume from gunshots is reduced both by the acoustic design of the earmuff, and by the electronics.  The volume control allows the earmuffs to pick up normal speech, such as the range master giving instructions, or a friend saying something.  Audio volume can be adjusted up/down.  From what Lucas told me, the new Digital earmuffs do the same thing, but react faster.  I'm just starting to read the specifications on the new technology.

I asked Lucas at Howard Leight if I could post his contact information here - for more information, catalogs, etc., call 800-873-5242, select the last option (press 6), and ask for Lucas in Tech Support.
I took notes as we were talking, but there's a nice improvement in the technology built into the new digital earmuffs.

New Howard Leight Digital Electronic Ear Muffs F6513a0e-beeb-4a57-8c3f-ea73c1d2000e
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Post by Multiracer on 2/19/2019, 5:00 pm

I looked hard and long and finally found a company that makes true "gel" ear pads for the Impact Pro. So far that is the only complaint I had, the foam started breaking down and would no longer seal. I don't remember the name though..... Also, the batteries with weekly use last about 18 months. Change them regularly or you will not be happy.
Good read Mike, thanks for the info.
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Post by PhotoEscape on 2/19/2019, 8:29 pm

Based on research done by my Son-in-Law, I suggest checking out muffs by Pro Ears Pro 300 - https://proears.com/product/pro-ears-pro-300-series/  These muffs use compression technology versus clipping.  Pro Ears manufactures its products in USA.  I tested these versus my Howard Leight Impact - Pro Ear Pro 300 is on my list for purchase.  Regardless of muffs I use Sport Plugz XP3 ear plugs under muffs.
AP
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Post by mikemyers on 2/20/2019, 6:55 am

The NRR rating for the Pro Ears 300 is 26, compared to 30 for the Impact Pro.
Those ear plugs, have a NRR of 19, 24, or 25; the Leight Shooter's Earplugs have a NRR of 30.
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Post by 10sandxs on 2/20/2019, 7:20 am

I recieved a pair of pro ears 300 for christmas a few years ago. The ear cushions desintegrated in about a year, the company was happy to SELL me a new pair for 29.99. The batteries go quick so have TWO sets of spares as each cup needs 2. Batteries are a different type, not AA or AAA. Cab be found, but you must look. I shoot indoors a lot and always double plug. DeciBulls are used, and the pro ears dont make a huge difference, noticable, but not huge.

I would not purchase them again, especially for the cost.

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Post by BE Mike on 2/20/2019, 8:50 am

This video covers the gel filled ear cup seals. Looks like they are great, but pricey. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIwDvc9idrQ
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Post by 1joel1 on 2/20/2019, 9:40 am

I've been using the Peltor in-ear electronic ones. They work quite well for pistol and especially for rifle. If there is someone shooting a loud gun or if I am not shooting .22, I can easily fit a passive ear muff over them for ultra protection.

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Post by Aprilian on 2/20/2019, 11:48 am

mikemyers wrote:  There are now three styles of shooting earmuffs, those like my L3 which are designed to acoustically reduce the noise level of gunshots to a safe level, Electronic (analog) earmuffs, like my Impact Pro muffs, and a newly released series of Electronic (digital) earmuffs.  The analog electronic muffs and the newer digital electronic muffs both use electronic circuitry to reduce the sound.  Since analog is slower than digital, the newer digital muffs react more quickly to control the sound that reaches your ears.
As an engineer, I struggle with the concept that any circuit board can instantly reduce the amount of sound pressure transmitted from the inside of the ear cup to the inside of your ear.  Nor can an electronic circuit change the sound insulation properties of that ear cup.

What they are doing is using noise cancelling to change the "perceived" volume. They are also filtering the voice frequencies so that you can amplify those without the gunshots and reverberation being amplified.

Little known fact, you can damage your ears by having your mouth open when around loud sounds.   Try opening your mouth when wearing muffs, it changes the volume you hear.

Personally, I double up and am considering only using the electronic muffs for matches as the non-electronic have better NRR.
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Post by zanemoseley on 2/20/2019, 12:21 pm

I double up with ear plugs that are 32 NRR and 3M Peltor X-series earmuffs that are 31 NRR. I have no problems hearing range commands, gunshots are still plenty audible lol. Just trying to make sure I can still hear when I'm an old fart. If I'm practicing I still double up and if I'm talking to a buddy at the range usually just take off my muffs and leave in the plugs. I do just wear plugs with .22.

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Post by mikemyers on 2/20/2019, 12:41 pm

Aprilian wrote:As an engineer, I struggle with the concept that any circuit board can instantly reduce the amount of sound pressure transmitted from the inside of the ear cup to the inside of your ear.  Nor can an electronic circuit change the sound insulation properties of that ear cup..............What they are doing is using noise cancelling to change the "perceived" volume. They are also filtering the voice frequencies so that you can amplify those without the gunshots and reverberation being amplified......
I don't know what other earmuffs may do, but Lucas also talked about the noise canceling electronics, to tell me that this is not what the Impact Pro series does.  If you give him a call at the number I posted, I'm sure that he would be more than happy to discuss it.  I sent him a link to this discussion.  

I don't think anything with electronics can happen "instantly".  What Lucas told me was that the digital circuitry was much faster than analog circuitry.  

