Hunter Electronic, “the leading provider of electronic products for hunters and shooters in the Nordic countries,” is working on expanding its presence in the US. At SHOT Show’s Range Day, they were showing off some new ear muffs, including the flagship SMART model seen here. I gotta say, they’re pretty dang slick . . .
The SMARTs are about as advanced as active electronic muffs get. They allow normal or amplified hearing of sounds under a certain dB threshold, and suppress louder noises. Hearing is stereo and directional, with separate volume control for each ear, so the wearer can actually detect where sounds are coming from. But this isn’t the advanced part.
The SMARTs can connect to a radio and/or mobile device via 3.5mm jack or Bluetooth 4.0. The retractable boom microphone actively cancels out background noise. Three AAA batteries will stream music for at least 50 hours or run active noise cancelling alone for at least 180 hours. Rechargeable batteries can be used as well, and a mini-USB port allows for charging them while still installed in the headset.
If you’re also using a 2-way radio for communication with other people, it gets priority over the Bluetooth connection. In fact, even if the batteries in the headset are dead, the 3.5mm jack will power the speakers and microphone off of the radio.
For all this, MSRP is $239 on Hunter’s website. Price at retail should be less. I intend to pick up a pair for review.
On the more budget-friendly, slim, and lightweight side of the electronic hearing protection spectrum, is Hunter’s A2.
For an MSRP of just $80, they provide stereo active hearing protection with individual volume control as well as a 3.5mm jack for external input. Both the A2s and SMARTs have battery compartments that are easily-accessed and don’t break (i.e. they don’t have little tabs that snap off the first time you try to open them).