I have been asked a few times to recommend earmuffs that suit people with large heads, so here is my take on this.
I have an above-average but not huge head, and over time, I have used my share of earmuffs with different designs and different-sized headbands.
For this post, I have also measured their headbands.
Hearing protection earmuffs are typically designed as a complete series, with the different models in a series catering to people with different noise reduction and weight requirements.
Whether earmuffs fit a large head or not depends mostly on the headband and to some degree on the ear cups. Ear cup and spacer design is more important for people with large ears.
Very often, muffs in the same series have the same headband, which means if one of them fits you, the others are likely going to be alright as well.
For example, earmuffs in the Peltor X-Series share one headband design and so do the muffs in the Howard Leight (Honeywell) Leighting series.
There are exceptions though:
- 3M produces a couple of different earmuff headphones all called Worktunes, but they don’t have the same headband.
- Also, folding earmuffs have a different headband compared to other earmuffs in the same series.
In the following, I am reviewing seven earmuffs that tend to work well for large heads.
At the end of this post, I also point to some others that are on the small side.
Summary best earmuffs for large heads
All earmuffs on this short-list offer good headband adjustability for large heads.
Downside: Not ideal for large ears (smaller ear cup openings)
Best Bluetooth and most extendable earmuffs: 3M Worktunes Connect+AM/FM (NRR 24)
Downside: Heavy; headband rubber top a bit narrow (extra cover for more comfort recommended)
Downside: Heavy; higher headband force
Downside: not as stylish and not quite as spacious as the Peltor Sport
Comparison table earmuffs for large heads
(sorted by fully extended length, measured from headband top [underside] to ear pad opening)
|Earmuffs||NRR||Max extension||Headband shape||weight||Country of origin|
|Worktunes Connect + AM/FM||24||13.3 cm||Wide profile||14.1 oz. (incl 2 AA batteries)||China|
|Peltor Sport Ultimate||30||12.8 cm||Conforms to head||13 oz.||China|
|Peltor Sport Bull’s Eye||27||12.8 cm||Conforms to head||9.5 oz.||China|
|Peltor Optime 105||30||12.6 cm||Conforms to head||10.1 oz.||USA|
|Peltor Optime 98||25||12.6 cm||Conforms to head||6.8 oz.||USA|
|Peltor X5A||31||12.4 cm||Conforms to head||12.3 oz.||Poland|
|Peltor X4A||27||12.4 cm||Conforms to head||8.1 oz.||Poland|
|For comparison |
(on the smaller side):
|Worktunes Connect||24||11.7 cm||Conforms to head||12.2 oz.||China|
|Howard Leight Leightning L3||30||11.5 cm||Conforms to head||10.6 oz.||China|
|Howard Leight Sync Wireless||25||11.5 cm||Conforms to head||10.9 oz.||China|
Peltor X-series: 3M Peltor X5A (NRR 31) and X4A (NRR 27)
Best for noise reduction effectiveness and quality
The Peltor X5A are the king of earmuffs.
They have the highest noise reduction rating of all earmuffs I know of and are the most effective passive earmuffs I have ever used.
The Peltor X4A are the most effective low-profile earmuffs I am aware of.
In my opinion, the Peltor X-series muffs also have the best headband.
Like most other Peltors, these too use a steel-wire core, but the X-series headband is completely rubberized and it distributes the clamping force better!
Furthermore, even if I press hard against the top, I cannot make anything dig into my head.
The X-series headband has virtually the same shape as the Peltor Sport and Optime headbands.
It is marginally less extendable, but should still work just fine with large heads.
However, the X5A and X4A earmuffs have much smaller ear cushion openings and spacers (the white rings on which the cushions sit) than the Peltor Sport and Optime earmuffs.
If you have average-sized ears, the X5A and X4A are great earmuffs. They are both comfortable and very effective.
But if you have large ears, these earmuffs can become uncomfortable.
For an indepth-review, please also check my post The 5 Best Noise Reduction Earmuffs Review.
3M Worktunes Connect+AM/FM (aka Worktunes Wireless) (NRR 24)
Best Bluetooth and most extendable earmuffs overall
The Worktunes Connect+AM/FM Bluetooth earmuffs have the most extendable (by a margin) headband of all earmuffs in this review. The headband also has the widest profile.
