Caldwell E Max vs Howard Leight Impact Pro – Which is the best ear protection for indoor shooting?

Caldwell E Max vs Howard Leight Impact Pro

If you’re often involved in noisy activities such as indoor shooting, you need electronic earmuffs to protect yourself from the excessively loud gunfire. The Caldwell E Max and Howard Leight are two the most popular electronic earmuffs today and the following is an in depth review of the two.

Electronic earmuffs are essential not only for shooting but for any noisy environments such as factories and lumberyards. Long exposure to loud noises may cause serious ear damage, and even permanent hearing conditions. Even just one shot from a gun may severely affect the ear. This is why we strongly recommend the use of ear protection. Two of the most commonly compared electronic ear protection are the Caldwell E Max and Howard Leight Impact pro. The following is a table that highlights their major differences.

What are the differences between Caldwell E Max and Howard Leight?

Caldwell E Max
Howard Leight
Noise reduction rating
25 dB
30 dB (decibels)
Comfort padding
Think padded adjustable headband
Super Deluxe padded headband
Power source
2 AAA batteries
2 AAA batteries (350 hours)
Sound activation protection rating
85 dB
82 dB

Caldwell E Max vs Howard Leight– How do they compare?

Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)

In electronic earmuffs, the noise reduction rating refers to the effectiveness of hearing protection to reduce sound exposure in the given environment. It is the most important factor to look at when buying ear protection. NRR is measured in decibels and usually, the higher the NRR rating, the better the earmuffs. The Howard Leight Impact Pro is rated at 30 dB while the Caldwell E Max stands at 25 dB.This therefore means that the Howard Leight earmuffs is better since ithas a higher noise reduction rating.Remember that indoor shooting requires ratings of between 26 and 33 dB. The Howard Leight falls within this range and comes highly recommended for shooting. On the other hand, the Caldwell Max is suitable for small firearms and caliber arms which aren’t very loud.

Sound protection rating

Another noise rating common in electronic ear protection is the sound activation protection rating. This is the sound level at which when exceeded, amplification is turned off to protect your ears. Here, the Caldwell Max is rated at 85 dB while Howard Leight stands at 82 dB. Unlike in NRR, earmuffs with lower sound protection are better than highly rated ones. Once again, the Howard Leight Impact Pro is takes the win as it turns off noise at a lower level for better ear protection.

Comfort and foldablity

People that wear ear protection usually do it for multiple hours in a day. Because of this, you need the most comfortable earmuffs you can get. A good hearing protection should feature an ergonomic design and thick soft paddings that will not irritate the ear. In this category, the Caldwell E Max is better as it is more adjustable and ergonomic in design.The Caldwell is also better since it folds smaller than the Howard Leight. However in terms of soft ear paddings, they both have comfortable thick paddings that ensure you can wear them for hours on end.

Microphone sound quality

Electronic ear protection is made up of microphone, speakers and amplifiers. Usually, the quality is of the speaker and microphone is determined by how many they are as well and the brand.Caldwell E Max is fitted with two external microphones that amplify sounds lower than 85 dB. On the other hand, Howard Leight is fitted with internal directional microphones that amplify sounds below 82 dB. Therefore, the Howard Leight offer better sound quality than its counterpart.

Battery life

Another essential factor is the battery life of ear protection. First, both the Caldwell Max and Howard Leight are powered by 2 rechargeable AAA batteries. In addition, they can both last two weeks of daily use. For this category, we have a tie since they offer same battery life of 14 days

Caldwell E Max vs Howard Leight – How do they compare?

