GSP1 GunSport Pro Earplugs Review

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I rarely write gun accessory reviews and this is only the second review I have written in five years. A few months ago a friend of mine asked me if I had heard about Etymotic Research GunSport Pro Earplugs. She was working for one of their distributors and said they had been selling well. The earplugs provide hearing protection from very loud noises but also amplify soft sounds such as speech, like conventional electronic ear muffs but in a package barley larger than conventional in-ear earplugs. I was intrigued.

The GSP1 GunSport Pro Earplugs are dwarfed by my “compact” Remington Electronic Ear Muffs

Coincidently (yes, it was a coincidence) the following day I received an email from Etymotic Research asking if I would like to try the GSP1 GunSport Pro Earplugs. I replied to say that a single range trip would not be sufficient to evaluate them but I would be willing to try them at Media Day where I would be shooting a wide variety of firearms.

I took this photo of Bryan Jones firing the Barrett MRAD. I was standing a few of yards away from the rifle.

In short, they worked exactly as advertised. I wore them all day at Media Day and the Big Bang Shoot. I wore them when I fired the .45-70 Colt 1887 Bulldog Gun, Sako .375 H&H, 7.62mm HK417, Glock 18C machine pistol and many others. I also spent a lot of time that day photographing other shooters firing large .50 BMG rifles, .338 Laupa rifles, 5.56mm assault rifles and 7.62mm machine guns. When taking photos I was usually standing within a few yards of the shooter. The earplugs worked just as well as you would expect a high-end earplug to work.

The GSP1 GunSport Pro and a pair of cheap generic foam earplugs
I was standing a couple of yards behind this shooter while he fired bursts of 7.62mm from this Barrett M240. Photo © Bryan Jones

At a cost of $450+, what you really want to know is if they amplify soft sounds like human speech. They do. The earplugs amplified softer sounds, much like how I expect a hearing aid would work, and made conversation easier. The performance was similar to my larger electronic ear muffs.

I was wearing the GSP1 when I emptied a Glock 18C magazine in a single burst.

My only major complaint is that the earplugs lack a on/off switch. To turn them off you are required to open the battery door. In theory the battery does not need to be remove, but I found the batteries tended to fall out inside the case. They need to add an on/off switch in the next iteration of the product. Other than that, the only other problem I had was that the thin nylon cable (fishing line) which ties the two earplugs together, to prevent them from getting lost, gets tangled up easily. A thicker braided fabric cable would not look as nice but would be more practical.

The GSP1 works very well and it is unfortunate that they are so expensive. The GSP1 is retailing for around $450 and the GSP15, which has one or two additional features, is retailing for around $500. This puts them out of the hands of the majority of shooters. Hopefully the price will come to a more affordable level in the future. I am giving some serious thought to purchasing the GSP1. Since using them my Remington and Peltor ear muffs seem bulkier, heavier and lot less high tech than they did before.

UPDATE: [In response to questions asked in the comments] It uses hearing aid batteries, it includes a number of different size and shape ear pieces (“ACCU-Fit eartips”) and the noise reduction is 25 dB. The technical specs are listed here.

UPDATE: I tested the earplugs at an indoor shooting range. We shot everything from .22 LR pistols to a .50 AE Desert Eagle. The GSP1 earplugs performed really well.


Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • dg13

    Could you post the decibel reduction that these earplugs reduce the sound to?

    perhaps also post a comparison of various other hearing protection products noise-reduction specs as well (plugs, muffs, your electronic muffs)

    Also, is the battery rechargeable? or is it a tiny hearing aid battery that is hard to find locally? and how long does it last?

    $450 is too much for me as well….unless they never needed batteries, then i would pay that.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      dg13, good point about technical specs. I added a link to their product webpage.

      http://www.etymotic.com/hp/gsp1.html

      Noise reduction is 25 dB according to the above page.

      To my hearing, the noise reduction was equivalent to high end (non-disposable) ear plugs.

      It uses hearing aid batteries. I had them on all day, they seemed to last well, but if I buy a pair I would keep spares available (it comes in a small carry case).

  • James

    The earplugs themselves sound like they have a lot going for them, but unfortunately the price is outside of my student budget. Maybe I’ll be able to afford them by the time they come out with the model with the on/off switch.

    Also, I thought it was FN that manufactured the M240 Bravo?

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      Its not a FN gun. I will be blogging about it later today :)

  • JJ

    I recently found a similar product at Dick’s sporting goods which said they lowered volume by 25 decibels an had different sized ear pieces but cost at most 50 dollars

  • Bryan S.

    While I want to use just these, they do nothing from blocking some sounds, that transmit though he cartilage of the outer ear, and can still lead to hearing issues such as tinnitus.

    How well do they work with a standard pair of muffs, for those times when you need a bit more protection (like firing a proper rifle)?

  • SpudGun

    Unfortunately, even if these modern marvels of audio science were only $10, I still couldn’t use them. The insides of my ears seem to get irritated far too quickly, even with iPod headphones.

    So, I’ll stick with my ‘sweaty muffs’ (if you’ll pardon the expression) for the time being.

    Barrett are making 240s now? Interesting.

  • Ken

    For those complaining about the lack of an on/off switch. It’s next to irrelevant for the batteries. Since they’re using hearing aid batteries. Which are usually zinc oxide for ones that are completely in the ear canal. Once they’re peeled from their backing, they’re on and will last typically a week or two. You’re essentially buying new batteries every trip out to the range if you shoot once a week. But if you’re shooting more frequently you’ll get more usage.

