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Hearing protection

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Folks,

I'd like to revisit this recurrent topic. I am interested in improving my hearing protection while at the lathe. I wear a versaflow helmet, so muffs are not an option. Some sort of ear plug/ear bud, plus or minus noise cancelling. Any experiences/recommendations you can share about effectiveness, comfort, price? Thanks.
 

Roger Wiegand

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Little orange foam plugs. I buy them in bags of 500. NRR is very good for woodshop noise levels and I find them comfortable enough that I frequently forget I have them in. They are small enough that you can pop a pair of muffs over them when doing something really loud like setting ramsets. Every pair of pants I own has two or three pairs in the pockets so I always have them available (meaning I use them whenever I should), running them through the wash doesn't seem to hurt them.
 
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I used this style for a while, 3M ear brand.
2NFC5_1
They worked, but then I found these,
https://www.grainger.com/product/HONEYWELL-HOWARD-LEIGHT-Contoured-T-Ear-Plugs-6XF59
The Honeywell's are (for me anyway) more comfortable and had a better Db rating. (32 vs 29)
Interesting thing is you can still understand what people around you are saying, or pretend that you can't.
Like Roger, I keep a few in pants pockets, a big handful in the truck, some in my go bag and a couple of pairs in my ditty bag, just don't want to be caught without.

Ps. Proper insertion into ear canal is obviously important, to test for a good fit rub your thumb and index finger next to your ear, if you cannot hear the sound of the fingers rubbing together, you have a good fit.
 
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I used this style for a while, 3M ear brand.
2NFC5_1
They worked, but then I found these,
https://www.grainger.com/product/HONEYWELL-HOWARD-LEIGHT-Contoured-T-Ear-Plugs-6XF59
The Honeywell's are (for me anyway) more comfortable and had a better Db rating. (32 vs 29)
Interesting thing is you can still understand what people around you are saying, or pretend that you can't.
Like Roger, I keep a few in pants pockets, a big handful in the truck, some in my go bag and a couple of pairs in my ditty bag, just don't want to be caught without.

Ps. Proper insertion into ear canal is obviously important, to test for a good fit rub your thumb and index finger next to your ear, if you cannot hear the sound of the fingers rubbing together, you have a good fit.

Just a note about decibel ratings. The decibel scale is not linear - it represents order of magnitude....3 db increase in sound level represents a doubling of the actual "loudness" IIRC
 
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I'm not sure which model of versaflo helmet you have but I have helmet mounted ear muffs on mine, they were relatively cheap from memory and they are a 3M part designed for the helmet. It might be worth looking into
 
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Howard-Leight has foam earplugs with a 33 NRR. Get that online or at the Fastenal store.
 
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Not long ago, I switched to the Howard-Light foam plugs in the softer material (green) and noticed they take about 30 seconds to re-expand and occlude the ear canal.

Also, foam ear plugs need to be used correctly to get the advertised noise reduction. For me, that means rolling them into a skinny cigar with the thumb and index finger on the side of insertion, and while I'm rolling, I reach over the top of my head and lift my outer ear upwards which straightens the opening a little, and then insert the skinny cigar angled a little forward and a little upwards so it goes straight into the ear canal. Most folks have this same angle to their ear canals--they don't go straight in.
 

Roger Wiegand

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I have a pair of Bose noise canceling headphones. They are fabulous on airplanes and other places with high levels of background "white noise". Not so good for percussive sounds or other acutely loud situations. I've never worn them in the shop.

I just got a pair of isotunes wireless earbuds, I think I'm liking them a lot for both music and ear protection in the shop.
 
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My wife likes here Bose. Me...not so much. Likely because of how different we hear things. I bought a pair of Sony that were their best headphones at h time. The noise cancellation is simply unbelievable. I can use them under myPAPR, with eh lathe on, dust collection running - and receive a phone call, hold conversation and the caller is unaware of what I am doing in the background. I typically listen to Spotify while turning, and the bluetooth function works awesome.
 
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Thanks for the good suggestions. Anybody care to weigh in re: noise cancelling technology? Emiliano Achaval, I know you like yours a lot.

