Author Topic: Wireless non-Headphone Hearing Protection  (Read 966 times)

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Offline Mike Goetzke

  • Posts: 544
Wireless non-Headphone Hearing Protection
« on: November 15, 2019, 11:19 AM »
I've had it, just tired of wearing my headphones with safety glasses (and sometimes dust mask) in the shop. I have the 3-M (maybe DeWalt) ear muffs with AM/FM and they work well except for bulkiness.

I recently tried a new product from IsoTunes called "FREE". The are BT earbuds without any wires (like AirPods). I found the isolation not on par with my muffs and the sound volume is limited to 85dB so couldn't hear music when running most of my tools on maximum volume.

Found out my current muffs are 25NRR and these new buds 22NRR. This makes you turn up the volume to hear music which probably is my issue - not enough sound isolation. If I run my Craftsman shop vac it's almost not noticeable with the muffs but very noticeable with the FREE.

I see IsoTunes is shortly releasing a 2.0 version of their popular "PRO". This has a short wire between the left and right ear and is rated to 27NRR. I'm contemplating purchasing these.

Anyone have direct experience with IsoTunes Pro (first version) in the wood shop or have suggestions on other products? (Ideally - I would want something like the IsoTunes FREE that had better NRR.)


Offline hdv

  • Posts: 140
Re: Wireless non-Headphone Hearing Protection
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2019, 12:54 PM »
I have the Pro version. After a short period of use I went back to muffs. I don't use them at all anymore. The main reasons were that they kept sliding out of my ears when the wire between them got stuck on the collar of my shirts, and I didn't like the feeling of sweat in my ears. I tried all 3 different sizes of the buds, but found the problem didn't go away with either of them.

Sound quality was OK, and volume was high enough to wonder what would be worse for my ears: wearing them or not.  [unsure]

My old muffs were rated at 36NRR. Now I am looking for muffs with built-in Bluetooth. DAB+ would be nice, but I can live without it. I think I saw that 3M has a model.

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 4771
Re: Wireless non-Headphone Hearing Protection
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2019, 12:58 PM »
I’ve been using 3M over the ear hearing protection with radio receiver since the 20th century. I’m on the third or fourth generation. It seems each new design is done by a completely different team because they keep getting something (a different thing each time) wrong (that was previously right) rather than finally getting all the details right.

That said I use them all the time even though the frequency dial fell off (no problem listening to WNYC FM all day). The over the eat aspect is especially welcome when working outside when the weather is cold. Keeping my ears warm prevents the need for a heavy coat most of the time.

I’ll consider the new version of the IsoTunes for the shop. Maybe not after what HDR said.

Offline grbmds

  • Posts: 1990
Re: Wireless non-Headphone Hearing Protection
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2019, 01:45 PM »
I have found nothing that blocks out as much sound as foam in-ear plugs (specifically in my case a product called Spark Plugs). They generally have a 29 or 30 NRR. I also have a pair of over-ear muffs which also block out most sound. Most other options, including Bose wireless over-ear phones don't seem to block out as much sound. Since my overall goal is to not lose anymore hearing than I already have, the goal of sound protection, for me, is to block out as much as possible in the shop.

As for music, if I am merely doing something like drawing or measuring and setup, I might listen to music but, when using machines, I feel it's important to devote my full concentration to the operation of those machines.

Offline demographic

  • Posts: 591
Re: Wireless non-Headphone Hearing Protection
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2019, 03:20 AM »
Another used of the Spark Plug earplugs here, they come in a dispenser that looks like a sweety jar and are comfortable to wear. Can't say I'm a fan of the idea of lessening one noise only replace it with another.

If I'm working somewhere quiet doing quiet work I sometimes put the radio on but having em loud just gets on my nerves.

Offline Bob D.

  • Posts: 1651
Re: Wireless non-Headphone Hearing Protection
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2019, 07:00 AM »
I use a pair or WorkTunes muffs so I can listen to the radio when mowing or using yard tools. Makes the job go much faster.

