Everybody remembers their first car, first house, first gun, and many other “first” things. I also happen to remember my first set of electronic hearing protection – Sordin Supreme Basic that I bought nine years ago, in May of 2011, and there are two reasons for that.
Reason number one – it was the first piece of quality and expensive equipment I could really afford, for the first time in my life. I was 21 years old, still in college, and just landed my dream job – a firearms instructor at the best shooting range in town. After trying every electronic hearing protection I could get my hands on, I decided that I finally arrived at the point in my life when I can treat myself with something nice.
The second reason I remember my first set of electronic hearing protection is that it is still with me, working just as well as it did 9 years ago when I took it out from the box.
Don’t get me wrong, they look like they have been to hell and back. All wires are wrapped with the scotch tape since original cable sheathing was pretty much gone after the first four years. The rubber on the microphones fell apart after five or six years. Leather headband cover had to be replaced with more scotch tape, but somehow the sound quality is still perfect.
That being said, Sordin Supreme Basic is not perfect and certain things can definitely be improved, so let’s talk about Pros and Cons of this electronic hearing protection.
When I was a full-time firearms instructor, a normal working day lasted 12-14 or even 15 hours. When I wasn’t wearing ear pro, I had a weird habit of putting it around my hip, and as I started walking, it slowly slid down to the ankle and started bumping into things.
That was just stupid, never do that, the best way to keep the ear pro around is to attach it to your belt with some type of carabiner. But despite all the bumping and slamming into things when I ran around, somehow my ear pro never failed me, surviving despite my enormous stupidity.
Another challenge for my Sordin Supreme Basic was saltwater. For some time, I worked in maritime security and brought my ear pro with me, shooting in the middle of the ocean can still damage your hearing. Particles of seawater got everywhere, our guns sometimes started rusting just after a couple hours that we spent on the deck.
After coming back from my maritime gig I looked inside the battery compartment and found plenty of saltwater stains, so I had to clean the battery contacts (the only time I had to do that in 9 years).
Even though Sordin Supreme Basic is not waterproof, the rain was never a problem, I spent days after days at outdoor ranges, ear pro got wet constantly, but it never caused any issues.
2. Quality of sound
In fact, the sound you get with Sordin Supreme Basic is pretty unique and I like it better than the sound you get in more expensive Sordin ear pro like Pro-X.
The thing is – more expensive Pro-X amplifies the sounds, so you’re always hearing some “white noise”. The Basic model that I have does not amplify anything, and just gives you a 1:1 sound that you would hear without ear pro. Some would prefer sound amplification, but I prefer to 1:1, cause it is less distracting.
All of my friends-firearms instructors, who are over forty, served in the Soviet Army where the best hearing protection you could get was your winter ushanka hat. They all have significant hearing loss, some use hearing aids, some have a certified disability, some ignore the problem, and laugh.
I remember once I got in my friend’s car and asked him something and he did not answer. I was upset – was he mad at me? What did I do wrong? Was it the fact that I am late? Is he pissed off because he has to pick me up every time we go to the range? It took me 15 minutes to figure out that he was not capable of hearing anybody in the backseat.
Luckily, so far, my Sordin Supreme Basic protected me from that fate. In the last 9 years, I shot everything from 22 LR to 152 mm howitzers for a living and so far doctors can’t detect any hearing loss.
1.The design of the battery compartment
Probably I wouldn’t complain if the problem was not so obvious. Sordin Pro-X has a much better battery compartment. Inside the battery compartment of Supreme Basic, batteries are not properly retained, so when you drop your ear pro, batteries shift and ear pro shuts off. It only takes a minute to fix it, but sometimes you don’t have that minute to put everything in place.
2. Comfort issues
MSA Sordin Supreme Basic is not uncomfortable, but when I just started wearing them on my 14-hour shifts, my ears looked like boiled dumplings when I went home. There is a simple way to fix it – install GEL EARMUFF SEALS.
In fact, stock earmuffs on Sordin are just like stock plastic sights on Glock – you should replace them as soon as you get the gun. With gel earmuffs, you can wear ear pro all day without hoping you had a spare set of ears.
Another problem was wearing my Sordin Supreme Basic with a helmet. It is possible but really uncomfortable, so I started looking for an alternative.
The easiest way was to use a version of a Sordin ear pro with a neckband. After some careful consideration, I asked my employer to buy me a Sordin Supreme Pro-X Neckband.
Unfortunately, Sordin does not make a Basic version with a neckband, but since it wasn’t my money this time, I just got PRO-X. I use them now pretty often when I have to be on camera and look decent.
When I use my old Sordin Supreme Basic people sometimes ask me if I had to fight for them with a hobo after finding them in the dumpster. I can see why – I should probably replace blue tape protecting the wires, buy a new headband, and just clean up the whole thing. But I love them the way they are.
They have been with me for so long I don’t care how they look, after all, my looks suffered as well in those nine years. How long will they last? Nobody knows.
I hope in another 10 years I will bring my kid to the range for the first shooting lesson and he (or she) will be wearing the same Sordins I bought when I was 21.
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