This review is for the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro-X hearing protection headband. For a long time I’ve had the MSA Sordin headset on my wish list, a couple years in fact, and last year Santa was kind enough to leave a set under the tree. I’ve been using these exclusively the last few months every time I go to the range. I’ve even been bringing them in place of the “throwdowns” at my Department range when I show up to qualify with pistol and rifle. These are not cheap earpro by any stretch. In fact, they’re probably among the priciest of the headbands out there at just over $300 USD. However, they have some features that make them well worth the cost!
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro-X
The MSA Sordin headband is a high end set of electronic hearing protection. The MSA Sordin headset features a microphone for each ear which will reproduce stereo sound. Unlike headbands with a single microphone, which only reproduce ambient noise based on the one microphone, the MSA Sordin headset has true stereo sound. Why is that important? Well, if you’re a hunter and you’re out stalking yourself an animal, it helps if you can use your ears to determine the direction of a sound you just heard. Sound is equally important in Military and Law Enforcement circles for the same reason. The problem you have to solve is: How do I achieve maximum use of my hearing, without risking its longevity to gunfire?
This is where traditional electronic earpro has shined through! By using a set of ear muffs with noise reduction built in you are able to go shooting without worrying about losing your hearing to gunfire. By adding a small speaker and a microphone to each ear cup, you give yourself the ability to hear people talking to you at the range, without worrying about losing your hearing. The speaker will automatically attenuate the ambient noise at a safe level and when it detects a loud noise, like gunfire, it shuts the speaker off and allows the passive protection of the cup to protect your ears. That’s how electronic earpro works in a nutshell.
MSA Sordin Headset in Action!
Everybody always wants to know how well something works. One thing that comes up from time to time is NRR ratings. We did a post on that subject, and hearing protection, that you can read here. Some people have looked at the MSA Sordin headsets and scoffed at the NRR rating of 18dB when other headsets offer higher numbers. Long story short, in the frequencies that you find gunfire, they perform between 25dB and 30dB in terms of reduction. There is an excellent article on their performance and the numbers use to rate them you can read here!
That’s the scientific side of the performance part of this review. Anecdotally, I have to say these things are great! The sound reproduction is excellent, and there is plenty of volume control available so you can get the ambient noise level where you want it. I typically try to get the sound level in the MSA Sordin headset to match how ambient noise typically sounds to the bare ear. However, if you’re shooting indoors with multiple other shooters around, it may be necessary to turn it up higher in order to hear what people are saying, or so I thought.
I had these headphones on when I was trying to talk to somebody at a crowded range. With cheaper earpro I’ve been able to turn up the volume on the earpro so I could hear people talking over the gunfire. At first the MSA Sordins frustrated me a bit because I would turn the volume up but I still couldn’t hear what the person I was talking to was saying. The frustration quickly evaporated when I realized what was happening. The range was much more crowded than where I normally shoot, so gunfire was pretty constant with small breaks between shots across a line of shooters. The headset was detecting and cutting the speakers off before the gunshot noise was allowed through. I realize all electronic earpro does this, but anecdotally, it seems that the MSA headsets do a much better job than some cheaper alternatives!
I also have to say, that frequently with lower priced earpro, after long days wearing the earpro I’m prone to headaches and soreness around my ear lobes. The MSA Sordin Supreme Pro-X headset can have optional gel earcups installed, and I highly recommend those! The gel cups are awesome, they feel like a squishy gel insole and they do a lot to mitigate pain on your earlobe or headaches from extended shooting sessions. They’re about a $15 dollar upgrade and I highly suggest you do it, you’re already splurging for a great set of earpro, don’t cheap out at the register. There’s also an auxiliary input jack so if you want to plug in your mp3 player, or your radio for the MIL/LE crowd, you can do so and have your audio pumped through the headset’s speakers in loud environments.
This headset offers quite a lot for the money. They offer 600 hours of use from two AAA batteries. Stereo noise reproduction and attenuation at 82dB. IP67 protection against dust and water. They’re also about the most comfortable earpro you can get your hands on for extended shooting. Honestly, this is one of those products I wish I bought years ago. They’re that good! If you’re shooting indoors for extended periods, or around a lot of muzzle brakes, you might want to stick a set of foam plugs in your ears under them to further bolster the protection to your hearing. However, in outdoor environments like rifle matches where you wind up wearing the headset for an extended period with short, sporadic periods of gunfire, I don’t think you can do better than these!
I also wanted to throw a quick shout out towards One Shot Industries! These are the guys that make the headband wrap you see pictured on my Sordin headset. It came with a decent wrap on it, in woodland camo, but that’s not my favorite color! The One Shot comes padded with breathable mesh, loops on the band for clipping the headset to your pack or gear, and a velcro strip across the top for name plates and labels! Highly recommend it and they make them for other models of earpro as well!