10 Best Hearing Protection for 2020

best overall rating
  • Volume control knobs to suit your hearing
  • Comfortable headband
  • Folding design
premium choice rating
  • Bluetooth
  • Voice tracking and amplification
  • Dynamic suppression time to reduce echoes
great value rating
  • Foldable design
  • Cups rotate 360 degrees
  • High noise reduction rating of 28dB

The thought of losing your hearing frightens most of us, but it is especially scary for those who work in overly noisy work environments. If you work on a construction site with heavy machinery, that fear is all too real, and you need to do what you can to keep your ears safe from severe damage.

No matter how unlikely or far away hearing loss may seem to you, the consequences are never worth the risk. That is why everyone should invest in some high-quality ear muffs if they work with loud noise regularly. Unsure what to look for? Well, hopefully, a handy guide can point you towards the best hearing protection to suit your needs.

Related: Safety glasses.

View the Best Hearing Protection, Below.

best overall rating

1. Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Muff

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The first hearing protection product to look at is this pair of electronic ear muffs from Walker’s. The Razor Slim Electronic Muff is designed for shooters and hunters, in order to avoid damage caused by the loud firing sound of a gun. It is hard to know how powerful muffs need to be when dealing with short, sudden bangs. However, Walker’s master this by giving you volume control muffs for each ear, so you can customize the protection to suit your hearing perfectly.

This is a durable product, thanks to the metal frame running through the headband, so they shouldn’t get damaged if you pack them away with your hunting gear. In fact, the folding design means you can pack them easily and efficiently anyway. The metal frame is accompanied by a comfortable headband too. Although designed for hunting, the comfortable headband and customizable volume control make these ear muffs versatile, so they could be used in other areas too.

Why We Like It
  • Volume control knobs to suit your hearing
  • Comfortable headband
  • Folding design
  • Durable metal frame
  • Noise reduction rating of 22+dB
Type
Electronic muffs
Noise Reduction Rating
22 dB
Our Verdict

These are high-quality muffs designed for hunting, which allow you to change the volume allowed in each ear, so they are perfectly customized.

Editor Rating
premium choice rating

2. Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Electronic Hearing Protector

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Next up are the Sport Tactical 500 Smart ear muffs from Peltor. Again, these are electronic ear muffs designed to protect your hearing when hunting. However, as the name suggests, these offer smart technology in their design to give you the best experience possible. Although slightly more expensive than standard hearing protection, these muffs let you use Bluetooth to hear your favorite songs while not hearing external noise.

Not only this, but these headphones also use dynamic suppression time. This means that, when shooting, they can recognize the power of the shot through its volume, and then reduce the echo that follows. That way, you can stay focused and block out everything you don’t need. It also tracks the human voice and amplifies it, so you won’t miss someone talking to you. All of this comes with an adjustable headband and comfortable cushioning.

Why We Like It
  • Bluetooth
  • Voice tracking and amplification
  • Dynamic suppression time to reduce echoes
  • Adjustable, vented headband
  • Comfortable cushions
Type
Electronic Bluetooth muffs
Noise Reduction Rating
26 dB
Our Verdict

These electronic ear muffs take advantage of new technology, by tracking voices so you can hear people over noise and letting you stream music and make phone calls through Bluetooth.

Editor Rating
great value rating

3. Noise Reduction Safety Ear Muffs

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These Noise Reduction Safety Ear Muffs from TACKLIFE offer impressive noise reduction at a surprisingly affordable cost. Not only are these some of the most effective ear muffs for hearing protection, they also have one of the lowest price tags. These ear muffs don't take advantage of modern technology and electronics, instead, they use a simple and reliable design.

With a noise reduction rating of 28dB, these can perform just as well as any other pair in most situations. Whether you are using heavy machinery, hunting, or studying, these can protect your hearing and give you comfortable silence with their thick foam padding. What they lack in technological features, they make up for in convenience. This is because they have a foldable and retractable headband, as well as cups that rotate a full 360 degrees. This means they can be carried around easily, and shouldn’t break thanks to the stainless steel frame.

Why We Like It
  • Foldable design
  • Cups rotate 360 degrees
  • High noise reduction rating of 28dB
  • Retractable stainless steel headband
  • Thick foam padding
Type
Safety muffs
Noise Reduction Rating
28 dB
Our Verdict

This hearing production method offers impressively high noise reduction at 28dB, as well as a convenient, durable, and foldable design.

Editor Rating

4. ClearArmor 141001 Hearing Protection Muffs

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Another pair of ear muffs with a particularly high Noise Reduction Rating is this one from ClearArmor. It seems that ClearArmor has put noise reduction output over everything else when designing these headphones, but they have done it well and have certainly achieved their goal. These muffs claim to offer the best hearing protection possible, and at 34dB, it seems they are right.

Just by looking at these headphones, you could guess that the noise reduction level might be pretty high. This is because they use 2 layers of foam to make cups that are about ¼ inch thick. Although it may not be the most attractive design, they certainly do the job they are designed for. They also have an adjustable, padded headband that should let you find your ideal size. However, with such thick padding, they can be quite a tight fit, so they would not be comfortable after long periods of time.

