Caldwell Platinum Series G3 Stereo Hearing Protection
By Chuck Hawks and Randy Wakeman
I prefer "earmuff" style hearing protectors (as opposed to earplugs) and for quite some time I have used the Caldwell Es-85 as my primary hearing protection. These low cost (2009 MSRP $34.99), stereo hearing protectors block out noise above 85db while offering amplification of normal sounds and voices through built-in dual microphones that are controlled by a single volume knob. Although inexpensive, practically any effective, amplified hearing protector is superior to the passive type that leaves you essentially deaf the entire time they are worn.
The drawback to most electronic hearing protectors is their cost, which is usually in the $150-$200 range. Thus, the affordable Caldwell Es-85 was quite a breakthrough in price. Ditto the subsequent E-Max ($39.99), which boasts a NRR of 25 db and the E-Max Low Profile ($44.99), both of which carry on the Caldwell tradition of reasonably priced electronic hearing protection. All of these models remain in the Caldwell line and can be purchased on the Caldwell web site at www.battenfeldtechnologies.com
When I heard about Caldwell's new, upscale Platinum Series G3 electronic hearing protector (product #864446), I requested a sample for a Guns and Shooting Online review. The new G3 boasts several improvements compared to previous Caldwell hearing protectors. These include advanced circuitry that allows continuous amplification while compressing and blocking loud noises (such as gunfire). There is no "cutting out" of the ambient sound, even at the moment a gun is fired. Independent microphones in each earcup provide stereo sound and each side has its own volume control, along with a red LED that glows when the unit is turned on. Each earcup holds three AAA cells to power its amplifier and the run time is advertised as approximately 250 hours on alkaline batteries.
A comfortable ear seal is provided by DualDensity Foam and the adjustable headband is padded and lined with SoftFleece fabric for long-term comfort. Indeed, I found the G3 to be very comfortable to wear; the most comfortable ear protector I have used to date. The G3 earcups have a flatter, less bulky profile than the Es-85 and most other ear protectors. Here is a summary of the G3's features:
Perhaps most important from the user's point of view, the G3 is more comfortable to wear than previous Caldwell models. For one thing, its ear recess is deeper and roomier. The G3 is slim and offers quieter circuitry without annoying hiss or interference. The DualDensity Foam ear seals are effective and comfortable, even when the G3 is worn continuously for long periods.
Standing directly behind a .270 Winchester rifle on the firing line, I could notice no difference in the loudness of the shots between my old Es-85 and the new G3, but the G3 is more comfortable to wear and its advanced circuitry never cuts out ambient sounds. The G3's durable soft touch finish is a high-tech flat black that is less abrasive to gunstock finishes than earlier models.
While the G3 is roughly twice the price of previous Caldwell units, it costs only about half as much as comparable hearing protectors from other manufacturers. Its performance is impressive and I strongly suggest that you try the Caldwell Platinum Series G3 before purchasing any other hearing protector.
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