Gear review: Etymotic EB15 Hearing Protection

Many shooters have a tendency to neglect protecting their hearing while on the range or hunting. Whether this is because of being unable to hear range commands or the inability to hear movement while in a deer stand, duck blind, or other hunting activities.

Most of use passive hearing protection such as foam earplugs, rubber earplugs or earmuffs. All of these types certainly keep the damaging noise out but it’s like walking around with your head in a bucket.

Etymotic Company has an answer to these problems. This company makes electronic hearing protection for several uses. The Gun Sport Pro and EB15 I’m reviewing are the two models we as shooters are interested in. I’ll be covering the EB15 in this review.

The EB15 model is an active type. Quiet simply this model set on low allows the user to have normal hearing until a high decibel level sound is detected. When these units are set on high your hearing is amplified by a factor of five. This can be very handy for a hunter or in hearing range commands for instance. Even with the units set on high they react quickly and block high decibel sounds. The user doesn’t even realize the sound of gunfire has been blocked they adapt so quickly back to normal or enhanced hearing.

DSC_0575

The change between low and high is done by flipping a vertical lever mounted on the exterior of the earplug. When this lever is set towards the battery it’s on low. When the lever is set away from the battery it’s set on high. The amount of battery drain is the same on either setting.

DSC_0577

The EB15 model is primarily designed for law enforcement and military use. Even so the features of this model are ideal for shooters. I tend to leave mine on the high setting since I have some hearing loss from SRU team activities. We were not allowed to use hearing protection. Hearing protection at that time destroyed any situational awareness. I just wish these had been available then.

Speaking of batteries the EB15 uses zinc 312 air batteries. This is a hearing aid battery available in drug stores, Wal-Mart and many other retail stores. For those not familiar with “air batteries” they are activated when removed from the package and the cover removed from each individual battery. Once activated they are ready for use in your EB15’s. This type of battery never shuts down even if removed from the unit. According to Etymotic the battery life is between two and three weeks. I’ve found in mine they last closer to one month. In any event the batteries are inexpensive.

The graphs below show the levels of effective use on the low and hi setting.

Etymotic Research  Inc.2   EB15 Electronic BlastPLG® Earplugs for Warfighters

The included accessories are seven sets of assorted size plugs for a semi custom fit. There are six sets of small filters that fit inside the primary plugs. These filter debris so your plugs and the units themselves stay clean much longer. A supplied metal cleaning rod with a brush on one end and a point on the other end that is used to fit the smaller filters for replacement. I’ve used these for well over a eight weeks without the need for any filter change. I’ve changed the batteries once and will change them again next time I go to the range. There is also a hard case for the carry of the EB15’s and extra batteries plus the cleaning tool.

Etymotic Research  Inc.   EB15 Electronic BlastPLG® Earplugs for Warfighters

Steve has a different model Etymotic that he’s used about two years. The new models are an overall improvement from the originals. His review is still available for you: Steve’s Review of the Gun Pro

I’ve been impressed with not only the effectiveness of the EB15’s but the comfort they provide with the interchangeable earplugs. They aren’t inexpensive but then again protecting your hearing and still being able to hear well and have the advantage of situational awareness is worth a good deal to me. Hopefully these will serve me well for years to come.

MSRP: $499

Etymotic Website





Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m the Associate Editor and moderator at TFB. I really enjoy answering readers questions and comments. We can all learn from each other about our favorite hobby!


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  • JT

    It’s funny how many people CCW, but never consider that using their firearm will be potentially dangerous to their hearing, not just their assailant

    • quattro

      Well in the odd case I’d prefer my life over my hearing.

      • iksnilol

        What about a silenced pistol? Best of both worlds.

      • quattro they aren’t intended to be worn all the time. On the range, hunting etc

        Loud power tool use and other uses.

        SWAT units could sure use them during practice and actual operations. You just can’t believe how great your hearing is set on hi.

    • AntiCitzenOne

      Let’s ask cops if they want any of these…

      • Nicks87

        Yeah but I wont pay $500 for a pair. The chance of actually being involved in a shooting is not worth the discomfort of wearing these all the time. Im sure the Emergency Response Teams would probably like them though.

        • Nick they aren’t intended to be worn all the time. On the range, hunting etc
          SWAT units could sure use them during practice and actual operations. You just can’t believe how great your hearing is set on hi.

      • Yes to answer your question and I own the pair in the article.

  • Andreas Yankopolus

    These look very appealing. Are they waterproof? I’m thinking sweat during Georgia summers. Do they pick up wind noise?

    • No I wouldn’t say they are water proof but I don’t see rain hurting them.
      They only pickup wind noise if it’s really blowing hard.

      • Andreas Yankopolus

        Thanks. Any difference between these and the GSP-15s? Looks like the EB-15 reviewed here is MIL/LEO only, but the GSP-15s look identical other than the packaging.

  • Scott C

    Would these be a good option for an industrial environment ? Cheap foam plugs block a lot of normal voice level sounds, but that is the price I pay to block the drone of machinery. I would love to have these for range use also. (even shooting with a can)

  • Tim B.

    At $499 a pair I think I will stick with my old gel ear plugs….;(

  • JT

    You mentioned they aren’t meant to be worn all the time, but could you? If it’s being marketed to soldiers, I’d expect they’d have to wear them for extended periods of time. I had considered getting these because the last few times I had potential ear damage were completely out of the blue

  • Mitch

    To echo what many others have said- I’ll stick with my <$30 Sonic Defender's for a little ambient noise awareness while still having adequate hearing protection. Neat tech, though.

  • st4

    The MSRP is at the bottom of the article because it’s the punchline.

  • someoneelse

    I wish the author had included more about his experience of using the EB15s. How they compare to other active and passive ear pro? How well do they function under different circumstances, like using them at an indoor range versus at an outdoor range? How well do they handle a crowded range with lots of shots in the background?