Best Hearing Protection for Woodworking: Earmuffs & Earplugs

Woodworkers and carpenters are frequently exposed to loud noises coming from either power machinery or manual tools such as hammers or mallets. Most of these noises are above 90 decibels: this is the threshold when human hearing starts suffering when exposed long-term to sounds.

Most woodworking projects involve using loud power tools such as a table saw, sander, or router. Even hammering can emit high decibel sounds. You should always use hearing protection when working with a machine or a tool that emits high levels of noise.

There are various types of hearing protection for woodworking. You can opt for earmuffs, which can reduce noise passively or actively, or you can also opt for ear plugs, which is a simple but effective way to protect your hearing. If you prefer earmuffs note that there are also Bluetooth earmuffs, with music and or radio playback capabilities.

So, which is the best hearing protection for woodworking? Let’s take a look at some of the best options.

Best Woodworking Hearing Protection

3M Pro-Grade Noise-Reducing Earmuff


  • Lightweight and adjustable design
  • Noise Reduction Rating of 30 dB
  • Soft ear cushions and vented headband
  • Excellent durability and comfort
  • Pivoting cups


  • Plastic material could have been better

If you love wearing overhead headphones, the 3M Earmuff will undoubtedly excite you. Its lightweight and adjustable design will allow you to work seamlessly in any Woodworking environment.

The 3M combines plastic and metal to offer a durable and comfortable earmuff that will protect your ears from harmful and hazardous noises. Additionally, the adjustable design ensures that you stay comfortable throughout your work schedule.

Apart from featuring an adjustable design, the 3M comes with soft ear cushions and a vented headband that provides excellent comfort for longer durations. Additionally, this earmuff comes with a superb Noise Reduction Rating of 30 dB, making it one of the best earmuffs for Woodworking.

Overall, it is a safe and durable earmuff for all-day comfort.

Product Details:

Item Weight‎12.5 ounces
Product Dimensions‎5.44 x 3.9 x 8.19 inches

3M WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector with Bluetooth Technology


  • It comes with a long-lasting rechargeable battery with a low-battery indicator
  • Flexible and comfortable headband
  • Low-profile and soft ear cushions
  • Stream music
  • Make and receive calls
  • NRR 24 dB


  • No FM/AM support

Having added functionality can help you in many ways, and this 3M Bluetooth hearing protector justifies this statement. Apart from keeping your ears protected from hazardous noises, this hearing protector will let you stream entertainment from any Bluetooth-enabled device, including mobile phones.

Its high-fidelity speakers come with soft ear cushions that provide premium and excellent sound quality. Apart from offering immersive sound quality, you can also use this hearing protection to make and receive phone calls.

The integrated microphone allows users to receive and make calls. This feature ensures that you get less distraction while working on your Woodworking projects. Its excellent Noise Reduction Rating of 24 dB ensures that ears stay protected from harmful and loud noises.

Product Details:

Item Weight‎15.5 ounces
Product Dimensions‎5.83 x 3.9 x 7.06 inches
Batteries‎1 Lithium-ion battery is required. (included)

Walker’s Razor Slim Passive Earmuffs


  • Ultra-low and slim design
  • Foldable design for effortless storage and transport
  • Metal wire frame for adjustability
  • Comfortable for longer durations


  • Non-electric

The Walker’s Razor Slim is an ultra-low profile and lightweight earmuffs that will help you ease through every Woodworking project. This earmuff comes with rubberized ear cups that offer excellent comfort to your ears while working.

One of the highlights of this earmuff is its foldable design, making it an excellent choice for workers with different workstations. You can fold the Razor to make it compact, which allows for effortless and convenient storage and transport.

Its metal wireframe provides excellent support to the earmuff. You can adjust its shape as per your needs and find the perfect angle for your ears while working without any discomfort.

Overall, it is one of the best hearing protection that delivers both quality and comfort. Additionally, a Noise Reduction Rating of 27 dB ensures passive protection from harmful and loud noises, making it a must-have earmuff for Woodworking enthusiasts.