In the shop I like the 3M E-A-R Push-Ins ear plugs. They are the most comfortable for me and have a 28 dB NRR.
They have a connecting cord which I sometimes remove if it's snagging on clothing. This in no way affects their performance it just means you can't withdraw them and let them hang around your neck when not needed. I keep the small plastic bag which they are sold in in my pocket and I stick them in there during the day when not needed. At the end of a day I toss them, never used more than one work session or day.

I like it quiet in the shop when working with power tools. For me part of the feedback of how well the tool is performing or operating is 'hearing' its' response to workpiece feedrate or depth of cut. Listening to music or a football game would mask that.

Even if the operation does not require ear protection I will wear them along with eye protection most of the time in the shop. Just conditioning from 40 years work I guess. Any place you went in the plant you had to wear ear and eye protection, safety toe shoes, and a hard hat.

Hard hats not required in my shop though, no overhead work. :-)
« Last Edit: November 16, 2019, 09:09 AM by Bob D. »
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline ChuckM

  • Posts: 1762
Re: Wireless non-Headphone Hearing Protection
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2019, 08:44 AM »
I have four types of ear protection, none wireless, but they (three of them) are suitable for my cold shop (below zero to 15 C in the winter, depending on how quick the shop heater can warm up the garage) -

1) I could work and continue listening to the radio when I wear this, NRR 31:

2) When I need to wear a face shield/mask, I use this which won't get in the way, NRR 31:

3) When doing quick work or using light machines, my go-to protection is the 3M E.A.R. Express™ Pod™ - Corded NRR 25; I wash the pods (with a soft brush and soap water - and reuse them

4) For summer lawn mowing only: - over ear protector with radio. Uncomfortable or too cold for shop use.

apart from comfort, the NRR is important to me. For prolonged use and loud machines (tablesaw, router, planer etc. which are always used with dust collection/shop vac), I use either #1 or #2, which, unlike an over ear protector, could be worn for hours and hours. So for me, "one size fits all" doesn't work.

« Last Edit: November 16, 2019, 09:00 AM by ChuckM »

Offline Cypren

  • Posts: 31
Re: Wireless non-Headphone Hearing Protection
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2019, 01:27 PM »
If you get a pair of higher-end earbuds (often called IEMs — in-ear-monitors), you can get sets of Comply foam replacement tips for them. These are made out of a more robust version of the foam earplugs we’re all familiar with, plug the ear canal in the same way, and offer up to a 29 NRR, superb even by the standards of dedicated hearing protection gear.

In addition to allowing your headphones to work as professional-grade hearing protection, the noise reduction means that you don’t need to turn your music up to high volumes in normal environments to get the same effect, saving your hearing in the long term.

Comply makes tips for most earbuds in the $75 and up price range; you can check their website to see if they’re compatible with a specific model of headphones.

If you’re new to this area and have only used cheap pack-in headphones before,  the earbuds from Shure and Etymotic are longtime, well-regarded brands (the Bosch or Makita of their field), and an up-and-coming Chinese-American company called 1MORE has been putting out some extremely well-regarded earbuds lately. (The Festool equivalents are boutique companies like Noble Audio, which sell incredibly well-engineered buds that are practically a personal concert hall at prices to match.)

Offline Mike Goetzke

  • Posts: 544
Re: Wireless non-Headphone Hearing Protection
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2019, 01:45 PM »
Thanks for the replies. Here is an update to my initial impression of the IsoTunes FREE.

After reading reviews I have seen others that like me think they are not loud enough then others that are completely satisfied. Just wondering if there was a quality issue with them.

I had a chance to try Isotunes PRO. They too are supposed to have the same 85dB sound limit as the FREE but I found they were at least twice the volume. I didn’t like the wire on the PRO.

Found the Isotunes do use the Comply ear tips. They use the commercial branded isolating tips. The PRO uses a longer (sticks in the ear further) tip than the FREE. So the PRO has higher dB ambient NRR.

I ended up getting a good deal on Powerbeats Pro and purchased Comply tips for them and the noise isolating seems just as good as the IsoTunes. I will use these around the shop but for my louder machines I will just use my muffs.