I have Bose noise cancelling earbuds which I wear with Comply ear tips (instead of the Bose ear tips). I am very happy with the performance and comfort. I had poor luck with simple foam ear plugs, and ear muffs don't fit over my PAPR.

I have the wired Bose earbuds which ran close to 300, with another 25 for the Comply set. The Comply set comes in 3 sizes and are memory foam like the 3M earplugs so they alone give significant passive sound dampening. The Bose active noise reduction is very effective at dampening the constant or repetitve noises in the shop like the DC or air compressor. But active noise sepression is not so effective against percussive noises such as a hammer on an anvil.
 
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I have a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones that I like a lot. I don't wear them all the time as I like to hear what's going on but if I'm cutting a lot on the bandsaw or sanding or embellishing I put them on. I like that I can adjust the amount of noise cancelling. I also like that I can connect my phone via bluetooth and not miss a call. Not that I get any calls, but just in case :)
 
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Wear as much hearing protection as you can manage. Even if you're wearing earbuds or plugs, also wearing sound attentuators are still a good idea.

If you're relying on the sound dampening from a pair of over the ear headphones, consider pulling out their guts and installing them into a real pair of sound attenuators. They won't be as pretty, but they'll block more noise.

Guard those ears, guys. You don't want to lose chunks of your hearing.
 
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Like Emiliano, I use the Bose Noise-Cancelling in-the-ear buds. However, mine are wired - that's how old they are. They work great! And I wear an Airstream helmet whenever I am at the lathe, turning and sanding. Last Christmas I received a pair of Apple Air Pods Pro. They have noise-cancelling as well. Because they're wireless, they are very convenient. But I find the noise-cancelling feature not as good as the Bose. So I wear the Bose when I'm sanding, to kill the sound of the dust collection and the random orbital air sander. The compressor is on the second floor, but the air tool itself makes plenty of noise.
 
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Wonderful suggestions, folks! Thanks so much. I had never even seen those 3M muffs before. Aside from standardized NRR ratings, has anyone tried their own comparison between passive noise reduction (ear plugs, ear muffs) vs noise cancelling (active systems like the Bose or Apple) to see which they prefer?

Also, I'm nervous about piping music into my ears, whether it's with noise isolating buds (isotunes) or noise cancelling (Bose, Apple, etc.). I'm afraid the music may compromise my focus and safety. Anyone care to address that aspect? The noise cancelling concept seems wonderful - minimize hearing loss, but still able to hear conversations, important sounds etc., vs the total muffling of passive noise reduction. But those are pretty pricey - do they really offer that much of an advantage over passive noise isolation products? (I note that the highest NRR is on the inexpensive disposable foam ear plugs...)
 
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That's exactly why some of the noise cancelling ear buds are useless on an airplane. I can tolerate engine noise; it's the screaming infant three rows back that creates the headaches. And the noise-cancelling of the BOSE doesn't do anything for that. The Bose are calibrated to eliminate certain noises, so machinery and equipment are deadened. I can't say what the iPod air buds will do, because I haven't been able to travel by air since getting them for Christmas in 2019. The COVID-thing.

As for whether it will distract you, if you already listen to music (or books, PODcasts, etc) when you turn, that is already part of your environment. Like white noise. So if you don't already do any of those, trying to listen to something in your ear will likely cause a distraction. Me, I listen to classical, or instrumental jazz most often. Without words, the music is in the background, but doesn't prevent me from focusing on the turning, or hearing an odd sound that makes me stop the lathe and check BEFORE something goes bad.
 

Emiliano Achaval

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Like Emiliano, I use the Bose Noise-Cancelling in-the-ear buds. However, mine are wired - that's how old they are. They work great! And I wear an Airstream helmet whenever I am at the lathe, turning and sanding. Last Christmas I received a pair of Apple Air Pods Pro. They have noise-cancelling as well. Because they're wireless, they are very convenient. But I find the noise-cancelling feature not as good as the Bose. So I wear the Bose when I'm sanding, to kill the sound of the dust collection and the random orbital air sander. The compressor is on the second floor, but the air tool itself makes plenty of noise.
So nice to see you here Donna! Welcome to the forum. I'm the one who accepted your application, I did not need to search to make sure you were a valid woodturner! Aloha from Maui
 

Emiliano Achaval

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Wonderful suggestions, folks! Thanks so much. I had never even seen those 3M muffs before. Aside from standardized NRR ratings, has anyone tried their own comparison between passive noise reduction (ear plugs, ear muffs) vs noise cancelling (active systems like the Bose or Apple) to see which they prefer?