Walker’s Game Ear Razor Slim Electronic Muff (NNR 23 dB)


  • Soft and comfortable rubberized ear cups
  • It comes with two omnidirectional microphones
  • Physical knob for volume control
  • High definition speakers


  • Lithium-ion battery could have been better

If you are looking for an electric muff with excellent Noise Reduction Ratings, the Walker’s Game Ear Razor is undoubtedly worth considering. This earmuff comes with ultra-thin rubberized cups that offer superior comfort and support for your ears.

The Game Ear has two omnidirectional microphones and high-definition speakers that allow users to hear crisp audio without hampering their work routines. Additionally, the presence of a 3.5mm headphone jack allows you to use it with iPods and other hand-held devices.

We loved its slim folding design that makes storing and transporting a breeze. The softly padded headband is perfect and comfortable even on extensive working days. This earmuff also comes with physical volume control for added convenience.

Overall, it is one of the best electronic earmuffs for Woodworking projects.

Product Details:

Item Weight‎15.2 ounces
Product Dimensions10.4 x 7.9 x 3.75 inches
Batteries‎2 AAA batteries are required (included)

Howard Leight Electronic Shooting Earmuff (NRR 22 dB)


  • 3.5mm and AUX connectivity
  • Adjustable headband
  • Built-in microphones for enhanced communication
  • Compact folding design
  • Integrated volume and power knob


  • No lithium-ion battery

Finding an earmuff that sounds natural and soothing can be tricky. Thankfully, the following product will blow your mind with its excellent functionalities to provide enhanced communication. The Howard Leight earmuff is a 100% synthetic product that will take your Woodworking experience to the next level.

This earmuff comes with low-profile ear cups and an adjustable headband that provide a secure fit without compromising comfort. We loved the build quality, and while we ran some tests, the product maintained a smooth run throughout our Woodworking session.

Including an AUX and 3.5mm input makes it convenient for users to hear music while working. Additionally, the physical knob allows effortless volume control without halting your work. Although, we felt a rechargeable lithium-ion battery would have been a better option than AAA batteries.

Overall, it is an excellent choice for woodworkers.

Product Details:

Item Weight‎1.08 pounds
Batteries‎2 AAA batteries are required (included)
Material‎ABS Plastic
Sound Level‎24 dB
Special Features‎Noise Reduction Rating (NRR): 22 dB
Battery Cell Type‎Alkaline
Average Battery Life‎350 Hours

Decibel Defense Ear Muffs (NRR 37 dB)


  • Foldable design
  • Excellent NRR rating
  • Padded cell design for added comfort
  • Easy to store and transport


  • Ear cushions could have been better

If you are looking for a versatile earmuff that performs well for industrial and shooting purposes, the Decibel Defence Ear Muffs will undoubtedly excite you. It comes with a class-leading Noise Reduction Rating of 37 dB, making it a perfect gear for load environments.

This earmuff features a robust body with premium materials. Its ultra-comfortable headband provides excellent support, and you will have no issues sporting this earmuff even when working for extended hours. Additionally, the padded cell design ensures hours of uninterrupted comfort.

The product is available in different sizes, and finding your perfect fit would be effortless. We tested this earmuff extensively, and it fared well in all our tests. Whether performing construction work, driving a monster truck, mowing, or Woodworking, the Decibel Defense earmuffs will never disappoint.

Overall, it is a perfect companion for Woodworking enthusiasts.

Product Details:

Item Weight‎12.8 ounces
Product Dimensions‎6 x 4 x 6 inches
Material‎Plastic, metal, foam

Quality Plugs by Rips Reusable (NRR 28 dB)


  • Safe, non-toxic silicone earplugs
  • Low-cost
  • It comes with a removable cord
  • Easy to use


  • Not the highest noise reduction rating.

Earmuffs can be an ideal accessory for many woodworkers, but these muffs may not suffice the needs of everyone. For those facing these issues, Earplugs can be an excellent replacement. Our following product promises to deliver the best protection from loud noises without compromising the comfort level.

The Quality Plugs by Rips feature a minimalistic design that can help you counter various issues. Whether you are wearing them while shooting, Woodworking, or sleeping, these earplugs offer excellent noise reduction, ensuring a productive and seamless Woodworking experience.

