Most woodworkers use hearing protection for attenuating sound levels that endanger hearing, but they hate the inconvenience of taking muffs or plugs on and off or not being able to hear normal sounds around them.
We previously reviewed ISOtunes Link and Xtra 2.0 ear protection that paired to your Bluetooth device to allow listening to music and answering phone calls while wearing hearing protection. But those devices still dampened all outside sounds, perhaps keeping you from hearing co-workers trying to get your attention.
Now the company has introduced two new models, ISOtunes Link Aware and ISOtunes Pro Aware, that feature situational awareness to protect you from loud noises only when they reach a dangerous level and to allow you to hear normally when sound levels are not dangerous.
How it works
ISOtunes calls the system behind this advance Aware Technology. According to the company, when outside noise breaches a safe listening level of 85dB, Aware Technology purposefully shuts off to block this noise passively, like a standard hearing protector. When environmental noise returns to a safe listening level, Aware Technology turns back on to continue amplifying the sounds around you.
And like the previous ISOtunes models we reviewed, these are Bluetooth compatible to give you access to your phone, your music, or any other Bluetooth compatible device, without sacrificing ear protection or having to take the muffs or earbuds off and on all the time.
Bang! It works!
I was familiar with this kind of technology having used it with hearing protection with firearms, so I was pleased to see it available for the shop. It’s particularly valuable if you are using percussive tools such as pneumatic nail guns or doing a lot of turning machines on and off. ISOtunes says the sound dampening is activated in just 2 milliseconds to prevent damage to your hearing, and I found it worked well.
Your choice of the Link ear muffs or the Pro earbuds is largely a personal matter, since they offer roughly the same features. The muffs have 25 dB attenuation, while the earbuds are slightly better at 26 dB. The muffs have 11-hour battery life, while the earbuds last 10 hours. I personally find the muffs more comfortable, but the earbuds come with four tip sizes for a good fit.
Either way they are worth checking out. Learn more at isotunes.com.
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