I would be surprised if there is a head so large that these earmuffs don’t fit.
Don’t confuse them with the “normal” Worktunes Connect (without radio). Those are good too and fit me well, but they have a less extendable headband.
The rubberized top of the headband of the WTC+AM/FM is somewhat narrow though, which can make them a bit uncomfortable after a few hours, in particular because these earmuffs are quite heavy.
But this can be remedied:
I have gotten an extra headband cover by U.S. Tactical Sewing, which makes these earmuffs a lot more comfortable. I recommend this cover if you intend to wear them for long periods of time.
(In the past I solved this by readjusting them or wearing a ball cap underneath.)
The ear cup openings of these earmuffs are fairly large, on par with that of the Peltor Sport and Optime series reviewed below.
Because they have speakers sitting in the ear cups, the openings are shallower than that of muffs without speakers. I haven’t found that to be a problem though.
For more information on the WTC+AM/FM, please also read my detailed test and review of Bluetooth hearing protection earmuffs.
3M Peltor Sport series: Peltor Sport Ultimate (NRR 30) and Bull’s Eye (NRR 27)
Best for large ears and style
It is a lot more extendable than I would need, but about 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) less so than that of the Worktunes Connect+AM/FM.
Unlike the headband of the WTC, which sticks out, this headband conforms more to the head.
It has pretty much the same shape as the headband of the Peltor Optime series and the Peltor X series.
The rubberized top is wider than that of the WTC+AM/FM, making it more comfortable.
Subjectively, the Peltor Sport earmuffs exert somewhat more clamping force though than the WTC.
Like the WTC+AM/FM’s headband, the top has vents, making it easy to wear a ball cap underneath.
The ear cup openings of these muffs provide ample space for the ears. They are about the same length and width as that of the WTC and the Optime series and significantly larger than the cup openings of the the Peltor X5A and X4A.
Please read my in-depth review of the Peltor Sport Ultimate and Bull’s Eye for more information on these earmuffs and a brief comparison with the Optime 105.
Note: The headband of the low-profile folding earmuffs in the Peltor sport series, while not small, is not as extendable.
Peltor Optime series: Peltor Optime 105 (NRR 30) and Optime 98 (NRR 25)
Best light-weight (also good for larger ears)
The Peltor Optime series has been around for a long time and many other earmuffs and headbands have been modeled after these muffs.
The Optime headband is as extendable as the Peltor Sport headband and it also has the same profile, conforming well to the head.
The Optime headband uses an unvented cushioned plastic top, which I find very comfortable, perhaps a bit more so than the headband of the Peltor Sport earmuffs.
I actually prefer this retro-headband but both the Sport and the Optime headbands are good.
The vents of the Sport headband make it more straight-forward to wear a ball cap though.
The ear cushion openings of the Optime series and the Sport series have almost the same length and width.
But, because the Optime 105 use a double-shell design, the Sport Ultimate ear cups are more spacious.
On the other hand, the Optime 105 are as effective as the Ultimate at reducing noise, but much lighter.
Note: The Optime 98 use a single-shell design just like the earmuffs in the Peltor Sport series.
For an in-depth review of the Peltor Optime 105 and the Peltor Optime 98, please read my post The 5 Best Noise Reduction Earmuffs Review.
Earmuffs with a less extendable headband (not ideal for large heads)
I have found the following earmuffs to be much less extendable than my recommendations for large heads.
For example, the headband of the otherwise excellent Howard Leight Leightning L3 gives you about 11.5 cm from the headband top to the cushion openings.
That is 1.8 cm (0.7 inches) less the headband of the recommended Worktunes Connect+AM/FM. At maximum extension, theses earmuffs provide 13.3 cm from top to cushion openings.
In general, I have found the headband of the following earmuffs and earmuff types to be on the smaller side:
- Howard Leight (Honeywell) Leightning series, e.g., Leightning L3
- Howard Leight (Honeywell) Sync and Sync Wireless
- Howard Leight (Honeywell) Thunder series, e.g., Thunder T3 (headband has a wider profile than the Leightning series though)
- Mpow FM2 [Upgraded] Noise Reduction Safety Ear Muffs, model number HP044A
That doesn’t mean these aren’t good earmuffs; they are just not optimal for people with a large head.
So don’t discount them if you have an average-size head.