It's a well-established fact that the loud noises associated with shooting can result in cumulative hearing loss over the years if nothing is done to protect against these damaging sounds. And unfortunately, that loss, once it occurs, is typically permanent. This is why many of today's older shooters and hunters might have difficulty hearing; those years and years of shooting without the proper hearing protection have taken their toll.
These days, shooters have no excuse, as there are plenty of hearing protection options out there ranging from simple foam plugs on up to highly advanced (and often expensive) custom molded plastic plugs that electronically protect, and even enhance hearing. One of the newest products that offers a blend of protection and sound enhancement comes from ProSounds, which, along with SportEAR, is a member of the AXIL family of hearing protection brands.
This product, brand new for 2016, is called H2P and consists of two earpieces that provide sound amplification of up to six times higher than normal while also digitally compressing sounds higher than 85 decibels (dB) to prevent hearing damage. And, unlike many other electronic earplugs on the market, the H2P earpieces are priced relatively affordably, with an MSRP of $499. As an added bonus, ProSounds is currently running an Indiegogo campaign for the launch of the H2Ps until July 22, and during this time, the earpieces are available for the discounted price of $299.
The H2P earpieces, which are powered by two 10a zinc batteries, are engineered with Lynx Digital Sound Clarity for optimal performance and are adjustable for volume control via a small rotating knob on the side of each earpiece. Included with the H2Ps are three different styles of tips, which are what actually go inside the ear canal: a foam tip that offers 30 dB of protection, a silicone tip that offers 34 dB of protection but increased comfort, and a tulip tip that allows both enhanced and natural sound to pass through the canal. SecurFit extenders, a cleaning brush, 10a zinc batteries, and a protective carrying case also come with the H2Ps.
ProSounds provided me with a pair of its new H2Ps for the purposes of testing and reviewing them. Before I gathered up my gear and headed to the range, however, I wanted to familiarize myself with the H2Ps.
The first thing that struck me when I opened the box and pulled out the new H2P earpieces was their size and weight. They were remarkably low profile, and in terms of weight, I wouldn't be surprised if they weighed less than a standard thumb tack. They were heavier than a set of standard foam plugs maybe, but I suspect lighter than many custom molded electronic plugs — and of course, drastically lighter and much less obtrusive than a set of earmuffs.
The included 10a zinc batteries, commonly used within hearing aids, went easily into the H2Ps via a loading gate built into each earpiece. Battery insertion and removal was remarkably easy, as the gate featured an edge for the user's finger to open or close. In fact, when the H2Ps weren't in use, I'd simply open the loading gate to ensure that the batteries weren't being needlessly wasted.
Upon inserting the earpieces into my ears and dialing up the volume, I was introduced to sounds that I wasn't hearing, or was barely hearing before. Distant cars sounded like they were on the next street over, birds that were casually chirping seemed like they were right on top of me, and the almost imperceptible sound of a TV running in another room of the house would suddenly become clear.
I was impressed. I was also wondering how something that amplified sound so well could also block it when it occurred at harmful levels.
A little skeptical, I did as the H2Ps user manual suggested and conducted a hearing protection check to make sure the earpieces had an effective seal by clapping my hands loudly next to my ear. Sure enough, the sound was no longer sharp and clear, indicating the H2Ps were doing their job. The next step in the process was a trip to the range.
On the Range
I wasn't able to go to the outdoor range I typically use for my reviews, but I did manage to find an indoor range that I could use to test the H2Ps. Upon arrival, I immediately inserted the H2P earpieces and dialed up the volume.
The small volume adjustment knob on each of the earpieces was incredibly easy to use. Users can either use a single finger to push and twist the knob or a finger and a thumb to turn the knob. There is also a slight click when the volume is completely turned off, which is helpful.
Almost as soon as I inserted the earpieces, I could tell that the H2Ps were working. As I was getting my gear together to enter onto the firing line, I could hear the sounds of other shooters' muzzle blasts being compressed and muffled by the H2P earpieces.
This continued once I got onto the range. However, because I was shooting at an indoor range, the shots were considerably louder than they would normally be, which is why I ultimately decided to double up and put a pair of passive muffs on over the H2Ps. I would've probably been fine with just the H2P earpieces, but as general rule, I always tend to double up with plugs and muffs when shooting at an indoor range, so I did the same with the H2Ps.
This system worked perfectly, as I was getting sound enhancement from the H2Ps, as well as hearing protection from both. And if I wanted to step off the line to talk to somebody, all I had to do was remove the passive muffs and I was back to not only regular hearing but enhanced hearing up to six times the normal level.
All in all, I was very satisfied with the H2Ps. They offer incredible sound enhancement for those that need it and ample protection from damaging muzzle blasts. I could see these earpieces being an especially good option for hunters, as it would both improve their situational awareness and offer protection when a shot is taken, something many hunters choose to sacrifice for being able to hear approaching game.
With the new ProSounds H2P, there's really no excuse for not protecting your hearing. The earpieces not only provide access to sounds you might not have heard otherwise, they also protect your ears so you can maintain your hearing for many years to come.
For more information on the ProSounds H2P, or to buy the H2P earpieces at the discounted price of $299, check out ProSounds Indiegogo campaign for the launch of the H2Ps, which lasts until July 22.
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