Electronic Ear Muffs Vs Regular Ear Muffs – Which are better for gun shooting activities?


When choosing hearing protection earmuffs, it is important to know the differences between regular or passive earmuffs and electronic earmuffs. The guide below shows their major differences to determine which would be the best option for indoor and outdoor shooting.

Before there were ever electronic earmuffs protection, passive earmuffs were the most common option when it came to ear protection. Passive earmuffs have no electric components and are simply thick headsets that cancel out noise. Electronic earmuffs on the side are battery powered and use electric components to cancel and amplify sounds simultaneously. With regular or passive earmuffs, there is no sound amplification meaning you may not be able to hear the environment around you. This is the major downside to this option. To further understand the devices, the table below highlights their major differences.

What are the differences between Electronic Ear Muffs and Regular Ear Muffs?

Electronic Ear Muffs
Regular/passive Ear Muffs
Battery powered only
Doesn’t need power source
Equipped with microphones
No microphones available
3.5 mm audio jack or Bluetooth connection
No external connections or ports
Comes in both slim and thick design
Usually large and thick ear cups
Amplifies low ambient noise
No amplification of sound
Volume controls available
No form of control for the user

Electronic Ear Muffs vs Regular Ear Muffs- How do these devices compare?

Omnidirectional microphones

One of the key differences between electronic and passive earmuffs is the presence of microphones. Microphones are either omnidirectional or directional. Using the latter, you are able to tell where low ambient noise is coming from. The presence of microphone greatly improve performance. Electronic earmuffs are better since they are equipped with mics on each ear cup whereas there are no mics on regular ear muffs. What this means is that you are able to hear the surrounding environment with electronic ear muffs. Whether it’s instructions from your shooting guide or prey walking behind you, it is possible to comfortably hear these sounds. This makes the excellent for hunting. With passive earmuffs, it is difficult to have conversations since they only cancel noise.

Power source

Another major contrast between regular and electronic earmuffs is their power source. Electronic earmuffs as the name suggests are powered using batteries. They need batteries to power the electric components like the microphones. Regular earmuffs don’t require a power source since there are no electric components to it. For this reason, electronic earmuffs are better since the battery power and use of electric components make it a more efficient device. The only downside to this is that you’ll need to buy batteries often.


When it comes to design, there is a vast difference between these devices. An electronic earmuffis either slim, low profile or large and thick. Slim units are designed for shooting and hunting whereas larger units are for industrial or home use. Regular earmuffs are always large and chunky meaning they are no good when it comes to shooting activities. They bulging ear cups make it difficult to aim and shoot. Because of this, electronic earmuffs are better since their design allows for a wider range of activities than the regular earmuffs.

Simplicity and ease of use

An essential consideration for hearing protection devices is how simple it is for the user to use. Here, regular earmuffs have a slight edge over electronic earmuffs. Regular earmuffs are simply good to go when you buy them. Just open the seal and wear them over your head and you’re good to go. Electronic earmuffs on the other hand require a lot of set up before you can wear them. You need to locate the battery slots which are different for every brand, adjust volume and setup the mics for advanced models. The plug and play feature on regular earmuffs is great for first timers or non-frequent users.

External connections and versatility

External connections increase the product’s versatility. This means it is not only used as a noise cancellation headset but also doubles as a music system. In this category, electronic ear muffs once again have the edge over regular earmuffs since they allow for external connections. These connections are either through the 3.5 mm audio jack or Bluetooth in more advanced devices. Through these, you can plug in your phone or mp3 player and listen to some music as you mow the lawn. Regular earmuffs on the other hand do not support external connections meaning no music.

Electronic Ear Muffs vs Regular Ear Muffs – A comparison Overview

Electronic Ear Muffs

Electronic earmuffs are devices that use electric components to cancel noise and amplify ambient noise simultaneously. This protects the user from loud noises such as gunshots while still allowing them to have hear people and other low sounds around you. These devices come with an amplification rating and noise reduction rating. For instance, an earmuff with an amplification rating of 82 decibels means that sounds below this level will be amplified to that value and sounds above will automatically be reduced. The noise reduction rating refers to how much the earmuffs reduce the noise. An electronic earmuff with an NRR of 23 decibels means that it reduces loud noise by that number of decibels.

To power an electric earmuff, you need batteries. Different brands use different type and amount of batteries. Without the batteries, you simply have a passive or regular earmuff meaning no amplification abilities. In addition, some electronic earmuffs feature a low profile design for portability and comfort when aiming a rifle. The Impact Sport is a one of the best examples of low profile electronic earmuffs.


  • Amplifies low surrounding noises making them the ultimate hunting choice
  • Two in one package that cancels noise and amplifies it at the same time
  • Allow for external connections for music
  • Eliminates wind noise


  • Generally lower NRR compared to regular earmuffs

Regular/Passive Earmuffs

Passive earmuffs were the first protection headsets to be used in loud environments. However, they still remain popular although the market is dominated by electronic headsets. This is because they are still quite efficient in cancelling out noise. Due to their simplistic nature, they tend to have higher noise reduction ratings than their electric counterparts. They are also significantly cheaper which is a great perk.

These earmuffs are very easy to use. They are plug and play to mean that all you have to do is buy them and wear them. There are no batteries involved, no external connections or volume control wheels. There is also no on/off button. All you get are thickly padded headbands and ear cups that cancel out noise. This design aspect is also the reason these products are generally larger than electronic earmuffs


  • Require no use of batteries or power source
  • Cheap and affordable
  • Easy to use


  • Large bulky design makes it difficult to carry around


To summarize, electronic earmuffs are great for hunting and daily use in loud environments whereas passive or regular earmuffs are better for non-frequent users and home use. This is because electric earmuffs amplify sound and cancel noise simultaneously.

So which is better? Electronic Ear muffs or Regular ear muffs?

Electronic earmuffs such as the Peltor Sport Tactical 100 are certainly better than regular ear muffs. They are versatile, affordable and have microphones that amplify ambient noise for the user’s awareness. This makes them the perfect addition to your hunting gear.


  1. Do electronic earmuffs support Bluetooth connectivity?

Yes. Advanced models connect to phones and mp3 players via Bluetooth

  1. Are regular earmuffs durable?

Yes. Without an audio jack and other electric components, they are quite durable.


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