We loved its washable and reusable design, making it convenient for storing and cleaning. The pack comes with 100 pairs of soft silicone earplugs designed to provide hours of comfort. It also features a removable cord that you can insert and remove as per your requirements.

Overall, it is an excellent choice for those who don’t prefer earmuffs. We recommend using this product with an earmuff to get additional noise protection.

Product Details:

Item Weight12.6 Ounces
Product Dimensions‎3.54 x 8.66 x 12.2 inches

Pro For Sho Shooting Ear Protection (NRR 34 dB)


  • High-quality materials
  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Noise Reduction Rating of 34 dB
  • Easy to store and transport


  • No AUX or 3.5mm input

The Pro For Sho earmuffs is a charm for any Woodworking enthusiast. This heavy-duty earmuff will help step beyond the limitations of conventional earmuffs as it provides excellent protection for your ears.

Apart from sporting a rugged construction, its lightweight design makes it convenient for extended usage. You can wear this earmuff for hours without hampering your work routine. Additionally, the compact and foldable design makes it suitable for storage and transport.

Whether hunting, mowing, or Woodworking, this earmuff is the perfect partner for noisy environments. You can select the size as per your requirements, with options available for children as well. Its adjustable headband also ensures that you get the best fit regardless of what you are doing.

Overall, it is one of the best earmuffs for noise protection.

WorkTunes Connect + Gel Ear Cushions Hearing Protector with Bluetooth Technology (NRR 23 dB)


  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Integrated microphone for making and receiving phone calls
  • In-built battery with low-battery indicator
  • Easy to use single-button interface
  • Comfortable


  • A bit heavy

The WorkTunes Connect+ is an excellent addition as it protects your ears and lets you stream music. Apart from providing Bluetooth connectivity, this earmuff also features premium gel cushions that enhance your ear’s comfort levels.

The presence of Bluetooth connectivity ensures that you can stream music from any Bluetooth-enabled device while working. One of the best benefits of using a Bluetooth earmuff is the ability to walk and work freely without bothering about cords or antennas. This feature makes you productive and efficient.

The sound quality is immersive, and the integrated microphones help you make and receive calls without removing the earmuffs. It is a convenient feature to have, allowing you to maintain your schedule and time. Additionally, you also get an audio assist feature that helps you work efficiently.

Overall, it is one of the best Bluetooth earmuffs that you can get.

Product Details:

Item Weight‎1.7 pounds
Product Dimensions‎9.31 x 7.13 x 4.69 inches
Batteries‎1 Lithium Polymer batteries required. (included)
Included Components‎Wireless Hearing Protector

3M Peltor X1A Over-the-Head Ear Muffs (NRR 22 dB)


  • Replaceable cushions
  • Easy to clean and store
  • Innovative foam ear cups
  • Effective acoustic seal
  • Adjustable headband


  • The gap at the top of the headband may collect dust

If you are an over-the-head headphone lover, this hearing protection will undoubtedly excite you. The 3M Peltor is the amalgam of comfortable design and reliable protection. This earmuff uses innovative foam ear cups that ensure excellent safety in noisy environments.

We loved the soft ear cushions that provide excellent comfort and support for your ears. Additionally, the tilting pivot design ensures an effective seal while wearing. These features allow you to work seamlessly without bothering about the outdoor noises.

The build quality is impressive, and we had no issues while running our tests. Additionally, the electrically insulated headband prevents electrical hazards, making it safe for use during extended Woodworking sessions.

Overall, it is one of the best Woodworking hearing protections in the market.

Product Details:

Product Dimensions5.6 x 4.4 x 8.1 inches
Item Weight8.8 ounces

Why is Hearing Protection Important?

When you are exposed to a noisy environment or prolonged sound, the sensitive cells in your ear may get damaged. This problem may become permanent if you get exposed to loud noises.

woodworker in workshop using hearing protection equipment

Here are some of the reasons why you should use hearing protection:

  • To protect your ears from short-term and long-term damage
  • To keep your ear’s sensitive cells safe
  • To avoid ruptured or damaged eardrums

When is Hearing Protection Needed?

