Radio ear defenders are great for working in noisy environments where you want to protect your hearing while having something interesting to listen to. Listening to the radio while working can help keep you motivated and prevent boredom.
As well as wearing radio ear defenders at work, you could also use them at sporting events and races to listen to commentary while reducing the volume of other noises. There are also Bluetooth radio ear defenders available that you can use to wirelessly stream music from your phone or take hands-free calls.
When wearing radio ear defenders it’s important not to simply replace one harmful sound with another. Try not to listen to the radio too loudly; otherwise you will damage your hearing.
There are several good radio ear defenders on the market in the UK at the moment. Most of them only offer AM and/or FM radio, even if they call themselves “digital” ear defenders. However, there are a few DAB radio ear defenders available too.
Read on for our reviews of the top radio ear defenders available in the UK in 2018.
Ear Defenders with DAB Radio
At the time of writing, there are very few ear defenders available with a built-in DAB radio. We could only find two pairs on the market, which we have covered below.
EARMUFF SNR31dB digital DAB+ Edition Ear Defender
One of the only pairs of digital radio ear defenders available. Expensive, but well made.
|See price||31 dB||FM/DAB+|
These German-made ear defenders are an upgraded version of an older product with the AM receiver replaced with a DAB+ receiver. It’s not clear whether these ear defenders also pick up regular DAB stations, which could be an issue as only most digital stations in the UK broadcast on DAB rather than DAB+.
These ear defenders have an SNR rating of 31 dB, which is higher than most radio ear defenders. They let you save up to 40 preset stations (20 on FM and 20 on DAB+). This product isn’t very popular in the UK at the time of writing, but it has received positive reviews in Germany.
This product is expensive, but could be worth it if having digital radio is important to you.
The only other pair of DAB ear defenders we could find are these from Clas Ohlson, though reviews of them are mixed.
Ear Defenders with AM/FM Radio
The majority of radio ear defenders only have AM/FM radio rather than DAB. Here are some of the best.
1. Nordstrand Ear Defenders
A good affordable pair of AM/FM radio ear defenders with decent sound quality and strong radio reception.
Nordstrand Ear Defenders are an affordable choice if you’re looking for some ear muffs with a built-in AM/FM radio. They have an NRR (noise reduction rating) of 25 decibels, which means they do a decent job at protecting your hearing from harmful loud sounds.
These ear defenders have a stereo aux-in jack for connecting a phone, MP3 player or other device so you can listen to your own music as well as the built-in radio. While they don’t offer DAB radio, you could combine them with a pocket DAB radio using the aux-in jack.
The controls are located on one of the ear pads, where there’s also an LCD screen that shows information about the radio frequency you’re tuned into as well as the time and battery level. The headphones take two AA batteries, which you need to buy separately.
These ear defenders can be quite uncomfortable as there isn’t much foam padding so the cups feel like hard plastic pressing against your head. They’re also quite tight, though this is necessary to block cancel out surrounding noise.
The sound quality is reasonably good. These obviously don’t have the best sound quality possible, but they’re more than adequate for listening to the radio at work.
The radio automatically retunes if you move around so you shouldn’t lose the signal. This makes them a good choice if your job involves travelling around or driving a tractor and you don’t want to keep having to retune the radio.
2. Ear Defender Original “EARMUFF” Radio Headphones
Offer a good level of protection though radio reception could be stronger.
Designed and developed in Germany, this product combines AM/FM radio with ear defenders that have an NRR (noise reduction rating) of 31 dB. These ear defenders are designed to limit the volume of the sound hitting your eardrums to a safe level (82 dB or below).
These ear defenders have a similar price tag (at the time of writing) to the Nordstrand Ear Defenders reviewed above, but with a higher level of hearing protection (an NRR of 31 dB compared to 25 dB).
These radio headphones have a few advantages over the Nordstrand Ear Defenders. They’re arguably comfier, and are more effective at blocking out noise. However, the radio reception isn’t as reliable, and can cut out frequently if you’re not in an area with strong reception. Like with the Nordstrand Ear Defenders, you can save 8 presets on AM and 8 on FM.
While these ear defenders are quite rugged, they’re unlikely to last years of heavy use. That’s not a problem since they’re inexpensive to replace, and there’s also a 2-year warranty available that you can use if your ear defenders are faulty.
