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Not that long ago electronic ear muffs were priced out of the reach of most casual shooters. Prices generally started around $200 and went up.
Fortunately, times have changed. Unlike ammo, the price on entry-level electronic hearing protection has come down significantly, and all but the most cash-strapped shooters can afford them.
The Champion Electronic Earmuffs are an inexpensive model of electronic hearing protection, with many retailers selling them for $35 or less.
They offer a stated 25 db of protection. The electronics cut off harmful noises, but allow you to amplify more quiet sounds.
The Champion ear muffs have two mics, one for each ear, allowing for true stereo sound. Each muff has its own volume control, allowing you to boost the volume in one ear more than the other.
The earmuffs use four (4) AAA batteries, two in each side. A set of standard Duracell batteries lasted through multiple trips to the range, so battery life seemed good to me.
The muffs fold up into a very compact package for easy storage. This may seem like a trivial thing, but space in my range bag is at a premium. Compact is good.
The muffs fit my head well and provided a very good seal around the ears. I previously reviewed the Caldwell E-MAX electronic muffs, and feel the Champion earmuffs did a much better job at fitting around the ears and dampening loud noises.
However, I experienced other problems with the Champion Electonic Earmuffs that made them an obviously inferior product that I cannot recommend.
The mic/speakers did not work very well at all. The speaker in the left muff cut in and out constantly, creating a highly annoying situation. The right muff was better, but it would also cut in and out.
No amount of playing around with the muffs would fix the problem. This problem alone prevents me from recommending this product.
There were two other issues with the Champion ear muffs, though neither was a deal killer in and of themselves.
First, the audio quality (apart from the cutting in and out) wasn’t terribly good. The speakers could only reproduce a very narrow frequency band, meaning that everyone sounded pretty awful when talking. As a gag, I tried listening to music through them. The audio reproduction redefined “bad.”
The second issue is the lack of LED or other warning light signifying the earmuffs are “on.” It would be very easy to turn the muffs on and forget to turn them off after you remove them from your head.
The competing Caldwell product has a small red light that is plainly visible when the circuitry is active.
Not having a light may not be a deal killer, but it would likely kill more than a few batteries around my house.
I had high hopes for the Champion Electronic Earmuffs. They look and feel nicer than the Caldwell muffs, but their performance was horrible. If you decide to give these a try, make sure you save your receipt.