Caldwell E-MAX Low Profile Electronic Stereo Hearing Protection Review
Shooting will never be the same. That's a pretty strong statement, but I might as well cut to the chase with my opinion of the Caldwell E-MAX Low Profile Electronic Stereo Hearing Protection. I have been shooting for over 40 years and have used just about everything for ear protection (fingers, paper, cloth, plugs, muffs, etc.). I eventually gravitated to shooting earmuffs and have several of them to allow my kids and myself to shoot at the same time. The big drawback to any hearing protection is that the protection is needed when you're actually shooting, not when you are trying to have a conversation between shots. The Caldwell E-MAX earmuffs are the solution. MSRP on these is $44.99, but you can shop around on the internet and get them for as low as $29.99 from MidwayUSA.com and they are worth every penny.
When you purchase the Caldwell E-MAX Low Profile Electronic Stereo Hearing Protection (earmuffs), they come packaged as shown below.
The photo below shows the information on the back of the package
The earmuffs pack down into a compact form. There are two microphones, one for each ear-cup. This allows for stereo audio when in use.
When you flip them over, you can see the on/off/volume control switch. Since the battery compartment is on the left ear-cup and the control switch is on the right ear-cup, a wire is routed between the two ear-cups.
The E-MAX Low Profile Electronic Stereo Hearing Protection comes with an Instruction Manual. Using these is not rocket science, but the manual does have some useful information.
By pulling down on the ear-cup plastic housing, they are in the smallest adjusted size for wearing. I would consider this to be for a small child.
By pulling the plastic housings down the metal adjustment rods, you can adjust the ear-cups to an adults head size.
The battery compartment is located on the left ear-cup and the cover should slide open with the push of your thumb. I found the cover was very tight on my muffs and I used my pocket knife to help pry the cover open. The muffs take two AAA batteries. I found it strange that the battery compartment did not come marked with which end was positive (+) or negative (-), but this information is in the instruction manual.
When you turn on the earmuffs, a red light will glow on the right ear-cup.
The real test for these earmuffs is how they perform. I started out in my basement while shooting my .22 pistol. The first thing I noticed when wearing them was that I could hear all the slight noises associated with loading the pistol. Then, when I pressed the slide release to chamber a round, I could tell that the earmuffs switched from the sound microphone/amplification mode to off mode. The next thing I did was shoot several rounds from my .22 pistol. Each round sounded muffled just like I would expect. The next thing I did was turn off the earmuffs and shoot a couple of more rounds. Again it was just like I would expect and the sound from the shots was muffled. Just to get a good reference point, I took off the earmuffs and shot one time just to make sure my .22 was giving a good sound volume level. Yes, my ears were ringing afterwards. I reloaded and shot several more clips through my pistol and adjusted the volume to different levels. It was clear that these earmuffs can amplify sound to a higher level than you would normally hear without the electronic capabilities.
My next use was at the range. When I arrived I immediately put the earmuffs on and wore them for about two hours without ever removing them. I shot several rifles (.308, .242, .223) and a pistol (.22). I had several conversations and found them comfortable to wear and it was so nice being able to hear all the normal sounds throughout that time. I sometimes find it awkward shooting a scoped rifle with earmuffs, but I believe the low profile shape of the Caldwell earmuffs helps reduce this issue. The only thing I found that was not ideal was that when it is windy, you will get some noise from the wind hitting the microphones just like you would with a cell phone. Turning the volume down on the earmuffs reduced this wind noise. Also you get a slight humming noise with the unit is on. Again this is reduced by volume adjustment. If for some reason it is so windy that the noise does become an issue, you can always turn the unit off and it will then function like a normal set of earmuffs.
I highly recommend the Caldwell E-MAX Low Profile Electronic Stereo Hearing Protection to anyone who enjoys shooting. Make sure you shop around to get your best deal and I believe you will be happy with this product.