Electronic hearing protection is quickly becoming standard gear for shooters. There is now a wide range of options available at price points to meet the needs of virtually any shooter. This review covers the Howard Leight Impact Pro earmuffs, which is a moderately priced set of electronic ear pro with superior noise reduction capabilities.
Noise Reduction Specifications
The Impact Pro earmuffs have a noise reduction rating of 30 dB, which is toward the upper end of noise reduction available. Most muffs fall in the 25-28 dB range, with just a few falling in the 30+ dB range. In fact, I could not find a set of electronic muffs that offered the same noise reduction anywhere near the cost of the Impact Pro. (If you know of some, please let me know in the comments section below.)
As the decibel scale of measuring sound volume is logarithmic in nature, seemingly small numerical differences are actually substantial performance differences. Roughly, sound volume doubles for every 3 dB. So a 5 dB increase in noise reduction is very significant.
By way of comparison, the Caldwell E-Max electronic earmuffs I previously reviewed are only rated at 25 dB of noise reduction. Likewise, the Howard Leight Impact Sport earmuffs are rated to only 22 dB. So a 5 to 8 dB increase in noise reduction is substantial.
The mechanical aspects of the Howard Leight Impact Pro reduce harmful noises, while the built-in electronics handles the amplification of ambient sound. The idea is normal sounds, such as conversations with your friend or range commands from the safety officer, will be heard while harmful noises will be attenuated.
The electronic amplification circuitry shuts down when a sudden, loud noise above 82 dB is detected. This prevents the earmuffs from amplifying dangerous noises and damaging your hearing.
The system is in stereo with separate mics mounted in right and left muff. This allows the wearer to maintain a sense of direction. Some companies manufacture electronic earmuffs without separate mics. This creates auditory confusion, as the wearer cannot determine which way the sounds are coming from.
Having tried multiple brands of electronic earmuffs, I found that these Howard Leight earmuffs do a very good job of giving me an accurate feeling for the direction of sounds. I’m sure that is largely the result of the mic selection, both type and quality.
Rockin the Range
The Impact Pro earmuff feature list includes the ability to directly pipe in music. The muffs have a 3.5mm stereo input jack that allows you to connect an iPod, iPhone or other device that plays music. The music is then played through the Howard Leight earmuffs.
I found the muffs did a credible job in reproducing music. The Impact Pro will not replace a good set of noise canceling headphones (for the money, I particularly like the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B Quiet Point headphones,) but they do a very good job. For a range environment, I found the sound reproduction to be very good.
For someone who likes to listen to music while on the range, this is an improvement over having earbuds in and then muffs over the top of them. Many of the other Howard Leight models offer this feature, but none with the same amount of noise reduction and electronic amplification.
Shooting with the Impact Pro Earmuffs
I took the earmuffs with me to the range this week and gave them a workout while shooting handguns. The amount of noise reduction provided by the Howard Leight Impact Pro earmuffs was exceptionally good. The blasts from a ported, short-barrel .45 ACP were substantially reduced, and 9mm rounds were very quiet indeed.
The amplification circuit cut out instantaneously when shooting, which is very important to me. I suspect it is important to a lot of people. The amplification circuit does a good job of cleanly amplifying speech and other ambient sounds.
The earmuffs were comfortable to wear during a two hour shooting session.
One of the possible downsides of these muffs is that they are large. The size does not interfere with handgun shooting but could interfere with shotgun or rifle shooting. The Impact Sport earmuffs I previously reviewed are a better choice for long gun shooting, but with the drawback of less noise reduction.
These earmuffs are comfortable, amplify in stereo and offer extremely good noise attenuation. Add to me mix a reasonable price, and I find these muffs are a very good value. If you are shooting pistols on an indoor range, the Impact Pro muffs are an excellent choice for ear protection.
I hope this Howard Leight Impact Pro review has been useful to you. Having good quality hearing protection is extremely important for everyone who is a shooter. I think the Impact Pro earmuffs offer some very good features, and at less than $70 (street price) they are definitely within the reach of most shooters.
One of the great things about 2013 for firearms enthusiasts is the availability of affordably priced electronic earmuffs and other high quality hearing protection options. So, even if these Howard Leight earmuffs aren’t for you, there are many other choices on the market. Click here to get your Impact Pro earmuff from Amazon.