I tend to find myself reviewing active hearing protection and any kind of new hearing gear I find. Then it dawned on me, I was so interested in it because I’m, well … getting older. And all those .357 Magnums fired without hearing protection when I was 15 (in unison now: “Idiot!”) are catching up with me. So while I guard my hearing zealously now, and have for several decades, I’m finding the “amplification” features of the new generations of hearing protection technology to be very appealing. Frankly, they work, and not only do you hear more clearly in the field when hunting, stalking, trying to locate that baying hound, etc., but it sure makes range-work easier too. No more lifting your muff to hear a command just as the guy next to you let’s one go. We’ve all been there.
The Ultra Ear line from Walker’s (long known for innovation in electronic hearing protection), is both affordable and delivers fine performance for the money. The Ultra Ear BTE goes behind your ear, with a tube leading into your ear canal. It has a volume control, and you can adjust the sound quality too. It has a sound limiting circuit to muffle shots. Most people would use one of these in the field to better hear game walking in the woods, or to isolate sounds. Two would give you stereo sound and offer mild hearing protection. They are around $39.95, so a pair wouldn’t hurt too bad.
The Ultra Ear ITC looks more like in-ear hearing aids, although they are not actual medical hearing aids. Their in-the-ear location makes them a bit less cumbersome, and they also offer similar features as the BTE, amplifying sound and offering mild compression to cut in-coming gunshot sounds. While I couldn’t track down what “mild” means in their literature, I found wearing mine with standard muffs allowed me to still hear, but between the two, cut gunshot sound fine. On their own, they would work I would think for a “now and again” shot (like hunting), but I wouldn’t use them solely on the range. About $75 for both.
They are both inexpensive ways to experiment with sound amplification in the field, and if you like it, you can invest in higher performing models if you need them. Don’t tell, but I keep my set of ITC in-ear models handy by the TV set. Just testing them, mind you. For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/Walker’s or (877) 269-8490
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