ear-defenders

5 Best Ear Defenders (2021 Review)

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In this guide we’ll look at the best ear defenders for the UK market.
I’ve compared build quality, performance, comfort and cost
to give you my top recommendations.

What Are The Best Ear Defenders?

In a rush? Here's my top choice...

3M Peltor Optime III Earmuffs with Headband

The best ear defenders for the UK market!

The 3M Peltor Optime III earmuffs are easily the best ear defenders you can get for extreme noise environments. When you need to reduce both high and low frequency sound in harsh noise environments such as mining, construction and shooting, you can’t get a much more capable or comfortable set of ear defenders.

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Everything I Recommend

IMAGE RECOMMENDED PRODUCTSPRODUCT FEATURES
  • Ultimate hearing protection
  • Replaceable cushions and inserts
  • Large cavity helps prevent sweating
  • Extreme noise protection
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Hard wearing for construction use
  • Replaceable polymer earpieces
  • Only blocks out excessive noise
  • Lanyard keeps them together
  • AM/FM radio and AUX input
  • Comfortable ear defenders
  • Adjustable headband
  • Incredibly light weight earmuffs
  • Useful for high noise environments
  • Ear cups fit most ear sizes

More Detailed Ear Defenders Reviews

3M Peltor Optime III Earmuffs with Headband

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Ultimate hearing protection
  • Replaceable cushions and inserts
  • Large cavity helps prevent sweating
OUR RATING
95
PRICE
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3M Peltor Optime III Earmuffs with Headband Review

The 3M Peltor Optime III earmuffs are probably the best ear defenders for the UK market because they offer unbeatable noise cancelling, they’re comfortable to wear and easy to keep clean. 3M are one of the biggest names in personal protective equipment, and the Peltor range of hearing protection leads the way for worker health and safety.

These are serious ear defenders- the sort of thing you should use if you need to block out extreme noise levels. Thanks to twin cups with double casing, you can safely run drills, saws and other power tools for long periods of time without causing lasting damage to your hearing. Average noise reduction is down to 35 dB.

The ear rings are soft and comfortable and the headband is nicely padded as well. Available in Hi-Viz green, these are the best overhead ear defenders for builders as well as DIYers who value comfort and protection above all else.

3M Peltor X5P3 Helmet Mounted Earmuffs

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Extreme noise protection
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Hard wearing for construction use
OUR RATING
92
PRICE
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3M Peltor X5P3 Helmet Mounted Earmuffs Review

Another stellar set of ear defenders from 3M, the Peltor X5P3 helmet mounted earmuffs are ideal for wearing with extra safety gear. If you’re on a building site or working in an environment that requires a helmet, these earmuffs are ideal.

Designed to fit on safety helmets with the correct adapter, these are high performance ear defenders that block out extreme noise levels when working with loud machinery on building sites or in the forestry industry. You can lock them firmly onto your ears and then flip them up when not in use.

Weighing in at just 480 g, they don’t add too much extra weight to your safety gear, and the large cup design is better at keeping the sound away from your ears and should stop them from overheating as well. Average noise reduction is down to 37 dB.

Surefire EP4 Sonic In Ear Defenders

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Replaceable polymer earpieces
  • Only blocks out excessive noise
  • Lanyard keeps them together
OUR RATING
91
PRICE
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Surefire EP4 Sonic In Ear Defenders Review

California based SureFire have been making lasers, lights and ear defenders for the US military since they were founded back in 1979. They know a thing or two about making the best high performance ear defenders for the most demanding combat situations, and the slimline EP4 Sonic Defenders Plus don’t disappoint.

A more slimline type of in-ear protection, these are ideal when you need excellent noise cancelling without the bulk of an over ear defender. SureFire’s patented triple flanged stem effectively insulates sound passing into your ear canal and has a noise reduction rating of 24 dB.

The patented Ear-Lock retention rings help to keep them wedged firmly but comfortably in your ears no matter what you’re doing, and they’re even colour coded for quick recognition. And if you remove the filter caps you can plug in a communications system to keep in touch.

