Earplugs are annoying and time consuming to put in and take out.
Earmuffs are quicker, but you still take them off to have a conversation, and as soon as you do, someone starts shooting again.
The solution is electronic ear protection, and in this review, we are examining the Pro-Ears Pro 300 Electronic earmuffs.
These units arrived quickly from Webyshops.com in an easy to open package.
Inside the package, I found the headphones, a well written manual, and two pairs of Duracell 2014 batteries to power the units up.
If you are unfamiliar with 2014 batteries, you’re in good company. I’ve never seen them before either.
I’m not a big fan of having electronic stuff with unusual batteries. Batteries die, and when they die or you discover they are dead right when you go to use whatever the batteries are powering. I have AA and AAA batteries in my shop, in the house, in my camper and in the glovebox of my truck because these are the standards that the outdoor electronics world works on. Most all of my flashlights, GPS units, FRS/GMRS radios, etc. use either AA or AAA.
Here’s a picture comparing a quarter, a 2014 battery used in the PRO 300, a AAA and a AA battery. The 2014 is admittedly compact, but it’s still an oddball I don’t have on hand.
I loaded up the supplied batteries into their easy to access home under a foam flap accessible inside the cup of the earmuff.
The controls for the Pro 300 are simple, independent and intuitive. There is a volume knob on each earpiece. Turning the knob clockwise turns the muffs ‘ON’ with a tactile click, and further clockwise rotation increases the volume. Conversely, turning the knob counterclockwise decreases volume until the knob clicks ‘off.’
I chased down ‘George’, the Spreadborough homestead model/test dummy down, and had him model the Pro 300 muffs for some pictures. He was pretty easy to corner.
Adjusting the height on the headband is an easy affair, simply pulling down on the earpiece while grasping the headband drops the earpieces, while pushing back up raises them back up. They stayed firmly in position with no further adjustments needed during the duration of my testing.
Once I had them adjusted, I turned them on and wandered around familiarizing myself with them. I noted the tension on the earpieces was firm, perhaps too firm. Admittedly, I have a giant buckethead, and the tension level I had may be needed to firmly clamp the muffs to folks with a more svelte, diminutive cranium.
I perused the owner’s manual to see if there was a recommended way to relieve tension on the muffs. No solutions to the clamping tension issue were listed. A simply prying action relieved the tension temporarily, but the polymer headband soon regained its previous tension. The manual did inform me that if the headband did lose its tension over time, a replacement band was available. This tells me that the unit may very well relax over time and this issue could be cured by time or preloading the headset over a helmet or something overnight.
I noticed the sound amplification was good, and it was easy to have normal conversations with the earmuffs on. Quiet background noises, such as rain on the tin roof, the fan running on the woodstove, and crinkling paper from the packaging, was amplified also. Subconsciously, we filter these noises out in normal situations, but the process of amplification brings these noises back to the forefront of our awareness.
The independent volume controls allowed me to turn down each side independently, which was handy if I had a noisy piece of equipment on one side of me, but I needed to maintain a conversation with someone on the other side.
Since I use hearing protection for many things besides shooting, I decided to test the muffs in other conditions first. I fired up a chainsaw, then a leaf blower, and attempted to have conversations while running these pieces of equipment. I found the electronic amplification and noise cutoff to be of no use during these situations. The electronics amplified the noise to a hearing safe threshold, and then choked it. Conversation was impossible, and the noise level was greatly increased vs. the noise level with the unit ‘off.’ I think this is a valuable consideration if you are new to electronic hearing protection. This unit works well as hearing protection operating equipment when ‘OFF’, but no better than a $15 dollar pair of earmuffs.
Enough work…Let’s move to the fun stuff. It was drizzly, raining and miserable outside, but my son and I grabbed a .45 handgun and the AR-15 and headed for the shelter of the woodshed.
Inside the sheetmetal roof and walls of the woodshed, the booming report of the .45 and the sharp crack of the AR-15 through the muzzlebreak would have been deafening and caused permanent hearing loss. However, the Pro 300 units worked well, quickly clamping the deafening report, then unclamping the noise so we could clearly hear the echo of the report rolling back through the canyon.
I’ve never been a fan of using the cheapie ‘equipment operator’ earmuffs while shooting rifles, as the earcups always interfere with the rifle stock. I end up sacrificing my cheek weld, losing a good seal on the cup to my head, or switching to ear plugs.
The Pro 300 cups did contact the stock of the AR during shooting, but not enough to be annoying or compromise the seal. I was unable to talk George into shooting, and my son Eli was more than willing to model earmuffs and burn my ammo.
The Pro 300 muffs worked well during my testing, with only a couple reservations. If the clamping pressure was easily adjustable for tension, and the unit used conventional batteries, they would be perfect.
Mark Spreadborough writes from his family homestead in Kalama, Washington, where he lives with his wife, son, daughter, dog and cat. When not writing, shooting, hunting, fishing or working on his property, he goes to his day job as a HVAC repair mechanic.