The Walker's Disrupter: One Ear Bud to Rule Them All?

Enjoy the benefits of hearing protection, environmental sound augmentation, phone conversations and streaming audio in just one convenient device.

by posted on August 20, 2023
Horman Walkers 1
Images courtesy Walker's Game Ears

I remember a Facebook post I read a few years ago that made me laugh because it was true. The poster shared that he and a friend were arguing over who would get to use a power cable next because one of them needed to recharge an electronic cigarette while the other needed to charge up an e-book so that he could read. In short, he said, the future is stupid!

Walker’s Disrupter Bluetooth ear buds are multi-purpose devices.

I've wrestled with the same frustration when it comes to juggling electronic ear buds and hearing protection. While the technologies have been available, all the functionality I needed required multiple devices.

For the shooting range and out in the field, there are electronic earmuffs. They protect the shooter's hearing but also use a set of microphones to augment environmental sounds. When the muffs detect a potentially damaging level of noise the microphones are instantly and temporarily muted until the noise drops back down to safe levels. Electronic muffs, like the Walker Razor and XCEL models I've worked with, are comfortable and effective but fairly specialized. They're great on the range but not exactly an accessory one would wear while out for a stroll.

To fill our around-town needs there are various Bluetooth headsets and earbuds that connect wirelessly to tablets or phones to stream audio or conduct phone conversations. These devices are small, lightweight and rechargeable, which makes them convenient and easy to use.

A sturdy storage case is provided.

Well-designed ear buds do a good job of sealing the ear canal, usually with comfortable silicone tips. They block out environmental sounds to ensure clean, clear audio for the listener. Some devices incorporate noise cancellation technology to gently wash away the clamor of the world around us. It certainly makes for a more comfortable ride home at the end of a long day.

But blocking out the sounds of the world around us is not the best choice when it comes to practicing situational awareness. Hearing plays an important role in two of the circumstances a self-defender might find himself or herself in. First, there are the potentially dangerous confrontations between others that may spill over on to you. These situations are usually noisy with shouting and even gun fire. If you hear something bad going down, you want to get away from it as quickly as possible. 

This case serves as a USB-C recharging station, and it contains its own rechargeable power supply. 

The other is the use of ambush techniques favored by criminals intent on robbing or harming an individual. They keep an eye out for folks who appear to be zoned out, distracted by their phones or just not paying attention. Ear buds that block out environmental sound can contribute to all three of those conditions.

I've thought about this a good deal because I like my devices just as much as anyone else, but I already have some inherited neurological hearing loss. This means that if I put on a set of ear buds while walking our dog in the evening, to listen to some audio or make a phone call, then the world goes nearly silent until I take them off again. Considering that our pooch has been attacked twice during these walks by neighbors' bigger, unleashed dogs, keeping an ear out for possible danger is just as important to me for his safety as for my own.

Fitting the earbuds with the provided foam plugs and setting them to Max Protection allows them to be use as hearing protection at the shooting range.

This is why I'm happy to report that I finally found the do-all electronic accessory I've been hoping for in Walker's new Disrupter ear buds. One of several features they got right is the form factor. These Bluetooth earbuds sport the same size and appearance as dozens of other sets on the market. So they feel good to wear and they don't call undo attention to themselves. Other devices I’ve considered would look out of place while riding the bus or subway.

This one set of buds stands out from the crowd because it can fill four primary roles: hearing protection, environmental sound augmentation, phone conversations and streaming audio. The Disrupters arrive with three sizes (two pairs each) of soft foam ear plugs and four sizes of silicone in-ear tips. The foam plugs have a noise reduction rating of 26 decibels making them suitable for shooting ranges and other loud areas such as industrial environments. The silicon tips are for everyday use. The durable storage case serves as a USB-C rechargeable power supply.

Four microphones provide 360-degree ambient sound enhancement on or off the range.

These Bluetooth 5 buds are managed using Walker’s Link 4.0 phone app. The two primary settings are Max Protection and Life Style. Max Protection activates the noise cancellation while Life Style turns off this function. All other settings are available with or without the noise cancellation turned on.

The app displays both ear buds' charge level and that of the storage case battery. A touch screen slider can be used to adjust ambient sound volume levels while the phone's controls are used to adjust streaming audio volume. Ambient sound modes include a multi-purpose Universal setting along with Clear Voice, Power Boost and High Frequency Boost options.

The Disrupters small, in-the-ear profile means they won’t get in the way when shooting rifles or shotguns.

The four Hi-Gain Omnidirectional microphones can be adjusted for 360 Sound to pick up noises in all directions, or Front Focus which is useful when striving to hold a conversation on the shooting range. The Disrupters provide up to a 6-hour run time when streaming audio or 11 hours when using just the ambient sound mode.

These buds provide high quality audio for streaming content or phone calls.

The sound quality for streaming audio and videos is top notch and they have synced up easily with a PC desktop and an Android phone. The foam ear plugs and rapid impulse noise protection​ is effective at the shooting range for protecting against muzzle blast noise while making it easy to communicate with others without having to pull one plug out to understand what's being said. Best of all, when walking from the range to the parking lot, or taking the dog for a stroll around the neighborhood, I can use the buds to make a hands-free phone call and still hear what’s going on around me. The Disrupters really can do it all for a suggested retail price of $249.99. For more information, visit



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