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Known to be one of the unquestionable leaders in the electronic hearing protection market, 3M-Peltor has possibly the longest standing experience in the manufacture of this particular product.
Presently, the state of the art in the hunting-sports shooting market for electronic headsets made by 3M-Peltor would be the acclaimed WS SportTac hearing protections.
Feature rich, with an advanced Digital Signal Processor (DSP) based electronic circuit, the WS SportTac headset allows the user to have complete awareness over the surrounding environment, with an added control on what type of sounds reach the user's ears. It is possible to adjust the volume of the sounds mediated by the headset, filter out certain unwanted frequencies thanks to an equalizer and still be protected from harmful transient noise levels.
The headset works by picking up all environment sounds through two stereo microphones, digitally processing the sounds using proprietary algorithms, amplifying weak sounds and attenuating noise and transient peaks (such as gun shots), and reproducing them through high quality, large diameter speakers that are positioned in the headsets' cups at an angle in respect to the user's ears so to reproduce a sound that is as natural as possible.
Attenuation is rated at 26 decibels, and the DSP reacts instantaneously once the environment sound level exceeds a predetermined threshold, protecting the user's hearing; instead of simply "clipping" out the sound, a digital compression of the signal is performed, so that the user almost does not notice the circuit's activation.
The microphones have been carefully placed on the headset, so that the full stereo sound that can be listened wearing the WS SportTac hearing protection is a perfect duplicate of the surrounding environment, allowing complete situational awareness and spatial sound recognition: the user can not only recognize perfectly the sounds, but also detect the exact direction where they are coming from. Additionally, weak sounds can be amplified up to four times compared to normal hearing, and it is possible to adjust the stereo balance to adapt to eventual hearing impairments in one ear.
In addition, the WS SportTac features a full Bluetooth wireless interface, which allows connection with many devices, including music players, cellular phones and proprietary adapters towards two-way communication radios; in this case, the headset has a built-in noise-cancelling voice microphone.
For specific needs, a J22 connector for a boom microphone is integrated,as well as a 3.5mm AUX in connector.
All electronics, including connectors, microphones and speakers are waterproofed.
Power is supplied by two AAA batteries, that are accessible by removing the left shell; the cells can be rechargeable as well as Li-Ion/Alkaline type, and using the supplied Ni-Mh rechargeables, battery life is stated to be around 80 hours. As can be expected, the WS SportTac headset can be easily adjusted to comfortably fit every user, having been designed to be worn for extended periods of time.
All hardware is stainless steel and the headset is built using low allergenic polymers. An hygiene kit, with the soft pads and internal foams is available, to replace worn out ear pads.
Every feature can be reached using a voice guided menu, and operating the three main buttons on the right shell.
Up to this point, we've talked about 3M-Peltor's WS SportTac headset, and the reader might wonder why, since this is supposed to be a review of the WS SportTac Light... point being, there are very slight differences between the original WS SportTac and its "light" variation.
So slight, in fact, that for all purposes we can consider them to be the same product, and we have no qualms recommending the "light" version, deeming it a valuable package. Basically, the soft, thin and undoubtedly very comfortable leather headband cover has been replaced by the basic rubber cover, and the very fancy packaging that included few extras (such as the additional, orange colored, cup shells and an FL6CE connection cable) have been removed, the electronic headset now coming in a plain cardboard box; the two Ni-Mh rechargeable AAA batteries and the wall charger have been still conveniently included.
The price reduction is not that much, however, all the quality and technology of the WS SportTac headset is still there.