Just when we thought we’d seen it all — earplugs, ear muffs, electronic hearing protection, custom molded in-ear pieces — SensGard enters the market with a product that combines several of those plugs-of-the-past into one new product. With a catchphrase of “Hear Everything but the Loud” and a product that needs neither batteries nor complicated components, could SensGard be too good to be true or is it just what we shooters have been waiting for all along?
SensGard is a two-product line of passive, noise canceling hearing protection that allows users to hear normal speech without the aid of electronic components. The company offers two models: the NRR26 and the NRR31. The devices are built almost entirely of a plastic polymer, which feels hollow, and is designed so for a reason. The two chambers seat on the outer ear, though actually feel like they are resting just inside the ear. Sound waves — following the path of least resistance — track inside the chambers instead of into the ear canal. The SensGard units feature a fully adjustable headband and replaceable foam ear cuffs.
While the SensGard hearing protection appears quite basic in design, apparently a good amount of research went into its development. After fleeing Poland during the German invasion before receiving his degrees, Dr. Jozef J. Zwislocki – an authority on sound physics and ear anatomy — developed what has come to be known as the Zwislocki Ear Muffler (ZEM) technology. The ZEM design is considered Noise Canceling Hearing Protection in which the internal channels coming from the earpiece dampen and cancel sound. You will see similar hearing protection under the ZEM branding.
Testing the SensGard
We tested the SensGard with rifles, pistols, rimfires, shotguns and even a chainsaw for good measure. The SensGard is excellent at allowing the natural sound and normal speech. In fact, it handles that aspect much better than electronic hearing protection which — regardless of how high-end you go — has some degree of tinny-ness. SensGard technology eliminates the need to worry about batteries or to wonder whether you remembered to turn off the electronic muffs. Furthermore, who amongst us has not spent hours wearing sweaty large electronic muffs in the middle of summer? While we did not get to test SensGard in terribly hot weather, I can nonetheless appreciate the value of its design in keeping the user cool. In terms of passive hearing protection allowing normal sound, this is no doubt as good as it gets. Period.
When examining its physical properties, the SensGard headband system is light, folds incredibly compactly and even comes with several additional sets of foam ear cuff covers. Not only is it nice that they provide spares, but that also allows the user to share hearing protection without sharing, well, other ear things. One thing that detracts from many forms of hearing protection is the high and clunky profile. Anything other than low profile hearing protection does not allow me an adequate cheek weld. That’s a moot point for the SensGard, as its super slim design does not interfere in any way with mounting the weapon.
As much as we discuss its uses in the firearms world, SensGard would seem to really excel in other applications as well — industrial work wear, machine operations, and I did enjoy wearing them while revving up the chainsaw. And before I forget, SensGard gets major brownie points for making their products in the USA.