Walker’s Game Ear Silencer Bluetooth 2.0 Review: Hearing Protection & Enhancement
We only get one set of ears, yet shooters are notoriously poor at guarding their hearing every single time a firearm is involved. Walker’s tagline of “Protect It or Lose It” is a truism that should remind shooters – and hunters – time and again about the importance of ear pro.
But when it’s also offered with features like Bluetooth connectivity, low profile, and on-the-go charging, what’s not to like? Guns.com runs Walker’s new Silencer Bluetooth 2.0 through its paces over the course of multiple range sessions to get the lowdown.
Part of the modernized Bluetooth series of hearing protection, Walker’s Silencer 2.0 packs plenty of features into a small package. The wireless Bluetooth earbuds provide both sound-activated compression and hearing enhancement. Walker’s uses what they call “Bluetooth 5.0” for a wider connection range and greater battery life compared with past models.
Though perhaps an oversimplification, the Silencer 2.0 essentially automatically blocks out loud noises like gunshots, while amplifying ambient sounds – think woodland creatures and range buddy voices. In addition, the Bluetooth connectivity means the pods can be used for phone calls and playing tunes.
The product ships with a micro-USB cable for charging, a docking station with an integrated lithium battery, and three sizes of both sizing fins and foam tips for the buds. There’s also a tiny cleaning brush for keeping those earpieces tidy. A printed instruction booklet comes in handy for those unfamiliar with Walker’s electronics systems. The earpieces themselves are clearly marked with an “L” or “R” denoting left and right placement, while the sizing inserts are labeled accordingly as well.
The noise reduction is rated at 24 decibels, when used correctly. What is correct use? The main facet would be proper sizing, which is accomplished through trial and error with the included set of three Sure-Lock sizing fins and foam tips. Inserting the tips involves crushing the foam like you would cheap plugs, inserting them, and holding them in place for 10 seconds.
The upper fins also come in three sizes and should fit snugly along the ear. We found it helpful to have a friend assist with this portion to judge the ideal fit.
Running the Device
While the devices can be run – mostly, at least – with “touch-button controls,” there are not actually any “buttons” to be found. It takes a good bit of practice, and instruction manual reading, to get the hang of this. The easiest way to control the Silencer 2.0 is actually with the free app for smartphones.
This allows simple handling of program settings, battery life, volume adjustment, and auto-shutoff changes. That last feature – auto-off – can be set at two, four, or six hours and definitely helps conserve the battery. Users can also control both left and right volume separately in the app. On the downside, we did have to delete and re-install the app several times to work out the kinks, but it has since been running well.
Pros & Cons
The charging station is great and even includes a lanyard. The earpieces magnetically snap into place for a positive lockup with the electrical connector. Yet, in what can only be described as a cost-saving move, the company includes a micro-USB cord but not the wall plug. Sure, many users may opt to charge this via their laptop or vehicle’s USB port, but the majority of the time, we prefer the faster charge from a wall outlet.
Though we had several universal chargers laying around from phones and other related devices, none of them would actually feed the Walker’s. Though, both the laptop and truck did the trick. Once charged, the battery life showed itself to be longer than an eight-hour range session. Further, the docking station’s battery juices up the units quickly should you be away from a power source for a while.
The updated technology on the 2.0 Bluetooth model we tested is a welcome one. Users can answer phone calls, listen to music, and enhance game sounds in the hunting woods while simultaneously protecting their hearing. For most users, that’s all positive. However, for some who may be less tech savvy – or unwilling to monkey around with learning it – these particular Walker’s will not be a good fit.
We’re not super techy, and it took a good amount of time to master the process of pairing them with the phone – which must be done each time – and getting the hang of controlling the button-free buds themselves.
The audio quality is surprisingly clear in more protected environments. However, though Walker’s advertises “dynamic wind noise reduction,” we found the howling wind noise rather off-putting on the windiest of days. That also holds true for many over-ear electronic protectors.
The buds are sleek and capable, yet not nearly as small as an AirPod, not that we were expecting them to be. Though we planned to attempt it, the Silencer 2.0s are still too bulky to fit inside a motorcycle helmet. On the plus side, they’d double nicely as regular wireless earbuds for workouts, hikes, travel, and the like – not merely shooting or hunting.
Over the course of several weeks, including multiple six- and eight-hour range sessions, the Silencer 2.0s functioned exactly as they should. Loud, sudden gunshot noises were well blocked. The earbuds fit well, but they still protrude a bit from the ear. Regardless, they did not interfere with cheeking and firing long guns. In fact, they offer an incredibly less bulky option than over-the-ear shooting muffs.
The wireless Bluetooth earbuds protect hearing first and foremost, but they also double as a sound-enhancing tool for hunters and as a hands-free audio device. At the end of the day – range day, hunting trip, or normal workaday – Walker’s Silencer 2.0 gets the job done and does it well. Sure, there are a few hiccups along the way, and they’re not ideal for every shooter, but for those desiring connectivity along with hearing protection, the Silencer 2.0 deserves a go.