back to article British troops to wear smart earplugs in Afghan combat

British troops getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan are being issued with electronic sound-cancelling earplugs designed to let them hear what they need to - orders, conversations, enemy footfalls - but prevent hearing damage caused by explosions, gunfire and so on. News of the new digi-plugs comes courtesy of the Times, …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Mad Mike


    Surely, if hearing loud noises is dangerous and could damage your hearing, we should remove the biggest threat on the battlefield...............dying. How on earth can they continue to allow bullets, grenades and bombs etc, to be used when they could cause death, let alone hearing loss. One for the health and safety committee if you ask me....

  2. David Shaw
    Thumb Up

    tested similar

    a pair of yellow ear defenders looking like 1970's headphones. these were for a local gunclub. a microphone slightly amplified background conversations but when a firearm was discharged the "bose" style noise cancelling system muted the speakers. well it did when the gun went off on the right, as that's where the single ambient microphone was pointing. when a bang happened on the left side of the wearer these headphones AMPLIFIED it! I'm sure the MoD have done 360 degree tests with these shiny new variety, hope so.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pardon ?

    Nice but years after the civil market had them.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    How are you going to hear someone shooting at you from a distance? Surely these are going to ruin on of the best senses a soldier has to pinpoint an enemy???

  6. Alien8n

    unwanted noise?

    Dunno about anyone else but if I was out there I'm pretty damn sure I'd want to hear when someone was shooting at me!

  7. ahahaha you won't catch me that easy again


    ...hearing bullets and other such noises would be a plus in terms of ducking and other hi-tech approaches to not getting killed?

    but then, i s'pose once you've signed that contract for queenie, it's all a bit moot...

    Aliens - coz they might show us a sensible way...

  8. Ross Fleming

    Morse Code

    So I presume morse code messages via gunfire are a no-no then... Shame

    "Personalised Interfaced Hearing Protection (PIHP)" - surely "Personalised Interfaced Sound Sequencer" would have been a better name?

  9. neb

    arrse on the reg



  10. goggyturk

    Knob pills?

    Oh sorry, it was volume knob. I was beginning to wonder what kind of super-weapon the MoD had planned for our troops in Afghanistan - a 21st century version of Carry on up the Kybher perhaps. Now that's what I call Shock and Awe!

    Ooh err missus!

  11. paulc


    If you're doing it right, then very few of your own forces are actually dying in combat... the whole principle of combat is to "do unto others first"... then they can't do unto you...... stuff this playing fairly lark... never ever give the opponent a break...

    If they surrender, then treat them fairly, but don't even let them have a chance of shooting your own troops...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    "It's too quiet round here..."

    This might just be me - but I'd want to hear the gunfire and explosions, so I might get at least a rough idea of whether it was getting closer or not.

    Paris? She remains unfazed by lots of incoming.

  13. Danny

    whoa £500

    holy jesus, they spend £500 on ear plugs that squaddies will simply lose but wont spend a quarter that on body armour.

  14. Theresa Forster
    Black Helicopters

    i think you misunderstood

    ok well the crux is that it is like those damn sony PSP headphones, they make the big bangs sound less, it doesnt cancel out at all, it moderates the volume.

    So i guess it means the gunshot a distance away would be fine but the guy next to you opening up in response would then be quietened so that you can still hear the boss screaming like a little girl as the terrorists shoot his pansy ass...

  15. martin


    "How on earth can they continue to allow bullets, grenades and bombs etc"

    They are essential parts of war, just, unjust or otherwise. You could throw flower petals, but they would lack a certain impact.

    Luckily, not every soldier in a firefight gets killed/injured. But they all shoot their guns, and if you can protect them from hearing damage/tinnitus, without hindering their capability to operate, why would you begrudge them that? Money well spent!

    Mine's the one with the ringing ears, not kidding


  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Telegraph makes it up shocker!

    "The Telegraph's headline writers believe that the PIHP plugs are similar to those "used by pop stars from Madonna to Take That to protect their hearing", which seems reasonable."

    But is complete rubbish.

    The earphone sported on stage by Madonna, Take That and many other talented pop stars and musicians are part of their In Ear Monitoring systems (IEM). They are, to all intensive purposes, headphones, not unlike the ones you and I would use to listen to mp3's on the bus. They may look a bit more fancy thanks to personal moulds, they may be a bit more expensive thanks to more elaborate drivers (speakers), they are most definitely not actively noise cancelling.

    Yes, they provide some physical isolation from the racket on stage but using active noise cancellation on stage would lead to a most peculiar experience for the artist.

    I can only guess that the Telegraph now regards seeing something in a photograph as a valid source for information.



  17. Anonymous Coward

    Pop! goes the ear drum

    This device sounds like it's using a limiter.

    Rather ironically, one of the tools audio engineers have been using to deafen us for years. (Google 'loudness war')

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Rusty say's

    Given the wonderful MOD supply and logistics people. Where we have too little ammo, armour, helicopters, fixed wing planes, bombs, hardened vehicles, tanks and such (but too many MOD civil servants!).

