MSA Sordin Supreme Basic and the Supreme Pro
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- Last updated: 19/01/2017
A decent set of ear defenders is a pre-requisite for any sensible shooter, as once your hearing has been damaged it never gets better. There are some good makes around and also some bad ones, so it pays to choose carefully. MSA Sordin is a new name to us although the brand is well established in military and law enforcement agencies world-wide. The importers, Talking Headsets, sent us a set of Supreme Basic and Supreme Pro models to try out. Don’t let the ‘Basic’ fool you, as although these are said to be entry level models, they are of the active type with analogue electronics – while the more sophisticated Pro models have digital electronics. Both sets of ear-defenders have integral microphones built into each ear-cup, allowing you to hear ordinary levels of speech and whatever is going on around you, yet filter out dangerous levels of noise that are encountered when shooting.
Power is supplied by two AAA batteries (included), which fit into the left ear cup.
The Pro models have a sealed waterproof battery compartment, accessed by a knurled nut that is easily removed by unscrewing with your fingers – no tools required. It’s important that you put the first battery in with negative (-) pole first, then allow it to drop into position, followed by the second battery positive (+) pole first. The knurled nut is then replaced. A rubber washer on the thread keeps the battery compartment water tight. The Basic model has a different battery layout; instead of a separate compartment, there is a battery tray accessed by removing the ear cushion and foam insert from the right ear cup.
The controls consist of three push buttons located on the lower section of the left ear cup. The square middle button is pushed once to turn the microphones on, or press and hold to turn them off. Volume is controlled by a triangular button on the left to turn the volume down, and a triangular button on the right to turn the volume up. One touch takes the volume up (or down) one level. Initially it was a bit confusing to change volume and turn the unit on/off as you are doing it ‘blind’, but after a short while you get used to the feel of the buttons’ shapes (and there location), so operation becomes automatic.
Once switched on, the microphones proved to be very sensitive, in fact they picked up just about everything – great for unobtrusively listening in on other people’s conversations, but not when they are talking about you just as you are about to take a shot. The volume control is best set to the lowest level, which is quite enough for most situations, only turning it up a notch if you really need to. There are four levels of amplification on the Basic model and five levels on the Pro. When you turn the earphones on the volume will remain the same as when they were switched off.
The output (what you actually hear) will not exceed known risk levels of sound that could damage hearing. Sound via the speakers is limited to a maximum 82 dB(A) sound level.
On both models there is an Aux. input socket on the left ear shell, and a one metre long cable with 3.5mm jack plugs is included in the package. This allows you to connect the phones up to a walky talky, dog tracking device or even an I-pod. If you don’t need an auxiliary socket, a Basic model is available without one – and it’s cheaper too.
The battery run time is 600 hours with the system automatically shutting down after four hours if no control button is operated in that time. About two minutes before auto shut down, a warning tone will be heard so that the shut down can be cancelled or postponed for another four hours by pressing any key. Long life alkaline AAA batteries are supplied with both models, but re-chargeable NICAD type batteries are not recommended. A tone is emitted when there is approximately 40 hours battery life remaining – this will be heard within 10 seconds of turning the ear defenders on.
Fit and comfort
The headband is adjustable with plenty of room – it even fits the Editor’s head – and it sits comfortably without gripping too tightly (a very important feature to some people). The cups are quite shallow and although one of our reviewers mentioned that they tended to knock on the comb of a rifle butt when mounted, nobody else experienced this with either rifle or shotgun.
Efficient sealing around the ear is obviously important in order for this type of hearing protection to work, and both these models did the job well without excessive pressure.
It is recommended that the ear cushion and foam insert are changed on a regular basis (once or twice a year depending on use) for hygiene purposes. Spare hygiene kits cost £7.50.
The only niggle was that the ear cups are attached to the headband at either end – not in the middle with a single swivel point like many other makes of ear defenders. This means that the headband can’t be pushed to the back of the neck, but always has to be worn over the head for the best ear cup fit. However, MSA Sordin do make a ‘neckband’ model that conforms to international MIL-specifications. This features a flexible neckband together with a slim adjustable Velcro head-strap for extra support.
Overall both the Supreme Basics and Supreme Pros worked very well in the active mode, and – should you wish to shoot in near silence – they will work just as effectively in passive mode.
The MSA Sordin Basic active ear defenders with Aux. input socket cost £99 (without Aux. input socket and lead these are £89) while the Supreme Pro models are priced at
There are many other models in the range that offer even more sophisticated options (which naturally cost more) these include;
MSA Supreme Pro-X (£155)
The top Supreme model for hunting and shooting. These have all the features of the Supreme Pro plus digital electronics, separate waterproof microphones with excellent sound quality and perfect directional hearing. Interchangeable hygiene kit.
MSA Sordin Supreme WW Bluetooth with boom microphone (£269)
Developed give excellent hearing protection, whilst being able to converse with people standing near to you and also allows you to talk on your mobile phone without removing your headset. This features Bluetooth wireless connection to GSM phone, Rugged Electret noise cancelling boom microphone, answers calls by pushing button on the headset, LED light built into the front of the cup.