Zohan Ear Defenders with Radio

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • AM/FM radio and AUX input
  • Comfortable ear defenders
  • Adjustable headband
OUR RATING
89
PRICE
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Zohan Ear Defenders with Radio Review

Zohan’s motto is simple- Protect Your Ears. The 042 ear defenders I got my hands on do just that- they knock down excessive noise to a manageable 30 dB but don’t leave you in silence when you’re working on a project or the garden. These ear defenders feature an inbuilt AM/FM radio to keep you company when you’re hard at work.

You can dial in a specific frequency or scan for your favourite tunes, then set up to 20 pre-set channels to keep your favourite stations in your ear. The LED screen displays the wavelength, and you can control volume and other settings with one hand without taking off the ear defenders. And if you don’t like what’s on the radio, you can plug in your own music with the included 5.5 mm audio jack.

The headband is comfortable and fully adjustable, and at 380 g without the two AA batteries required to run the radio, they’re reasonably light on the head. If you want to listen to music, podcasts or the news when you work, these are the best ear defenders you can get.

3M Peltor X4A Earmuffs with Headband

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Incredibly light weight earmuffs
  • Useful for high noise environments
  • Ear cups fit most ear sizes
OUR RATING
86
PRICE
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3M Peltor X4A Earmuffs with Headband Review

Another entry from the safety experts at 3M, these X4A earmuffs are some of the best slimline ear defenders you can get hold of. They’re not designed to block out extreme noise levels like their Optime III cousins, but they offer 33 dB sound reduction in high noise environments.

The double headband is another benefit of these ear defenders- they help to keep them tight on your head no matter what you’re doing at the time. The lime green colour isn’t just for good looks as well, they’re easy to spot and should help prevent them getting lost.

What makes the X4A one of the best ear defenders you can get is the weight- at just 245 g, they offer excellent noise reduction without adding too much extra weight, which is especially welcome when you need to wear them for long periods of time.

Things to Know Before Buying Ear Defenders

You can’t be too careful when it comes to your hearing. The effect that loud machinery, tools and other equipment can have on your hearing over time is serious. If you want to avoid permanent hearing loss or conditions like tinnitus, you need the best ear defenders you can afford.

Sound is measured in decibels (dB). Long term exposure to decibel levels of 70 or over can cause permanent damage to your hearing. For example, normal conversation is around 50 dB, a motorbike engine is around 90 dB and a jet taking off can be up to a whopping 150 dB.

The most basic type of ear defender are soft foam earplugs that you scrunch up and push into your ears. They can work well for blocking out sound, but they’re disposable, not very comfortable over long periods and aren’t suitable for extreme noise levels.

The next level of ear defenders are in-ear defenders made from soft silicone and other plastics that work as baffles against sound. They’re longer lasting but still partly disposable, but good if you don’t want to carry around full-size earmuff style ear defenders.

The best ear defenders are the over-the-ear “earmuff” types. Designer to completely enclose your ear, they use several chambers and layers of acoustic foam to greatly reduce noise levels. There are different levels of noise reduction within this type of ear defender, but they’re generally well suited to wearing over long periods in all types of environments.

Ear Defenders FAQs

If you plan to work in a noisy environment, ear defenders are essential. Tools like impact drivers, multitools and chop saws can all reach 100 dB, more than enough to damage your hearing over time.

British standard EN 352 is the result of The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, and all employers must make sure their employees are protected from excessive noise at their place of work. Look for the EN 352 mark on any ear defender you plan to use.

It’s a common misconception that ear defenders block out all noise. They’re designed to limit the decibel level of outside noise before it hits your ear, not completely silence noise. For example, you can wear ear defenders to a loud rock concert and still hear the music perfectly well, just without the harsh high and low frequencies. If you want silence, you need to invest in noise cancelling headphones that use electronics to counteract outside noises.

If you choose a full-size set of over-the-ear defenders, there should be space inside the ear cup for in-ear headphones. Wireless earbuds might still be too bulky to go underneath ear defenders, so you’ll probably have to stick with your wired ones. Just be aware that blasting loud music into your ears with headphones can also damage your hearing over time.

Sources
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