Break a leg or slice your hand, and both will heal. Damage your hearing, even a little, and you’ll never get it back. Like climbing into a treestand without a safety harness, there’s no excuse for heading to the range or woods without quality hearing protection/enhancement devices.
by Jace Bauserman
When I was 17-years-old, I had an old-school goose crew take me under their wings. They were sick of a young punk on a dirt bike crawling down ditches to jump feeding Canada and snow geese, and rather than letting me go about my foolish ways, they nabbed me and showed me the art of calling and decoying geese. I’m forever in their debt.
One thing this old-school goose crew did not preach was ear protection. I didn’t care; I was 17 and bulletproof.
I noticed it first in my mid-thirties. My hunting companion heard an elk bugle, and I didn’t, which was rare. It scared me enough to try muff-style ear protection, which was acceptable for the range, but they were cumbersome and uncomfortable when hunting geese, and I couldn’t hear my hunting companions or the birds. So, I spent another ten years damaging my ears. Terrible, I know, but I want you to understand the whole truth.
When Walker’s Silencer BT 2.0 arrived in my mailbox, I was super excited. At $319, they were much less expensive than other models I’d researched, and I was ready to give these small hearing protection/enhancement devices a go.
The unit is slick. The pair of buds come in a durable charging case that is easy to open, and each dock inside is marked with right and left, so there is no chance of putting an earbud in the wrong location.
The foam inserts attached to the earbuds are quick to mold — grab the foam and roll it between your fingers to achieve a custom fit. The curled bar portion of the earbud goes into the Fossa triangularis part of the ear to boost the in-ear hold. The fit is comfortable, and the buds hold when the body is in motion.
When inserting the earbuds, grab them by the sides and not the center surface — holding them by the surface activates them.
Once you have the foam molded, download Walker’s Link app by scanning the code provided in the instruction manual.
Pairing the earbuds is easy. Press and hold the touch zone (center of left earbud) for five seconds. An audible voice will play, letting you know the device is entering the pairing mode, and you can watch your phone screen while in the app to confirm pairing. My buds didn’t pair the first go around, and I solved the problem by turning my smartphone’s Bluetooth on and off.
Once paired, you can do everything in the app, and it is super user-friendly and functional. I was sitting in my office when the buds paired, and I clicked from the Universal setting to the HF boost setting to see what would happen. An audible voice told me I was making the switch, and then, viola, I could hear my wife talking clear as day from three rooms away. The Silencer BT 2.0 has four hearing modes: Universal, Clear Voice, HF Boost, and Power Boost. I recommend playing with each, as each will be useful in certain hunting/shooting situations.
When I was sitting at my desk hammering away on this article, the earbuds were in, and when the phone rang, I tapped the Touch Zone and could talk hands-free. The clarity is excellent, and you can control the volume of each earbud on the app. These earbuds are like a pair of Apple Airpods on steroids.
After listening to music, taking the earbuds on a run, and tinkering with the mode noise settings, I stepped out my back door to my gun range and sent downrange three rounds from my Smith & Wesson M&P 45. Guess what? Not only did the device reduce wind noise, but when my handgun went boom, the Silencer BT 2.0 performed brilliantly. The unit’s Sound Activation Compression drowned out the noise of the shot and protected my hearing perfectly. It did the same when I squeezed the triggers on high-powered rifles and shotguns.
A few other must-note features of these must-haves earbuds for the serious shooter/hunter is the brilliance of the voice prompts. You can’t screw them up. When using the earbuds, I walked away from my phone and “the voice,” as I’ve nicknamed it, told me I’d done so. I love how user-friendly the app is, and I can’t wait to get these earbuds into the goose field come fall. For the first time in my life, I will be able to protect my hearing, hear approaching geese sooner and more clearly, and not have a bulky pair of headphone-style devices over my ears. Plus, I can answer a business call or two while afield if I want.
To power the device down, press and hold the Touch Zone (always left earbud). Store the earbuds in the durable, fully enclosed Rechargeable Lithium Battery Dock. Battery life is excellent and can always be viewed in the app.
Wait, There’s More
Another hearing protection/enhancement device I recently put through the paces was Walker’s Razor XV 3.0 Headset.
This wrap-around-the-neck device is non-intrusive, and the pair of earbuds are fitted to retractable tangle-free cables via a push-button design. The buds are foam and can be molded, but the XV 3.0 comes with different size foam buds as well. Replacement is easy — pull the existing foam off and replace it with another size. I appreciated the position of the controls and how the unit fits the neck with earbuds inserted and in a static place. Be sure to set the cables long enough so the unit doesn’t pull down on the ears and neck.
Pairing is easy. Press and hold the Power button located on the unit’s right side between the +/- volume controls. An audible voice lets you know the device is connected after you allow pairing on the app. Like the Silencer BT 2.0, you can control this neck unit with the app. Battery level is always indicated, and there is a single volume bar that slides right for increased volume and left for decreased volume. You can also adjust the unit’s volume by pressing the +/- buttons on the unit’s right side. An audible beep is heard when the maximum volume level is reached. A pair of arrow-labeled buttons on the unit’s left side — dubbed Ambient Volume Up and Ambient Volume Down — allows you to toggle between hearing modes by pressing them simultaneously. Mode selections are the same — Universal, Clear Voice, HF Boost, and Power Boost — each performed as advertised.
I prefer this unit when shooting off a bench, sticks, or off-hand at the range. It would be an excellent in-the-field choice, but I would pay the extra money and go the Silencer BT 2.0 route if I was looking for a range and in-the-field pair of hearing enhancement/protection devices. I like the around-the-neck feel, and the buds were a tad more stable in the ear. Sound deadening is second-to-none. I shot hundreds of rounds over the three-day testing period from handguns, high-powered rifles, and shotguns.
There you have it; two hearing protection/enhancement devices that work wonderfully, aren’t bulky, protect your hearing, boost your hearing, and work as great in the office as they do in the field. Walker’s has hit a pair of home runs with these products.