Brown made a visit today! Well, next week I start doing shooting competitions with a local club. I decided it was time to upgrade my passive ear muffs to the electronic version so I could hear the range officer commands clearly. I chose the Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs as they had 4oo+ 5-star reviews on Amazon and had read very good things about them on the shooting forums.
They are really light weight and fold up nicely for storage. On each side at the front there is a small black windscreen and microphone (stereo). On the right there is the power/volume knob and a jack for plugging in an mp3 or walkie talkie. The left side is just the battery cover. It comes with the mp3 male to male cable and two AAA Duracell batteries. They are rated NRR 22db, so if unprotected noise at your ears was 92db, you'd be hearing it at 70db. They interrupt starting at 82db.
I put them on and turned up the volume, I could swear at first that they weren't even muffling anything, I could hear as well with as with out them. So I grabbed some scrap wood and headed over to the chop saw. The moment I pulled the trigger I heard the music in the back ground cut out slightly. As I was cutting the wood, I could actually hear some of the gear noise from the saw's motor instead of the high pitched whine and tinging of the blade as it cut. Second I took a handful of shelving brackets and dropped them on a near by table, still heard them, but the high tinging clash that they normally would make was also muffled. Finally I took a 2x4 and forcibly slapped the flat side on the cement floor re replicate a shot clap, once again, muffled. Yet a half second later I was hearing the birds chirp out in the yard.
They aren't as omnidirectional as un-protected ears, but they are very good quality and can tell if something is off to the right or left. An example, went outside and could hear a bird in the oak off to my left. I was able to pin point his location as well as I could with them muffs off.
I did try out connecting my phone and playing music through the input jack. The jack isn't amplified, the volume on the headset only controls the amplification from the mics. So MP3 or walkie talkie volume is done from the device you plug in. I had to turn the volume almost all the way up on the phone to hear the music comfortably. My regular ear buds only require about 1/4th of the way up on volume.
Oh, almost forgot, they were $45.99 with free shipping: http://www.amazon.com/Howard-Leight-.../dp/B001T7QJ9O
I'll put them through the ringer next week and see how they do at the range, but so far I'm very impressed with them. I'll probably be picking up a second set to have in the shop. I felt they would be much safer than my normal muffs as I'd be able to hear someone coming in or when something may be sliding off the bench.