ISOtunes sent over a test sample of their LINK Bluetooth hearing protection earmuffs, and I have been working with it for a couple of weeks now.
To my knowledge, this is their first over-the-ears Bluetooth hearing protection product, and there are major differences between this and their previous in-ear models.
Hearing protection products can be difficult to review, as everyone has different preferences and priorities. If you have any questions you think I can help you with, please be sure to ask away!
If you’re looking for something that doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity and cannot play music or other audio, be sure to check out the hearing protection section in our best workshop safety gear buying guide.
One Line Verdict
I’m not a “hearing protection that plays music and takes calls” kind of user, but if I were, I believe these would be an excellent choice.
I went through several takes before realizing it’s not really productive to attempt a video review of earmuffs. There’s not much that can be shown, and there’s only so much hand-waving and earmuff-shaking you guys could tolerate.
Still, if you want a quick rundown of the good and bad, here’s the video review to start things off.
ISOtunes LINK Key Features & Specs
- 25dB NRR (noise reduction rating)
- 85dB safe max volume
- Built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery
- 14+ hrs runtime
- AAA battery option
- up to 28 hrs runtime
- USB charging port
- Bluetooth 4.2 wireless connectivity
- IPX4 water resistance
- Sweat resistant
Update 4/27/2021: ISOtunes has informed me that the LINK was retested and is now rated with a 25dB NRR. The former rating was 23dB NRR.
ISOtunes LINK Build Quality
To put it frankly, I was very impressed with ISOtunes’ build quality. The LINK is well-built, and the earcups have a premium feel to them, at least compared to most other hearing protection earmuffs I have used before.
The earmuffs are quick to adjust and comfortable to wear. I wear corrective glasses and earmuffs can sometimes apply too much pressure, but not these, at least not compared to the brands and models I typically wear.
The ISOtunes are a little heavier than ordinary hearing protection earmuffs, but not significantly so, at least not in my opinion.
ISOtunes LINK Battery Options
The LINK comes with a built-in Li-ion battery that ISOtunes says provides 14+ hours of runtime.
You also have the option to remove the battery to reveal a 3x AAA battery holder. With AAA batteries, you get up to 28 hours of runtime.
The battery latch was easy to open, and it seems quite secure.
There’s a charging port underneath a rubber flap, along with an LED indicator light.
The opposite earcup also has a rubber flap, but there’s nothing underneath it. I’m guessing this is just an extra flap in case you rip the charging flap off. Or maybe it’s there for some other reasons?
ISOtunes LINK Bluetooth Controls
The central button is your main on/off, pause, and voice command button. Holding down the button activates Siri on an iPhone, for instance, allowing you to make a call without having to handle your smartphone.
You also get volume buttons and next/previous track buttons. It takes a little time to get used to finding and pressing the buttons by feel.
ISOtunes LINK Sound Quality
On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being a $5 headset from a city street vendor, and 5 being $150 studio monitoring headphones (Audio-Technica M50X via Amazon), I’d rate these a solid 4, which is very good for a product like this.
Keep in mind, these are hearing protection earmuffs, with music or audio playback as a secondary function.
Music and voice playback is crystal-clear with no distortion or static,
Bass sounds good – full, maybe even a little bit punchy.
Compared to higher-end audio products, such as the aforementioned wired Audio-Technica headphones, or Apple AirPods Pro, there’s something lacking from the ISOtunes, but I can’t put my finger on it.
I’m extremely pleased with the fidelity of the LINK, at least when listening to my test music sources. For most of the testing period I listened to my Amazon Music playlist, which is a mix of rock, hard rock, pop, and classic rock sounds.
Calls come in relatively clearly, and nobody questioned what device I was using, which is always a good sign when testing Bluetooth mics, headsets, or related products.
I did have ONE issue – if you could call it that.
When testing the ISOtunes in a quiet room, I’ll hear a humming sound from the right earcup. The same thing happened with the ISOtunes FREE earbuds I tested previously.
I cannot get to the bottom of it. If I’m in a quiet setting, there’s a good chance I’ll hear the humming/buzzing sound. If I’m listening to music or making a call in a quiet setting, I might hear it. If I’m working where I need hearing protection, or working and playing music, it goes away. It’s not that I don’t notice it as much, it’s simply not present.
Here’s my theory – ISOtunes has “noise isolating” microphone tech. My assumption is that this cancels out background noise to ensure your voice is clear during calls, and that if there’s nothing to filter out, it doesn’t know what to do.
I hear similar buzzing whether I’m connected to my iPhone or Windows 10 PC, and so it doesn’t seem to be something the LINK is doing and not the connected devices.
This bothers me – a LOT. BUT, I only hear the buzzing sound in usage environments I normally wouldn’t wear the ISOtunes, such as a quiet room. If there’s machinery or work noises and I’m listening to music, the sound usually goes away or is drowned out to similar effect.
What About the Noise Reduction?
While not quite as comfortable as lighter hearing protection-only devices (keep in mind my comment about wearing glasses), these work great at blocking out noisy machinery and equipment.
My test sample is rated at 25dB NRR, but ISOtunes’ website currently says that the LINK provides 25dB of noise reduction. It’s not clear if they updated the product at all, or if it was retested to a higher rating.
ISOtunes LINK Bluetooth Earmuffs Review Summary
I found myself really enjoying the testing experience. I had reasonable expectations with respect to sound quality and comfort, and ISOtunes exceeded them.
The build quality is great.
The LINK is fairly comfortable.
Sound quality is excellent. While I’m sure audiophiles will find specific attributes to complain about, the sound was clean and clear to my ears.
There’s the audible buzzing/humming sound, but it goes away in usage environments where these would typically be worn.
Call quality isn’t as good as music/audio playback quality, but I usually don’t take calls if I’m working around noisy (and often dangerous) machinery, or I move to a quieter location.
To be frank, I’m still not one for Bluetooth-connected hearing protection, but if I were looking for great quality protective earmuffs with Bluetooth connectivity and music playback, I wouldn’t look any further than this model.
You Should Buy This if…
If you want hearing protection that plays music or podcasts, or allows you to make or take phone calls in noisy environments.
As a reminder, we are not a safety authority. You need to do your due diligence in determining the suitability of safety products and related accessories for your use. If you’re unsure, consult with a health and safety expert.
Pricing & Where to Buy
Thank you to ISOtunes for providing the review sample.