Why We Like It
  • Highest Noise Reduction Rating (NNR)
  • Sturdy design
  • Foldable and compact
  • Padded headband
  • Adjustable size
Type
Safety muffs
Noise Reduction Rating
34 dB
Our Verdict

Although they may not be the most comfortable, these headphones have the highest noise reduction rating you can get, and will give you the best hearing protection possible.

Editor Rating

5. 3M WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector

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3M has produced the next hearing protection ear muffs on this list. Again, this is a pair of electronic ear muffs that have all the benefits of modern headphones while also giving impressive noise reduction. 24dB noise reduction isn't the most effective rating in this list, but the benefits make these stand out as better value for the price tag.

Firstly, these headphones have a reliable, sturdy, stainless steel frame. They are not foldable for easy storage or carrying around with you, but the durable frame shouldn’t break if packed with other items. The padded headband is comfortable and adjusts to fit the shape of your head. The main benefit of these is the Bluetooth function, which lets you listen to music and answer phone calls, all with the help of the trusty speech assistant. It also has a clear voice function, so you can hear what you need to.

Why We Like It
  • Bluetooth technology
  • Clear voice function
  • Speech assistant
  • Adjustable, padded headband
  • Stainless steel frame
Type
Electronic Bluetooth muffs
Noise Reduction Rating
24 dB
Our Verdict

The high-quality speakers used in these headphones makes them ideal for those who want music while they work, as they can stream songs and make calls via Bluetooth.

Editor Rating

6. Mpow 035 Noise Reduction Safety Ear Muffs

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The next hearing protection headphones are these safety ear muffs from Mpow. Mpow has designed these safety muffs to be lightweight and easy to carry, and they even come with a handy travel bag to store them in. Transport is helped by the foldable design, so you can easily fit them in a small handbag if necessary. The lightweight also means that these aren't too heavy when pressing on your ears, so they should stay cool over long periods of time.

An adjustable stainless steel frame means these should fit all sizes, including children. The soft and comfortable foam used in the cups should let you keep them on through long shifts without any irritation. All of this, plus the very effective 28dB noise reduction rating, makes these a good option for safety muffs.

Why We Like It
  • Foldable design
  • Adjustable size
  • Travel bag included
  • Lightweight
  • Soft and comfortable foam
Type
Safety muffs
Noise Reduction Rating
28dB
Our Verdict

These Mpow safety ear muffs are designed to be lightweight, which keeps your ears cool as well as making them easy to carry in the travel bag included.

Editor Rating

7. 3M WorkTunes Connect + AM/FM Hearing Protector

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These hearing protectors from 3M offer all the modern technological elements of good headphones, as well as effective noise reduction to keep you safe while you work. If you want to hear your favorite tunes while you work, these electronic muffs give you multiple options. As well as connecting to your phone through Bluetooth, you also have the option to hear your favorite radio stations.

Not only that, but you can navigate your way through the settings with the help of audio assist technology, so you don’t have to take them off to read the instructions. Another handy feature is the automatic shut off. After two hours of activity, they will automatically switch off so that you don’t waste the battery before your next job. The premium sound quality makes these a great choice to keep you entertained while you work, and the 24dB of noise reduction isn’t too bad either.

Why We Like It
  • Bluetooth technology
  • Premium sound quality
  • Built-in AM/FM radio
  • Audio assist technology
  • 2-hour auto shut off
Type
Electronic Bluetooth muffs
Noise Reduction Rating
24dB
Our Verdict

These electronic hearing protectors have all the technology of modern headphones, including audio assist technology and Bluetooth, as well as a built-in AM/FM radio.

Editor Rating

8. Howard Leight Electronic Earmuff

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The Howard Leight Electronic Earmuffs come in a wide range of colors, so you can choose the pair which suits you best, or whichever you find most appropriate for your hunting or shooting trip. Again, these are designed for shooting and do well to keep loud noises away from your sensitive ears. In fact, they keep all ambient sounds at a maximum of 82dB, so you can hear what you need to without risking your hearing.

Impressively, these safety muffs boast an extensive 350-hour battery life. If that isn’t enough already, they also have a 4-hour automatic shut off. This may not be very useful when the battery life is so long, but automatically deactivating after four hours is a good, belt-and-braces approach to protecting battery life. You can also use these earmuffs as headphones for music, as they have an aux input socket for connecting your phone or mp3 player.

Why We Like It
  • 350-hour battery life
  • 4-hour automatic shut off
  • Keeps ambient sounds at 82dB
  • Aux input
  • Adjustable headband
Type
Electronic muffs
Noise Reduction Rating
22dB
Our Verdict

These are headphones designed with shooting in mind and will work best when reducing the sounds of gunfire, while also having an extensive battery life for long hunting trips.

Editor Rating

9. 3M H10A Peltor Optime 105 Over the Head Earmuff

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The third pair of earmuffs from 3M on this list are the PELTOR Optime safety muffs, which use simple padding and cushioning to achieve an impressive Noise Reduction Rating of 30dB. This makes them second in noise reduction only to the headphones from ClearArmor. Fortunately, these use a lightweight headband and plenty of soft cushioning around the ears to ensure they are more comfortable than their competitors.

