AXIL GS Digital Earbuds– macro performance in a micro package!
For anyone working in industries and professions where you’re subjected to various loud noises such as industrial noise, gunfire, or anything else exceeding 140 decibels at one time, we’ve probably been provided turnkey hearing protection solutions in the form of disposable foam insets which do very little to protect one’s hearing or permit the end user to hear normally. This has been the case for many years across several professions. Some entities or end users have opted to procure their own hearing preservation equipment, but these are often in the form of external earmuffs, which can be hot, cumbersome, and not conducive to wearing for extended periods. Additionally, people in these industries (or anyone around persistent, loud noises) are at risk of Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), a phenomenon which can be gradual, by means of loud music exposure, or instant, such as being near gunfire, an explosion or other impulse noise. Generally, anything over 85 A Weighted Decibels (dBA) can, over time, degrade hearing, anything over 140 dBA can instantly degrade or damage hearing. Per the National Institute of Health’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, here are the decibel ranges of noise and where gradual or instant NIHL can occur.
- Normal conversation
- Movie theater
- Motorcycles and dirt bikes
- Music through headphones at maximum volume, sporting events, and concerts
- Fireworks show & gunfire
Why am I saying all of this? Read on. For the last five years, I have been a professional, full-time law enforcement firearms instructor and have spent thousands of hours on ranges, both indoor and outdoor, donning cumbersome external ear pro. While very effective, they can be fatiguing to the shooter over the long term. An alternative was desperately needed, but can a manufacturer of electronic hearing protection that’s effective, compact, and reliable? With AXIL, you can!
In late May 2022, AXIL was kind enough to send a set of GS Digital Earbuds. These units are not just hearing protection, but these can also serve as a dual-purpose hearing enhancement unit. Not only that, but they sent the GHOST STRYKE package, which includes an array of well thought out accessories in the package. For the consumer, this is a turnkey solution. It must be stated that these AXIL’s are packaged in something analogous to a fine electronic or sports watch, not hearing protection. The packaging is thoughtful, robust and first rate. So, with GHOST STRYKE, what’s in the box?
–One pair of AXIL Digital GS Digital Earbuds– These are diminutive, well manufactured and seem engineered for the inside of the human ear. These are not your run of the mill inner ear protection that you can pick up at the local big box store. Each unit features an attractive and tastefully applied AXIL logo on the outside. To add the tiny battery, carefully lift the door, install correctly and close. These units are actuated by a tiny wheel which, to be fair, can be difficult to employ. In total fairness, I have massively large hands, and turning these units on and off may not present any challenge to the average end user. Depending upon the foam insert desired and employed will determine the level of comfort and noise reduction experienced by the end user.
-Owner’s Manual– Often overlooked, but the 25-page factory literature that is included in the box is well presented, organized, and serves as a very informative guide to the new AXIL owner. Not only is the manual incredibly well done, but it also includes a diagram of the inner and outer ear, and how the AXIL interfaces with them. If you read the manual, (which only takes a few minutes), you should have a very solid understanding of your new AXIL units.
–Comfort Foam & Silicon Tips– There’s a lot to say about these, and kudos to AXIL for including them as part of a system, rather than as a standalone unit. In the box, we see the smaller, clear inner ear plugs which feature an 18 dB Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) and the larger, dark plugs feature a robust NRR. Now, it is incumbent upon the end user to know what weapon systems will be used (rifle/shotgun/handgun) and in what setting (indoor/outdoor). Additionally, it must be stated that if you’re using the AXIL’s on an indoor setting with multiple shooters who are using rifles, you may want to don a set of hard shell hearing protection due to the concussive blast and decibel levels. This is by no means a strike against AXIL, but simply a reality.
-Securfit Extenders- Not to be outdone with the addition of the excellent comfort foam and silicon tips, AXIL includes a set of securfit extenders, which serve as an addition to the earbud, which allow for the discerning end user to place the buds in your ear in a more secure manner. This comes in handy if you’re PTing with the earbuds on, engaging in dynamic range drills or any number of scenarios. Rest assured, if you choose to use these, the AXIL’s aren’t going anywhere. AXIL did a superb job designing and including these in the GHOST STRYKE package.
-Cleaning Brush- Often overlooked, but still a very nice and robust addition to the GHOST STRYKE package to aid in maintenance of the units.
-Protective carrying case- Given how well thought out this entire package is, it is hardly surprising that AXIL would include a fitted case for the AXIL earbuds and all the accoutrements listed above. A very nice touch, and one that is almost required to keep this package organized in range bags and in pockets.
-10A Zinc hearing aid batteries- The icing on the proverbial cake. It would be anticlimactic to get the GHOST STRYKE package and must run out and source batteries. I literally received the package in the mail, tossed it into the range bag, and assembled and tested it on an outdoor pistol range the following day. Most impressive.
Ultimately, you’re getting a well-designed, engineered, manufactured, and supported set of active hearing enhancement / protection. Full disclosure here: I was skeptical about some of the claims that some in the training biz were saying about the AXILs, but I’m a believer now. In an outdoor range setting, shooting pistols, pistol-caliber carbines or suppressed long guns, these are my absolute go-to earpro. Shooting 10.3 inch carbines on a 25 student firing line, I’ll augment these earbuds with hard shells to ultimately preserve my hearing all the better.
At the end of the day, here’s how I rate the AXIL GS Digital Earbuds.
PRICE $499.99 5/5 Not inexpensive by anyone’s budget, but the price is commensurate with the level of quality that you get and for workmanship exhibited in the manufacture of this piece of precision electronic equipment. Since I’m in a profession where I’m on my feet for a range of around 50 hours per week, I feel that my comfort and distinct lack of ringing ears is worth the price. YMMV, of course.
FUNCTIONALITY 5/5 I feel that the AXIL GS Digital Earbuds serve their intended role very well
WEIGHT 5/5 This is going to be one of those subjective areas, but the AXIL GS Digital Earbuds feel very lightweight, and are naturally comfortable inside of your outer ear. At the end of a day of training my ears do not feel sore or crushed like they do with cumbersome, conventional headsets.
DURABILITY Unsure at this point. Need more time to test. I have had them for about one month, but I do not see any indications that these units are lacking in function, fit or durability.
COMFORT 5/5 The AXIL GS Digital Earbuds were extremely comfortable, and no break in period was needed. Other ear bud type units can be uncomfortable, cumbersome, or unreliable.
I was furnished with these AXIL GS Digital Earbuds from the manufacturer so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based on my personal experience with the product.
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