Now Hear This: Safariland Liberator HP 2.0 Review

Safariland Liberator HP 2.0 Helmet Mounted
February 13, 2024  
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Categories: Gear Curious

Our experience with an earlier model of the Liberator headset left much to be desired. While that sucked, things are much better this time. The manufacturer has redeemed itself. Read the following Safariland Liberator HP review (the 2.0 version) and see why Ryan thinks so. 

Safariland Liberator HP 2.0

Sometimes, the first generation of a product misses the mark, and that was certainly the case with the first vision of Safarilands’s Liberator Ear Pro (the HP 1.0). It was robust and extremely comfortable, but the electronics left much to be desired. I am pretty sure I could still hear a person down the street’s hair growing while wearing them, and it had a parasitic battery drain. They ate batteries faster than a pro eater hoovering up hotdogs at a contest. 50 Shades of FDE and I both had this issue, and just a little searching made it clear it wasn’t just us.

Happily, this new generation Liberator headset (the HP 2.0) is substantially improved. Safariland and TCI have fixed all those previous issues to create a pretty stellar set of hearing protection. 

Liberator ear pro headset color options.

The Liberator HP shooting ear protection series is more than just hearing protection (“ear pro”). It mitigates noise, obviously, and like many good models of digital earpro, it can amplify noise as well. Just as importantly (more so for some users), the 2.0 model can act as the foundation for either single or dual-channel communications. 

My Liberator HP 2.0 came in Olive Drab, but they have a ton of other color options ( including Black, FDE, MultiCam Black, MultiCam, Multicam Tropic, and Orange Camo). I opted for the Team Wendy helmet mount, which I’ll cover later in this report.

Note: the images below were all taken during the daytime. You’ll note there is no night vision to the mount. That’s because night vision is for the night (or at least the dark). Nobody needs the extra neck strain from wearing ’em in broad daylight. Quit flexing on Instagram and go do a damn course.

Due to the two position lock of the helmet mount you can easily stow the hearing protection on the helmet and then lock it on to your head when you need it.

Liberator headset ready position: Thanks to the two-position lock of the helmet mount, you can easily stow the hearing protection on the helmet and then lock it onto your head when you need it. 

SL offers a few other mounting/wear options, including over-the-head, behind-the-head, and the ARC rail for the Ops-Core types. I use and really like the over-the-head design of my older HP 1.0. The reason I went with helmet-mounted was to rectify an issue from my time in the army. When you’re shooting a howitzer, you are required to wear earplugs and “ear defenders,” i.e., personal protective equipment ear muffs. However, we never had ear defenders that worked with our helmets.

This led to me having my constant companion, tinnitus. It’s also why I’m blessed with some of nature’s own ear defenders: hearing loss.

An easy push on the ear cup will click it from the stowed position to locked onto your ear.

An easy push on the ear cup will click it from the stowed position to locked onto your ear.

 

Safariland Liberator HP 2.0 review

Let’s get into the layout of the earpro. Then we’ll move on to the helmet mount.

Battery Life and Replacement

The first thing we will go over is the battery door. This is a great update compared to the previous version. 

On the Gen 1, you had to use a tool or coin to unscrew the battery compartment door. To further complicate matters, you need to install an adapter into the compartment if you want to use CR123A batteries. 

The Gen 2, however, has a toolless open where you slide a lever and rotate the battery door to access the compartment. Inside, you’re greeted with the ability to use either AAA or CR123A batteries without adjustment or adapter. This makes things swapping batteries far simpler, though that’s not something you’ll need to worry about as often now. My 1.0 Liberator headset would devour its batteries in just a couple of weeks – I don’t have the budget for that. My new headset is still using the same batteries as when I got it many, many months ago – I wanted to give this thing a solid shake before coming back to you guys with an opinion on peformance.

They even have a rechargeable version now! 

So far, it seems they’ve fixed all the major gripes from the early version.

Now, onto the last part: the overly sensitive sound amplification.

The helmet mount of the Liberator HP 2.0 is well built and holds its adjustments.

The helmet mount of the Liberator HP 2.0 is well-built and securely holds its adjustments.

One of the best parts of electronic hearing protection is the noise reduction, along with the ability to amplify sounds around you. The sound amplification is perfect for the range, military, police, or other tactical use because it provides better situational awareness while still protecting your hearing. You can hear people around you at the range along with words of command, hear orders passed on from your team, or hear some ne’er-do-well cocking a rifle in the other room.

Knowing is half the battle (the other half is lasers). Any additional information you can easily parse and act on is a good thing. I actually used the sound amplification when at the range a few months ago and was able to stop a potentially dangerous action where an older fellow who was not a range member came into the range the wrong way and entered the field of fire. I was using a scoped rifle and would not have easily been able to see him without the sound warning.

