GunSonics! Electronic Ear Protection iPhone App

Investing in good hearing protection is a must in the shooting sports to prevent hearing loss. I’m a big fan of electronic hearing protection, especially when taking a shooting course or when you’re trying to chat with buddies at the range. Well here’s something a bit different, the GunSonics! app makes use of your iPhone turning ordinary passive shooting ear muffs into electronic hearing protectors. It’s designed to use the factory Apple iPhone/iPod headsets that you wear under non-electronic shooting ear muffs. The GunSonic! app does the rest, the developers claim the GunSonics! app has a sound cutoff reaction time that’s much faster than many of the electronic earmuffs on the market, it also amplifies quieter sounds such as an instructor’s voice or animal movements. The app has 6 presets that are customized for various types of firearms, it even allows you to choose between semi-auto and full-auto weapons. For more info check out Gunsonics.com, the app is currently available in the iTunes app store for $9.99 with an Android version coming soon.

From the press release

Audio app pioneers Essency publish a new revealing hearing safety chart to coincide with the release of new ear protection app for firearms, GunSonics. The chart compares the reaction time of electronic ear defenders against the formation of a gun blast to show just how well they perform against the GunSonics! hearing protection app.

The GunSonics! App works with passive ear protectors, worn over the top of Apple standard issue headsets connected to an iPhone or iPod Touch. This allows shooters to choose passive ear protectors with a higher NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) to achieve maximum protection.

Electronic ear defenders sold for shooting, have a microphone on one or both ear cups that feed an internal amplifier, which then transmits ambient sounds to the user with speakers inside the ear cups. When a gun is fired the amplifier temporarily shuts down and hearing protection is dependent on the speed of shut down and the passive attenuation of the ear cups.

The key factor is whether electronic ear defenders act fast enough to prevent harmful sound pressure peaks from reaching the user’s ears, via the internal electronics.

Gunshot blasts generate an ear shattering shockwave that peaks within 1 millisecond (thousandth of a second) and is millions of times louder than the safe listening levels recommended by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The chart, based on manufacturer specifications, reveals how the fastest electronic ear defenders on the market fail to react before gunshot blasts peak. The GunSonics! Ear protection app is the only product on the market to catch and stifle 100% of gunshot blasts.

The sound pressure level (SPL) of a gunshot varies from 144dB for a 0.22 caliber pistol to 170dB for larger revolvers or rifles.

NIOSH state ‘exposure to one gunshot at 140 dB SPL constitutes 100% of a person’s daily allowable noise exposure’. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) permissible exposure limit for impulsive noise is also 140 dB SPL. Exposure to an electronically amplified gunshot can lead to non-reversible noise induced hearing loss or tinnitus.



Ray I.

Long time gun enthusiast, archery noob, Mazda fan, Sci-Fi nerd, Whiskey drinker, online marketer and blogger. My daily firearms musings can be found over at my gun blog ArmoryBlog.com and Instagram.

Shoot me an email at ray.i@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • vereceleritas

    I’m assuming the phone’s microphone has to be exposed for this to work properly.If that is the case, you can’t exactly have it in your pocket while you’re shooting. Neat idea but I’ll be sticking with my MSA Sordins.

    • Denderwuz

      There is a Mic on in the vol up/dwn button on the stock Iphone earbuds it most likely uses.

    • wetcorps

      That’s where a picatinny Iphone holder would be useful ^^

    • David

      Yeah , like I want to wear earbuds all day

    • Alex

      Hi,
      The app works with the microphone in your headset so your phone can be put in a pocket. One of our testers, a senior gun instructor who wasn’t used to wearing earphones, initially had what he described as a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ with the wires but he got over this by tucking the wires inside his jacket.

