I’ve always used passive hearing protectors (like the Peltor 10A; see TM 11/2/07) when I’m in the shop (or mowing grass, or having a “discussion” with my wife), but have wondered if the electronic, or active, versions offer any major advantages. For example, the Pro Ears® Pro TEKT, pictured above, have DLSC™, or Dynamic Level Sound Compression technology, which compresses all sounds over a 70-dB threshold by 50% (to “a safe level”) while amplifying all sounds below the threshold. They claim the result is that the wearer hears everything, like normal conversation, but is protected from dangerous high-volume sounds.
The electronics to accomplish this consist of five basic blocks: an adjustable gain and volume block, a high-pass filter block (cuts frequencies below 300 Hz, eliminating wind noise and other low frequencies), a dynamic compress block (adjusts or compresses the input signal by up to 45dB; adjusts gain to keep output at 85dB), a low-pass filter block (3-dB point at 5kHz), and a speaker amp block. There are independent circuit boards, shown below, with independent volume controls in each ear piece.
This technology is not inexpensive: the Pro TEKT Gold electronic ear muffs start around $290 online.
Any experience out there with these, or similar active hearing protection? What did you think? There’s one — and only one — Amazon review (link below) that’s not very complimentary, but the sample size is about as small as it gets. Let us know in comments.