A little while back, I had the opportunity to test out some of AXIL’s electronic ear protection. The particular model I was able to review was the ultra-lightweight, ultra-low-profile, hearing-aid battery-powered GS Digital 1 earplugs. While I still enjoy and use these earplugs to this day for all the qualities I mentioned in the review, I think I have a new favorite pair of low-profile ear protection that isn’t a pair of earmuffs. While out at a TFB event in Southeast Texas, the TFB crew and I had a chance to test out the AXIL GS Extreme Ear Buds. Many of you were put off by the price and lack of a rechargeable battery for the GS Digital 1 earplugs and I think the GS Extreme Earbuds will offer you everything you were after with the GS Digital 1’s but with a slightly larger package and with more features.
Hearing Protection Articles @ TFB:
- TFB Review: The Lightweight and Low-Profile AXIL GS Digital 1 Earplugs
- Review: ProSounds M-4 Electronic Hearing Protection
- New Multicam Black Hearing Protection and Holsters from Safariland
- New Impact Sport In-Ear Hearing Protection from Howard Leight
TFB Review: AXIL GS Extreme Bluetooth Earbuds
AXIL GS Extreme Earbuds Specifications:
- 6X HEARING ENHANCEMENT FOR NORMAL HEARING TO MODERATE HEARING LOSS
- 29 DB NOISE REDUCTION RATING (NRR)
- 5.0 BLUETOOTH AUDIO FOR STUDIO QUALITY AUDIO & HANDS FREE COMMUNICATION
- SHUTS OUT SOUNDS AT 95 DB OR LOUDER
- 6.5 PREMIUM DYNAMIC SPEAKER
- 0 HZ-40,000 HZ SOUND SPECTRUM
- 19 DB NRR WITH SILICONE TIPS
- 29 DB NRR WITH FOAM TIPS
As I mentioned earlier, we were out in Southeast Texas near the coast. Things can get pretty hot and humid down there so while we had access to some of AXIL’s other ear protection (their earmuffs), I opted to mostly work with the GS Extreme digital earplugs for added comfort in the heat. The GS Extreme’s come in the box with a small carrying case that can fit inside your pocket, as well as several types of tips to fit nearly any ear size, and finally a charging cable for keeping the earbuds charged.
The GS Extreme earbuds make use of Sportfit ear hooks that will help keep the earplugs in your ear and this is a feature I felt that was much needed with the GS Digital 1 earplugs. While the GS Digital 1 Earplugs run you nearly $500, the GS Extreme’s only top out at $199, and what’s great about that is it’s much harder to lose these than the very small GS Digital 1 earplug.
Another great feature that I like about the GS Extreme is that they have an onboard rechargeable lithium battery that is nestled into the lanyard along with the Bluetooth connectivity buttons and volume control buttons for the piped-in Bluetooth audio. The Bluetooth audio isn’t overly loud and the speaker quality was great while playing music. The two independent volume control options make these great for listening to tunes or phone calls while still maintaining awareness in your surroundings either on the range or out in the field. Beyond shooting applications, these would make great earplugs for working around your garage or shop since they are so lightweight and compact.
I ran a single pair of GS Extremes throughout our 4-day trip and I only had to charge them once the entire time. The onboard battery does a great job of powering the 6.5 premium dynamic speakers which give you great audio quality and don’t suffer from any “cracking” at higher volume levels. The active battery time is listed as 12 hours when using hearing enhancement & protection or 120 hours of just standby time. The Sportfit ear hooks make for easy on/off actions and the adjustable lanyard will keep the two volume control modules from flopping around too much on your neck.
The active noise cancellation is some of the best that I’ve experienced from small earbuds like these but in all honesty, I wouldn’t call what the GS Digitals do “cancellation” more like “mitigation”. While I have access to a wide variety of hearing protection, I noticed that the Peltor Comtac III’s I brought along with me completely cancel out any loud noises. The GS Extreme takes a completely different approach to this and instead dials down the noise to a safe hearing level without actually cutting out all the noise. I think for me personally this is less disorienting than having the sound completely cut out.
During our trip, I was able to make use of the GS Extreme earbuds around a wide variety of firearms ranging from rimfire pistols all the way up to a .50 BMG bolt action rifle with a pretty spicy muzzle brake on it. While I felt that these earbuds were perfectly suitable for pistol and even some rifle use, I wouldn’t recommend them for use around big-bore rifles or even intermediate cartridge rifles while indoors. For those two applications, I still stand by the tried and true method of doubling up with ear protection and covering your entire ear as opposed to just plugging it.
Another potential issue I see for some people will be related to the picture posted just above this paragraph. If you don’t take time to adjust the neck lanyard that keeps the whole rig together, I could potentially see you inadvertently ripping out the earplugs when moving around. This is just a tiny issue and one that I think is easily solved by properly fitting the lanyard to your neck but it is a potential point of failure for some people if they are unaware of it and perhaps the only valid reason for going with a completely wireless set of earplugs like the GS Digital 1’s over the GS Extreme model.
In short, I think the advantages that the AXIL Digital Earbuds offer far outweigh any advantages you see with the AXIL GS Digital 1 earplugs. While the earplugs win in terms of weight and size, the GS Extreme earbuds give you better retention, better active noise cancellation features, Bluetooth audio features, and most importantly, a rechargeable battery that lasts. If you’d like to learn more about the GS Extreme earbuds or the rest of AXIL’s lineup of hearing protection, you can visit goaxil.com to view a list of their entire lineup and take place in their online hearing test to gauge your level of hearing damage (if any).
A special thanks to ATN Corp and Crimson Trace for sponsoring TFB’s trip out to Bridle Iron South
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