Caldwell E-Max Electronic Earmuff Review

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Most shooters have spent hours at the shooting range plinking away with various rifles while wearing foam ear plugs. Foam ear plugs are a great, cost effective way to protect your hearing when shooting. The only downside is that they block noise very well and are a pain to remove and replace, especially when just trying to discuss a target or how a gun is shooting. Traditional earmuffs are also an excellent way to block sound but again, they can be a bit cumbersome when trying to hold a conversation in between shots. Caldwell Shooting Supplies has come up with a solution with their line of E-Max electronic earmuffs.

The Caldwell E-Max comes in two models, low profile and standard. The low profile earmuffs have a slimmer earmuff shell than the standard model. The standard model looks much like any other earmuffs on the market, except that there are two microphones on the outside of each muff and a volume dial on the back of the right ear muff.

The volume is controlled via a dial on the back of the right earmuff.

The E-Max takes two AAA batteries (that are not included) to power a small electrical circuit that amplifies normal sounds. When a shot is fired or any loud noise over 85dB hits the microphones the circuitry automatically cuts out the sound to the headphones in the earmuffs.

The E-max is powered by two AAA batteries that are installed in the left earmuff.

The right earmuff has a light that indicates the earmuffs are turned on.

The first time wearing earmuffs at the range is a liberating experience. One can carry on normal conversations and need not worry about surrounding gunfire or when touching off a few rounds. The E-Max works quickly to cut out loud sounds and quickly returns back to normal hearing once the loud bursts have passed. Because there are two microphones on the E-Max, one for each ear, sound arrives at your ears in stereo and still allows a wearer to localize sound.

With large caliber magnums (338 caliber or larger) or with smaller cartridges with muzzlebrakes, some people may find that the 25db NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) to be insufficient. This situation can be easily remedied by putting in a pair of foam ear plugs and then using the E-Max over the ear plugs. This effectively increases the overall NRR and the volume on the E-Max can just be turned up to hear conversation around you.

The E-Max retails for around $35, which puts it at the low end of the price range for electronic earmuffs with more expensive models offered by Radians and Peltor. Because of the low price the Caldwells are made mostly of plastic and do not have the plush fit and feel of more expensive models. However the E-Max works as advertised and can make a day at the range a much more enjoyable experience especially when trying to have a conversation with your spotter.

The Caldwell E-max folds up to a compact size like other earmuffs on the market.

For more information visit Caldwell Shooting Supplies.


groovy mike's picture

This is a good product - I recommend them too.

I have picked up similar hearing protection from a couple of brands, in fact I think I have two sets that are a prior version of the Caldwell brans’s and I am very happy with them.  If you watch the sales and discount offers, you can pick them up shipped for under $30 per pair pretty readily. At $35 these are well worth buying without searching for a discount to save the $5 difference.  I recommend that you buy them now! Or at the very least tell your families that this is what you want at the top of your Christmas wish list.   

I would highly recommend that you try a set with the electronic features if you have never done so.  For range safety alone – that is being able to hear someone speak while your hearing protection is in place, they are well worth the investment.   As noted this is especially true with young shooters but it is also handy any time that you are on a public range.

Battery life based on usage is the chief concern that I have as well.  The sets that I have use a pair of AA batteries and the ability of the hearing protection to cut off and magnify sounds seem to be affected by the freshness of the batteries.  When the batteries wear down, the hearing protection declines.  But even when the batteries are dead, they still function at a basic level due to their construction with muffling.  You just lose the electronic enhancements and they return to normal earmuffs without electronic features.  I don’t use ear plugs at all even though some folks recommend them in addition to the earmuffs.   In my opinion, wearing both would definitely defeat the purpose of the electronic effects built into the ear muff. 

The only trouble that I have ever had with these types of ear muffs is when I stupidly left a set out and they got rained on.  The batteries corroded before I paid attention and there was no saving the earmuffs.  I tried cleaning the contacts and replacing the batteries but they were gone.  But at this price, it was real easy to order another pair.

Thanks for the product review.  This is a good product - I recommend them too.

hunter25's picture

I have considered this type

I have considered this type of ear muffs for a long tome but have always shyed away due to the cost. I usually use similar looking ones just without the electronic feature and stuuf the foamy one s in as well for extra protection. I am really sensitive to the noise and want as little as possible. ANyway after reading this review it looks like it may finally be time to pick up a pair and try them out. For the price you can hardly go wrong even if they don't work quite as well as it sounds like they do. I even carry plugs around my neck when hunting now as I mentioned in one of my tips awhile back. The ones I use can be popped in your ears in about a second and cut the noise way down to an acceptible level.

Good review, thanl for the information.

Retired2hunt's picture

  A very good gear review.  I


A very good gear review.  I very much like the ability this ear muff provides to be able to carry on a conversation at a normal tone of voice.  Ear plugs don't allow that.  I do wonder about the battery life based on usage. 

I am another that has strictly used ear plugs.  Yes, they are sometimes a pain to pull back out.  They do make ear plugs with small "handles" that allow for easier removal.  Obviously they are slightly more expensive but a bag of ear plugs can last a year's worth of target shooting.

For a $35 price tag these seem to be a pretty good option for the occasional target shooter - a couple times a year or more.  I don't think I would wear these and also ear plugs - I think that defeats the purpose of the ear muff.  I would rather use one or the other - not both.

I have not done any research on ear muffs prior to this review.  I will perform research now since this review as I think as I do more target shooting (going again next week) that I would like to have something more protective than the simple ear plug... but it depends on the price. 



Ca_Vermonster's picture

Yeah, didn't realize that

Yeah, didn't realize that electronic hearing protection like this came at such an affordable price.  May have to look into them.  I do alot of shooting for work, and some for play.  However, I am still using the same earmuffs that I got in the academy 15 years ago.  Might be time for a change, ya think?

Thanks for the review.

COMeatHunter's picture

We currently use foam

We currently use foam earplugs and earmuffs.  The very situation described above about wanting to be able to talk and communicate during shooting, especially when working with youth and first time shooters, happens every trip for us.  At least with the earmuffs, we can remove and replace them easily.  The foam earplugs don't remove and replace very easily at all.

I've never used a set of these kind of sound reduction earmuffs.  For $35, I might have to go get a pair and try them out.  It would certainly make a big difference for us with instruction of younger shooters without having to yell at the top of our lungs to be heard.

Thanks for the review.