For years I have worn the previously reviewed Peltor AM/FM Ear Muffs while out mowing the lawn, or when working around loud noises. I was routinely disappointed by their lousy reception, but put up with it as I couldn’t find anything better for the price that still provided hearing protection. Recently, my stepson (Disclosure: This editor is his stepson.–OH) gave me a pair of the Howard Leight Sync Stereo Earmuffs to try out, and I haven’t used my Peltor muffs since.
The Sync Earmuffs do not have AM/FM reception, but instead rely on a 3.5 mm auxiliary input cable like you would find in a car. They come with an appropriately sized mini-to-mini cable that I plug into my iPhone (which is where you also control the volume). Now instead of listening to poor AM/FM reception, I can listen to the BBC America app, my music library, podcasts, and, if I really wanted to, one of the many available FM/AM emulators from the App Store.
As far as hearing protection, the Sync Earmuffs have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 25, which is similar to the rating for the pair from Peltor. I have found that they provide the same amount of protection. They are also lighter, don’t require batteries, and are roughly a third the cost of the Peltor pair.
The best part is that I no longer miss phone calls when I’m out on the tractor (which had been a serious problem), and am no longer startled when my wife shows up behind me screaming her head off trying to get my attention. I don’t even have to take the headphones off to take the call, I simply speak into the microphone on the phone and the sound gets ported through my headphones.
[For those interested in learning more about sound attenuation, I found this PDF explaining how they calculate Noise Reduction Ratings to be fascinatingly complex.--OH]