Noise reducing headphones for hearing protection?

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I have been using some earbuds for music and then some big earmuff style hearing protectors over them. I have been shopping for headphones and was wondering what the group thinks of using noise reducing headphones for hearing protection. I have a feeling they only stop normal noise and would not provide the protection I am looking for but thought I'd ask on the off chance that I could exchange 2 things sitting on my head for just one. thanks for any input you might have -- jeff
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jeffgee wrote:

Depends what you're willing to spend. $150 gets you some Etymotic hf5 earbuds, which have 35-42dB of passive isolation.
Chris
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I wasn't looking to spend that much initially, but it's nice to know there's something out there that will do the trick. thanks
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35 to 42 dB of isolation from an earbud? MAYbe at one specific frequency. Even then I have my doubts. Let me rephrase that: Naaaaa. The entry to the ear canal is only a part of the sound detection our ears give us. A lot of sound will get by those plugs from the outside of the ear shell, through the mouth and transconductance through the skull. Those big humongous muffs that the boys on the flight deck wear, are nowhere near 42 dB. More like -27dB. -27dB muffs are good muffs. -30dB would be a whole magnitude better.
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Robatoy wrote:

I have custom-molded earplugs for hearing protection. They're supposed to give around 30dB attenuation from 125Hz until about 600Hz, and then ramp up to 45dB at 4kHz. No idea what they give below 125Hz.
I suspect the Etymotic ratings are biased towards higher frequencies.

My big humongous Peltor muffs are rated at 35dB attenuation. According to their frequency response curve they range from 15dB at 125Hz to 30dB at 500Hz, to 43dB at 4kHz.
Chris
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I have a pair of noise canceling head phones. When turned on you adjust for normal hearing. When there is a loud noise they shut off instantly. If I clap my hands loudly in a small room I can only hear the echo of the clap after they return to normal status.
If you buy "today" at Rockler's Deal of the Day site.,,
http://www.rockler.com/promotion/DealOfTheDay.cfm
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Might I add that mine are strictly hearing protection and have no radio built in.
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thanks! I notice you very often weigh in with thoughtful and informative answers. I appreciate your time.
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On Wed, 8 Apr 2009 22:35:03 +0100, Leon wrote

