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!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!