I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect pair of affordable hearing protection for shooters. Previously, I had shared my thoughts on what I needed in my Walker’s Razor XV review. To summarize, I wanted to replace my use of foam ear plugs as hearing protection during upland hunting. Due to poor sound quality, the Walker’s didn’t do it for me and I returned it. I was able to pick up a set of earbuds right before the last hunt of the year. While unsuccessful, I was able to test these out through a few shotgun blasts. Here’s my in-depth ISOtunes Sport Advance review.
Hearing Protection for Shooting
As far as hearing protection for shooting goes, either the Walker’s or the ISOtunes would work. They block out sound via foam plug and offer the same protection. Both of these products are electronic ear buds that cut the percussive sound before they go through your ear bud speakers. That means you can have a conversation in an area that doesn’t excessive shooting. When on a firing line indoors, you might as well turn either of these off as they are pretty sensitive to other people firing as well. However, not needing to remove your ear buds when shooting outdoors or in the lobby of a shooting range is a nice feature.
Not to be repetitive, but I need something better than my banded foam ear plugs for upland game hunting. I tried the Walker’s but the sound quality coming from the ear buds were too robotic for me to make sense of the noise and react fast enough. I picked up these ISOtunes as a second go at finding the right shooting hearing protection for me.
ISOtunes Sport Advance Review: First Look
The design of the ISOtunes Sport Advance are foam ear buds that insert into your ears, similar to plugs. You squish the earbuds by rolling them between your fingers, then insert into your ear and allow them to expand. Personally, I love this kind of approach but the density of this foam can get uncomfortable after prolonged usage.
The ISOtunes Sport Advance ear buds screw onto their in-ear speaker pieces — pretty premium. Most ear pieces slide on and remain on with friction but these screwing in is a nice touch.
As opposed to the Walker’s Razor XV approach of a neck band and small buds that extend up, the ISOtune Sport Advance are wire behind neck with a wire that goes over the top of your ear like an early 2000s blue tooth set. It seems to get the job done to keep the ear bud extra secure.
The controls aren’t fully intuitive but aren’t difficult to get used to. One up/down set controls volume for bluetooth listening (music) and the other up/down toggle turns the external microphone volume up and down. I found if you went to Zero (off) and went two clicks up, it felt like native volume. The ISOtunes can click up 7 times, though this seems exessive.
As far as comfort goes, these were great. I love the behind the neck wired design and never felt as if I was going to lose an ear bud. I didn’t ever feel as if one was going to fall out of my ear either. All day comfort was okay, though there were times I’d want to let my ear breathe.
The earing aided protection is super weird and takes a minute to get used to. I found myself fiddling with the controls in the field to figure out what level was right for me.
At first, I thought +1 or +2 was native, but when out in the silence of the desert looking for birds, I cranked it up to +3 and found that the sound of flushing birds was too loud for me. My brain couldn’t comprehend and process a reaction fast enough. When birds flushed behind me, I could tell that it was behind me, but the sound was too loud. My brain thought that it was static in the headphones and by the time I realized it was a flush, the birds were too far out.
I’d recommend keeping the level at +1 or +2 at the highest when solo hunting. With a dog, it may have been easier to connect a visual queue alongside a sound queue.