Swatcom Active8 Electronic Ear Defenders
- By Chris Parkin
- 314 Comments
- Last updated: 20/08/2021
SWATCOM’s Active8 waterproof ear defenders are designed primarily for shooters in Police, Military and Professional scenarios with the greatest need for protection, whilst retaining full situational awareness in all conditions. The ear cup itself with no electronics offers 25dB SNR through which the latest ASIC digital signal processing, transfers 360° perception of non-damaging noise, via the internal speakers. This means that your ears retain a beneficial connection to the external environment.
The digital sound reproduction is smooth without feeling staccato as gunfire is muted along with any other noise above 82 dB. You still hear the natural world with just the gun noise edited out and often with more detail and range, leading to a greater awareness of natural game movement beyond that of unassisted hearing. Sensitivity was excellent, to the extent that I heard noises that had previously gone unnoticed, like cuffs on a jacket rubbing against gloves or squeaky boots.
The Active8’s include an auto-off function and battery life is rated at 600 hours. They are waterproof (fully submersible to 1m for 30 minutes) and come with a 5-year warranty. The sealed battery compartment is a little trickier to get the two supplied AAA cells in and out of, but a small polymer tool is supplied to aid the process.
They feature ultra-comfortable gel ear cushions to mould to your skull and show a 70x44mm oval space for your ears, with a depth of 18mm. The overhead polymer loop offers segmented adjustability for head size and a leather shroud for warmth and comfort. With the two small microphones facing forward on either side, the battery compartment sits on the right rear and an auxiliary input on the rear left. On/off and volume control is located on the left earcup.
All-day wear was comfortable at 445-grams, with plentiful headband adjustment and well-balanced volume control. The sleek profile offers close gun mount capability without fouling the cheekpiece and I particularly like the comfort afforded by the gel-filled cup surrounds. The auxiliary input enables regular 3.5mm audio connections to a radio. SWATCOM also sell a Bluetooth Neck-Loop accessory that allows the headset to connect to a smartphone, for strain-free phone calls with an incorporated microphone. You can also listen to music undisturbed. Package deals are available with both conventional over the head or neckband models and a storage case. The slimline shape has some compromises and the 25dB SNR rating is less than some of the larger options on the market. I tend to wear these when shooting particularly noisy rifles and specifically those with brakes on, where 30dB protection is preferable. For general use with shotguns and low shot-count sporting rifles, especially when hunting, the Active8’s offer superb comfort, with improved hearing as a significant benefit that can’t be dismissed.