Hearing protection is an essential tool for those who work in noisy environments. If your job involves working around or with loud tools, you should undoubtedly consider using earmuffs or earplugs. Extended long-term exposure to loud environments and high levels of noise being emitted by woodworking tools can lead to partial or complete hearing loss. A benchtop planer can emit sounds at a level up to 110 decibels. You can experience hearing loss when exposed to sounds of 90 db of more consistently. Hearing protection isn’t optional.

Here are some of the situations when you need hearing protection:

  • If you work with loud tools or machinery
  • If you live near a concert hall, construction site, or any other place that generates a lot of noise
  • If the noise levels in your workplace exceed 85+ decibels as it can damage your ears
  • If you feel uncomfortable or have pain in your ears
  • If you feel a sensation or ring during or after your daily activities
why is hearing protection important

Woodworking Activity’s Decibel Levels

Noise Reduction Rating is a crucial aspect to consider before purchasing hearing protection. For instance, if your product comes with an NRR rating of 30 dB, it will reduce from 90 dB to 60 dB.

Earplugs tend to perform better than earmuffs. However, we recommend using both earmuffs and earplugs to maximize hearing protection. Here are the decibel levels of some of the popular tools:

  • Circular Saws: 90dB
  • Miter Saw: 102dB
  • Router: 95dB
  • Belt sander: 100dB
  • Nail gun: 120dB
  • Table Saw: 92dB
  • Air Compressor: 40dB to 90dB
  • Jet engine: 140dB

What is the Best Possible NRR?

As we mentioned earlier, earplugs tend to have the upper hand over earmuffs. However, if you combine them, they can provide maximum protection to your ears.

For instance, earmuffs provide a maximum of 31 dB of noise reduction. Likewise, earplugs provide up to 33 dB of noise reduction, which is better than using earmuffs. However, if you use earplugs combined with earmuffs, you can achieve an NRR rating of 36 dB.

It would be best to evaluate your needs and make your choice.

Types of Hearing Protection

1. Over-the-Ear

Over-the-ear earmuffs are one of the best and most convenient hearing protection you can get. They are easy to use and offer better comfort than earplugs. Some units also have built-in radio or built-in Bluetooth for music playback.

over the ear earmuffs
Over-ear hearing protection


  • Easy to use and remove
  • Earmuffs come with ear cushions for better comfort.
  • They can have additional features, such as Bluetooth connectivity, in-built microphones for making and receiving phone calls, and adjustable noise reduction.
  • They can function as ear-warmers during winters.


  • Earmuffs can apply pressure to your head and ears
  • They can become too hot during summers

2. In-Ear Style

In-ear or earplugs offer the best hearing protection and are very cost-effective as they are simple pieces of foam. Since earplugs are smaller than earmuffs, you can carry them with you anywhere. However, they also have some flaws in their design, and you will have to evaluate your usage before purchasing one.

in ear hearing protection
In-ear hearing protection


  • Lightweight and easy to use
  • Better hearing protection than earmuffs
  • Disposable
  • It blocks your ear canals completely


  • Not as quick to put in and remove
  • It can apply pressure in your ear canal and cause discomfort
  • Not ideal for long working sessions

3. Semi-Insert Earplugs

Semi-insert earplugs are similar to in-ear hearing protection. However, they come with a band around them instead of a cord. These earplugs generally feature rounded or cone-shaped plugs, which seal your ear’s entrance to block background noises.

Since they come with a band, you can put in or remove them without breaking a sweat. Additionally, the headband creates enough pressure to place the plugs over your ears.


  • They provide more stability than earplugs
  • Quick to put in and remove
  • Reusable


  • Less effective than earplugs

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Hearing Protection for Woodworking

Selecting hearing protection can be tricky, especially if you are a beginner. To help you out, we have listed some of the factors you need to consider before purchasing hearing protection.

Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)

Noise Reduction Rating plays a crucial role in determining the performance of an ear protection unit. For instance, if your earplugs or muffs come with a 30 dB NRR rating and you are working with a tool that has a 90 dB output, your ear protection unit will reduce the output to 60 dB. Always try to keep the decibels that are being received by your eards below 90 dB.

