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"Hello - can you here me?"

Supplier: MSA Australia
30 June, 2011

Our left side is different from our right side.

So, why are earmuff cups the same design for the left and right ear? Our ears are different!

Hello? Can you hear me…

Are you wearing a glove that is designed to fit on both your left and right hand? Are you wearing a boot that is designed to fit on both your left and right foot? Short answer is NO. Our left side is different from our right side. So, why are earmuff cups the same design for the left and right ear? Our ears are different!

What’s so important about hearing…

Hearing is very important. Think about when you last used your phone…

Hearing is important for communication, warning signals and is vital for learning. However, it is also delicate, and we must protect this valuable asset. It gives us direction, when you hear sound, your hearing helps your brain identify which direction to turn and keeps us aware.  It also helps you identify "who" in a second, your hearing helps you recognise family, friends, colleagues and associates. Unfortunately, hearing can be lost.

We can lose the ability to hear high tones, we can develop isolation or even worse tinnitus. Hearing is critically important and adds to our quality of life. Why do we still have the same earmuff cup design for the left and right ear? Do these really provide enough protection?

The left/RIGHT Story

A little over 8 years ago a research team based in Varnamo, Sweden began an interesting study into hearing protection products. They obtained 90% of the most popular hearing protectors available in the global market. They had one question. What is different between these hearing protectors? The answer simply was there is no difference, they all look the same, from the headband to the cups, the only difference was the various colour schemes, yellow, black, green, blue and red. In Christmas 2003, the then Managing Director of MSA Sordin, received a digital camera as a present.

Showing off his new digital camera in the office, the staff became models. After printing a few staff shots he noticed something interesting, the ear position of some of his staff was not symmetrically positioned to their head form. Profile photos of different cultural and ethnic background staff suggested that most people’s ear position is tilted slightly backwards and is different on the left and right side. This began the design scope for a new and innovative range of hearing protectors, uniquely named left/RIGHT.

Design Scope

There were 4 major features that needed to be achieved:

  1. Most comfortable hearing protector in the market.
  2. Differently designed cups for the left and right ear.
  3. Adjustment ability of cups.
  4. Room for your ear lobe.

Having identified the need for a left cup and a right cup, it was essential that cups were shaped to follow the head form. The area surrounding your ear lobe is unique and vulnerable at the same time, particularly below your ear lobe.

During testing, subjects must sit still throughout the frequency test in a sound chamber where they must not move their head, neck or body. In the real world, wearer’s of hearing protection seem unlikely to be still for long periods of time. Simple tasks of bending over, turning your head or tilting your head forward actually move the hearing protector and allow leakage. MSA left/RIGHT cups, ironically marked "left/" for the left cup and "RIGHT" for the right cup are specifically shaped to eliminate passive leakage in this vulnerable area.

A standard over the crown headband or neckband cannot provide the functionality required to stop leakage. Most ear positions are slightly tilted backwards which require the cups and attachment arms to possess the ability to tilt back and forwards without the headband tilting at the same time. Instead a new innovative headband was designed positioned just above the forehead and providing balance for the position the cups. This provides the most comfort for the wearer and prevents the headband from slipping backwards. On to ear cup design.

We all have ear lobes, small, wide, long and big, but whatever the shape, the ear lobes always seemed to have unnecessary pressure placed on them with conventional hearing protectors. The only way to relieve the pressure is to adjust the cup or remove the hearing protector.

Reducing your wear time in a noisy environment is a dangerous action. Conducting this action 6 times per day in a 112dB area for 5mins each time effectively reduces the performance of the hearing protector. left/RIGHT cups are designed to increase wear time through comfort by increased cup depth to remove pressure on your ear lobe.

left/RIGHT hearing protectors have won many accolades, including the 2009 American In-house Design award by Graphic Design USA, 4,000 entries competed for this prestigious award.

Winning design awards and accolades confirm the creativity, energy and innovation of MSA, however the real winners are wearer’s of the MSA left/RIGHT earmuff. From the moment they place the left/RIGHT hearing protector on their head they know that they are wearing the most comfortable and effective hearing protector available.

Why is it so good? Because we all are different…