Mowing the Lawn with Music & Hearing Protection

If you’ve mowed a lawn before, you probably noticed that lawn mowing equipment can be loud, very loud. (There are many other every-day activities that can be loud, so this post applies to any loud environment.) You probably also know that prolonged exposure to this loudness causes permanent hearing loss, so you’ve probably used some form of hearing protection to prevent that from happening too much.

Since you’re here on an audio forum, you’ve also likely tried using some cheap iems as hearing protection that allow you to also listen to some music while you work. A spectacular plan, besides the fact that you may have to crank the volume to be heard over the loud environment, sort-of defeating the purpose of hearing protection in the first place.
So, you’ve probably either stuck with the boring ole earplugs or decided you could sacrifice some hearing health for your loud tunes.

HOWEVER, do not dismay! I may have found something revolutionary, and other people here may have found similar or different solutions to this common problem.

A few years ago, I got the Jabra Elite Active 65t for portable use, my first pair of true wireless iems. Of course, I don’t use them for home listening, and they won’t replace a high-end setup, but oh boy, I loved and still love these things. They have an eq in their app, and I’ve got it tuned perfectly to my tastes.
They don’t have noise canceling, but they passively isolate veryyy well, as good as any ear plugs, so I started using them instead of ear plugs when mowing the lawn, and they worked pretty well, but as I’ve already talked about, there still is a substantial noise floor, and I had to crank the volume up to a good 90dB to be able to hear the music/podcast. Curious if the airpod pros would be a good solution because they have noise canceling, I borrowed my brothers, and no, they just can’t cut it.

That’s when I got to thinking…
A few years back, I had been a part of a rifle club, and they had given me some cheap over-ear hearing protection muffs. They isolate VERY well, but they’re far from comfortable, so I never really used them and forgot about them, using earplugs instead.

That’s when I had the idea:
What if I wore the ear muffs over my iems? Two layers of hearing protection should be awesome right? YES! It was…amazing! I could barely hear the lawn mower, and I could listen to music at my normal volume (70-80dB)!

Of course, there were a few hiccups with the system, mostly because the ear muffs were still uncomfortable with their extremely tight clamp force putting pressure on my lower jaw, they sort of suction-cupped to the side of my head sometimes putting pressure on my ear drums, and the foam rubbed against my iems, moving them around in my ear and loosening them.

These problems were simple to fix, though. First, I cut out a little of the foam to make room for my iems. Then, I left the muffs stretched out on a box over night, letting the plastic loosen quite a bit. I also lightly used a heat gun while stretching them to loosen them even more. Finally, I drilled a small hole through the back of each cup, which lets air flow in and out of the muffs (doesnt really let much sound in at all).

Now, mowing the grass is actually quite a nice experience. I can listen to music or podcasts at a normal level and hear it clearly because of the low noise floor, and the comfort is not bad at all for the hour and I half I use it mowing the lawn. (My iems are wireless, but I’m sure the system could work to wired iems as well.) The only thing to watch out for: if someone calls your name with this system on your head, you won’t hear a single thing!:joy:So use your eyesight to be fully aware with your surroundings, and be safe out there!

Has anyone else found a solution to this dilemma? Does anyone else use headphone or iems while cutting the grass? Are there other loud environments you use something like this in? Are there other discussions around this topic?
Share all your thoughts here!

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I use Galaxy Buds Pro when I’m doing work outside. They work well enough.

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You might find value in the prior discussion of this in the General thread:

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I wear these custom molded ear plugs (molded at home) and then wear high end pro shooting ear muffs when running the lawn mower. (i.e. double muffed)

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Oh thanks! Figured out how to make a whole new topic when I should’ve thought to use the search bar😂
After reading the brief discussion linked though, I do think making a topic just for this may be a good idea. Protecting hearing is important, talking about the different ways we do it can be useful and beneficial, and incorporating music into a mundane task…awesome

I use an electric lawnmower. Sometimes I use a Fiskars push mower. Right now I have a hernia with surgery scheduled late this month, so I use a lawn service and can watch through the window, sipping a G&T, and listening at reasonable levels.

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Windows are definitely a superior form of hearing protection.


Will see if a set is available for my model😂
In the meantime, hope your surgery goes well!