  • Seth Hill

    I saw this and wondered if it works like the inexpensive electronic earmuffs, cutting off all sound at time of gunshot, or if it works like the high end ones that cuts off the gunshot itself and lower level sounds (talking, etc) is still heard. As I looked at their site, it isn’t 100% clear as there is a “re-enactment” mode that appears to do this but the other modes do not? I don’t have an iPhone, my wife does, and I am patiently waiting on the android version, but I would be willing to do testing/review when the android version comes out (unless the company is willing to get me the iPhone app and approved earbuds for free).

    • Blake

      Had a good look over their website as well. If the tech walks the walk then this is pretty interesting. It does make sense that a recent smartphone would provide more processing power than a dedicated pair of active headphones, which leaves these guys to concentrate purely on detection algorithms rather than trying to design & manufacture muffs.

      BTW “Re-enactment mode” might be mildly useful for spectators, but all the reenactors I know (& I grew up around A LOT of them) wouldn’t be caught dead (heh, sometimes literally) wearing a pair of earbuds, let alone a set of gun muffs! Very discrete in-ear protection is about the most you’ll see during battles. Anyway they try to keep rifle powder charges low for lots of obvious reasons.

      Now the cannons OTOH… Ever been around a pound of black powder touched off in a field gun?
      -=B O O M=-
      You can feel it a mile away!

      • Alex

        Hi Guys,

        Just to let you know GunSonics has gone on a 24hr trial price of 99c.

        If you use noise isolating earphones with normal passive ear protectors you get double hearing protection and up to 36 NRR, equivalent to using foam earplugs and passives except you can hear and shoot without isolating yourself.

        The Android equivalent called GunShot Suppressor is also available, as explained before realtime audio on Android is near impossible so there’s a slight echo when you talk but again if you use noise isolating you get the equivalent of double plugging and the safest ear protection system ever.

        Would be great to hear what you think.

        Alex

    • Alex

      Hi,
      The app does not cut sound out at any time, it compresses 100% of the gunshot bringing it down to a safe listening level. You can have a conversation with someone firing a high caliber rifle 3 feet away and hear every word with no drop outs. There’s no initial crack either which was a characteristic we found in every electronic ear defender we tested except for one.

      Would love to to give you an iPhone to test GunSonics but we blew our budget twice over to develop the app for Android.

      • Seth Hill

        Any clue on when the Android one will be available and what the approved earbuds will be? I am willing to test/review for it with my phone (or the IOS app using my wife’s iPhone).

        • Alex

          Hi Seth,
          The Android version should be available next week. Drop me an email to send you an iPhone version for testing.

        • Alex

          Hi Seth,
          Android version has been delayed, visit the site and send me an email (alex@….) for an evaluation copy of iOS if you still want to test/review it.

  • Chase Buchanan

    A lot of electronic earmuffs also have an audio jack that let them act as headphones. I don’t see why those wouldn’t work with this app instead of separate ear buds, even though (according to the claims made here) that might possibly not be optimal.

    • Alex

      That’s a good point. As recording studio engineers we were concerned with two things regarding electronic ear defenders, the NRR ratings seemed lower than ordinary passives and the audio processing seemed to lag behind the technology found in recording studios.

      Even if we could bypass the audio circuits on electronic muffs to use the built in jack, the passive protection would be lower than the best passives.

      The other concern is that the manufacturer specified reaction time of electronic muffs seems to be too slow to catch the initial, and most damaging, part of the gunshot. The owners manual on one well known model of electronic muffs actually contains a warning that the output of their circuits may exceed the external sound level, when shooting, this is the last thing an audio engineer wants to hear!

      The app features our own noise management system that catches and treats the whole of the gunshot blast, the waveform video on youtube is an actual with and without recording of a rifle shot.

  • Thinker-1

    I had to search on “essency” in the apple app store, as it found nothing with “gun” in it. BTW, it will use the in-cord microphone if you have one. I like the ability to use the passive muffs, as they almost always have a better NRR. I hate the apple earphones, but this works fine with my ifrogz ones.

  • JLR84

    Am I the only one whose confused about the whole “gunshot cutoff” thing? It’s not like the little speakers replaying the sound of the gunshot are going to hurt your ears…