War Zone Hearing Protection

Jan 11, 2011
350
0
0
30
Houston, Texas
I hope this isnt exactly the same as all the other earplug threads... Being a soldier and audio engineer can have conflicting interests on your ears. Im having trouble finding earplugs that I can wear comfortably for long periods of time, up to 24 hours but usually around 8-18 hours a day. The real killer for me is at times I need to wear a headset that presses on the ear plugs and causes pain in my ears very shortly after putting it on. The headsets by themselves arent comfortable to wear for any length of time. Ive thought about molded, electronic ear plugs, but between all the dirt and sweat im not sure how long they would last, the dust here is insane. Also not sure how the electronics would deal with any type of blast. Ive cut the ends of of the military standard issue earplugs and I still cant get them short enough to still protect and not hurt with the headset.

Any ideas? If I can help it id like to come back with the same hearing I came here with.
 

Jay Barracato

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
1,528
2
38
Solomons MD
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

I never did figure it out during my time in the army, and I know that much of my current tinnitus dates from that period.

If you do figure something out but need help getting it shipped to you just let me know.
 
Jan 11, 2011
350
0
0
30
Houston, Texas
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

I never did figure it out during my time in the army, and I know that much of my current tinnitus dates from that period.

If you do figure something out but need help getting it shipped to you just let me know.
Thanks Jay, Its quite painful with everything Ive tried so far, But Ive been rocked enough that Im tired of it and its worth it.
 

Jay Barracato

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
1,528
2
38
Solomons MD
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

Any possibility of getting molds made over there? The most effective may be silicone molds.

If you send a mailing address, I could slide by the drugstores and just gather up a bunch of the locally available plugs so you could try out a variety.
 
Jan 11, 2011
350
0
0
30
Houston, Texas
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

Any possibility of getting molds made over there? The most effective may be silicone molds.

If you send a mailing address, I could slide by the drugstores and just gather up a bunch of the locally available plugs so you could try out a variety.
Ill try to send you a PM, Internet is working when it wants, may be able to send it tomorrow. The only chance of molds here would be the kits where they send a kit, you mold it yourself and mail it back to them, then they make it and mail it back to you. Could be a very long process with shipping back and forth then making them. Im also thinking about just trying the softer orange ones next time out.
 

Jay Barracato

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
1,528
2
38
Solomons MD
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

Well, I say a bunch of non custom silicone plugs online. Get me an address and I will get a couple of brands for you to try. If one works out we can figure out a more regular supply chain.

I still remember the feeling on something pressing on the shaft of the standard military plug, which never did seal right for me anyways. I don't remember what was pressing but i remember the discomfort.

And typically the military is about 20 years out of date with the available technology for the little things. If they made the molds while you were still here, top of the line sensaphonics are only about $150.
 

John Roberts

Graduate Student
Jan 12, 2011
2,309
3
38
MS
www.resotune.com
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

Yup, that might be tough in the field.

The soft ones may be less painful but probably with less attenuation.

To prevent hearing damage they should help..

I don't recall the military being very rigorous about hearing damage back in 1970... one time when they took us out to the rifle range to re-qulaify, I had to bum some cigarettes, tear off the filters, and stuff them into my ears as crude protection. While not like your noise, they doubled us up on the range points so we had M-16's in both directions only a couple feet away going through full clips in full R&R to get it over with quickly (loudest noise I recall even with my makeshift plugs).

========
I read about one animal study that suggested anti-oxidant vitamins (A,C,E, etc) are protective against permanent hearing damage but I'm not sure how they test the animals (do you hear me now, fido? ).

Navy and marines have some high tech "quiet pro" earplugs with digital processing. http://www.hearingreview.com/issues/articles/HPR_2008-05_06.asp

I sure would want to hear everything up until the moment when the sh__ starts, then quiet is good...bit not permanent quiet.

While $1400 each is a bit much... IMO at a minimum the guys on patrol and out on foot need to be able to hear everything around them clearly. Rear party, need protection from mortars, and IEDs, and perhaps the $10 combat arms plugs may be the play for general use. If yours are painful maybe you have an unusual sized ear canal? I find it hard to believe that one size fits all comfortably. Properly sized conventional plugs, that don't hurt and people actually wear, are better than any that they don't use, or can't get.

Good luck, and take care of the whole unit, not just your ears, but take care of them too. There are jobs where ears are useful on the outside.

JR
 
Last edited:
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

I hope this isnt exactly the same as all the other earplug threads... Being a soldier and audio engineer can have conflicting interests on your ears. Im having trouble finding earplugs that I can wear comfortably for long periods of time, up to 24 hours but usually around 8-18 hours a day. The real killer for me is at times I need to wear a headset that presses on the ear plugs and causes pain in my ears very shortly after putting it on. The headsets by themselves arent comfortable to wear for any length of time. Ive thought about molded, electronic ear plugs, but between all the dirt and sweat im not sure how long they would last, the dust here is insane. Also not sure how the electronics would deal with any type of blast. Ive cut the ends of of the military standard issue earplugs and I still cant get them short enough to still protect and not hurt with the headset.