    I fully expect that they have ordered five pairs of these things and four will be kept in the UK for evaluation by the boffins. The last one will be held in readiness in Germany and can be loaned out in war zones with the production of 128 completed forms delivered three weeks in advance of the 24 hour peiod that they are required.

    Remind me peeps whose army is known as the borrowers by the septics?

    Odd isn't it that the Tallybin never seem to run out of Ammo, RPG's and suicide nutjobs.

  19. RichardB

    surely asking for trouble

    won't someone just figure out how to send out a pulse to genereate an induced emf in these babies? Might put some of em off a bit having an ear splitting high pitched whine in their ears, specially if its not coming from a politician.

  20. Luis Ogando

    Where can I get...

    ..some of those noise cancelling headphones that stop the infernal caterwauling by Madonna and Take That? I can't think of anything better!

    Mine's the one with the Renee And Ronata tape in the pocket.

  21. Dave Bell

    The Light Brigade?

    Oh dear...

    Forward, the Light Brigade!"

    Was there a man dismay'd?

    Not tho' the soldier knew

    Some one had blunder'd.

    Theirs not to make reply,

    Theirs not to reason why,

    Theirs but to do and die.

    Into the valley of Death

    Rode the six hundred.

  22. Ian Michael Gumby

    Huh? Why do you need an electic version?

    As a hunter who shoots a 7mm Rem Mag and a 300 Win Mag, wearing earplugs is mandatory. But rather than the normal sponge buds, I picked up a nice pair that would allow you to hear sounds/noise, and would block sounds above a certain db range. So you can hear, albeit a bit muffled, until you shot, then they would kick in.

    Not as much protection as the foam ear buds, but good enough.

  23. Richard Turton
    Thumb Down

    Only the MoD

    would pay £500 for earplugs that can be purchased for less than £100.

  24. Steen Hive
    Thumb Down

    Just means..

    They won't hear the Seppos coming up behind them. Bad move.

  25. Reid Malenfant

    The Crack

    Some UK Police Forces have been using the larger circumaural version of this for some years in the training environment, where historically 99.9% all their shooting actually takes place.

    Their systems significantly enhance the shooter's normal hearing range whilst minimising the worst of the crack from all weapons in close proximity. Its permits you to to hear a whispered command from 50+ metres made via another's headphone system.

    Police marksmen take stringent annual hearing tests and its worth noting that the majority of those who eventually fail are ex-servicemen who's hearing has already become impaired through unprotected military shooting.

    The only current bugbear being the need to "double plug' when firing heavier calibre weapons such as the Colt M4 (M16) and, in particular the shorter barrel LM3 derivative.

    In their current form these particular headsets are too unwieldy and impractical for continuous operational use but the more compact version, as described, could, if developed with user feedback, prove to be a significant improvement. Particularly when mated to an integral comms system.

    But being the MOD, I very much doubt that active servicemen will ever be consulted until its far too late to address any concerns or observations.

  26. Mark S

    the future is calling

    I can hear it now, the subtle and tightly-controlled panic in the voice of the sergeant radioing in for reinforcements or air support: "we're outnumbered, pinned down, under fire and, oh Christ! running low on AA batteries"

  27. John F***ing Stepp

    So, they will go with those glasses that Zaphod wears

    In HGTTG.

  28. Steven Raith
    Paris Hilton

    RE "not hearing people shooting at you" commenters

    Hmm. well, if they are shooting close enough for the headphones to mask the sound, then chances are you can either see them, or you are full of holes already - either way, you're going to know about it.

    If they are far away, then the phones wouldn't mask it anyway. Besides, bullets are faster than sound in any case - you'd see rounds smacking the scenery/your mates before you hear any noise, such as the muzzle flash/bang with subsonic ammo, or the crack as the round goes supersonic upon leaving the barrel with regular rounds - by the time you can hear it, the slug has already reached you.

    Physics 101, anyone?

    Steven R

  29. Martin Budden Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Title is Gunnery Sergeant

    "This is the AK-47 assault rifle, the preferred weapon of your enemy; and it makes a distinctive sound when fired at you"

    ...or not. Gunny Highway would not approve.

  30. Reid Malenfant
    Thumb Up

    Completely missing the point

    This shouldn't be too difficult to grasp.

    The primary purpose of ear defenders is to prevent YOUR GUN from damaging YOUR HEARING because, - in this regard - the sound waves are originating mere centimetres from your ears and therefore have a significant probability of inflicting cumulative damage to your hearing.

    The type outlined in the article are not intended to obliterate all sound, merely to filter out the worst effects of immediately proximate gunfire.

    That said, distant gunfire, whilst of enormous importance in many other respects, is largely irrelevant to the issue of ear defenders.

    Yes, okay, they will also protect you from your colleague's gunfire if they are sufficiently close by - and yes, an enclosed space will also have a deleterious effects .........

    but you get the picture; yes?

  31. OFace

    It's not cutting out ALL the sound..

    I believe that they are not designed to cut out all the sound, just limit the frequencies when they go over X threshold. So, you'll still be able to hear people shooting at you, as much as before. However, it just won't hurt your ears as much when you get hit.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like