Released in early 2021, the Liberator HP 2.0 from Safariland is the latest electronic hearing protection offered by a company with an established history in tactical gear and accessories. The newest Liberator brings together some of the latest features and internal electronics to offer multi-mode functionality.
From the outside, the housing for the electronic hearing protection is made from a gloss polymer and is injection-molded to provide a slim profile. These form the housing on which the full-ear, gel cups that give the end-user greater comfort with less fatigue over time. The exterior and all outward connections (speakers, microphones, battery compartment, etc.) are sealed with rubberized gaskets to provide IP67 water certification to the headset. To validate that certification, Safariland fully lab-immersed the Liberator HP 2.0 for 30 minutes, under 1m of water, multiple times.
On the left earpiece is the variable power compartment that includes a speed-change cover that allows immediate access to the compartment to change batteries. The Liberator 2.0 can be powered by either two AAA batteries or one CR123. This will give the headset between 160 and 300 hours of continual runtime depending on electronic mode selected. If no movement is detected for five minutes, a series of warning tones will prompt the power save feature before shutting the headset off. The Liberator also includes a low power warning when 20 hours of runtime remains.
The gel ear cups themselves are resistant to high temperatures and layered to provide baffling against exterior sound impulses and interference. Inside are high-definition speakers that connect into the interior programming to offer enhanced electronics, and control of input from the exterior microphones down to 26 decibels—thus meeting the higher MIL STD 810G hearing certification.
The internal electronics of the Liberator 2.0 allot for Active Noise Reduction (ANR), Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), and both simultaneously as desired. This is done through the voice-prompted, three-mode feature of the headset that includes:
- Enhanced Mode: Blocks impulses and noise that may occur without warning while still allowing pass-through for speech and environmental audio.
- Move Mode: Blocks momentary high-level, or steady noise while still allowing pass-through for speech and environmental audio.
- Clarity Mode: Blocks continual high-level, steady noise only allowing pass-through for speech.
The option also exists to upgrade the Liberator HP 2.0 by sending it back to Safariland (for a fee) for modification to include single or dual comms into the headset, thus turning it into a Liberator IV or V, and allot for Push-to-Talk switches (sold separately).
The Liberator 2.0 can be configured at the time of purchase from an over-the-head headset, to a behind-the-head configuration, or to a helmet-worn configuration using Safariland’s Adaptive Suspension Kit (if a helmet type is selected at the time of purchase).
The Liberator HP 2.0 is available in FDE (featured), Black-Red, Multicam, and OD Green.
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Average (3/5): Between $299 and $319.99 (Based on color selection and Head/Behind-the-Head Suspension selection) or $454.99 (Helmet Mount) the Liberator HP 2.0 brings together some of the newest features and noise reduction technology on the current market. In contrast the closest comparator (to the non-comms variant w/o helmet mount evaluated) would be the Supreme Pro-X ($260) from Sordin (NRR to 19 decibels), and the SWATCOM ($330) from Talking Heads Ltd (NRR to 23 decibels), and the ComTac V Hearing Defender Headset ($449) from 3M (NRR to 23 decibels). Each of these market alternatives bring variations in electronics and features that offer a variety of unique options, but from the aspect of noise reduction and cost, the Liberator HP 2.0 with a NRR to 26 decibels was one at an appropriate (or average cost) to the consumer.
- Comfort – Good (4/5): From a comfort aspect while worn, in the evaluated behind-the-head configuration, the Liberator 2.0 allowed for the cable to pass along a polymer headband and secured via hook-and-loop material with a mesh over-the-head harness. This made the Liberator 2.0 extremely comfortable as a two-point headset, and ensured that the ear protection nether slid forward nor backward during dynamic movements and drills. Headwear/hats were comfortably worn over the mesh harness configuration as the polymer headband rested behind the head and under the edge of the hat. With the helmet mount configuration, the pull/twist release tabs easily connected to the QD points on the Liberator allowing for quick swap between configurations. The wiring and snap release points in the Adaptive Suspension Kit ensured appropriate (average) pressure moving the earcups from against the helmet to against the head, and maintained a comfortable seal (but not so as to cause fatigue or headache). The baffled gel ear cups contoured to the head very comfortably and provided a substantial improvements against the foam variants found in other market competitors (which some include as separate upgrades). The only area of recommendation for Safariland to re-examine (from a comfort aspect) would be the buttonology of its Select Mode buttons with the +/- being right next to each other, and as such made it somewhat crowded for those with larger fingers or gloves to manipulate between modes. By placing the Power button in the middle of the Select Mode +/- buttons, it would open up those controls more and make manipulation more comfortable for all individuals.
- Durability – Good (4/5): From a durability aspect, the main construction of the Liberator 2.0 lent itself to the glass polymer housing that proved to have a greater degree of strength and abrasion resistance than most polymer rifle magazines. As injection molds, the housing of the Liberator was a universal form, meaning there were no gaps or exposed areas that allowed for moisture penetration from rain or sweat. Indeed, any such openings were sealed in either rubberized gaskets (such as the button controls) or pressure closures (such as the battery speed cover) and reinforced the IP67 water proofing. Over the course of evaluation, no fraying or loosening of connections or leads was noted and the sound dampening of the hearing protection was consistent and clear.
- Functionality – Fair (2/5): Functionally, the Liberator 2.0 performed at a fair level; offering selectable modes for the audible environment given, and mitigated gunshot impulse adequately (or of average) while still enabling vocal tones to come through the headset. From a 360-degree setting, the headset also picked up very well on audio from behind the shooter, as well as sides and the front. One observation made was that when cycling through the three modes, there was a momentary lapse in environmental audible control where (as the voice command denoted the current Mode) external audio noises (i.e. gunfire) would come through up to the 26 decibels level, before the internal programming picked back up and dampened the environmental noise. A second observation made was the NRR level of sound mitigation to 26 decibels in the Liberator was notably louder than alternative electronic headsets that have a NRR level to 23 decibels or lower. The sound level was not to the point that it was uncomfortable nor fatiguing, but apparent. These would be elements of recommended improvement for Safariland in the future to improve upon, thus improving the overall performance and functionality of the product.
- Weight – Good (4/5): In the behind-the-head configuration (using the dual head straps), the Liberator HP 2.0 weighed in at a total of 12.3 ounces, then with the Adaptive Suspension Kit themselves weighing in at 4.0 ounces, the full helmet mount configuration weighed in at 14.7 ounces. Thus with only minimal weight differences between configuration, the end-user gains the adaptability of a 2-in-1 hearing protection device with minimal weight. In contrast, other head-mounted headsets like the Supreme Pro-X (11.6 ounces) from Sordin, and the SWATCOM (16 ounces) from Talking Heads, and the ComTac V Hearing Defender Headset (32 ounces) from 3M all show that the Liberator HP 2.0 is at a good, light weight for the consumer and amid the market of alterntives.
Overall Rating – Above Average (17/25)
I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.
The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.