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ISOtunes PRO Aware EN352 Review Hearing Protection With Transparency Mode

Monday, November 15, 2021

 

ISOtunes PRO Aware EN352 is a 2-in-1 earplug/music earbud alternative solution to earmuff hearing protection. It eliminates the need of wearing earphones under earmuffs and they don't fill up with sweat like earmuffs do!


The highlight feature you get with PRO Aware EN352 are "ambient microphones" for listening to your surroudings. Most ear protection products, including the original PRO 2.0 earplugs don't have ambient microphones. This means, you run into the issue of "overprotection", which is in itself a safety risk because too much noise isolation prevents situational awareness and makes it difficult to communicate with other people, which then forces you to remove the ear protection. With PRO AwareEN352 , you can keep the earplugs on while talking to people. 


PRO Aware's ambient (omnidirectional) microphones work similarly to the ambient/transparency mode you get with true wireless earbuds. The main difference with PRO Aware'sambient microphones is that they amplify external sounds (e.g. voices, running engine) a bit louder than normal so, you can hear them even more clearly. The microphones are equipped with a "cut-out" feature too that automatically turns off the microphones within 2 milliseconds of a sudden burst of noise (e.g. explosion). You can toggle the microphones on and off manually too via the rocker button on the side of the inline remote. The rocker button has a non-clicky hard actuation. The volume buttons for controlling the audio playback have a non-clicky mushy actuation.


PRO Aware EN352 build quality is similar to the standard PRO 2.0, using plastic and rubber reinforcements to protect the cable joints. There is also a fluorescent-like accent finish, which is another useful safety feature. The bright lime green color lets people know you're wearing earbuds and also makes you a bit more visible to those around you.


PRO Aware are EN352/ OSHA compliant with 26dB (decibels) of noise reduction rating (NRR), which makes them ideal for workplaces with a high noise level of 100dB SNR (Single Number Rating). PRO Aware have been tested in accordance with two hearing protection standards - EN352 and ANSI standard, which s the body that tests and issues the the NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) labeling. PRO Aware EN352 has been certified and approved to be a suitable hearing protector for work environments with maximum noise exposure of 87dB.


Most of the weight of PRO Aware EN352 comes from the long rectangular boxes inline the cable. The boxes pull down the earbuds a little bit but, they are about the same size and weight, which keeps the balance so, it doesn't feel like one side of the cable drags more than the other. The dimensions of the inline boxes are 5cm long, 0.7cm thick and 0.7cm wide. PRO Aware EN352 have IP67 dust and sweat resistance, including a rubber cover on the USB port so, you can wear them outdoors in dusty and rainy conditions. The rubber cover hinge feels durable. It is not flimsy but it has to be bent back awkwardly when charging, making it a weak point.


The inline box with the volume controls is a bit wider (1.5cm wide) than the other inline box because of the volume rocker on top and charging port cover, which stick out a little bit. Controls include volume (up/down), which also controls track skipping (next/previous). The middle button controls play/pause and calls (answer/end). The buttons are made of plastic and are raised so, they very tactile. The volume control inline box also features a noise cancelling microphone for calls. Call quality is loud and clear and, while the noise cancellation is a little aggressive, it does the job cutting out machinery type noise when talking.


The inline boxes are located around 10cm down the cable and dangle at jaw/neck level. The length of the rubber cable is 50cm long, which is long so the cable hangs loosely around the back of the neck. The cable features two plastic cinches to neatly manage the cable excess. The ear hooks are made of preformed flexible soft rubber so, they cannot be re-shaped. 
 
If you aren't used to wearing ear hook earbuds, they may not feel comfortable initially after a few days (same as the foam ear tips). PRO Aware EN352 is about as heavy as a pair of sports wired ear hook earphones. The PRO Aware EN352 earphones weigh 22 grams, which is similar in weight to the Bose soundsport wireless earbuds.

The main selling point of any ear protection is noise isolation and PRO Aware EN352 delivers that, blocking all types of noises (not just construction noise) such as a crying baby and people chatter way better than active noise cancellation (ANC) does. PRO Aware EN352 supports absolute bluetooth volume, which means you can control the volume of the connected device (e.g. smartphone) when using the inline volume controls. PRO Aware EN352 supports multipoint connection too so, you can connect the PRO Aware EN352 earplugs to two different devices at the same time. The bluetooth chip also supports AAC codec, which helps reduce latency when watching videos.


As far as battery life, PRO Aware EN352 is equipped with a 150mAh battery that recharges in 3 hours via micro USB connection, providing a runtime of 11 hours of audio play time. When not actively in use (but connected), the standby time is 30 hours. PRO Aware isn't equipped with over voltage/current protection, which is strange since most earbuds these days have a "self-stopping" feature that prevents over charging. ISOtunes advises to use a maximum voltage/current of 5V and 1A when charging.


PRO Aware ships inside a hard cardboard box and a hardshell protective case, alongside ear tips, micro USB charging cable and an ISOtunes sticker.The included hardshell carry zip case is squared shaped and measures 9cm long, 9cm wide and 3cm deep so, it's deep enough to store the PRO Aware bluetooth earplugs, as well as the accessories. The inside is lined with soft microfiber material and integrates a mush pocket for neatly storing the accessories. The outside is covered with rubbery material. The case opens via a single metal slider with standard coil teeth zipper, which is not waterproof.


Despite PRO Aware's volume limited feature (79dB), they sound as good as a pair of regular true wireless earbuds. The included foam eartips provide superb seal, which helps drive up the volume and sound quality, specially the bass. There are four trilogy foam ear tips (XS/S/M/L sizes) included, which screw onto the threaded metal nozzle stem. The foam tips have been tested for attenuation under EN352-2 for use in noisy environments. There is also one pair of silicone triple flanged ear tips, which aren't noise cancelling.


PRO Aware won't be suitable to wear under a motorcycle helmet but for work purposes like in a woodworking shop, PRO Aware EN352 is an ideal bluetooth earplug solution. You can play your music while protecting your hearing at the same time. And, you won't have to worry about losing or misplacing them, thanks to the cable connection and magnetic feature, which attaches both ear pieces together so, you can safely wear them around the neck like a necklace.

You can buy IStunes PRO Aware from ISOtunes. Check out also the review of the ISOtunes Free true wireless earbuds (no cables). When buying PRO Aware be aware that there are two versions with different names. The version on this review it's the PRO Aware EN352 version (PRO 2.0+Aware IT-39). There is also the standard PRO Aware version. Both models are priced the same. The main difference is that the PRO Aware EN352 version has accreditation by the European Safety Standard EN352, as well as volume limited to 79dB. The standard PRO Aware has volume limited to 85dB and no EN352 creditation.


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