Reactive hearing protection for the shop
September 3, 2021 | 1:51 pm CDT
ISOtunes Aware hearing protection

ISOtunes new Link Aware muffs and Pro Aware earbuds offer hearing protection with situational awareness. The activate in 2 milliseconds to block dangerous sounds while allowing you to hear what’s around you and still use your Bluetooth devices. They work especially well with percussive noise such as nailguns.

Most woodworkers use hearing protection for attenuating sound levels that endanger hearing, but they hate the inconvenience of taking muffs or plugs on and off or not being able to hear normal sounds around them.

We previously reviewed ISOtunes Link and Xtra 2.0 ear protection that paired to your Bluetooth device to allow listening to music and answering phone calls while wearing hearing protection. But those devices still dampened all outside sounds, perhaps keeping you from hearing co-workers trying to get your attention.

Now the company has introduced two new models, ISOtunes Link Aware and ISOtunes Pro Aware, that feature situational awareness to protect you from loud noises only when they reach a dangerous level and to allow you to hear normally when sound levels are not dangerous.

ISOtunes Link Aware ear muffs
ISOtunes Link Aware muffs offer 25 dB attenuation and last 11 hours on a battery charge.

How it works
ISOtunes calls the system behind this advance Aware Technology. According to the company, when outside noise breaches a safe listening level of 85dB, Aware Technology purposefully shuts off to block this noise passively, like a standard hearing protector. When environmental noise returns to a safe listening level, Aware Technology turns back on to continue amplifying the sounds around you. 

And like the previous ISOtunes models we reviewed, these are Bluetooth compatible to give you access to your phone, your music, or any other Bluetooth compatible device, without sacrificing ear protection or having to take the muffs or earbuds off and on all the time.

ISOtunes Aware Pro ear buds
ISOtunes Pro Aware earbuds offer 26 dB attenuation and last 10 hours on a battery charge. They come with four different size ear tips for a good fit.

Bang! It works!
I was familiar with this kind of technology having used it with hearing protection with firearms, so I was pleased to see it available for the shop. It’s particularly valuable if you are using percussive tools such as pneumatic nail guns or doing a lot of turning machines on and off. ISOtunes says the sound dampening is activated in just 2 milliseconds to prevent damage to your hearing, and I found it worked well.

Your choice of the Link ear muffs or the Pro earbuds is largely a personal matter, since they offer roughly the same features. The muffs have 25 dB attenuation, while the earbuds are slightly better at 26 dB. The muffs have 11-hour battery life, while the earbuds last 10 hours. I personally find the muffs more comfortable, but the earbuds come with four tip sizes for a good fit.

Either way they are worth checking out. Learn more at

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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.