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I’ve got about 30 acres I at times use a chainsaw for the many trees. I mow 10 of those acres I cleared. Gave up on any silly ear plugs by themselves many years ago and went with ear plugs and head gear. You don’t need to spend a bunch of money to help limit the racket a chain saw makes. I use headgear made by Decibel Defense from Amazon for around $24.00 you get 37db NRR, plus
Spark Plugs - NRR 33 ear plugs. And for my mower I use the headgear, my mower is around 92 db as compared to a 120db chain saw. When I mow I use my JH audio 16’s ( for some music from my old DAP) which provide noise isolation around -26 db plus the headgear I mentioned. But you can forget any music when using a chain saw plus its not safe.

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I now have an electric lawn mower, which is a lot less noise. If I choose to listen to something while using it, I don’t have to set the volume extra high.

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@cpp I agree. Chainsaws are so dangerous. 100% of attention needs to be on them when using them, so I agree music is a no.

It looks like a few of you have been doubling up with earplugs/iems and over-ear muffs. It’s truly fantastic. I can’t believe I didn’t think about it sooner.

A few of you have gone with electric mowers. I’ll definitely have to look into it when my trusty gas-powered one eventually goes out. For you guys using electric, have you had to do many repairs or services on them so far?

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Getting the appropriate Comply foam earphone tips may reduce the noise further. Foam is generally superior to silicon and I think Comply has earned their reputation as the best:

Also getting earmuffs designed for noisy work environments will probably work better than earmuffs designed for shooters. Percussive noise is very different from constant noise.

Upgrading to gel pads can make the muffs more comfortable and may reduce noise even more.

I’d be interested what you think about using good ANC earphones with Comply tips and no earmuffs. It might be the best compromise between effectiveness and comfort. Apple Airpods Pro with Comply tips maybe. AKG NC400 come with Comply tips and are on sale for $50 on AKG’s web store:

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How do you know what SPL you’re listening at?

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Electrics are bulletproof. No maintenance in like 6 years, but thinking of replacing my 80v Kobalt with the self-propelled new model. At wife’s house she has the E-Go, which has also performed flawlessly.

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Thanks for the info! I’ll definitely have to check into some of that stuff. I tried the apple airpod pros with dekoni foam tips, making sure they had a great seal, and…they sounded weird to me, and they didn’t quite do the job for me. I ended up liking passive noise reduction better, but that’s just my preference of course. Plus, I vastly prefer the sound of my jabra buds to the airpod pros, as I’ve got the eq dialed in to my tastes with a nice warm tilt and boosted bass shelf.

I use my iPhone as my source, and Apple’s ios has the “Health” app that monitors and records how loud your listening levels are based on what specific bluetooth device you are using, such as airpods or my jabra buds.

I’m guessing that apple, jabra, and other bluetooth iem companies measured the loudness of their buds in dB (averaged over the course of about 2 seconds) per volume level on an iPhone. This value lowers and rises as the actual music, or whatever content is being played, volume lowers and rises throughout the song. For example, at half volume, the app may read 83 dB during the climax of a rock song, but read 71dB during a soft piano piece.

Of course, I don’t think the measurement can be completely accurate given that the human ear is different than a measurement rig, every ear is different, the seal has an influence, and many other factors.
But, when ABing my speaker system measured with a dB meter to my jabra buds (not a perfect method of course), the health app seems very accurate, so I base my listening levels off of the app’s reading, giving about a +/- 3dB margin of error.

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I have over the ear Sennheiser Momentum 2 phones that I occasionally wear while mowing.
My mower is a Honda Hydrostat self propelled. Consumer report calls it the best lawn mower but
the flip side is its also one of the loudest,
I feel that the Sennheisers have adequate noise cancelling but one must really temper their expectations as far as music. I don’t play it loud so I’m not worried about hearing damage but with what noise comes through, its about on par with listening to a car radio at highway speeds.

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Well there is always this for the exercise minded , limited noise, actually none that will impact your hearing.

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That’s the Fiskars push mower I talked about, but the legs behind it are longer than mine.

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Been there. Done that.
As Fleetwood Mac said, never going back again.

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But whatabout?

Don’t knock it till you try it.

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Maybe sheep. County might frown on it.
Definity no goats though. My little brother keeps some on his farm. Nasty little bastards!

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