I picked up a pair of El Cheapo (ALDI) for sixteen squids, not eally expecting much and I'm very impressed. Switched off, they are like any reasonable quality muff. Switched on, they let conversation level sound through clearly.. The shut-off really IS instantaneous.
I took 'em along to a band rehearsal and they worked really well... I often wear ear plugs but then there's the hassle of over-attenuation of chat and direction. These certainly helped me to hear detail through the sound barrage as well as my normal plugs and the H.F drop was not really a problem in this situation - 3 Marshall hundreds, a small vocal rig and undamped drums in a room about 20' square. O.K. they're not flat enough for critical monitoring, but then I didn't expect it . I wouldn't wear 'em to do a mix, for example. I'll be taking them regularly.
Workshop use is GREAT. Very little ear-muff claustrophobia.
The pass-through circuit is mono only at this price. Not really a problem either. Comfortable for wearing, extended period and none of that wrenching 'em off to deal with shwmbo yet still stop the router from hurting.
I'm convinces, anyhow.
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I've got Sony MDR NC60 noise cancelling headphones which are intended for use with audio devices rather than just noise reduction. I use them while watching TV on my computer, while traveling by train, and in the car on the highway to cut the wind, fan and road noise. They work great for that. I hadn't tried them as "hearing protection" in the shop until reading your inquiry. As such I just went into the shop and tried them! I was surprised to find that they offer about the same level of noise reduction as my Silencio Magnum hearing muffs that are rated at 29db reduction. Based on this informal "test" I'd think you'd be OK using comparable noise cancelling headphones as long as the cable is secured so it isn't a hazard.
Note that the Sony MDR NC60 is about $125 on Amazon and the specs show they are significantly better than the NC40 model that sells for about $70... I looked at a lot of noise canceling headphones and the NC60 seemed to offer very good value and performance.
I wouldn't expect the $30-$50 noise cancelling muffs to be adequate compared to something like the Silencio Magnum muffs which I use with high powered rifles and magnum handguns (e.g., 3" .44 magnum) as well as in the shop but the NC 60 seem adequate.
John ...done with his informal testing for the evening!
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Sound reaches and damages the structure of the ear in two ways - through the ear, and transmitted up from the body. The way you control noise is through distance, density, and dampening. I just wrote those two lines of BS just to say I recomend these http://www.stratfords.com/earplugs/earplugs_bilsom_twosizedown.html . They are not muffs, but plugs. They are the most comfortable plugs you'll ever wear. They are basicly a thin plastic "plug" filled with down. Noise attenuation up to 39 dB. We did a research study on similar models and they are very effective for industrial noise.
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The noise woodworking machinery generates is most energetic below that 8 KHz attenuation of -39dB. Those plugs have a listed SNR of 27 dB. Period.
BUT!! Wearing plugs or muffs is absolutely essential in a woodworking shop where powertools are used. I just get miffed at the 'specs race'. Those -XdB claims are mostly suspect and based on junk science.
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Well, we did a test. We measured the hearing response of some workers in an industrial setting (campus power plant). One group wore over- the-ear muff-type protectors, one set wore Bilsum "bubblegum" ear plugs, one set wore some like I mentioned (actually product #5036 - rated at 26 dB - I still have/use some), and the last set wore no protection. At the end of the experiment, the muffs protected the best *when the men wore them*. When fitted properly, the bubble gum plugs were as good as the muffs, but a lot of men had problems (strangely [or maybe not] one ear canal was larger/smaller than the opposite side). The Bilsom plugs were comfortable, fit everyone, and gave good protection. I'm not pushing their brand, I have no affiliation with them. It's just this particular design, whoever makes it, just works.
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I have a pair of ear muffs with the built in radio, I bellive they are work mates, I find they work as well as regular ear muffs for sound dampening and do a good job as radio. I can easly hear the radio on low volume even when running a saw or planner, and the noise from the machine is just enough to know it is on. When using a FM transmitter I can listen to my mp-3 player or a book tape on the player. Like regular ear muffs they do let people slip up on you.
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In article

Strange you should ask. Just last weekend a Bose rep was telling me that their headphones were NOT designed to be used that way and not recommended. I found a set of active noise reduction ear muffs at Harbor Freight last year, but haven't seen them back in stock in some time
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Of course they (Bose) work in noise reduction, but the legal department isn't willing to sign off on that. There is the remote possibility a lawsuit could erupt, somewhere, somehow. Besides, any published specs would show that as noise reduction muffs, they would be like all the others, 27 dB or thereabouts.
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Am I the only one who gets nervous thinking of woodworking while wearing headphones playing music? And ones designed to cancel outside noise, at that?
There is still a lot of sound from tools and the shop, both direct and ancillary, I *want* to hear when working. I want to protect my ears from prolonged exposure to loud noise, but I certainly don't want to aurally isolate myself from the environment.
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-MIKE-

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-MIKE- wrote:

It depends... It's not a black and white thing.
I don't really care about sounds from my Shop Vac, ROS, angle grinder, biscuit joiner, etc...
When I'm using a jointer, planer, saw, router, etc... I just hit pause during the cut. I think the right amount of attenuation helps me hear the sonic details of the cutter.
I hear enough from a nail gun or my mower WITH the music. <G>
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That''s very much how I use them too
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On Thu, 9 Apr 2009 18:03:19 +0100, MIKE- wrote

No, me too.
I'm basically terrified of stationary power tools.. er, I'll rephrase that with me macho head on,, I _respect_ shop tools and I don't want 'em sneaking up on me when I'm looking the other way.
It's silly little things like putting a circular saw or a router down before it's come to a dead stop that just once in a while can take someone by surprise, or the ultimate nightmare, forgetting that the table saw is running and then coming into contact with the blade.. A VERY long shot with normal precautions, and very improbable if you can hear as well as see the blade but,,,, BUT a slightly greater possibility with distracting audio masking one of the clues.
O.K. maybe I'm a paranoid wuss, but I intend to be able to point rudely at things for a good while yet. I've seen too many sawmill hands (!) called Stumpy, Lefty...
Don't start me on nightclub-level sound systems in cars...
My two groats worth.
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