Any ideas? If I can help it id like to come back with the same hearing I came here with.
Evan.

I like the softer type that have two small tabs on one end. Not the conical ones, these are slightly rounded in the front, then straight, until the back where they have these two "tabs" molded in. They are usually bright orange.

I roll them really tightly between thumb and index finger, then quickly stick them into my ear all the way until nothing is sticking out. Sometimes this provided too much attenuation, but you can always chop off the front end.

I sometimes clean disposable earplugs in a cup of soapy water before rinsing in clear water. Doing this changes the consistency, they swell up, yet become a lot more "springy". Perhaps this will help in making them pliable enough to fit your ears?

Also, you can get wax ear plugs that you kinda mold by sticking the ball of wax slicone into your ear and your body heat makes it soft enogh to assume the shape of your ear canal. I hate them as they feel sweaty and weird to me, but others might have different opinions.

Just some thoughts.

PS: Stay safe.
 
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

I have tried several types of molded plugs with a normal headset over and they're all uncomfortable to say the least as they all have some sort of non-pliable material sticking out where you're supposed to grab them to get them out. I have had much more luck with all kinds of foam plugs.
 

John Roberts

Graduate Student
Jan 12, 2011
2,309
3
38
MS
www.resotune.com
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

I've got a bunch of cheap soft foam plugs I bought years ago to hand out at drum industry trade shows, but they are only NRR 29, so both of your links are better than mine at attenuating noise.

JR
 
Jan 11, 2011
350
0
0
30
Houston, Texas
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

Well, I say a bunch of non custom silicone plugs online. Get me an address and I will get a couple of brands for you to try. If one works out we can figure out a more regular supply chain.

I still remember the feeling on something pressing on the shaft of the standard military plug, which never did seal right for me anyways. I don't remember what was pressing but i remember the discomfort.

And typically the military is about 20 years out of date with the available technology for the little things. If they made the molds while you were still here, top of the line sensaphonics are only about $150.
Cool, Internet is working better today, I will send you that PM. Yeah the earplugs work but they are a pain to wear for any length of time, even the ones that they properly fit you with. I have no molds to go of of for the plugs, I had been planning to get some for a while before I left, But the deployment came on pretty sudden.

Yup, that might be tough in the field.

The soft ones may be less painful but probably with less attenuation.

To prevent hearing damage they should help..

I don't recall the military being very rigorous about hearing damage back in 1970... one time when they took us out to the rifle range to re-qulaify, I had to bum some cigarettes, tear off the filters, and stuff them into my ears as crude protection. While not like your noise, they doubled us up on the range points so we had M-16's in both directions only a couple feet away going through full clips in full R&R to get it over with quickly (loudest noise I recall even with my makeshift plugs).

========
I read about one animal study that suggested anti-oxidant vitamins (A,C,E, etc) are protective against permanent hearing damage but I'm not sure how they test the animals (do you hear me now, fido? ).

Navy and marines have some high tech "quiet pro" earplugs with digital processing. http://www.hearingreview.com/issues/articles/HPR_2008-05_06.asp

I sure would want to hear everything up until the moment when the sh__ starts, then quiet is good...bit not permanent quiet.

While $1400 each is a bit much... IMO at a minimum the guys on patrol and out on foot need to be able to hear everything around them clearly. Rear party, need protection from mortars, and IEDs, and perhaps the $10 combat arms plugs may be the play for general use. If yours are painful maybe you have an unusual sized ear canal? I find it hard to believe that one size fits all comfortably. Properly sized conventional plugs, that don't hurt and people actually wear, are better than any that they don't use, or can't get.

Good luck, and take care of the whole unit, not just your ears, but take care of them too. There are jobs where ears are useful on the outside.

JR
John, You do want to hear everything up till that point, situational awareness is key and if you cant hear everything that puts you one step behind. Thats wher e this gets tricky, but there are certain situations like inside a truck, where you can wear them just to be on the safe side incase of any sort of IED. There are many times I will wear no hearing protection just for the simple fact that I do NEED to hear everything. There are some cheaper ones that are supposed to allow everything through except for the sound of a gunshot or explosion, im not sure how well they work but im trying to get my hands on some of those. The main reason the current issue ear plugs is that they stick out of your ear, and when I have to wear a headset over them it moves it around in your ear causing pain. That and just the overall length of time they can be in.

Evan.

I like the softer type that have two small tabs on one end. Not the conical ones, these are slightly rounded in the front, then straight, until the back where they have these two "tabs" molded in. They are usually bright orange.

I roll them really tightly between thumb and index finger, then quickly stick them into my ear all the way until nothing is sticking out. Sometimes this provided too much attenuation, but you can always chop off the front end.

I sometimes clean disposable earplugs in a cup of soapy water before rinsing in clear water. Doing this changes the consistency, they swell up, yet become a lot more "springy". Perhaps this will help in making them pliable enough to fit your ears?

Also, you can get wax ear plugs that you kinda mold by sticking the ball of wax slicone into your ear and your body heat makes it soft enogh to assume the shape of your ear canal. I hate them as they feel sweaty and weird to me, but others might have different opinions.

Just some thoughts.

PS: Stay safe.
Kristian, Im not sure what type of ear plugs you are talking about with the tabs? Sounds like they could work if you can comfortably get them in far enough that they dont stick out. Not sure that the wax would be an option in these temperatures. I will be as safe as I can! Thank you!

Thanks for those links Pat, I may try some of those. Hopefully being softer in general will be more comfortable.


Thanks all for the input, gives me a few more Ideas!
 

Art Welter

Senior
Jan 11, 2011
815
13
18
Florida
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

Evan,

Since the discomfort you mention is from the headset pressing on the earplug, perhaps you could do the Ultraphone approach and mount the headphone earpiece inside of a shooting muff, and dispense with the earplug.
This would allow the earphone to be run at a lower level, decreasing distortion and perhaps also allowing better recognition of the other important noises going on in your environment.

The Peltor shooting muff is probably too thick to fit inside a helmet, but there are shop style deadphones that may fit inside a helmet and still provide decent attenuation.

Art
 

John Roberts

Graduate Student
Jan 12, 2011
2,309
3
38
MS
www.resotune.com
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

While Active noise suppression plugs with DSP sounds cool, $1400 each in quantity is not so cool... (made in Finland or something like that).

If you are already listening to some kind of sound source, perhaps actively combine some closed back cans or buds with one or more external microphones and a power amp that can't get loud enough to hurt you.

I can buy cheap mics for <$2 and simple electronics is not worth $1k+ Even without DSP some crude peak detection and suppression is not that hard... Hard/expensive is making this mil spec and getting the contract.

Simple circuitry could even kill your beastie boys, when the external microphones pick up sounds above some threshold or running average, and then clamp when external sounds are too loud while using a wimpy amp in the first place should provide some degree of protection.

Of course making this robust enough for the sand dunes and IEDs is another story... Do you have room for solar panels on your helmet to charge the batteries?


JR

PS my cheap foam plugs had a thin string that should not bother anything, but they are cheapo's and not for long term use.
 
Jan 11, 2011
350
0
0
30
Houston, Texas
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

Evan,

Since the discomfort you mention is from the headset pressing on the earplug, perhaps you could do the Ultraphone approach and mount the headphone earpiece inside of a shooting muff, and dispense with the earplug.
This would allow the earphone to be run at a lower level, decreasing distortion and perhaps also allowing better recognition of the other important noises going on in your environment.

The Peltor shooting muff is probably too thick to fit inside a helmet, but there are shop style deadphones that may fit inside a helmet and still provide decent attenuation. May be onto something here though.

Art
This could work, But no it would not fit in/under the helmet at that point. They barely fit as is. The other thing is that I end up in alot of different vehicles, the head sets belong to those vehicles. I could acquire one of them to modify myself, but in the long run that could screw the next soldier who gets in that truck.
 

John Roberts

Graduate Student
Jan 12, 2011
2,309
3
38
MS
www.resotune.com
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

Do the headsets have common plugs or are they all different and/or hard wired into the vehicles..? It seems there should be some incentive to standardize, but life is rarely that agreeable.

JR
 
Jan 11, 2011
350
0
0
30
Houston, Texas
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

Do the headsets have common plugs or are they all different and/or hard wired into the vehicles..? It seems there should be some incentive to standardize, but life is rarely that agreeable.

JR
They all use the same plug from truck to truck yes. The problem is that if I took one headset from a truck, to modify it to be more comfortable and for my own use. That truck wouldnt have the full amount of headsets for the next group of people. The army can be very slow at replacing items sometimes.
 

John Roberts

Graduate Student
Jan 12, 2011
2,309
3
38
MS
www.resotune.com
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

I was thinking in terms of rolling your own personal headset from some ear buds/plugs and a mic... that you could carry with you and plug in where ever. Of course you probably don't need extra weight to carry around so this needs to be light weight and relatively simple.

I wonder how much voice you could pick up from a mic inside your ear canal? Probably not good enough for sibilants and fricatives that are useful for speech intelligibility. Their HF energy content may not do so well using that pathway.

JR
 
Re: War Zone Hearing Protection

Evan,

Since the discomfort you mention is from the headset pressing on the earplug, perhaps you could do the Ultraphone approach and mount the headphone earpiece inside of a shooting muff, and dispense with the earplug.
This would allow the earphone to be run at a lower level, decreasing distortion and perhaps also allowing better recognition of the other important noises going on in your environment.

The Peltor shooting muff is probably too thick to fit inside a helmet, but there are shop style deadphones that may fit inside a helmet and still provide decent attenuation.

Art
Art, is my memory way off - or did you post on the LAB a year back about some kind of shooting ear plugs that had a pressure valve that would close when hit by the pressure wave of the sound of a gunshot?
 

James Flood

New member
Jun 24, 2018
1
0
1
Columbia
In war zone, we should use the shooting earplugs to protect the hearing. Now a days a lot of people are suffering in a different hearing problem due to not using the hearing protection devices. So If you want to protect your hearing then you need to use earplugs. There are a lot of hearing protections available but you need to get the best one.