Known for its high-end in-ear headphones, consumer-oriented earplugs and hearing aid designs, Etymotic Research has now branched out into military hardware with the EP1 and EP15 earplugs.
Both are based on the same principle of having an active microphone, amplifier and speaker arrangement built into the earplug that then allows for normal and indeed enhanced noises to get through the plug. In contrast, normal earplugs significantly reduce all noise, making normal conversation difficult and reducing situational awareness. The main advantage of this active arrangement is that if a very loud noise like a gun shot is heard, the diaphragm that reproduces the external noises simply doesn't have the power to recreate it so the user only hears a loud but non-damaging pop.
The EB1 is aimed at hunters as it gives them otherwise normal hearing, in fact it even boosts faint noises, but then attenuates gun shots, helping you protect your ears from unexpected gun fire.
The EB15s then add a -15dB drop across the board when sustained loud noise is encountered, so are designed for more industrial use or for military personal using loud equipment like tanks. They could also be useful for musicians.
Available now, the EB1's will set you back $449 while the EB15s are $499 a pair. While these are very high prices you do at least get a pair of standard earplugs, a wind-noise reduction head band, and assortment of tips, filters and cleaning tools, a pouch, and a six-month supply of batteries in the box.
So, any budding hunters or military re-enacters out there? Interested? Let us know in the comments.