Passive vs. Active Noise Reduction

Passive noise reduction – Passive noise reduction involves physical ear cups that seal out load and unwanted noises. These ear cups feature cushioning that keeps your ear comfortable and prevents outdoor noise from entering your ear. Many brands use this technique to provide better noise protection without hiking the price.

Active noise reduction – Ear muffs that use Active Noise Cancellation technology implement speakers and microphones to reduce surrounding and background noises. These microphones use electronic noise cancellation to block background noises from entering your ear.

Additionally, the cushioning present in these earmuffs aids electronic noise cancellation and reduces surrounding noises. However, you will have to charge them or use AAA batteries to get this functionality.

Materials Used

Materials used in your hearing protection also play a significant role in reducing background noises. For instance, if your earmuffs feature low-quality cushioning on the ear cups, it will compromise your comfort and noise reduction.

Similarly, the materials used in your headband and outer cover should be durable and stable for better performance during extended working sessions.

yellow earmuffs in workshop

If you are using earplugs, the materials used in their construction can make or break a deal. If your earplugs are not comfortable and made of hard material, you may end up with discomfort in your ears.

We recommend soft foam that has some degree of waterproofing. This will allow you to comfortably wear your earmuffs for extended periods while at the shop, while the waterproofing will make sure the foam doesn’t degrade rapidly when in contact with sweat.

Electrical Insulation

Electrical insulation is a crucial factor to consider if you are working with electricity. Exposed electric wires can increase the risk of low-voltage electrical hazards. It would be best to use dielectric headbands to counter this issue.

For instance, the 3M Peltor X1A comes with an electrically insulated headband that protects you from electrical hazards. The Peltor X1A has no exposed wires, making it an ideal product while working with electricity.

Bluetooth & Audio Playback

The ability to stream music or receive phone calls without halting your Woodworking session is a convenient feature to have. Many brands offer earmuffs that provide Bluetooth connectivity to stream music from various mobile devices.

It helps you to overcome and forget about the background and surrounding noises. Additionally, some earmuffs come with physical volume and power controls to make the deal even better.

Compatibility With PPE

Personal protective equipment or PPE is an integral part of your working gear, primarily if you work in a hazardous environment. However, finding hearing protection that works well with your PPE can be a tricky task.

While earplugs are the best options, semi-insert plugs can suffice your needs with some tweaks. However, over-the-ear muffs are the most challenging, and you will have to make adjustments to work your way out. Additionally, safety glasses can hinder your headband and result in lower noise reduction.

Ease of Communication

Earplugs and earmuffs serve one purpose – to block background noise. However, they also block out conversation with your co-worker or colleague, which means you will have to take out your hearing protection to communicate.

Thankfully, earmuffs like the Walker’s Game Ear Razor come with omnidirectional microphones that allow you to communicate with your surroundings. These earmuffs come with built-in microphones that will enable users to hear the conversation of their co-workers without removing their hearing protection.

It would be best to consider this factor before purchasing your hearing protection.

How to Clean & Take Care of Your Earmuffs

Earmuffs can take a toll if you are using them throughout your Woodworking sessions. They can collect dust, sweat, and other particles, making them unsafe from a health perspective. Thankfully, cleaning and maintaining your earmuffs or earplugs is an effortless task, and you can follow these steps to remove any contamination.

  • Clean them after each prolonged session
  • Use a soft cloth to clean the exteriors and interiors
  • Do not store them without cleaning the sweat
  • Keep them in a cool and dry place away from humidity
  • Clean the inner part regularly
  • If they can be dissambled, try to do it at least twice a year to clean up any residue,

Since some earmuffs come with electronic parts, such as microphones and speakers, you will have to keep them away from water. However, if you are using earplugs or semi-insert plugs, washing them can be an ideal option.

Closing Thoughts

Woodworking can be a fun experience if you have the right tools for it, including hearing protection. However, if you ignore using earmuffs or earplugs, you might end up with damaged ears, which is not an ideal thing to do.

If we had to choose the best from this list, we would recommend the 3M Pro-Grade Noise-Reducing Earmuff for its excellent performance. It infuses a comfortable style with durable materials to give you the best noise reduction.

Besides, once your ear gets damaged, it’s damaged, and it would be best to act fast before it’s too late.