If I get to the range tomorrow, I'll try out the volume control, and see what difference, if any, it makes for gunshots.  I know if I put them on in my room, and tap my desk, I can hear the tapping almost as if I wasn't even wearing earmuffs.   There is a match this coming Sunday - will be a much better test.
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Post by mikemyers on 2/20/2019, 12:44 pm

zanemoseley wrote:I double up with ear plugs that are 32 NRR......
Which plugs are those?  Can you please post a link?  An NRR of 32 is better than the NRR 30 from the foam plugs from Howard Leight.
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Post by zanemoseley on 2/20/2019, 12:53 pm

Howard Leight laser lite.

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Post by LenV on 2/20/2019, 1:10 pm

Old school. Batteries never die.

New Howard Leight Digital Electronic Ear Muffs Dscf0617
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Post by PhotoEscape on 2/20/2019, 2:56 pm

Ahh.... I was about to write about.  Len beat me to the punch. 
NRR parameter is quite misleading.  When you see NRR28 and more, look for a fine print stating that this reduction achieved when combination of muffs and plugs is used.  For that matter muffs that are used by military and police, the ones by MSA Sordin (~$300 for Supreme Pro X), rated at NRR18/19, yet these are electronic muffs with fastest response time.  Aprilian is absolutely correct being skeptical about claims of "instant response".   And there are passive muffs, like Len's that give NRR26+ without plug.

As for Pro Ears Pro 300 - with my Tinnitus I'll take any "noticeable difference" at any given time.  I also appreciate the fact that I can get replacement cups and other parts at fraction of the cost versus buying completely new pair of Impact Pro when headband on my Caldwell E-Max deteriorated after couple years.

Everything I stated above is strictly just my opinion.  No intention to argue or change your mind.  Please do your homework.

Len,
I like the label on your picture!!

AP
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Post by mikemyers on 2/20/2019, 3:10 pm

zanemoseley wrote:Howard Leight laser lite.
I could't find them at Midway, but Amazon has them:
https://www.amazon.com/Howard-Leight-Honeywell-Visibility-Disposable/dp/B0007XJOLG

Any better suggestions, before I place the order?
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Post by Magnusbullets on 2/20/2019, 3:23 pm

Academy sports stocks some, we use them at matchmasters, Riley and my self.

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Post by PhotoEscape on 2/20/2019, 3:28 pm

https://www.earplugstore.com/boxes-of-disposable-foam-earplugs.html
AP
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Post by BE Mike on 2/21/2019, 8:35 am

LenV wrote:Old school. Batteries never die.

New Howard Leight Digital Electronic Ear Muffs Dscf0617
This photo brings back a lot of memories. I bought my first pair of Dave Clarks from Gil Hebard way back when.
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Post by mikemyers on 2/21/2019, 11:00 am

Len, I had a pair of those for ages!  I thought they worked great.  Eventually the "foam" stopped being foamy, and I figure it was time to buy new.  

Is that a Model 41 behind them, with a 9000sc on top?  Custom grips?

Also, I love your sticker: "I CAN'T GO TO WORK TODAY.  THE VOICES SAID "STAY HOME AND CLEAN THE GUNS".
Cute!!!!!
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Post by LenV on 2/21/2019, 12:01 pm

Mike, that case was set up all old school. Model 41 A series, Model 52 no dash and a Gold Cup all wearing Ultradots. Dots because the shooter got old. You can still buy new pads for these muffs. The bigger set are over NRR30.

Bigger Clarks
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Post by Jon Math on 2/22/2019, 7:36 am

I was watching one of the world’s best the other night on You Tube.  She was shooting an air pistol.  She finished and took off her muffs and a set of silicone molded ear plugs. I’m assuming she is wearing that combination to reduce crowd noise distractions.   

I’m pretty happy with a set of industrial muffs.  I put them on and I’m more or less in my own little world listening to my heart beat and not much else.  I did have some guy shooting a heavy caliber short barreled revolver at the station next to me a while back.  That was so intense, that I felt it’s back blast in my chest and my muffs were just about vibrating off my head.  I left the range while he blasted away.  I knew he would not last long, and he didn’t.  How he stood it with just foam ear plugs is another story.

You do need to be careful your eyeglass’ arms are not holding the ear seals away from your face too, no matter what brand or style you are using;  that can be a rude surprise.
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Post by zanemoseley on 2/22/2019, 8:30 am

Its worse standing next to someone shooting than actually being the one shooting.

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Post by Jon Math on 2/22/2019, 8:36 am

zanemoseley wrote:Its worse standing next to someone shooting than actually being the one shooting.

That’s pretty often the case.  Revolvers are usually bad and some of these new precision rifles with very heavy calibers and big muzzle breaks certainly are punishing to by standers.
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Post by spyer40 on 2/23/2019, 9:13 am

I had those Howard Leight's but changed to Peltor 500's with gel pads.  They both work but I think the Peltor's seem a little quieter.  The big reason was the Howard's were too big for shooting rifle/shotgun.  Another bonus for the 500's is I like to listen to music when I shoot and they are bluetooth so no wire to my phone.  They actually sound quite good for music.  I can get into my own little world and focus better.

Gel pads are expensive but a buddy said they seal around the eye pro better to keep sound out and are more comfortable.  I must say I agree on both points.

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Post by CR10X on 2/23/2019, 1:37 pm

If you want to go all out, get good foam plugs and a nice tight fitting motorcycle helmet with some extra foam inside.  Lot of guys used them for the Long Range event at the Masters. It works and really cuts down the percussion effect when shooting big / loud pistols.  I think Doug has a short clip showing one in a Masters video somewhere.  
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