With the release of their GS Extreme 2.0 Ear Buds, it was time for me to give Axil another try. I have been using their TRACKR Blu Tactical Ear Muffs for well over a year now. Switching to the GS Extreme 2.0 Ear Buds should provide more comfort in the heat, and less interference when shooting rifles. Turns out they are a great product, just like the ear muffs, with only a small issue worth noting.
GS (Ghost Strike) Extreme 2.0 Ear Buds new for 2022
In addition to Bluetooth connectivity, noise isolation, and electronic hearing protection all in one, there are some new features for 2022. First and foremost, the auto shut off (noise suppression) is 2.5x faster and smoother. That means loud noises are cut off much quicker, resulting in better hearing protection. That comes with 2.5x battery life as well. This translates to 25 hours hearing enhancement, 9 hours audio, or 8 hours when the two are combined. As long as Axil is packing more into their new ear buds, the also offer 2.5x better audio quality. Because some of us like our music too.
In the package
Axil provides a pretty comprehensive set of tips and foam. There are medium and large sets of silicone tips for audio. These should fit most ears, and offer 19 dB SNR. Then there are small, medium, and large short foam tips, offering 29 dB SNR. Finally, the cylindrical shooter’s foam comes in the same sizes, also offering 29 dB SNR. A couple of Wind Filter Discs are also included, along with a USB charging cable, quick start guide and a handy hard case.
Choose between hearing enhancement with adjustable volume, Bluetooth audio, or both. They have independent controls, making it much easier to hear external sounds or other people. This is an important feature at the range, or when in the field. Sounds above 85 dB are still compressed, for hearing protection. But I can hear my friends walking in the dry brush as they head out to set up a target. Bluetooth 5.0 ensures a better connection, even if your phone or audio device is not nearby. If you’re the guy that leaves your phone in the truck and hikes out to set up a target at 100 or 200 yards, know that you’ll still be connected.
There is short a learning curve, as the GS Extreme 2.0 Ear Buds have two sets of controls. On one side is the on/off switch along with up and down for the hearing protection. On the other side are the volume controls for the Bluetooth audio. That side also has the pairing button, and a light to indicate when it’s ready/paired. This side (right ear) also has the USB Charging port. I can’t confirm the charging time, because I just plug them in overnight to charge. And based on the run time, I have only had to charge them twice in the couple of months that I have been using them.
In actual use, I adjusted to them far faster than I expected to. Because the side with the power switch has the volume control, I used that one the most. Well, I really set it and then left it, once I found the right amount of hearing enhancement for me. That probably made it easy to remember that the other side has the Bluetooth volume buttons. In other words, if you’re worried about five buttons and a switch, don’t. Once you put them on and use them, it’s really easy to figure out which controls what.
Pairing was quick and easy. After holding the Bluetooth button down until the blue light came on, my phone confirmed the connection. From there, I tried the silicone tips, and they worked well enough for audio. Things didn’t go so great with the shooters foam. My ears are clearly odd. And oily, especially in the heat. I struggled to get a really good fit. They’d go in, but slowly work their way back out. For normal people with normal ears, the shouldn’t be an issue. Especially with the wire loops going over the ear. But for me, this was a problem. My plan was to test them out at the range, but make sure I had backups.
At the range
On my first outing, I made a point of getting a spot far away from other shooters where we shoot outdoors. Knowing that I might have to swap ear pro, I didn’t want any surprises. With a bit of trepidation, I pushed the GS Extreme 2.0 Ear Buds into my ears. A quick adjustment, and I could have a conversation with my shooting friends at normal volumes. Sound quality was great. I heard small planes flying overhead at a distance. And while I could hear the nearest shooters talking, their gunshots were well muted. So far so good!
When shooting a suppressed .22 LR, all I heard was the tiniest click, and then the bullet striking steel. We stepped up to 9mm, and the suppression was more than sufficient. Things were going pretty well, and they seemed to be staying in place. When shooting my rifles, I enjoyed the lack of interference I get with some ear muffs. Despite the wire loop over my ear, there were no issues with my glasses either. Overall, it was a good experience, even though I was on edge about having them work their way out. After a couple of hours, I could definitely feel their presence more than I would have liked, but that’s been the case with nearly every ear bud product I have used.
Some thoughts on the audio quality
The GS Extreme 2.0 Ear Buds are first and foremost hearing protection. And they do a great job at that. When used for music, the audio quality was good, but a little flat. Using a free equalizer app, I was able to punch it up a bit, and really improve the sound. This is not an issue with the ear buds so much as the audio source. The potential is definitely there. But straight from Spotify, the audio needed some help. As with all audio products, we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss something without considering the quality of the source file or application.
Since they work for phone calls, I tested that out too. On my side, the audio was more than good enough. I could hear the other party loud and clear. More than one caller remarked that I sounded like I was on a speakerphone, which is a fair assessment. With the microphone off to one side, I wasn’t expecting it to sound perfect. If you need to make (or take) a call with your ear pro on, it’s possible. And it won’t sound like you’re talking to Charlie Brown’s parents.
For ear pro when shooting, the GS Extreme 2.0 Ear Buds are a great option, within reason. For most firearms, they are going to be more than sufficient. With up to 29 dB of noise reduction, they were fine for my needs. If I ended up at an indoor range next to someone shooting a .308 rifle or .500 Magnum revolver, I would want more protection. Outdoors, with rimfire, 9mm, and some centerfire rifles, they are a great solution. Especially with rifles that don’t play well with ear muffs. Bluetooth audio is more than acceptable, as is the phone call audio, in the context of both of those being secondary to hearing protection.
As far as fit, I can’t fault Axil here. Very few ear buds have fit my ears “perfectly”. Some either don’t fit, or quickly become uncomfortable. That the GS Extreme 2.0 Ear Buds are good in my ears for at least a couple of hours says a lot. I can enjoy a range session with them and be both physically comfortable, and not worry about the loud noises causing discomfort. Although my hearing is pretty good, I like the fact that I can enhance it when shooting. These would probably serve some hunters very well.
If the suggested retail price of $199.97 causes your wallet some discomfort, keep in mind that good hearing aids run into the thousands of dollars. But Axil is doing a “Christmas in July” sale, and they are 50% off until July 17th. So if you want to grab a pair, find them here. I also suggest signing up for their mailing list, as they run sales pretty regularly.
I’d like to thank Axil for providing their GS Extreme 2.0 Ear Buds for this review. While not 100% perfect for me, they certainly do a really good job. And when they aren’t on sale, they’re still an excellent value.