Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Walker Razor X: Good Price and Performance for In-Ear Electronic Hearing Protection

Over a year ago, I posted an info bleg looking for input on active electronic ear plugs that don't cost a small fortune.  Like I said at the time,
I've seen some at a couple of hundred$, and I'd prefer to keep it in the price range more like this ($50-ish) and less like this ($400-ish).  And for darned sure not like this.  (Yeah, I know.  It's Orvis; what do I expect?)
I finally found some: the Walker Razor X was introduced since then.  Walker came up with an ingenious solution to the obvious design problem of trying to put the circuitry and battery in a package small enough to fit in your ear.  They don't do it.  They put the circuitry in a lightweight, flexible "collar" you wear and just the microphones and speakers go in your ears.  With the larger format, the user controls are easier to adjust (volume is adjusted by the two buttons on your left looking at this picture) and the larger size allows a rechargeable lithium battery that's rated to give 10 hours of use.  We both wore them for around four hours today and the batteries did that easily.  
(Illustration from the Accurate Shooter Bulletin)

The best part is that doing this allowed them to put these on the shelf at the local BassPro for $99 which seems to be a common price point.  (Note to FTC: I bought them.  Nobody provided me with anything.)  True, it's more than the low end ear muffs, but it's far below the $400 price I was seeing.  The box includes different size foam plugs to go on the ear buds to allow sizing for a different sizes of ears, carrying pouch, USB format charger and the cable to charge them.

Thanks to a special event at our gun club today, we were able to try these out standing close to everything from several .22LR rifles to several different large calibers at our Class F, 600 yard range.  They're impressive performers.  I've been wearing a set of Pro Ears Gold electronic ear muffs that work well, but are large and bulky.  I find them prone to getting knocked off my ears while trying to get a rifle cheek weld.  The diminutive but deadly Mrs. Graybeard has an even worse problem with her Howard Leight Impact muffs, where rifle or shotgun recoil knocks her hearing protection out of place on every shot. 
Unlike the Pro Ears Gold, these seem to mute the gunshot noise spike for a noticeable period after the shot.  This function is called fast attack/decay AGC (Automatic Gain Control - the amount of audio volume is adjusted automatically) and it says Pro Ears have a faster decay than these do.  It's not bad, just different.  During that couple of tenths of a second, the volume is down and it might affect conversation a little, but didn't seem to be an issue.  

Obviously, this is only one day's evaluation, but the two of us took the opportunity to shoot two different .22 rifles and one of the 6BR rifles at 1000 yards.  No issues with the different rifle geometries upsetting the earpieces and they were more comfortable than the Pro Ears. 

Overall, we're both happy with these.  I'll let you know if that changes.

Edited at 11AM EDT on 11/6/16 to add:  I really should RTFM sometimes.  The longer mute of the gunshot noise spike is the indicator that the headphones are in "Indoor Mode", a deliberate design move to handle the longer echos of indoor ranges.  The headphones feature an indoor and outdoor mode.  It's changed by pressing both volume up and down buttons at the same time. 

It's a feature, not a difference. 


  1. Having used both a number of electronic hearing protection devices, and custom molded ear plugs, I'd suggest looking at the latter whenever these start to die. providers have an acoustic filter that can be added that allows virtually all the the "spoken" level noise through while still providing 31dB of hearing protections (34 if you don't get the filter put in). I have a pair, and have worn them for 10+ hours a day for 8 days solid on a motorcycle trip, so they're very comfortable, and there's no battery to go dead.

    You can generally find them for about $90-$100. The process of making the mold only requires you to sit for about 10 minutes, and then it's roughly an hour to get a finished product.

    1. I learned about those Saturday, the day after getting these. I have a longtime friend wears hearing aids both sides all the time. He wears those hearing protectors at the range and explained how they work to me. I think the big advantage there is the "Never needs charging" aspect.

      I find these as comfortable as wearing foam plugs all day, and have no regrets about getting them.

  2. Apparently I didn't RTFM either. I was going to comment on the other delay. I guess I'll go read it now. I like them except for that.