Also, I'm nervous about piping music into my ears, whether it's with noise isolating buds (isotunes) or noise cancelling (Bose, Apple, etc.). I'm afraid the music may compromise my focus and safety. Anyone care to address that aspect? The noise cancelling concept seems wonderful - minimize hearing loss, but still able to hear conversations, important sounds etc., vs the total muffling of passive noise reduction. But those are pretty pricey - do they really offer that much of an advantage over passive noise isolation products? (I note that the highest NRR is on the inexpensive disposable foam ear plugs...)
Woodturning is like driving a car for me, I can listen to a podcast, usually Joe Rogan, LOL, and turn at the same time.
 
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has anyone tried their own comparison between passive noise reduction (ear plugs, ear muffs) vs noise cancelling (active systems like the Bose or Apple) to see which they prefer?

Also, I'm nervous about piping music into my ears, whether it's with noise isolating buds (isotunes) or noise cancelling (Bose, Apple, etc.). I'm afraid the music may compromise my focus and safety. Anyone care to address that aspect?

The Comply ear tips I use with my Bose earbuds provide passive noise reduction. The passive and active noise reduction is additive. My subjective opinion is that total NR is about 50% passive and 50% active. In any case once in a while I forget to switch the Bose on and don't generally realize the mistake until I go to switch them off. But Bose on is substantially more effective.

I don't multitask well and don't listen to any audio sources when working. The Bose input jack is not connnected to anything. In fact I keep the Bose's little box in a small Ziploc to keep away some of the dust.
 
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Actually measuring noise reduction is impossible outside of a laboratory. And results from any particular experiment may not apply to every ear cannal. All we can really go on is our subjective experience.

Wear as much hearing protection as you can manage.

To that end I tried to experiment with wearing shooters ear muffs over the Bose wired earbuds, but no matter how much I tried to put enough slack in the wires the muffs kept tugging the buds out.

I can tolerate engine noise; it's the screaming infant three rows back that creates the headaches.

Yeah, worse than that, by selectively dampening the white noise, noise cancelling devices will in theory improve the clarity of child's cry.
 
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Just thought I would close the loop here. I tried some cut rate noise cancelling earbuds from Best Buy and they were worthless. But while I was there I tried on some Bose headphones and was amazed. Better than the Sony phones which were also on display. I was fortunate and found some Bose Quiet Control 30 earbuds refurbished, full warranty, essentially new, for about 1/2 price, through the Bose website. They are exactly what I wanted. They have a neckband and wire to each bud, so I won't lose them in the shavings, but no wire to a phone to get caught in machinery. The noise cancelling is absolutely astounding, and I can answer the phone or listen to music. I turn with an exhaust fan and an overhead air filter running, and when I sand you can add in the dust collector and the drill - the earbuds reduce all of this to a whisper. Literally. Battery charge lasts longer than any turning session I have thrown at them. They don't weigh anything, and are comfortable. (I still want to dial in a little more secure fit - I may try Mark Jundanian's "Comply" tips), but I just thought I would testify to their effectiveness. We'll see how long they last.
 
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Wow! Thanks, Steven. I'm going to take a look at those. I've about lost hearing in my left ear and really can't afford losing any in the right.