Caldwell E Max

Caldwell E-Max - ADULT Green - Electronic 21 NRR Hearing Protection with Sound Amplification - Adjustable Earmuffs for Shooting, Hunting and Range
  • SPECS: Experience high quality stereo sound while confidently protecting your hearing with 25 NRR (Noise...
  • COMFORTABLE: Featuring an adjustable headband and padded ear cups, you’ll find a custom fit to ensure...
  • EASE OF USE: Runs on 2 AAA batteries (not included)
  • FEATURES: Dual microphones in each ear provide directional clarity, amplifying sounds to the ideal volume

The Caldwell E Max is one of Amazon’s top selling electronic ear protection. The brand is known for its affordability and great value for money. These earmuffs are designed for people who practice shooting often – whether in the gun range or outdoors. They are built with great circuitry and low profile ear cups that are ideal for shotgun shooters. Furthermore, these earmuffs come with a decent noise reduction rating of 25 decibels. At 85 dB, they go into automatic shutdown to protect the ears against harmful sound. When it comes to comfort, these low profile earmuffs also perform well. I recently tested them over a period of 8 hours and they proved to be superbly comfortable with perfect grip. The cushioning is thin and attached to a metal wire frame headband that ensures durability.

The Caldwell E Max also comes with two microphones that allow both stereo and mono sound for awareness of the surroundings. You can also adjust the sound settings to your liking. These earmuffs are powered by 2 AAA batteries which are unfortunately not included in the package. There’s also a 3.5 mm input jack although the sound quality isn’t good for music.


  • Affordable and offer great value for money
  • Decent NRR of 25 dB for an entry level protection
  • Lightweight and fold small making it easy to carry around
  • Wide range of colors to select from
  • Automatic shutdown feature when noise exceeds 85 dB


  • Static sounds as they age
  • Not very durable due to its light weight

View Price on Amazon

Howard Leight Impact Pro

Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Pro High Noise Reduction Rating Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff for Indoor and Covered Ranges or Other Extremely Loud Shooting Environments (R-01902)
  • HIGH NOISE REDUCTION RATING (30 NRR): Designed for handgun and pistol shooters looking for high NRR;...
  • AMPLIFIES AMBIENT NOISE UP TO 4X: Built-in directional microphones amplify range commands and other...
  • BLOCKS HAZARDOUS NOISE: Actively listens and automatically shuts off amplification when ambient sound...
  • COMFORTABLE, SECURE FIT: Rubberized pressure points prevent gunstock scratching; super deluxe padded...

The Impact Pro is one of the best models released by Howard Leight. It is best known for its high noise reduction rating of 30 dB which is quite impressive for its price range. Unlike the Caldwell, Impact pro comes with internal microphones. They are sensitive and amplify sounds which are lower than 82 dB. Additionally, when this noise level is exceeded, the earmuffs automatically shut off. This not only protects your ears but also enhances natural listening. The auto shutoff feature is also activates after four hours which greatly enhances battery life. The Impact Pro is powered by two AAA batteries that are included in the package. They are also rechargeable and provide a battery life of approximately 10 hours on a single charge.

When it comes to comfort, these earmuffs are nothing short of amazing. They are thickly cushioned and feel great against the ear. Their ear design is also rectangular to provide good grip and prevent them slipping off. Lastly, there’s also a headphone jack and its connection cord in the box.


  • Great NRR of 30 dB is ideal for shooting
  • Offers great value for money
  • Very comfortable with the well-cushioned earmuffs
  • Amazing battery life of up to 10 hours on a single full charge


  • Large and bulky makes it difficult to carry around

View Price on Amazon


In conclusion, these are both great electronic ear protection depending on your requirements. The Howard Leight are better for people that are constantly shooting guns while the Caldwell is perfect for less loud noises and people on a tight budget.

So which is better? Caldwell E Max or Howard Leight?

The Howard Leightearmuffs are overall much better than the Caldwell E Max. Not only do they have a higher noise reduction rating, they are also more durable and comfortable.


  1. Does the Caldwell E Max have automatic shutdown feature?

Yes. It automatically shuts off when noise exceeds 85 dB

  1. Is there Bluetooth connectivity on the Howard Leight Impact Pro?

No. There’s only a 3.5 mm headphone jack for connectivity. High end models however support Bluetooth connection


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