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How Do I Choose the Best Hearing Protection Headphones?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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Hearing protection headphones are used by many people in hunting, construction, and other noisy environments to help reduce the chance that loud noise will damage the user's hearing. When choosing between different hearing protection headphones, you'll want to consider the amount of noise silenced, which often differs between units. The noise-cancelling material itself, which is usually plastic, foam, or rubber, will also be a large consideration. There are several types of noise-cancelling headphones, including ones that only silence, radio versions, and two-way radio headphones. Style is also important, as this will affect how comfortable the headphones are to wear.

All hearing protection headphones are rated for their ability to reduce noise, based on decibels. The more decibels the headphones block, the less sound that will get through to the wearer, with most cancelling out about 20 to 25 decibels. There are also two types of cancelling techniques: active and passive, and some headphones may use both. Passive noise-cancelling blocks the noise simply with the materials of the headphones are made of, and work whenever the headlines are worn. Active noise-cancelling works by using an anti-sound wave that is generated from the headphones, which cancels outside noise.

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The three most common materials used in hearing protection headphones are foam, plastic, and rubber. Foam headphones are usually made to be disposable and wear out quickly, but they are inexpensive and good for infrequent use. Plastic is inexpensive and durable, but may become irritating after hours of wear. Rubber is usually found in large earmuffs, is the most expensive of the three, but tends to last longer.

Hearing protection headphones have different functions. There are some that are only made to silence noise; these headphones do nothing except cancel noise and are best for those who need to pay attention to their surroundings. Radio headsets are able to both cancel outside noise, and can play audio at the same time. Two-way radio headsets are used as transceivers to send and receive audio, and are used by radio and communication operators.

There are many different styles you can choose from in order to find those that are most suitable and most comfortable. Headphones are available that go behind the head, above the head, and clip into hardhats. You should pick the most comfortable design for you, especially if the headphones are going to be used continuously for job-related reasons.

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