This article originally appeared on the Tools of the Trade website. Ermides is the site's editor.

The 3M WorkTunes Connect Wireless Hearing protectors are an audio headset version of the 3M Peltor Tekk ear muffs I’ve been wearing for nearly 10 years now. The WorkTunes headphones feature an integrated rechargeable battery, have a lower profile than the Peltor Tekk ear muffs and feel nearly identical in weight. Bluetooth Technology connects wirelessly allows you to stream music from any Bluetooth-enabled device. When paired with a phone, you can also make and answer calls without taking them off your head. I’ve been grabbing the WorkTunes in lieu of the Peltor Tekk for the past several months now. There are some things I like about them, and some areas for improvement.

I like that I can comfortably listen to music in my shop (which is small) while running the table saw, router, or miter saw which is nice. So with a NRR rating of 24dB, I feel like they are protecting my ears similarly to the Peltor Tekks (which have a NRR of 30dB). I like that I can adjust the volume of the music or podcast I’m listening to so that I can hear it and yet still hear the tool. Audio input level on the WorkTunes is limited to 82dB, which at first frustrated me until I reminded myself that their purpose was to protect my hearing first, and allow for music enjoyment second. There’s a single button on the WorkTunes that pairs a device (in my case, my iPhone), provides power and audio control (pause/play, advance and previous tracks) as well as phone mode (answer, reject, and disconnect). There’s no volume control on the WorkTunes which I missed at first, but after wearing them for a couple of days I got used to choosing a comfortable volume on my phone and leaving it there. I like that the muff cushions can be replaced (I’ve found kits online for about $25). The headphones charge via a micro-usb port and hold a charge for an impressive amount of time; I’ve gotten through most of the workday on a single charge (that’s with intermittent stopping). A nice feature is the auto-off after 5 minutes of non-use.

Though I do recommend them, it’s not without some caveats. The working range isn’t amazing (25-ft.), which doesn’t bother me because my shop is so small and if I’m on a jobsite, my phone is usually in a pocket or in my tool bags. 3M recommends keeping them on you or within arm’s length when in Bluetooth mode. There’s an option to connect them via 3.5m 4-pole stereo audio cable but then you’re tethered, so… why bother? I have noticed that during long periods of use, the headphones will stop picking up music when my phone advances to the next song. I’ve read reports that people think the WorkTunes are dropping the Bluetooth connection - but this is not the case, at least not in my experience. Anytime it’s happened for me, I’ve simply restarted the song or skipped it and I am back in business. The phone functionality works well. People on the other end of the call can hear me clearly and it’s easy to answer or end a call by pressing the button. There’s a tinny sound on my end, though - and some echo. It’s not the best talking experience but it is adequate for answering or making a quick call when working. Lastly, there’s a socket on the ear that houses the headphone jack and micro-USB port. I wish there was a cap for it to keep dust and debris out, but tape has been an adequate stand-in.

I admit to not paying wearing hearing protection much when I was a young carpenter. Now, in my mid 40s, I am diligent about wearing them. I have multiple sets of earmuffs and other forms of hearing protection sprinkled throughout my shop, my truck, and in various tool storage containers. I want it so that I never have to wish that I had them, and give myself no excuse. These are a nice addition to my hearing protection arsenal, and at $60, reasonable as well.