If there’s one thing hunters traditionally have little use for, big-game hunters specifically, it’s hearing protection. The reasons, of course, are legion—most importantly, hearing protection makes it hard to hear the approach of game, and the single shot it takes a good shooter to fell an animal seems like it would have little effect on auditory health.
While the first rationale is hard to dispel, the second is far from true. Though a single shot doesn’t seem terribly dangerous, it is an unfortunate fact that any noise over 140 dB causes some hearing loss, and while you may not notice it right that minute—or even that year—when you add up all the unprotected shots taken over a decade or so, it begins to have an effect. But what is to be done? After all, wearing muffs into the woods may save your ears from damage, but chances are it’ll save any nearby game from damage, too, as you take one of your most important senses out of the equation. Fortunately, in this age of electronic hearing protection and amplification, the choice need not be so black and white, and companies like Axil are leading the charge.
With its new Ghost Stryke Extreme earbuds, Axil has produced a product comfortable and powerful enough for all-day wear, designed not to interfere with your hearing. The rechargeable earbuds have a 12-hour battery life—long enough for even the longest days in the fall and winter woods—and four different sets of foam ear plugs and rubber ear tips to maximize comfort. The foam plugs give a 29 dB noise reduction, while the rubber tips sit around 22 dB.
A door covers the micro-USB charging port to keep out dirt and grime, while easy-to-use controls adorn the two large panels attached to the ear buds’ connecting wire. This connecting wire is actually a really nice feature for hunters, as it runs behind the head and, in the unlikely case an earbud comes dislodged, will keep the unit from falling to the ground and getting lost under brush. The aforementioned controls include an “On/Off” switch and separate “Up/Down” volume buttons on the right side, and Bluetooth pairing and volume buttons on the left. Once you learn their positions, the Ghost Strike Extremes are easy to adjust on the fly, and in the dark.
Out in the field, the earbuds performed admirably. With the foam tips in, the 29 dB noise reduction was fully evident for shots and noises above 85 dB, keeping my ears safe from any harm. Their real value, however, came in ambient noise amplification. With the ability to adjust external volume up and down, I was able to actually increase the volume of my surroundings up to 6X above what I would be able to hear naturally. This could come in handy particularly for hearing an approaching animal. One thing to be aware of: At their higher volume registers, these earbuds do have some “hiss”—to be quite honest, it’s more than I’ve heard in some comparable earbuds. That said, the level to which the earbuds amplify ambient sound is always well above the hiss, making the noise annoying, but not detrimental. A cracking stick or rustling leaf is still fully audible well distant.
While certainly a secondary benefit for hunters, the Bluetooth-pairing functionality of the Ghost Stryke Extremes is real added bonus. Unlike many headphones, with just the touch of a button, the Bluetooth pairs quickly and easily—no scanning, pairing and re-pairing for ten minutes straight, as is so often the case with even premier brands. Volume control has enough range to cover the full gamut of music or programming you may want to pipe through, and audio quality is excellent, particularly with the rubber tips installed.
All in all, the Axil Ghost Stryke Extremes provide the combination of hearing protection and enhancement that hunters require for a long day in the woods. Even better, they can be used during the offseason as standard earbuds, staying in the ear securely enough to be considered worthwhile companions in the gym, on a run or simply around the house. With an MSRP of $199, they may not be the cheapest option in hearing protection, but the extra cost is well worth the superior audial enhancement and comfort the earbuds provide.
For more information on the Ghost Stryke Extremes, or other excellent products Axil brings to market, visit goaxil.com.