Ear-protecting headsets are a sensible preventative measure for many, with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) highlighting that even noise at lower levels, between 80dB and 90dB, can cause permanent damage if encountered daily.
The simple household dishwasher comes in at around 80dB, which highlights that ear protection is not just for those working in noisy environments, but should be a consideration for anyone concerned about protecting their hearing.
While there is a vast range of ear protectors on the market to deal with these safety concerns, they may not be able to block out all the noise around you. That’s where specially designed ear defender headphones come in – built not only to protect to your hearing, but also to block out external noise with any audio of your choice, from your favourite playlist on your phone to in-built AM/FM radio.
With a vast range of features and models available it can be difficult to know which model is best suited to your requirements. To help, we’ve researched a selection of the most popular ear protecting headphones currently available, and given you all the details to make an informed purchase.
Nordstrand Ear Defenders Protection Muffs Headphones
Best suited for:
These battery-powered headphones would be ideal for those needing ear protection and listening convenience for short periods of time, such as gardening, DIY or building work.
While they may appear to be standard ear defenders, the Nordstrand Protection Headphones offer a range of benefits that may not be immediately noticeable on first viewing.
Firstly, these headphones have been designed to a very high standard with the end user in mind. The ergonomic design not only makes wearing the headphones comfortable, but also provides a snug fit that helps to minimise any unwanted external noise.
These ear protectors also allow you to dull external noise with your own music by simply connecting the handy stereo jack into your phone or music player. Not only this, but the unit even comes equipped with an AM/FM Radio, with a built-in antenna and automatic search functions via the LED screen on the side of the headphones.
The unit is powered by 2 AA batteries (that aren’t included), and, according to the manufacturers, should last around two weeks of casual use. The sound quality has been described as low to average by current users, but should be more than suited for the occasional user, particularly if sound quality isn’t a huge concern.
Overall, the Nordstrand model provides some fantastic features, allowing the user to both tune in easily to radio or simply plug in and play their own music – all at an affordable price.
However, being battery-powered only could make them unsuitable for the constant, daily usage required by those working in the loud environments. But for day-to-day tasks, such as mowing the garden or occasional travelling, these would be an ideal purchase.
Howard Leight Noise Blocking Stereo Earmuffs (Honeywell 1030111)
Best suited for:
The Howard Leight Honeywell Earmuffs are perfect for a style-conscious user, who will love the sleek design and benefits of stereo sound quality all packaged within the robust ear protecting unit.
Howard Leight have been creating ear protection for over 30 years, and this innovate brand are always looking for new ways to enhance the user experience. Not only do the Honeywell Earmuffs provide excellent ear protection, they come equipped with a stereo jack which enables the user to listen to their own music by easily connecting their phone or music player.
Both volume and power controls are controlled through the connected device, just like with standard, non-protecting headphones, making these earmuffs extremely easy and familiar to use.
Another feature of note is the stylish DJ-inspired design, which gives them a professional and sleek look when wearing. But it’s not just about good looks, as the ear muffs also provide a high level of wearability and comfort with the padded, fully adjustable, diamond-patterned headband.
To match the DJ design, they also offer fantastic sound quality on a par with professional audio headphones. This means you don’t need to sacrifice sound quality for safety, which is the case for many ear protecting headphones currently on the market.
Overall, the Honeywell model demonstrates that you don’t have to compromise fantastic sound quality when choosing ear protecting headphones.
While they are missing some of the added features seen in other models, such as an in-built radio, they more than make up for it with a relatively cost friendly price point and user-friendly design.
ION Audio Tough Sounds Industrial Bluetooth Noise Reduction Headphones
Best suited for:
Those that need ear protecting headphones that will last all day and allow them to work as they listen, with the ability to take calls built right into the unit.
ION audio’s noise-reduction headphones have all the features you’d need and more when working in a busy, high-noise environment.
Firstly, the unit is incredibly robust, with a comfortable design that ensures fatigue-free use, which is particularly important when using the headphones for a prolonged period of time.
To support this long-wear usage, the model comes equipped with an internal lithium-ion battery that is easily charged with the included USB cable, and operates for roughly 20 hours on just one charge. This feature is incredibly handy for those needing to headphones to last all throughout the working day without interruption.
As with the previous headphones we’ve reviewed, the ION model comes with a standard stereo input making connecting your phone or music player extremely easy. But for those wanting to avoid connecting a device, this model comes with Bluetooth inbuilt, meaning you can leave your device in a safe place but still connect to your playlists.
Another notable feature is the inbuilt AM/FM radio, which comes with an impressive 20 pre-sets to cater for a wide range of music tastes. This also makes these headphones potentially multi-user friendly.
The highlight of the model is the incredibly useful in-built microphone, which means you don’t need to stop working or remove the headphones to take phone calls. This is clearly an invaluable feature for those in busy working environments, where interruptions need to be kept to a minimum.
Despite being the most expensive model out of those reviewed, the sheer number of features provided by the ION headphones justify the cost. Hugely versatile, the headphones provide a fantastic standard of ear protection, comfort and usability.