When the noise gets too much for standard hearing protection, it’s time to bring in the big guns. If you’re surrounded by heavy machinery, large vehicles, or just extraordinarily noisy neighbours, you’ll want to bring out the strongest hearing protection available.
In this article, we’ve rounded up some of the strongest ear defenders available in the UK in 2017. All of the ear defenders on this list have an SNR of 34dB or above. That’s enough protection to bring a pneumatic drill down to almost safe exposure levels.
Peltor X5A Earmuffs
SNR: 37 dB
We’re often saying that 3M are a company with a great reputation for their hearing protection. With the Peltor X5A ear defenders having the highest attenuation on this list, it’s easy to see why 3M are so trusted. 37 dB of attenuation is very impressive when you consider than decibels are on a logarithmic scale. An increase in SNR from 34 dB to 37 dB equates to a rough doubling of the protection provided.
The first thing you might notice about these ear defenders is their size. These ear defenders are quite bulky. This bulk is what gives them the impressive SNR, but it can be an issue if you’re prone to getting ear defenders caught on things. Despite the bulk, these ear defenders are still quite comfortable. You shouldn’t have any trouble wearing them for a full workday.
Optime 3 Headband Ear Defenders
This is the second 3M product on this list, it also has the second-highest attenuation level. It’s no coincidence that they were included on this list. These ear defenders are extremely high quality. They’re a tad less protective than the Peltor earmuffs above, but they’re not as bulky.
These ear defenders are very obviously designed for the workplace; they’re not quite comfortable enough for use as a relaxation tool. Instead, they’re designed for when hearing protection is necessary rather than desirable.
As with the other products in 3M’s industrial hearing protection range, the Optime 3 Ear Defenders come in a range of fitting solutions. You can buy them as a traditional pair of headband ear defenders, as neckband ear defenders, or even as hardhat-mounted ear defenders. Most users will be best with the headband though.
Mpow Ear Defenders
Mpow have made a few sets of ear defenders, but these appear to be their only pair designed for protecting hearing in the workplace. As an electronics company, ear defenders might be a slight deviation from their typical product, but they’ve certainly done a good job. These ear defenders offer impressive protection in a very comfortable package.
As an added bonus, these ear defenders fold down into a more compact package. If you’re looking for something that’s easy to transport in a backpack, then these are a good choice. In fact, they come with their own drawstring bag which you can use to keep them clean and safe whilst in transit. This makes them ideal for people who have to travel between work locations.
Fnova Ear Defenders
These ear defenders from Fnova are surprisingly good. Fnova doesn’t have the same reputation as 3M, but if you’re looking for an inexpensive alternative for a bit of home DIY, these ear defenders are a great choice. They come in a range of colours which doesn’t really affect performance, but if style is important to you, you’ve got a lot more choice with these ear defenders than most.
Fnova have put plenty of padding into these ear defenders. In fact, we think that the construction is fairly solid overall. Much like the Mpow ear defenders, these are foldable for convenient storage.
Homitt Ear Defenders
These ear defenders are remarkably similar to the previous two pairs. They’ve all got a similar attenuation rating, construction, and features. These Homitt Ear Defenders have soft and thick padding to ensure a comfortable seal against the ear for maximum comfort and attenuation.
If you can grab them on sale, they’re excellent value. They offer protection that’s more than sufficient for home DIY or even noisy construction work. They’re also comfortable enough that many people buy them as a study aid to block out the noise of neighbours or traffic. In addition to being comfortable, they’re also highly adjustable, so they should fit snugly on your head.
If pure attenuation is your concern, you can’t go wrong with the Peltor X5s. They offer the highest attenuation rating of any ear defenders we’ve been able to find.
Of course, that kind of protection doesn’t come in a sleek package. If the bulk is an issue, the Optime 3 ear defenders are also a good choice.
Alternatively, the Mpow, Fnova, and Homitt ear defenders are all fairly comparable. If the 3M solutions aren’t for you, grab whichever’s cheapest of the other three.