Napier P90 Ear Defender
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- Last updated: 07/11/2016
If I was having a special ‘do’ I’d have Steve Rowe, founder and head honcho of Napier of London organise it… as when Steve puts together a bash – he knows how to throw one and where to hold it – no sniggering at the back! In seriousness though, it bears testament to his faith and belief in the innovative design of his new Pro 90 Hearing Protectors that he’s launched them to the press in such a way. So this report is a combination of the day and the performance of the ear defenders.
Along with various other press and magazine representatives, I arrived at the Well Barn Estate in Berkshire, not far from Napier’s UK base, to be welcomed by the roaring log fire in a very stylish shooting lodge. Steve gave a brief talk on the ‘ear defenders’ in his own enthusiastic style and then without a long drawn out lecture on their merits, we were all given press packs and a set of ear defenders to assess. We all got in the 4 X 4’s, and in Steve’s words “have some fun smashing clays” and in the process obviously we’d get to test the effectiveness of the ear defenders.
For the shooting we were split into pairs, and possibly taking pity on me, Steve opted to be my partner and the shooting began. This is when the Pro 9’s proved their worth. This was no ‘tricky dicky’ way of lulling us into liking the defenders as they really did impress. They easily fold out and are put on. You simply pull out the defenders to the extent of the headband, than put them onto your ears and as you turn the headband upwards to sit on your head either below or above a cap, they twist slightly into the outer ear and give what is in my opinion a unique and unrivalled performance - far superior for certain shooting disciplines than some electronic defenders I’ve used.
So what is so special about the PRO 9 hearing protector? Initial thoughts of the product during the presentation were that they were a clever idea but I couldn’t see them being that revolutionary. Then after the shoot it certainly had everybody who attended change tack, as all were in agreement. Yes, they are revolutionary and they do exactly what they say on the packet. They are unobtrusive and work surprisingly well at protecting your hearing.
The P90s are certainly unusual looking when compared to the normal style of ear defender that we are used to, as the large and familiar ear cups are not present. Instead you have a U-shaped design that consists of an adjustable head band in the middle and two, hollow curved, L-shaped arms (sound chambers). The ends of which fit into your ear via a replaceable foam rubber seal (or cuff) and that’s that; no switches, volume controls, wires or power source, as the unit works in a very different way. These soft ear cuffs actually just rest on the outer ear canal and don’t need inserting as with conventional earplugs. They are also waterproof, amazingly light at 1.7 oz and fold up easily into a compact package that will fit even a small pocket or an optional purpose made belt pouch. A bonus for hygiene purposes is that the ear cuffs are made from easy to clean material; resistant to bacteria or mould growth and such like. Each unit is supplied with 2 extra sets of ear cuffs which are also available separately. Because the unit is so slim, it has no profile below the ear, unlike earmuffs - so won’t hinder gun mounting or head positioning.
Hailed as the result of years of Auditory Research, the Pro 9 has no moving parts, wires or batteries. It blocks out all sound, yet incredibly allows the wearer to hear safe sound levels such as speech with surprising clarity. On the shoot the sound of a shotgun blast was markedly reduced, yet I could hear people talking within 5-6ft of my position. When shooting myself, I noticed the sharp blast is severely muted. The potential damaging decibels of gunfire are subject to over 32-decibel reduction, and this is all achieved without any electronics, valves or moving parts. Check out the diagram and this describes better than words how the Pro 9’s work in way of protecting hearing from a sudden shotgun or rifle blast. The Pro 9 uses a unique sound chamber that directs the damaging noise levels away from the ear canal to be dampened, refracted and ultimately cancelled. It may sound too good to be true, but all at the ‘press launch’ were in agreement in their surprise at how such a simple looking device could work so effectively.
I also noticed that the ear defenders cope superbly with wind noise which on electronic ear defenders can be a big problem as it is amplified. While wearing the Pro 9’s, you know it’s windy, but the wind doesn’t permeate the defenders to hinder their effectiveness in the slightest.
Post Show Bash
On return to the lodge, the descending of the ravenous hordes after the shoot was well catered for with a sumptuous spread laid on courtesy of Napier. The seared roe and muntjac were soon gone, as were a host of other delights. Steve was the perfect host, aided by son Alex, turning what could have been a yawn-inducing PR event into a very enjoyable actual try out of an effective new product… and one that actually does exactly what is claimed of it.
Pro 9 Hearing Protectors cost £23.99 complete with two pair of spare ear cuffs. An optional belt pouch is available for £9.75 and extra ear cuffs are £3.25 for a pack of two.