    The only real appeal of these would be for those that want the benefits of electric muffs in plug form, for the summer. Or those that value the audio fidelity/reproduction of sounds and are buying them for the name/reputation of etymotic. But since you’re at a range, shouldn’t you be focused on that?

  • NeonCat

    I own a pair of non-electronic Etymotic ear plugs that I use for concerts and such. They’re great at reducing the volume without muffling the frequencies, so to speak. I’ve never worn them around firearms but they do a great job reducing the noise of Friday night fireworks at Turner Field.

    @ SpudGun, have you tried putting some Benadryl cream/ointment inside your ears before putting plugs in?

    • SpudGun

      Hi NeonCat,

      No, I haven’t used any ointments, but that’s because the irritation I get wearing them is usually like a stabbing pain. It’s fine at first and then gets increasingly worse as the day progresses. Maybe I have weirdly shaped inner ear canals.

      Of course, the other great problem with any ear plugs is when you take a nice girl to the range and accidentally show her that cleaning your inner ears was not as important as gelling your hair that day. ;)

  • Matt G.

    Take it from someone who knows electrical circuitry, unless every component in those things is made of solid gold, they are not worth 450$. Micro electrical components are not very expensive, at all, And this is not a very complicated device. I doubt this required much R&D at all, as hearing aid technology isn’t exactly 23rd century.

    That being said, they do seem to work, and if I had the cheese I’d buy them.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      I have always wondered why hearing aids are so expensive. Do you know why? (I know nothing about electrical circuitry)

      • Matt G.

        I think most hearing aids are custom fit to the patient aren’t they? I think i saw them on How its Made. Probably why they cost. Plus, when you need a hearing aid you NEED one. Not really any other options since ear trumpets went out of style, so people will either pay whatever, or do without. My dad lost a lot of hearing from an RPG, he bought a hearing aid a long time ago and promptly lost it, since then he just does without. I think that what most people do. Plus anything even remotely “medical” gets marked up a lot.

      • Matt G.

        All this thing is is a microphone, hooked through an amplifier to a small earbud headphone style speaker in a regular three flange ear plug, with a noise gate in the middle. a noise gate is a simple circuit that only allows certain frequencies/volume to pass through it to the amplifier. So the three flange Shape and material do the sound dampening, while the mic and noise gate push the low volume/high frequencey sounds through to the amplifier. Most of the high volume/low frequency sounds go through the ear bud and don’t need amplification, so you get full range of hearing with the high volume cut out.

  • Matt G.

    And, like someone else mentioned, aren’t hearing aid batteries always discharging once you remove the sticker tab thing? How long AR these supposed to last?

  • http://www.customgungrips.com Gun Grips

    You might want to check out the SureFire EP-5 Sonic Defenders Max. They don’t require batteries. They’re billed as tactical earplugs specifically for LE/military applications. The site claims they reduce 25db just like the ones you reviewed, only they cost about $14 for a pair. I haven’t tried them yet, but for that price, you can’t beat it.

    • Matt G.

      They work a little bit better than foams but not anything like muffs or these plugs. Plus they make My ears ache after a while.

  • Ajay

    I guarantee that nobody will buy these once they see the price. You could buy a new handgun for the price they are asking.

  • http://rockinaseaofchaos.blogspot.com That Guy

    That price scared me away. That’s halfway to an AR-10

    • Former Deputy

      Just how much is your hearing worth? I’ve been using $300 Electronic Ear Muffs for almost 5-years and am I ever glad I splurged for it. I just wish I had purchased it 30-years ago when I first joined the military. Then maybe I would not have the hearing loss I am having to deal with.

      I look forward to obtaining these devices and putting them to good use.

  • Gary

    As someone who wears hearing aids all the time, I must say that these are digital, in the ear modified with a common ear plug attached to them. Digital in the ear H-As typically run a $1K each so the price on these are not too bad. However, the prices on digitals have come way down over the last few years and there are similar ones on the market that are a lot cheaper. In addition, there are electronic plugs on the market that use the old style H-A technology. Old style H-As are analog and have some advantages over the digital ones. Analog H-As usually have a volume control whereas digital don’t. They are also a lot cheaper. I’ve tried a variety of cheap old style plugs and they work well. I prefer behind the ear types but in the ear work just as well. Take a look at Radian Enhance Ears for about $55 or the behind the ear ‘Tac Ears’ for about $65. I have both kinds, and they do work.

  • http://www.predatorwild.com Heath

    May I make a request of the author? Please consider using another term other than “assault weapon”. It’s being used by those who wish to deny us of one of our Constitutional Rights. Although they’d have one believe other wise, we do NOT buy them so we can use them to assault people.

    • Matt G.

      He said assault rifles, which is the correct term for mid caliber, fully automatic rifle. As long as he was describing full-autos, I have no problem with it

      • http://www.predatorwild.com Heath

        If my assumption that he was shooting the civilian versions then I will own up to my mistake.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

        I was describing a fully automatic military rifle.

  • Gatorade

    I want to stick up for the manufacturer. Developing quality products cost money, making a quality product costs money. Just because something costs a few hundred dollars doesn’t make it “too expensive.” If you can’t afford it, buy something else. But a company that makes a good product deserves a fair price for that product.

    I’m glad to have paid for a proper ear pro solution so that I don’t have to mess around with plugs + muffs, except in super loud circumstances

  • Howard Leight

    Howard Leight earmuffs use advanced technology to block noise and manage sound in some of the world’s most acoustically challenging environments.

  • Darren Colons

    They seem to be good. Ear plugs are compulsory
    for shooters.