SoundGear Electronic Hearing Protection - Review
By Len Backus, Publisher of LRH
Last year about this time I ordered a set of SoundGear Electronic Hearing Protection and I have been very, very satisfied with it through an entire year's use. Made by Starkey Hearing Technology, a very established hearing aid company, this unit is very tiny. It fits in the ear canal in the same way a good set of non-electronic plugs would fit. I selected the "industrial" labeled version rather than the "hunting" labeled one. From the description I felt that the amount of sound increase with the amplified hunting version of the SoundGear electronic hearing protection product may not be what most of us long range hunters would prefer (too loud). I never tried the "hunting" version but like this "industrial" sound value quite well. It seems to very slightly amplify sounds, especially higher pitched ones such as feet rustling through grass or leaves.
Hearing protection in the hunting field is very important to me. In recent years I had almost always been wearing hearing protection while hunting. Most often I wore non-electronic plugs when hunting but only at the critical moment. But if I'm hunting with a partner, the plugs reduce the ability to communicate. So usually I would wear the heavy electronic muffs if I was hunting with partners.
One winter about 5 years ago while hunting with some brand new coyote hunting friends in Wyoming I made a mistake. While slowing driving a ranch road we had seen a couple coyotes suddenly appear around a bend. They saw us and loped up and over a hill a hundred yards ahead of us. We parked and quickly headed up the hill expecting to get a quick shot when we crested the hill. I forgot my electronic muffs in the host's truck by mistake. By the time I realized it we were near the top of this hill and I was too embarrassed to ask them to wait while I went back to the truck for the muffs. Long story short -- I took one shot with a braked magnum rifle and no protection. I have had tinnitus ringing in my ears ever since that day four years ago. In fact, I can hear it right now along with the clicking sound of my keyboard as I type this sentence.
But back to my first SoundGear experience. I tried the SoundGear units for fit and comfort and was pleased. In fact I wore them for a couple hours in the house and by that time had forgotten I had them on. I remember that the sound inside the house sounded pretty normal but the rustling and clicking sound of my wife on her computer keyboard was more noticeable from 30 feet away.
Then one morning I went out to my friend's place to try a shooting test with the SoundGear. He was quite interested since he had tried a competitive type that consists of a tube that connects a plug to an electronics "module". The module mounts behind the ear, the tube holds the plug inside the ear canal. It wasn't the Walker's Game Ear version, it was Radians. He didn't like that style of unit since he couldn't keep it on in certain situations.
The example he gave was when lying down in one of those coffin-style goose blinds. While waiting for birds, prone on his back, he needs to be able to hear very well. And he needs the unit to not fall out because the module was bumped loose.I like this product so much I sell it in the LRH Store. I know it will sound corny, but I feel good about the fact that I am going to be saving the hearing health of a bunch of nice LRH guys who end up using this item.
-- Len Backus, Publisher of LRH
I had tried the similar Walker's behind-the-ear version a few years ago and did not like it at all. It didn't cut off enough sound for one thing. In fact, seeing that there is a plastic tube connecting the electronics to the plug which goes into the ear I don't know how any of that style can keep sound from traveling along the tube into the ear canal. Anyway, he and I would both be willing to sell those respective units for about $2 each if you're interested.
Too often "cheap" is not really a good value. Buying once and buying well is what I try to do though too many times in the past I failed on the first try. I hate then having to pay more to upgrade and sell the first product at a huge loss.