Today we’re going to take a look at a hearing protection classic from 3M: the PELTOR Optime 105 earmuffs. These bad boys are time-tested and field-proven, rising in the ranks to become one of 3M’s (and ours) most popular baseline hearing protection products. They’re a great addition to any protection collection, whether you’re an employer looking out for your workers or a layperson looking for cheap and effective noise reduction without all the extra features of the more advanced products. Be it ever so humble, however, the Optime 105 is one of the most powerful protectors on the market.
As we’ve said before, harm done to the ears by excessive noise levels is irreversible, and often worsens so gradually that you don’t even notice until it’s too late. 3M’s leading position in the protection industry has been earned as they have consistently pushed the boundaries of innovation in noise reduction, doing their part to curtail the rampant hearing loss in the labor industry. The Optime 105 represents a cornerstone of that achievement.
The 105’s signature design element is its “double-shell” earcups, featuring two nested cups on each side fused together with an inner layer of foam. This doubling serves to minimize resonance on the inside, providing optimal protection in extremely high-noise situations. This serves to completely muffle dangerous high frequencies while allowing you to still hear speech. Lab tests have given the Optime a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 30 decibels, which is slightly higher than they’re expected to perform in the field but is still the highest possible NRR. You’re highly unlikely to find protection this comprehensive for a competitively low price.
Also notable is their ergonomic qualities. The padded headband may not look like anything special, but it’s made of durable stainless steel that will resist warping and is designed to distribute weight across the surface area, which translates to a low-pressure fit on the skull allowing for hours of comfortable use. The sealing rings, likewise, are filled with foam cushioning that conforms to the unique shape of your head, creating a perfect seal with low contact against the skin.
The number 105 refers to 3M’s guideline noise level, in decibels, that the Optime works best in. 105 decibels is somewhere between a motorcycle engine and a jackhammer, neither of which are pleasant sounds for the average listener and which will damage the ears after prolonged exposure. If the Optime is worn correctly and cared for to keep it in good condition, it will work perfectly in that ballpark of the noise level spectrum. The sophisticated muffling design I’ve described will still perform at higher levels, however, so don’t be discouraged if it technically falls below the noise level in your workplace.
In a formalized working environment, these earmuffs should be used as part of a comprehensive hearing protection program in cooperation with OSHA. This will involve regular assessments of the noise level in the workplace and audiometric tests for the products themselves to ensure they are operating at full capacity. Life can be loud, and 3M is committed to raising awareness and quality of life for workers worldwide with products like the Optime 105.