Back in June, we reported on the release of the Walker’s Disrupter earbuds with Rapid Impulse Noise Cancellation (below). The hearing pro promised reliable noise cancellation while delivering enhanced ambient sound. I have had the opportunity to use them over the past couple of months and am happy so far.
Walker’s Disrupter Earbuds In-Ear Fit
Right out of the box, the form factor of the Disrupters was very familiar. As an iPhone user, I also have the Apple AirPods Pro and really love the feel of them. So, the similarities between the Disrupters and the AirPods were very welcoming. Although, I will admit that I was a bit apprehensive that the dangling controls would affect rifle shooting. More on that later.
Something I found unique and innovative is the in-ear fit. Instead of just providing a few ear tips to choose from, the Disrupters include three sizes of silicone tips and three sizes of foam tips. I have yet to use the silicone tips, because they are designed for entertainment and communication. As I mentioned, I have my Apple AirPods Pro for that.
However, the foam tips are a true innovation for earbud hearing protection. By utilizing the foam tips, you get the added protection of foam earplugs coupled with the digital protection of the earbuds themselves. And putting them in is just as easy as putting in a pair of regular foam earplugs. Roll them. Insert them. And let them expand to fill the ear canal.
Once in place, the foam tips provide a decent level of protection on their own. But when you pair the earbuds with your smartphone and start making adjustments, that’s when things come alive.
The Disrupters at the Range
When my friends and I got to the range after I first received the Disrupters, I started playing around with the app. There are five different ambient sound settings—universal, clear voice, hi-frequency boost, power boost, and custom. But for my needs, I found the “Universal” setting to be sufficient and well-rounded.
The ambient sound volume is easily controlled via a volume slider that is prominently placed in the center of the app. Likewise, ambient sound can be switched from “Pass Through” to off when you want total silence. This also helps to further reduce the gunshot report from larger calibers if you need a little more protection.
There are two audio modes in the app, “Max Protection” and “Lifestyle,” for shooting protection or entertainment. The Max Protection mode features a dark background, while the Lifestyle mode has a lighter background. As a result, you can tell what you have your ear pro set to at a glance.
When in either mode, you have the choice of “Front Focus” and “360 Sound” for ambient sound pass-through. The 360 Sound mode is ideal for hunting or range time with multiple people and amplifies surrounding sounds and conversations. However, the Front Focus mode allows you to minimize everything around you and only hear what you are focusing on. And both work as advertised.
While using the Disrupters, we shot everything from .22 LR to .223, including 9mm, .40 S&W, 10mm, and more. The Rapid Impulse Noise Cancellation did a great job of reducing the report from all calibers to a very comfortable range. However, every once in a while, a slight, sharp report would come through, but not at a detrimental volume.
Fit and Function
As I mentioned earlier, my concern was the dangling controls and whether they would interfere with rifle shooting. Fortunately, I was able to establish a solid cheek weld on my stock without affecting the earbuds at all. In fact, there was plenty of clearance and no disruption in service.
Something I did have a fairly regular issue with is the connection between the right earbud and my phone. When I would first pull them out of the case and put them in my ear, the right earbud would not connect. However, all I had to do was put them back in the case, pull them back out, and put them in my ears. They would both connect after that.
As with most hearing pro with ambient sound, the wind did slightly affect the Disrupters. But that really is to be expected, especially with 4 hi-gain omnidirectional microphones. However, it is not nearly as bad as others I have used.
I love the case because it feels very solid and substantial but takes up little room in a range bag or pocket. Additionally, I have found that it recharges the earbuds rapidly after a day of shooting. However, after a few range trips, I have not experienced any issues with power, and the Disrupters performed all day.
Although I don’t know that earbuds will ever provide the same level of protection as muffs, the Disrupters come close. In fact, I personally feel that they come close enough to become my regular ear pro. Specifically due to their convenience, function, fit (while rifle shooting), and overall performance.
If you are in the market for new hearing pro, you can’t go wrong with the Walker’s Disrupters. Although they are in the higher price range, the features make them well worth the expense.
On June 29, 2023, Personal Defense World reported:
No stranger to high-quality ear protection, Walker’s offers four new technological integrations in its Disrupter earbuds. The use of these technologies offers users reliable noise protection while enhancing ambient surrounding sounds. Likewise, Bluetooth integration allows full control of the earbuds from your phone or tablet while listening to your favorite music.
Walker’s Disrupter Earbuds
Featuring a compact in-ear design, the Disrupters include noise-reducing foam ear tips in three sizes for a custom fit. However, they also include silicone in-ear tips for general everyday use and sound enhancement, like entertainment or communication. Likewise, they utilize a familiar and comfortable earbud form factor that most are already accustomed to.
Featuring four new technological integrations, the Disrupters deliver reliable dangerous-level noise protection as well as enhanced environmental sounds. They do this via:
- Forward Focus Mode: Places emphasis on sounds directly to the front while minimizing peripheral noise based on user selection.
- 360° Directional Sound: Utilizing four microphones (two per earbud) improves true 360-degree directional audio to better identify where noises come from.
- ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) Technology: Reduces unwanted background noise for a better listening experience.
- Rapid Impulse Cancellation: reacts almost immediately to harmful noise levels to cancel them out and protect the user’s hearing.
In addition, the Disrupters allow you to control every aspect of your user experience via the Walker’s Link 2.0 app from iOS (including Apple Watch) or Android systems via a Bluetooth connection.
The app allows you to alter ambient sound settings between Universal, Clear Voice, Hi-Frequency Boost, Power Boost, and Custom modes. Likewise, you can adjust the volume, monitor the battery levels, and change the auto shut-off time.
The Disrupter’s provide six hours of Bluetooth listening or up to eleven hours in ambient mode. When the battery is depleted, the earbud’s can be charged in the rugged USB-C charging case.
The Walker’s Disrupter Earbuds are available now with an MSRP of $249.99. For more info, please visit WalkersGameEar.com.
“With this product, we’ve really taken every detail into consideration,” said Doug Mann, VP of brands. “By allowing users to choose the best listening mode for their activity and environment, the Disrupters are capable of not only minimizing the potential damage caused by repeated exposure to shotgun blasts and other gunfire but to improving the clarity of close-range sounds as well.”
Walker’s Disrupter Earbuds Features
- Bluetooth hearing protection & enhancement
- Forward focusing and 360-degree sound detection
- Focus microphone amplification
- Adaptive noise reduction
- Rapid impulse noise protection
- Compact in-ear design with 3 sizes of noise-reducing foam ear tips
- Silicone in-ear tips for everyday use
- Powerful updated app
- Fota (firmware over the air) update ability
- Enhanced app features built into preconfigured sound settings
- 5 ambient sound settings: universal, clear voice, hi-frequency boost, power boost, custom
- USB-C charging case
- Battery life – 6 hrs Bluetooth streaming
- MSRP: $249.99