I will say the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of these feels a bit generous at 26. Using my previous version and experience with other hearing protection in noisy jobs and noisy hobbies, I would put it closer to 23-24. 

NRR and Decibels

Decibels are plotted on a logarithmic scale, and the difference as you go up in decibels is very noticeable due to the sharp curve. The NRR of these is a bit more noticeable with braked guns and covered shooting areas. In cases like this, I just toss in a set of garbage foamies and turn up the volume a notch. This could also be down to the shape of my head, though. Who knows? It’s a sample size of 1. Like William MacKenzie, my HEED! is the size of a planetoid. The people I shoot with aren’t going to pop my helmet onto their minuscule brain housing group and give me an opinion. 

For those of you using the Liberator HP 2.0, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

The HP 2.0’s seal around your ear with a very plush gel cup that feels premium compared to the ones you get at big box stores. The speaker area is covered in a nice mesh material that feels comfortable against your ears. The unit has 3 hearing protection modes, but I typically leave it in mode 1.

  • Mode 1, Enhanced Mode. Active Noise Reduction blocks out loud impulses while letting you hear what’s around you. They’ll automatically be in Mode 1 when you power them on. 
  • Mode 2, Move Mode. Active Noice Canceling for when it’s very loud. This is going to shut all noise (within reason).
  • Mode 3, Clarity Mode. This is more of a combo of the two. It utilizes both Active Noise Reduction and Active Noise Canceling. This shuts out damaging background noise while enhancing the human voice.

These modes are easy to cycle through by pressing and holding the volume buttons. Speaking of the buttons, they function with nice audible clicks, and you also get a tone in the ears alerting you to what it is doing.

If you don't have gel cups on hearing protection what are you really doing with your life. Treat your ears and head right.

If you don’t have gel cups on your hearing protection, what are you really doing with your life? Treat your ears and head right.

If you order the helmet mount with your Liberator HP 2.0, you also get the behind-the-head mount. This is perfect for when you want to go without a helmet. Quite a few friends prefer behind the head because it is more versatile.

This will be living on my Team Wendy helmet for night shooting, though, so the helmet mount was perfect for me. I will say that, through no fault of Safariland, the type of rail on your Team Wendy helmet will affect how hard it is to get your headset mounted. Their helmets (which have a 2.0 and 3.0 model). It’s simpler to mount to the former. 

The 2.0 took no time at all. You just loosen it, slide it in the slot, and go. With the 3.0, I had to actually remove the rail from the helmet due to the design change. Once it is on there, though, it isn’t a huge deal since you won’t be pulling them off all the time.

The pivot part of the mount uses a T Nut similar to M-LOK and a single screw to mount it to the helmet’s rail. The pivot section of the arm also has a stowed setting and an in-use setting that it clicks into. This allows the hearing protection to be on your helmet and when you rotate it to put on your ears a simple push clicks into the other position putting force towards your head and increasing the seal.

The actual arm of the mount is wire with a polymer connector in the middle to facilitate length adjustments. This connector holds its position well, so when you pivot the ear protection down from the sides of your helmet, it stays where you previously set it. The bracket that holds onto the actual hearing protection consists of a polymer hub to allow for rotation and a metal arm that mounts to the hearing protection. The combination of adjustments works well with the various rails and mounting positions to ensure the hearing protection mates up with your ears perfectly.

Safariland Liberator HP 2.0 review: Changing modes, powering on the Liberators and adjusting volume is easy with the large tactile buttons on the left side.

Changing modes, powering on the Liberators and adjusting volume is easy with the large tactile buttons on the left side.

If you had asked me if I would recommend version 1 Liberators to people, the answer would have been hell. no. 

This has definitely changed with the new version. I absolutely recommend these as an option for hearing protection. Safariland/TCI took user criticism to heart, went back to the drawing board, and came out with a real winner. Sound quality is improved and not too sensitive now, the battery compartment is a major overhaul, and you won’t need to take a second mortgage out on your house to keep feeding it batteries.

You can even pay to add a communication package to these if you want to use them with a radio. My only quibble is the stated Noise Reduction Rating, as I personally feel it may be higher than it should be, but as I said, the sample size is 1, so take this concern with a grain of salt (at least until we hear from other users). 

Did we mention these are made in the USA?

Did we mention these are made in the USA?

 

Further reading/additional information: 

 

Safariland-Liberator-HP_tan

 

Gun parts for upgrades and customization

⚠️ Some hyperlinks in this article may contain affiliate links. If you use them to make a purchase, we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. It’s just one way to Back the Bang. #backthebang 

 

Ryan Houtekamer

Ryan Houtekamer

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