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What is Digital Hearing Protection?

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  • Written By: Paul Scott
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2016
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Digital hearing protection is a term that describes a range of active electronic protectors which allow all sounds below a preset threshold to reach the ear and instantly cut out any above that level. These devices allow a normal range of sounds such as speech to be heard in comfort while dangerously loud noises are automatically silenced. This is of great value to machine operators, hunters, and sport shooting enthusiasts which are often only subjected to damaging noise levels for short periods of time. The average cut-off threshold for digital hearing protection devices is in the region of 90 decibels (dB). They are available in a range of designs including ergonomic in-ear or regular ear muff types.

Hearing loss due to exposure to excessive noise is one of the most preventable of all disabilities and, sadly, one of the most prevalent among those regularly exposed to high noise levels. It is a generally accepted fact that long exposure to consistently high noise levels may lead to hearing loss. One point that is often not taken seriously, however, is the amount of damage the sound of a single gunshot can do. The problem experienced by sportsmen and women who practice shooting is protecting their hearing against these auditory assaults while still being able to hear other subtle sounds around them. This is where digital hearing protection devices come into their own.

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Driven by smart circuitry, digital hearing protection devices will pass and even slightly amplify softer sounds while instantly shutting out those above a preset level. This functionality is made possible by active electronics with exceptionally fast response times which can instantaneously cut of sharp, high impact sounds. These devices are available in a wide range of designs to suit all needs and tastes. These include standard over-the-head, muff type ear protectors or super comfortable and discrete in-ear models custom molded for each user. This type of ear protection allows hunters to stay in tune with the subtle sounds of nature around them and sports shooters to hear range commands while offering excellent protection against gunshot noise.

Most digital hearing protection devices have a standard 90 dB cut-off range, although different response ranges are available. This effectively eliminates the sounds of gunshots and percussive machine noise which is typically in excess of 100 dB. The good thing about this type of hearing protection is that users are not inclined to take them off to have a conversation or to hear other quiet sounds, thereby avoiding exposing themselves to the danger of unexpected sound exposure. As a matter of fact, in-ear models are often so effective and comfortable that it is quite easy to forget they are in place.

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