These ear defenders come with a cable for connecting an MP3 player, phone or other device, which is convenient if you don’t want to listen to the radio all the time.
The 4 AA batteries required are included, which is very convenient, and they last a long time—the manufacturer says they should last for over 200 hours.
3. Honeywell 1030330 Howard Leight Sync Radio Digital Earmuff
Comfortable with strong radio reception and good battery life.
The Howard Leight Sync Radio Earmuff is made by international engineering brand Honeywell. There are three variations of these ear defenders that offer different protection levels. The lowest has an SNR of 22 dB, the middle pair 27 dB, and the highest 29 dB.
These ear defenders take 2 AA batteries which the manufacturers state should last for up to 111 hours, or roughly 3 weeks if you use them for most of the working week.
The Sync ear defenders have a 3.5 mm aux-in jack which you can use to connect an iPod, MP3 player or phone to listen to your own music.
The radio reception on these ear defenders is very good. They don’t crackle or lose the signal when you’re walking around in the way that many cheaper radio ear defenders do.
While these ear defenders have the word ‘Digital’ in their name, it’s important to note that they don’t have digital radio, only AM and FM.
These ear defenders have a black design, but you can get a hi-vis version of them, the Honeywell 1030332 Howard Leight Sync Radio HiViz Earmuff.
4. 3M Peltor FM-Radio Headset HRXS7A-01
Pricey, but worth it for the high level of hearing protection they provide.
|Out of stock||32 dB||FM|
These radio ear defenders are made by one of the most well respected manufacturers of ear defenders, 3M. The 3M Peltor FM-Radio Headset offers a high level of noise attenuation (it has an SNR of 32 dB), and features a built-in FM radio. The headset uses an adjustable antenna to help you get the best radio reception.
There’s a 3.5 mm stereo aux-in that you can use to connect your smartphone or MP3 player using the cable provided to play your own tracks.
The headband has a wide design and is padded to create a comfortable fit. Compared to some of the cheaper radio ear defenders on the market, these are very comfy and can be worn all day without hurting your head.
The 3M Peltor FM-Radio Headset HRXS7A-01 takes two AA batteries, which are included with the headset itself. The manufacturers state that the batteries should last for around 140 hours, which is an impressive amount of time.
Radio reception could be stronger—the headset picks up strong signals well but isn’t so good at receiving smaller stations.
Ear Defenders with Bluetooth
Ear defender headphones with Bluetooth let you listen to music or take calls from your phone without needing any fiddly wires. As well as making it easier to listen to your tracks, this is also safer as you won’t have any wires getting in the way.
Below are some of the best ear defenders with Bluetooth on the market in 2017.
ION Audio Tough Sounds Industrial Bluetooth Noise Reduction Headphones
A decent pair of Bluetooth ear defenders that offer good value for money.
|Out of stock||25 dB||AM/FM|
These ear defenders have an NRR (noise reduction rating) of 25 dB, which is decent, though not as high as some of the other products reviewed here such as the Ear Defender Original “EARMUFF” Radio Headphones which have an NRR of 31 dB.
In addition to Bluetooth, there’s also an aux-in port so you can connect non-Bluetooth devices. This combined with the radio make these ear defenders a very versatile gadget.
You can save 20 preset stations, which is more than you can save on most other radio ear defenders. However, setting these presets is quite fiddly, as you might expect from this kind of device.
These ear defenders have a built-in lithium-ion battery that you charge using a mini-USB cable. The manufacturers state that the battery should last at least 20 hours, which doesn’t compare very well to the 100+ hours offered by some of the non-Bluetooth radio ear defenders reviewed above. However, it is convenient to be able to charge it via USB rather than having to buy or recharge regular batteries.
One issue with ION Audio Tough Sounds ear defenders is that the radio reception doesn’t hold very well when you move around. This isn’t an issue if you’re working in one spot, but if you’re driving or moving around a lot it can be frustrating.
Another drawback is that these ear defenders have a tight fit and might be uncomfortable for people with large heads.
These ear defenders have good sound quality for something at this price point, and provide an adequate level of noise reduction. The 3M PELTOR WS Alert XP Headset is a better pair of Bluetooth ear defenders, but they are significantly more expensive.