Otto’s Noizebarrier Micro Ear Pro: Big Tech in Small Buds

Otto Engineering offers outstanding electronic earbuds ideal for all shooters and hunters

NoizeBarrier Micro electronic earbuds
The NoizeBarrier Micro electronic earbuds from Otto Engineering are charged by their own case and have a battery life of 16 hoursOtto Engineering

The name Otto Engineering should be making its way into your shooting-accessory lexicon right away. The company is by no means a newcomer—Otto has been designing and manufacturing control switches for military jets and other equipment for nearly 60 years. For the past quarter century, it has also been making audio equipment for demanding applications. You know those tiny, high-tech earbuds spies wear in the movies, and those cool earpieces Secret Service agents use? Otto makes those.

While its products were previously limited to military and alphabet agency customers, Otto is now marketing some of its audio and communications products to civilian customers in the shooting and hunting world.

“For years, Otto has focused on two-way-radio accessories. When we jumped into the hearing-protection business, we primarily focused on military and law enforcement customers, and used their input to aid development,” says Christian Smith, a technical sales specialist with Otto. He’s also a self-described gun enthusiast and former Marine.

“We soon recognized the need for the more casual shooter and hunter to have the same benefits as our premier military and law enforcement units, and began targeting this market. The response has been outstanding, and we hope to continue to serve the market for many years to come.”

While it offers several over-the-ear, muff-style electronic hearing protection products, Otto’s flagship product in the Personal Protection Equipment line is the NoizeBarrier Micro electronic earbuds.

Unlike many of its competitors of similar size and function, the NoizeBarrier Micro uses an internal rechargeable battery that lasts for up to 16 hours on a single charge: There are no little hearing-aid batteries to buy or change out at the most inconvenient times.

And the charger is the rugged protective case that the NoizeBarrier Micros come with. Just put them away and they’re recharging.

The case itself can be charged with any USB cable, so you can plug it in or grab some juice off a portable phone charger in the field. But with the case providing more than two dozen charges, even heavy users won’t have to plug the case in very often.

Hearing protection is important and essential for all shooters, and especially important to folks like waterfowlers and clays shooters who sometimes fire hundreds of rounds a day and who will love these buds.

Otto NoizeBarrier Micro electronic earbuds
Otto NoizeBarrier Micro electronic earbudsOtto Engineering

“Our hearing is often overlooked until it is too late. Our goal is to continue to educate the public and give them the best clarity of sound while still protecting their hearing,” Smith says.

The earbuds themselves are quite small and ruggedly built, so they won’t get in the way at all, no matter what you’re doing or wearing. I was concerned that they would be static-y and uncomfortable under a cold-weather watch cap, but they proved to be very comfortable for several hours of continuous use.

The buds offer up to 40dB of impulse-noise protection and up to 15dB of adaptive-noise attenuation. Plus, their hearing enhancement mode amplifies soft sounds up to 5X—great for still-hunters—and the electronics allow for natural hearing of safe sounds through the company’s Accu-Technology HD sound quality.

I had the chance to test a pair of NoizeBarrier Micros for a few weeks on a number of range trips, and I have to say they are the best and most comfortable hearing protection I’ve ever worn. When you first turn them on, ambient noise seems muted and flat, but after a few seconds, the buds adjust themselves and sounds become crystal-clear. It’s actually pretty remarkable, and I can’t really use the powerful mode unless I’m in the quiet of the woods.

On top of all that, they’re waterproof, so they’re perfect for waterfowlers. And with an included lanyard that can be worn behind the neck or even looped to a piece of gear or the back of a hat, you’re not going to lose them even if they do somehow pop out of your ears.

The controls are simple, which is extremely important. Each bud has a single button that takes up much of the surface. Hold it for two seconds to turn each one on. One more push will activate the hearing-enhancement mode, another will turn it off. Hold for two seconds to turn off. That’s it.

The buds come with both flange tips and foam tips, for whichever the user prefers. I tried both and found the foam tips to be much more comfortable, and they provide an excellent seal that doesn’t come loose even when they’re twisting around under a winter hat. And when foam or flange tips wear out, get lost, or get nasty, you can buy more from Otto’s website in sets of 10.

The case/charger is IP67 water-resistant and will provide up to 20 charges for the earbuds before needing to be recharged itself. That’s 320 hours of use—or 13 days and change. Of course, it takes the buds six hours to recharge from fully dead batteries. The case also features an LCD panel indicating the charge status of the case and the earbuds separately.

With all those features, the price is extremely competitive. Currently, they’re selling on Otto’s website for an SRP of $389, which is a bargain considering there are similar products on the market selling in the $1,000 range.

The NoizeBarrier Micro earbuds are feature-rich, rugged hearing protection that is simple to use, with a battery life and a charging case that ensure they will be ready to turn on when you’re ready to shoot, and will keep going for as long as you want to shoot—all in an affordable package backed by a one-year guarantee.

They are ideal for practically every type of shooter, from plinkers and clays shooters to high-caliber competitors and hunters. The NoizeBarrier Micros are the kind of hearing protection that can serve as an actual tool, providing a sensory advantage. SRP: $389 (