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Product Spot: Threat4 In-ear Headsets

Written by Patrick Armstrong

Threat4 In-ear Headsets
Hearing protection, directionality and adaptive noise reduction
www.threat4.com

The Threat4 x-62000 in-ear tactical-radio communication headset is designed to provide hearing protection (32dB to 39dB noise reduction), radio communications and environmental-audio situational awareness (talk-through) at the best comparable price.

Unlike other headsets that provide similar functionality, the x-62000 was built from the human ear perspective by borrowing technology from the hearing aid industry and then adding the simpler functions like radios and earplugs. This key difference in design means the x-62000 functions very closely to an unprotected human ear, so when the earplugs are in, the wearer can hear not only environmental audio but can accurately discern directionality.

This is accomplished by having two independent Digital Signal Processors (DSPs), one on each side of the head, instead of a DSP in a remote control box. These two DSPs behave like human ears, running hearing aid algorithms that digitally reproduce the ear's audio processing capabilities, which are achieved naturally by the shape of the ear canal and lobes.

The DSP is tuned to human vocal frequencies, which allows for natural speech intelligibility in both loud and quiet / whispering environments. Audio limits on harmful decibel levels are set and react within a third of a millisecond, making it fast enough to protect wearers from small and large arms fire, bombs and distraction devices.

The DSP also has three (3) modes of operation. Mode 1 is just like human ears, except the plugs provide hearing protection, and environmental sounds are just as they would be with open ear. Far sounds sounding distant; near sounds sounding closer; and quiet or loud sounds are just that, quiet or loud. In mode 2 the talk-through feature (environmental noise) is turned off, which means all you hear is the radio communication.

In mode 3, the x-62000 turns on a second pair of environmental microphones and its Adaptive Noise Reduction system. This system, unlike traditional Active Noise Reduction (ANR), works across the entire audio spectrum (20-9000hz) instead of just in the low frequencies (20-500hz). This eliminates unwanted continuous noises by up to an additional 12dB above the passive earplugs. Mode 3 works well in transport / armored vehicles and around engines when face-to-face conversations are still required.

The x-62000 retains the boom microphone from traditional over-the-ear muff style headsets to transmit (TX) radio audio. This melds the typical in-ear headset design of microphones in the ear with tried, tested and true muff headset design, without the bulkiness, weight and comfort challenges.

Boom microphones have always outperformed in-ear mics, particularly when whispering or when in high-vibration environments (while running, in rotary vehicles or in tracked vehicles). The reason is that boom microphones are mechanically isolated from the body and cannot pick up environmental noises when worn close to the lips. The net effect is clear, crisp and intelligible radio transmit in all environments.

The x-62000 has been tested in Afghanistan as has received a highly recommended review by the Marines. It is also currently in use by over 100 law enforcement agencies in North America. Threat4, the maker of the x-62000, provides government entities with no-obligation trials and onsite demos.

Patrick Armstrong is responsible for the vision, strategy and leadership of Threat4, a radio communications audio accessories manufacturer.  He can be reached at parmstrong@threat4.com

Published in Tactical Response, Sep/Oct 2012

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