Just thought I would close the loop here. I tried some cut rate noise cancelling earbuds from Best Buy and they were worthless. But while I was there I tried on some Bose headphones and was amazed. Better than the Sony phones which were also on display. I was fortunate and found some Bose Quiet Control 30 earbuds refurbished, full warranty, essentially new, for about 1/2 price, through the Bose website. They are exactly what I wanted. They have a neckband and wire to each bud, so I won't lose them in the shavings, but no wire to a phone to get caught in machinery. The noise cancelling is absolutely astounding, and I can answer the phone or listen to music. I turn with an exhaust fan and an overhead air filter running, and when I sand you can add in the dust collector and the drill - the earbuds reduce all of this to a whisper. Literally. Battery charge lasts longer than any turning session I have thrown at them. They don't weigh anything, and are comfortable. (I still want to dial in a little more secure fit - I may try Mark Jundanian's "Comply" tips), but I just thought I would testify to their effectiveness. We'll see how long they last.
 
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I listen to audiobooks while in my shop with noise cancelling Bluetooth ear buds. And I specifically bought a bandsaw and dust filter with a low decibel volume. Some of them were rated at highly damaging levels... o_O

Picked up a pair of Bose too. Wife is going to kill me. Wine taste on a beer budget over here.
 
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I listen to audiobooks while in my shop with noise cancelling Bluetooth ear buds. And I specifically bought a bandsaw and dust filter with a low decibel volume. Some of them were rated at highly damaging levels... o_O

Picked up a pair of Bose too. Wife is going to kill me. Wine taste on a beer budget over here.

I listen to audiobooks, too. And ran through my toy money on an air cleaner and a set of full size woodpeckers.

I sure hope I see the UPS truck, first!
 

Bill Boehme

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So nice to see you here Donna! Welcome to the forum. I'm the one who accepted your application, I did not need to search to make sure you were a valid woodturner! Aloha from Maui

Donna has been a forum member since May 2004 ... that's like less than a month since the very beginning of the forum.
 

john lucas

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I.looked at the Bose after buying a set of cheapie. The cheapie were useless. The Bose were far too expensive.
 
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My wife bought the Bose QC 35 ll headphones....I did not like them - comfortable...absolutely. But, I found that the Sony WH-1000XM3 were as comfortable, had better noise canceling but the accompanying software allowed me to tailor the sound to my tastes - which also seemed to further make the noise cancellation better. This is all very subjective just as one has opinions about which brand of lathes or tooling is "best". We can quote numbers, and statistics - butI think picking headphones or earphones is like picking underwear....it should be a VERY personal choice:D. There are a lot of good choices to pick from and it is nice to see the sharing of those experiences.
 
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I.looked at the Bose after buying a set of cheapie. The cheapie were useless. The Bose were far too expensive.

I often see a statement like this attributed to the equipment, machinery and tools we use. I can understand it when a cheaper tool is available, and will still do the same job. I will never understand that statement when it comes to protecting my health or body parts.
 
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Sound supression is very difficult to measure in the lab, much less your ears, so individuals will have to make there own individual decisions. But for those interested, I have had the Bose wired earbuds for more than a year, maybe two now, with no problems.

The wireless one would be nice. I put the little box in a small ziplock, and slip this into the top left pocket of my smock. The wire then passes under my left arm around to the back of my collar. It's out of harm's way and out of mine.
 
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Sound supression is very difficult to measure in the lab, much less your ears, so individuals will have to make there own individual decisions. But for those interested, I have had the Bose wired earbuds for more than a year, maybe two now, with no problems.

The wireless one would be nice. I put the little box in a small ziplock, and slip this into the top left pocket of my smock. The wire then passes under my left arm around to the back of my collar. It's out of harm's way and out of mine.
I also have the Bose wired noise cancelling ear buds. I've used them for years, I just make sure that when I'm using them, it's not at a time when I might catch that wire, so I typically wear them when I'm seated at my carving bench. I also use the Air Pods Pro, (wireless) at the lathe. When I'm not listening to something, I wear the plain old over the whole ear protectors.
 
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I.looked at the Bose after buying a set of cheapie. The cheapie were useless. The Bose were far too expensive.
John, The Bose are definitely pricey, and I balked at the new price. But buying them refurbished (or whatever Bose calls it) gave me enough of an edge that I could justify it. Check the Bose website/outlet - also Ebay. Also, Donna's note above is pithy. But I'm sure all the earlier notes about the various passive earplugs and muffs are well justified - for a high NRR, the passive foam plugs are hard to beat.
 
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