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Different Types of Electronic Ear Protection - In-Ear vs Over-Ear


In the ever-evolving world of shooting and marksmanship, safeguarding one’s hearing remains a crucial concern. While the realm of ear protection has typically revolved around traditional and passive earmuffs or earplugs, the tide is swiftly turning towards electronic ear protection.


These state-of-the-art devices aren’t just about noise reduction; they’re about amplifying the right sounds, maintaining situational awareness, and seamlessly integrating with our digital lives. At the heart of this shift are the two main styles: In-Ear and Over-Ear. Each brings its own set of advantages, nuances, and applications.


Whether you’re an avid hunter wanting to detect the faintest sounds of the wild, or a range enthusiast keen on staying connected while practicing, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge you need. Join us as we delve into the modern era of ear protection, breaking down its benefits, limitations, and everything in between.


Electronic Ear Protection:

Many shooters and end users are familiar with forms of passive ear protection. In-ear forms of passive ear protection can range from simple foam/rubber earplugs to foam/rubber examples that are captured by a tether or solid body.  Over-ear forms of passive ear protection will be in earmuff form and can be found anywhere from gun ranges to home improvement stores.


These forms of passive ear protection possess an inherently high Noise Reduction Rating and are excellent, economical choices when it comes to protecting your hearing. That being said, there are definitely benefits to be had if one were to use electronic ear protection.


Why Electronic Ear Protection:

Can be very helpful in hunting applications – can hear things such as wingbeats or footsteps to give you an early warning to the presence of game. Some hunters will alternate between wearing ear protection and not wearing ear protection during their hunts in order to better hear potential prey. The benefits of electronic ear protection will allow hunters to keep their ear protection on while not compromising their hearing capabilities.


Electronic ear protection also excels for range use due to their noise amplification abilities. Whether you are shooting casually with friends, or taking an advanced shooting course, electronic ear protection will allow you to hear important commands such as ceasefires and generally communicate better with those around you.


Enhanced hearing capabilities will provide a higher degree of safety and situational awareness that will benefit a wide range of shooter in a myriad of uses.


Pros and Cons of Electronic Ear Protection:



Better hearing capabilities. Electronic ear protection units will amplify ambient and subtle sounds.


Noise-canceling technology in ear protection will dampen high decibel sounds, such as gunshots, once they are detected by the unit’s microphone.


Additional features. Some models of electronic ear protection can utilize Bluetooth technology and can be connected to one’s phone to make calls or listen to music. Features like these, particularly in in-ear examples, make electronic ear protection more versatile.



Battery usage. Naturally, batteries are consumable resources and will need to be replaced or recharged over time. While some electronic ear protection models boast long battery lives, one should still keep a good supply of replacement batteries or be ready to recharge an internal battery as needed. Luckily, most of the replaceable batteries needed for most on-ear models can be easily acquired at department stores, but these are still an additional expense and are consumable items.

Compromise on inherent NRR (Noise Reduction Rating). Due to the inclusion of the electronic components within some units, the inherent NRR rating of the unit is generally reduced when compared to passive ear protection. Some exceptions exist of course, such as the AXIL XCOR earbuds, which can potentially have a Single Number Rating of up to 29 dB depending on how the units are configured.  This is counteracted by the inclusion of microphones and noise-canceling technology on most electronic ear protection models.


What Is a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)

The term Noise Reduction Rating, or NRR, refers to a unit of ear protection’s ability to protect a user from harsh and potentially damaging sounds. The NRR range recommended for shooting generally floats around 28 dB to 31 dB. Electronic ear protection generally ranges from an inherent NRR rating of 22 dB – 29 dB. Lower NRR rating in electronic ear protection is bolstered by noise-canceling technology and sound dampening technology that kicks in when high decibel audio is detected.


Different Types of Electronic Ear Protection:



In-ear protection, commonly referred to as earbuds, are compact devices inserted into the ear canal. They’re favored for their discreet nature, portability, and the fact that they don’t interfere with wearing hats or glasses.


Featured Products:


The GS Extreme 2.0 Ear Buds by AXIL combine advanced technology with ergonomic design. These earbuds not only offer top-notch sound amplification and noise cancellation but also ensure a snug and comfortable fit. Their discreet design means you can maintain situational awareness without the bulkiness of traditional earmuffs.



Taking wireless freedom to the next level, the AXIL XCOR earbuds redefine in-ear electronic protection. Equipped with touch control features, users can manage their auditory experience seamlessly. The true wireless design ensures no tangling wires, and the digital enhancements make certain that the user receives clear and crisp audio, all while being protected from potentially harmful noises.



Over-ear protection, commonly known as earmuffs, covers the entire outer ear, providing comprehensive protection. These devices are preferred by many for their ease of use and their ability to block out ambient noise effectively. They are especially ideal for those who might be uncomfortable with inserting devices into their ears.


Featured Product:


The AXIL TRACKR electronic earmuff is a testament to the innovations in over-ear protection. Designed with user comfort and functionality in mind, these earmuffs promise clear sound amplification, efficient noise cancellation, and long-lasting durability. The sleek black design ensures that users don’t just get performance but also wear their protection in style.


Pros and Cons of In-Ear Ear Protection:



Smaller footprint. In-ear units typically are included with a small carrying case that can fit easily in a pocket or in a bag with no issue.

Low profile allows for the use of a variety of headwear or hats without compromising the seal on over-ear models.



The rechargeable batteries found in most in-ear options take longer to recharge than it takes one to swap batteries out of a pair of on-ear.


Pros and Cons of Over-Ear Ear Protection:



Most on-ear ear protection models will use common batteries such as AA or AAA types. Swapping dead batteries for fresh ones is easier than recharging a depleted internal battery.



Somewhat limiting when it comes to headwear. Some headwear types don’t cooperate well with over-ear earmuffs. With some over-ear muffs, the “button” at the top of a baseball-style cap can get pressed down on by the band and become a generally uncomfortable experience during periods of extended use.


Depending on the ear cups on a given model of on-ear ear protection, sometimes wearing glasses can be uncomfortable during extended shooting sessions. If the ear cups are particularly stiff.



Electronic ear protection, whether on-ear or in-ear, can be a capable piece of kit for a variety of end users. Whether one style is more comfortable than not is going to be dictated by one’s personal preferences. One shooter might find that in-ear options are uncomfortable in their ears while another finds the on-ear options heavy and sweaty. Whether one sees themselves mainly hunting or slaying steel or paper at the range, they can be served well with electronic ear protection.

Here at True Shot Academy, we can get you set up with either on-ear or in-ear models from Axil. Better yet, these models are even offered as bundles with ammunition to get you out to the range and keep your ears safe.


Featured Bundles With FREE Ammo:




Need bulk ammo? At True Shot Ammo, we have a wide variety of handgun ammo and rifle ammo available to purchase. Please visit our website trueshotammo.com, call us at (888) 736-6587, or you can email us at [email protected] for more ammo options.

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