Conree contacted me and sent me a their electronic earmuffs to test. Hearing protection is a must when participating any shooting sport because hearing loss is caused by exposure from loud noises above 85dB and once damaged, hearing loss can not be healed. Along with eye-protection, it’s not worth it to cheap out and use a product that doesn’t provide the minimum level of protection promised.
I had never heard of the Conree brand before which is not a good start when choosing hearing protection. Fortunately, I have the tools to test the earmuffs before wearing. So if they failed to reduce noise to a safe level, I wouldn’t take them out to the range.
The Conree ME123 headphones come in a Spartan black box with an illustration of the headphones. Inside the box was a ~1.5ft 3.5mm audio cable, user manual, and the headphones. The user manual was as Spartan as the box, with very little instructional information, repeated in multiple languages.
The headphones are black plastic and light weight. The headband had a faux leather cover and allowed the ear cups to fold into a compact 5x5x4.5 configuration. The headphones run on 2 x AAA batteries, housed in the left earcup.
The earcup’s foam earpads are comfortable and provide a good air seal and sound isolation. The AUX jack can be used to connect the headphones to phone or radio. The sound level is dependent on the headphones volume level; when turned off, no AUX sound can be heard. The speakers have poor bass response and high volume output from my computer sounded clipped, so these are not headphones you would want for hifi music listening.
In my audio testing the headphones reduced ambient noise from my handvac by approximately 27dB; this is 4dB better than Conree’s stated 23dB NRR (Noise Reduction Rating). While the noise profile of a high-speed vacuum motor is not the same as that of a .44magnum handgun, it is a good enough for me to feel it safe to test these headphones on the range.
At the range, I was pleased to find that the headphones were light weight and comfortable for the 1hr I spent shooting my 9mm Glock. The headphones did respectable job. Unlike some headphones by Earmor and Caldwell, gunfire noise was attenuated (reduced) but not completely cut off, so I was able to follow people’s conversations around me rather than completely dropped out.
What I would have liked is a bit more max volume. Many of us use supplemental foam earplugs under our electronic earmuffs when we shoot indoors. The Conree’s max volume was barely loud enough to hear speech around me without earplugs, and not enough to amplify natural sounds of prey animals that are useful in hunting.
Overall, these headphones compare well against my Howard Leight Impact Sports. Not quite as low-profile or as loud but very close in audio quality and a bit better sound seal around the ears. I would recommend them for smaller heads or kids for whom Impact Sports do not provide a comfortable and secure fit.
A few days after my range test, I discovered that I had forgotten to turn off the headphones. The LED light was still on but I could hear no sound through the headphones. The unit has an auto shut-off after about 4 hours. This did work in my case to deactivate the headphones except for the LED light, but it did conserve battery life which still held a full-charge based on the reading from my battery tester.
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