The high noise reduction rating means these are suitable for use in environments with up to 105dB of noise. This is achieved through double-shell technology. The ear muffs also come with a durable, stainless steel frame through the headband, which should prevent any real damage from occurring. With this, you can carry this hearing protector around in your bag without it losing its shape or breaking.

Why We Like It
  • High Noise Reduction Rating (NNR)
  • Lightweight headband
  • Effective for up exposure up to 105dB
  • Durable stainless steel frame
  • Soft cushioning
Type
Safety muffs
Noise Reduction Rating
30dB
Our Verdict

These earmuffs come from a reliable, well-known manufacturer and offer an extremely high noise reduction rating of 30dB, making them the most trustworthy safety muffs here.

Editor Rating

10. Husqvarna 531300089 Headband Hearing Protectors

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Finally, we have these headband hearing protectors from Husqvarna. Husqvarna is a reputable company that produces chainsaws and all the necessary protection to accompany them. In doing so, they have come up with these sturdy and reliable hearing protectors, with an effective noise reduction rating of 25dB. This is not the highest NRR, but it is certainly enough for most jobs, including working with chainsaws.

The headband is designed to fit most heads but has the added benefit of flexibility. While many headbands are rigid in order to make the muffs more durable, these can bend in order to provide a comfortable fit to any head shape. They also have pressure adjustment and are padded for extra comfort. They are lightweight, so you can wear them for longer periods of time, and the orange detail will make them stand out as your own.

Why We Like It
  • Lightweight
  • Padded headband
  • Pressure adjustment
  • Stand out orange color
  • Flexible
Type
Safety Muffs
Noise Reduction Rating
25dB
Our Verdict

These hearing protectors are both flexible and comfortable in a size that should fit most heads and with plenty of padding.

Editor Rating

Hearing Protection Buyer’s Guide

When it comes to finding the best hearing protection for your workplace, there are a series of things to keep in mind. Most obviously, you want to be able to reduce the amount of noise you experience to as little as possible, but you won’t want to do so at the expense of important sounds, like conversation. You will also want to be comfortable, assuming that you will need to wear them for long periods of time.

This buyer’s guide should run through what is important in terms of comfort and effectiveness, so you can decide which hearing protection method is best suited to your situation. Some people may use hearing protectors for leisure, while hunting or shooting, and some might even use them for some peace and quiet while working on a hobby. With so many purposes. It is important that you know why you need them before choosing an appropriate pair.

Some people may choose earplugs, rather than larger muffs that go over the ear. These are generally very effective, as they fill your ear to block out more sound, but they are also quite intrusive. Under the assumption that you are looking for over-ear protection, let’s look at what features change between the different muffs available.

Comfort

The most important thing to take into account is, as always, comfort. Whether you are working through a long shift or walking around while hunting, you need to be able to wear hearing protectors for long periods of time. With many of the products available, this is not possible, due to a tight or rigid headband holding the muffs together. A rigid steel headband is a good feature of earmuffs because it is durable, but it isn’t worth it if it causes discomfort. Alternatively, flexible headbands are available.

Similarly, the extra padding involved with safety muffs can be problematic rather than beneficial. While padding sounds like a comfortable, soft feature that would make your experience nicer, the amount used for powerful safety muffs can put your ears under pressure. In fact, some non-electronic options can use too much material in their manufacturing, which leads to headphones feeling tight and heavy. Electronic muffs, or those with lighter cups, could be a better option.

Noise Reduction

Noise reduction is the entire purpose of hearing protectors. They need to be able to reduce the amount of noise that you hear to a suitable level, which won’t cause your ears any harm over long periods of time. For example, if you are working in an indoor space for two hours, you need the noise produced by any power tools to be under 90dB so that you don’t experience any hearing loss or pain. Therefore, your hearing protectors need to be able to reduce noise to that level.

Fortunately, all over-ear hearing protection gives a useful Noise Reduction Rating (NRR), which can be found on the packaging or in the key specs for the product. The NRR is an indicator of how much noise can be blocked out by those specific protectors, so you can work out how efficient they will be in your work environment. Most good ear muffs will have an NNR of approximately 25dB, while the best will reach over 30dB.

Features

The wonders of modern technology mean that there is a range of other features available in hearing protectors, which can keep you entertained while you are safe. Of course, ear muffs for safety are basically the same as headphones for leisure, just without the music, so why not add that in too? If you are going to be working hard and need to focus, plenty of electronic muffs have Bluetooth included so that you can answer phone calls and play your tunes while you work.

Many electronic hearing protectors also use modern methods for reducing noise, as found in noise-canceling headphones. This can lead to a more effective end product, although all of this will generally cost a fair bit more than normal safety muffs. However, if you choose hi-tech, electronic hearing protectors, you may have the benefit of being able to use them as normal headphones too.

Expert Tip

As well as offering high tech noise reduction methods, electronic headphones can let you listen to music in high quality, so you can use them for both work and pleasure.

 Did You Know?

Even for brief periods of time, noise over 125 dB can cause lasting damage to your hearing. You should never put yourself in range of this noise without protection.