I love these muffs. I've had a pair of Pro Ears Gold Predator earmuffs for 18 months, and I haven't found a flaw. So let me tell you what I've found that's good: The first thing one needs from muffs is noise suppression, obviously. The Gold series have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 26. There are several factors that contribute to an NRR, one of which is frequency dependent. Pro Ears seems to have picked frequencies that are specific to shooting. The muffs have proven adequate for large bore rifles, .44 magnum revolvers and even make standing in the arc of a muzzle brake tolerable. They seal well around the ear, and are contoured to allow clearance of a rifle stock without bumping or dislodging.
Now to comfort, and back to those seals. The ear cups are a firm foam with a light leather cover. I've worn them for hours in hot or cold weather with no discomfort. They're hardly noticeable. There are
also convenient replacement parts available for maintenance.
These are active muffs, which mean they normally amplify, and shut off when noise passes into unsafe levels. The response time on these is claimed at 1.5 milliseconds. Most active muffs work by clipping the signal—they simply shut off. The Pro Ears work by signal compression and limiting—reducing amplification on a curve. It's more natural sounding, less jarring, and means no odd static sound when working around equipment at the edge of the safe level—rather than cutting in and out, they attenuate the noise.
In addition, they're equipped with a standard 3.5mm jack to allow iPod or radio use while working. The headphone sound quality is excellent, with two separate circuits, rather than a single split circuit. The batteries are easily changed, though I've not had to often. [They use the now fairly common size "N" batteries.] In addition, they shut off automatically after four hours to conserve battery life. If you're still wearing them, the knob on each muff is easily reached, and clicking them off and back on resets them. The volume level is adjustable, and the halfway setting is comparable to normal hearing. One can hear conversation, hand tools, movement, with weapon or industrial noise attenuated without obvious dips in sound.
As with many professional products, these are not inexpensive. However, with a five year warranty and readily available replacement parts, they're a better investment, in my opinion, than cheaper, shorter-lived muffs. They retail at $329.95, but are available in many outlets at good discounts. [JWR Adds: Pro Ears Gold Predator earmuffs are available through Amazon.com for around $283.]
Disclaimer (per FTC File No. P034520): SurvivalBlog accepts cash-paid advertising. To the best of my knowledge, as of the date of this posting, none of the advertisers that sell the products mentioned in this article have solicited me or paid me to write any reviews or endorsements, nor have they provided me any free or reduced-price gear in exchange for any reviews or endorsements. I am not a stock holder in any company. I was furnished a free pair of Pro Ears muffs by a third party who is sponsored by Pro Ears, as payment for other work. I have no direct interest in Pro Ears. - SurvivalBlog Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson