All You Need To Know About Ear Defenders – Expert Buyers Guide

We really hope that you love the products that we recommend. Just so you know, ToolsReview may collect a share of sales or be compensated through the links on this page, but we think it’s a fair trade for the long hours of research that we put in.

Best Ear Defenders

Ear defenders are essential for anyone that is working in an environment with particularly loud sounds. Even if you are only working in a loud environment for 30 minutes – this can permanently damage your hearing. This doesn’t even need to be a particularly loud noise, it could be something as simple as cutting your hedges!

Nearly 22 million workers come into contact loud enough to permanently damage their hearing and this doesn’t even begin to include those coming into contact with loud noises in a domestic setting!

Here are some of the best ear defenders that are going to protect your vital hearing when you are working.

Best Pick – 3M Peltor Optime III Earmuffs

3M Peltor Optime III Ear Defenders Adults – Protective Earmuffs with Headband, Hearing Protection Against High Noise Levels in Industrial Settings, 35 dB, Black/Red
  • Ideal hearing protection against noise arising from noisy environments like airports, marine engine rooms, power stations and print works
  • Double casings technology helps minimise resonance effect
  • Large space inside cup helps reduce moisture and heat build-up
  • Soft wide cushions helps reduce pressure around the ears and improves comfort and wearability
  • Easy to replace cushions and inserts helps keep them hygienically clean

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Only Got 5 Minutes?

It can sometimes be difficult to tune out all the white noise when it comes to ear defenders! All the manufacturers claim to be the best on the market but what do you really need to look for when purchasing ear defenders? Keep reading for the best ear defenders on the market right now and some of those key features to look out for!

Ear Defender Features

We’ve looked at some of the main features that you need to consider before purchasing a pair of ear defenders – from level of protection to comfort – we’ve got it all covered!


There are 3 main types of ear defenders that you can choose from depending on the level of protection that you need and where you are working. These are:

  • Earplugs – Earplugs are the smallest type of ear defenders that you can go for, so if you are wanting something discreet and lightweight then these might be the option for you. However, they won’t be able to protect against more significant levels of noise so if you are working with bigger power tools then they may not be for you.
  • Earmuffs and ear defenders – These bigger models are much more able to block out even the loudest of noises so you can be sure that your ears are going to be protected. Ear defenders will usually be nice and light and comfortable to wear for longer periods of time.

TOP TIP: When looking at the design of your ear defenders it is also worth considering the colour that you go for. Most ear defenders that we found were black, which is great if you are conscious of your ear defenders matching your clothes! But not so great if you are working on construction sites and trying to find them among the rubble! If you know this is the kind of job you are doing then look out for defenders with a little more colour!

Ear Defender Safety Standards

The first thing that you need to check is that the ear defenders you are looking for are actually going to be up to standard – otherwise what is the point! Ear defenders must be CE marked as a minimum, which means that they are going to offer some level of protection and do what they are designed to do, however there are some additional standards to look out for.

Ear defenders meeting the BS EN352 standard means that the ear defenders are meeting European Standards for Hearing Protection, which is essential if they are being used in the workplace. Your ear defenders will also come with an SNR (Single Number Rating) value showing the noise level that they will be able to protect against! A rating of 20 or less will be sufficient for noise levels up to 90dB, but if you are working with anything louder than this then there are ear defenders with readings over 30!

To put this into perspective….many electric drills will emit around 95-100 decibels and power drills/concrete drills can be all the way up to 125-130 decibels!

NOTE: If you are purchasing your ear defenders online then you may see them labelled with Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) or CSA instead. These are the American and Canadian ratings for noise reduction technology so you will just need to check they are still fit for purpose.

It is worth remembering though, that you don’t want your ear defenders to block out sound completely! If they do then not only will you be more tempted to take them off to listen to what you are doing or to have a conversation, but also you are placing yourself at risk of NOT hearing something vitally important. For example, if you are working on a busy construction site, or if you are working close to gas and electric, then you need to be able to listen out for any sounds that suggest something may not be quite right!

Active and Passive Ear Defenders

Passive ear defenders are your cheapest option – these do what they say on the box and will block out any noise up to the decibels that they are advertised to protect against. So if they say that they can be used up to 90 dB then you can be sure that any noise up to that level isn’t getting in, which is fantastic! They are easy to use, free to run, and relatively cheap, so perfect for anyone that is working on their own and possibly not using their ear defenders all that regularly.

However, your other option are active ear defenders – arguably the best in our opinion. These will block out harmful decibels but accept normal volume levels. They will block out extremely loud noise but will actually amplify quiet sounds so that you can keep a better awareness of what is going on around you.

Active ear defenders use electricity to power a microphone so lesser noises that are going on around the room will be sent to you through a speaker – this means that your ears are protected from those really high decibels, but you are also still going to be able to hear conversations going on around you. Remember though that these will need either batteries or charging up when they are running low, so there is this added element to consider!

Comfort and Fit

If you are going to be wearing your ear defenders for any extended period of time then you are going to need them to be comfy, otherwise the temptation to remove them is going to be too big and your ears won’t be protected. There are various things to look out for when purchasing ear defenders that will help to add to the comfort when wearing them…

  • Padding – Most ear defendenders and ear muffs are padded with soft material so that they will mould around your ears. These will be nice and comfortable to wear but can sometimes make your ears too warm so make sure to look for an outer material that is cool and easy to clean when you are working.
  • Head band – The style of headband that you go for is also going to affect how comfortable your ear defenders are. Regardless of the size of your head, we would recommend looking for one that has an extra wide band as this will be more flexible and allow you to easily put the ear defenders on and off. Not just that but it avoids the band actually “sitting” on your head which could cause rubbing over time!
  • Headband material – It isn’t just the size of headband that you need to think about but also the material that it is made out of. Almost all will have a metal frame, but then look out for how soft the material is that covers the frame!
  • Weight – The weight of your ear defenders is obviously going to impact on how comfortable they are to wear. Look out for brands that use lightweight materials such as cushioning foam and plastic, as these will be lighter to wear every day and avoid giving you a headache!

TOP TIP: We would always recommend opting for a model with an adjustable headband. This will enable you to make sure that the ear defenders fit perfectly – not just from a comfort point of view, but also from a safety aspect too!

Best Budget – Silverline 633815 Ear Defenders

No products found.

The Best Ear Defender Features

The features in this part of the article are those that we think make the best ear defenders stand out from the rest. If you’re serious about keeping your hearing (which you should be) or just know that you are going to be wearing your ear defenders a lot then these are the features you should be listening out for!

  • Washable outer parts and layers – If you are completing any jobs that require ear defenders then chances are there is also going to be dust and debris involved! As the ear defenders are going near your face and coming into direct contact with your skin it is important that they are kept as clean as possible. Look out for parts that can be washed, or at least wiped down and scrubbed without becoming damaged. If you are looking for earplugs instead of the full overhead ear defenders then there is the option to buy disposable ones but these aren’t as cost effective.
  • Replaceable parts – Similar to above…If you want your ear defenders to last then look out for more hygienic options, with pads that can be replaced once they have been worn a few times. Not only will this make the ear defenders more comfortable as you will have fresh padding, but you are also free from the dust and particles of jobs completed before!
  • Compatible with other PPE – If you are making the wise move to protect your ears then it would make sense to protect your eyes and possibly even your face and lungs at the same time, depending on the job that you are completing! This means that it is worth looking out for ear defenders that are going to be compatible and easily worn with other types of PPE such as goggles and a mask.
  • Built in headsets/radios – If you are working on your own then it is unlikely you are going to need anything like this but we thought it was worth a mention just in case! Some ear defenders include microphones and radios to allow you to communicate better with others when you are working!
  • Bluetooth compatible – These ear defenders will actually pair with your mobile phone so that you can take calls without the hassle of having to remove your ear defenders. These are fantastic for if you are always busy and on the go, so don’t want the hassle of constantly taking your ear defenders on and off! Not only that, but it saves you from missing a call just because you didn’t hear it!

Best of the Rest

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

PRETEX Ear Defenders with SNR 34dB - Lightweight Ear Muffs Protection for Adults - Adjustable Noise Cancelling Headphones - Over Ear Earmuffs for Work or Home - Yellow
  • Audio Ear Defenders: Our PRETEX Ear Defenders are designed to be durable and provide you with hearing protection. They do not only help protect your ears from any extreme loudness but can also create a more quiet and idyllic acoustic experience
  • Lightweight with High Wearing Comfort: The light sealing rings, offer high strength even when worn for a long time. With the adjustable headband, the ear protection can be adjusted to different head sizes
  • Protective Seal: Our noise cancelling ear defenders have an optimal seal that helps to protect you and your family's ears, so you can enjoy loud outdoor activities together. You can carry it in your bags without weight or bulk
  • For Universal Use: Thanks to the optimal sealing, the noise protection headphones with SNR 34dB offer optimal protection against noisy work. You can also use them in the office, garden, during sports or as ear protection for work
  • Adjustable Design: The headband of the earmuffs is easily adjustable for different head sizes, making it wearable for a range of different people. The noise cancelling earmuffs are designed to fit around your ears, not on them

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

3M PELTOR Optime III Ear Muffs, Headband, 35 dB, Hi-Viz, H540A-461-GB
  • Ideal hearing protection against noise arising from noisy environments like airports, marine engine rooms, power stations and print works
  • Double casings technology helps minimise resonance effect
  • Large space inside cup helps reduce moisture and heat build-up
  • Soft wide cushions helps reduce pressure around the ears and improves comfort and wearability
  • Easy to replace cushions and inserts helps keep them hygienically clean

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Safety Gear!

If you are looking for safety gear to help you get a wide range of jobs completed then don’t panic! We are here to help! We have reviewed a whole host of safety gear, as well as ear defenders, so that you can make sure you are well protected when you are working!

Best Safety Boots

Best Safety Glasses

Best Work Gloves

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the law on ear defenders when working?
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 state that any noise level over 85 decibels means that workers are entitled to (and should be wearing) ear defenders. However, due to research suggesting that ears can become damaged at levels lower than this, we would recommend using ear defenders whenever you are working on louder jobs or working with power tools.

Can I buy a hard hat with ear defenders?
Yes – and we would definitely recommend this if you are working on any larger job around your home. The hard hats are specially designed to include the ear defenders attached onto the side of them, so you are fully protected and prepared for the job you are about to complete.

Are ear defenders better than ear plugs?
This really depends on the job that you are completing. Ear plugs fit directly into the ear canal so are capable of really blocking out any unwanted noise, plus this makes them lighter and easier to wear. However, ear defenders will protect the whole ear, and provide more options in terms of the level of noise that you want to be able to hear. Plus, these models will include active ear defenders – so ones that will also amplify low levels of sound.

What happens if you don’t wear ear defenders?

If you don’t wear ear defenders then they will not be able to protect your ear drums from loud noises. It is important to reduce the loud noises from reaching your inner ear and irreparably damaging your hearing.

  • Performance
  • Features
  • Ergonomics
  • Value
About Thomas Paxton 368 Articles
Hey there, I'm Thomas Paxton, your Tool Guru with a Twist! I've been knee-deep in the world of tools since I was a little tinkerer in my dad's shed. Now, I'm running my own website where I share my passion for tools and gardening products through buyers guides and insightful tips. I've got the knowledge and experience to break down complex concepts into simple, easy-to-understand language. I purchased Tools Review from Mike Jones at the start of 2023, he has done a sterling job of building the site and I hope I can continue in his success! When I'm not writing guides, you'll find me in my garden or garage, putting my skills to work and pushing the boundaries of creativity. So, whether you're a pro or just starting out, join me on this adventure, and let's conquer DIY projects together!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.