What are Plugfones?
Plugfones is a Utah based company that creates the world class hearing protection devices with audio capability for a superior listening experience. The company’s latest models include professional and consumer versions that continually strive to provide the best safety possible for your hearing while enabling audio for the user by both creating noise isolation technology (IsoTalk™) for their microphones and noise suppression technology (SoundSeal™) for their earbuds/speakers. Plugfones' stated mission is, “to provide innovative hearing protection + a superior listening experience. We strive to continually optimize our products and foster meaningful relationships with our customers.” As per their website.
The company has been around since 2008 and was founded by Shaun Knudsen. As with most great products and stories it says that the plugfones were truly born of necessity. As pulled from the plugfones website, “Prior to even thinking about an earplug-earbud hybrid, Shaun was a real estate investor and realtor. After years of running a successful business, he suddenly found himself facing bankruptcy during the height of the U.S. financial crisis of 2008. Realizing that he couldn’t use his professional knowledge to get him out of his precarious financial situation, Shaun put his boots on and went to work at the only job he could find – pushing sheets in a glass factory. No stranger to hard work, Shaun was grateful just to be gainfully employed – but the sheer monotony of feeding sheet after sheet of glass into large industrial burners was quickly driving him crazy. What it led him to invent, however, changed his life forever. Required to have proper ear protection while at work, Shaun yearned to listen to music or books on tape while he was on the floor. An exhaustive search yielded plenty of earplugs that provided hearing protection but no music, and just as many earphones that provided music but no hearing protection. Seeing an unmet market need, Shaun began making his own line of earbuds that were tucked inside the jacket of an earplug. It was the perfect solution! Now, almost 10 years later, Plugfones features a complete line of high-quality, high-fidelity earplug-earbud hybrid products to make the day go by faster.” Having worked with the plugfones in my ears for over 2 months now I can attest that they do provide a great listening experience while still providing ear protection.
In the spirit of their mission Plugfones has created multiple product lines based on their relationships with their customers and driven by the need of each user type. The current plugfones lineup includes both a consumer line and professional line.
The plugfones consumer and professional line both have Bluetooth, plugged with microphone and plugged without microphone models, use the plugfones ANSI Certified which (ANSI S3.19-1974 Compliant Meets NIOSH criteria) and OSHA approved earbuds but that is where the similarities stop. The differences between consumer & professional line fall under these 4 categories
- Price Points
|Construction||8 strand internal copper wire||16 strand internal copper wire|
|Material||Rubberized wire outer shell||Nylon Kevlar wire woven outer shell|
|Warranty||Up to 90 days depending on model||Up to 1 Year depending on model|
|Style||Red/Yellow/Blue||Black/Green & Red/Yellow|
|Industrial Safety Model||N/A||Volume limited units available|
|Available through Mobile Tool Dealer Distribution||N/A||Yes|
|MSRP||$25.99 - $99.99||$29.99 - $149.99|
At the time of this writing the price difference between the professional and consumer versions is very small (approximately $40-$50 USD MSRP) for such a large upswing in quality, construction, material and support.
Looking at these products through the lens of the professional we know that quality, relationship with the tool distributor, price, need and availability are the biggest factors in making decisions regarding the purchase of new tools and equipment. The added benefit of the plugfones line is that they blend the need of a shop tool due to their safety features and functionality along with the lifestyle of your electronic consumer because they allow the freedom to talk on the phone, listen to music and be productive while keeping hearing safe.
Although this article will not go into detail on NRR and hearing safety, the plugfones come equipped with a pair of 29 NRR & 27 NRR earplugs for the user’s appropriate needs. The noise reduction rating (NRR) is a unit of measurement used to determine the effectiveness of hearing protection devices to decrease sound exposure within a given working environment. Classified by their potential to reduce noise in decibels (dB), a term used to categorize the power or density of sound, hearing protectors must be tested and approved by the American National Standards (ANSI) in accordance with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). The higher the NRR number associated with a hearing protector, the greater the potential for noise reduction. According to broad internet research the highest rated NRR plugs/muffs available have a rating of 33, so with a NRR of 29, the safety provided by the plugfones earbud with the added benefit of audio for both listening and talking the Plugfones fills the need of a safety tool and personal use device for many spaces.
The following is a comparison chart between the industrial or professional models:
Our next set of writings will be on providing more details and breakdowns of each model and their benefits.