Today’s first responders rely on clear, concise communications to ensure a successful outcome during emergency or swat operations. The old portable radios with built-in speakers have been replaced with reliable hands-free tactical headsets that provide greater clarity and enhanced security. A wide range of both wired and wireless choices are offered, from simple single-ear and dual-ear headsets to cutting-edge digital and in-ear technology. The following companies all provide quality two-way radio accessories that serve both the military and public safety markets.
For over 25 years, CeoTronics has been a global provider of short-range mobile digital wireless radio networks and high-quality professional communication headsets and systems. With fourteen in-house research and development engineers, the company delivers cutting-edge solutions to private industry and the military, public safety, and law enforcement markets. CeoTronics prides itself on exceptional quality management, and was the first in their industry to acquire ISO 9001:2000 and ATEX Directive 94/9 certification. Through the GSA Advantage program, government agencies have direct online access to purchase Ceotronics products at a discount.
CT-DECT is a digital, mobile duplex radio system ideal for emergency and rescue operations. The standard configuration can support a work team of up to five people, while the CT-DECT Case or CT-DECT Conference unit extends the network up to eight people. With the CT-DECT headset, voice is picked up by a noise cancelling microphone and transmitted via radio. Optional CT-ASR (Ambient Sound Reception) enables the wearer to pick up environmental sounds while reducing noise to a level of 85 dB(A) to avoid damage to hearing. The rechargeable hi-performance battery keeps each headset operating at the necessary operating voltage. The CT-DECT headset is also available as an ATEX-approved model. List prices start at $2199, with GSA discounting available at 35% off.
Designed for law enforcement agencies and fire brigades, CT-CombiCom is a multipurpose communication system that is ideally adaptable to all operational conditions. The headset can be worn on either the right or left side of the head and is easily configurable using the flexible head strap or headband/neckband. Rugged yet lightweight, it is dust- and waterproof to stand up to the toughest conditions. Because the headphone does not close the ear off completely, users continue to perceive ambient sounds. Available in both a monaural and binaural version, the CT-CombiCom headset can be optionally equipped with CT-DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) technology for noise suppression. Prices start at $749.
Sales Manager Jack Darden points out that approximately two-thirds of the company’s global business is in the law enforcement, fire/rescue, and military markets, making them the better choice for the public sector. In addition, Ceotronics uses only the finest quality components that guarantee optimum cost-effectiveness. “The testament to our systems is backed by our three-year warranty - unheard of in this industry. We manufacture quality, reliable accessories and back them to the hilt,” said Darden.
Ear Phone Connection
Established in 1996, The Ear Phone Connection manufactures and distributes tactical communications products for the law enforcement market. They offer a wide range of radio accessories that include Lapel, Throat, and Bone Conduction systems, Speaker and Noise Cancellation Microphones, Push-To-Talk systems, and listen-only earphones. The latest addition to their Tactical EarGadgets™ line of microphone and earphone products is the fully-loaded Crane Extreme headset.
The Crane Extreme goes beyond the traditional headset by offering a cost-effective, all-inclusive system with all the features necessary to achieve success in mission-critical situations. The ambidextrous threaded connection at the speaker housing allows the user to connect the external microphones to either the right or left side for greater versatility in the field. In addition to the primary external noise cancellation boom mic, the headset package also includes the Tactical EarGadgets™ Cobra noise cancellation throat microphone. The boom and throat microphone can work together or separately, making the dual microphone set-up ideal for conditions requiring a gas mask or helmet.
Using bone conduction technology, the Crane Extreme delivers excellent audio quality and superior anti-noise capability for unobstructed auditory situational awareness. The headset package comes with a pair of Comply™ Foam 29 NRR eartips designed to protect the ear against hazardous noise levels. The patented dual foam technology increases retention and provides a secure and comfortable fit with or without a helmet. With Comply ear tips, users can hear ambient sound and clear radio transmission simultaneously.
The Scorpion Wireless PTT kit is part of the Crane Extreme headset package, which includes a wireless PTT transmitter with several mounting options, and a large button PTT receiver. This provides hands-free operation, allowing users to effectively handle their weapons and focus on bringing the mission to a successful conclusion. Also included is a “breakaway-style” connector that facilitates a durable, reliable connection between the headset and the radio adapter, and retails for $995.
Company Owner Ruben Scheimberg touts the Crane Extreme as the most versatile headset choice on the market. “Typically, any headset modifications must be made at the time of order from the manufacturer. The Crane Extreme’s ambidextrous feature changes that trend and allows users to build their own unique set-up. The Crane Extreme brings so many options to the table: switch your boom microphone from left to right, apply your throat microphone when a mask is required, experience safe sound protection at all times and implement new wireless PTT innovation,” said Scheimberg.
Founded in 2003, FreeLinc delivers reliable, secure wireless communications products to law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. Their patented Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI) technology allows communication free from interference, interception and hazards associated with wires, cables and cords. While the concepts behind NFMI are not new, FreeLinc was the first to apply this technology to short-distance, personal communications. Their product line includes tactical headsets, speaker microphones, adapters, and accessories.
While conventional radio frequency-based wireless communications systems are capable of sending large amounts of data over long distances, the inherent structure of the RF spectrum results in interference between devices, security issues, and high power consumption. Because NFMI uses the magnetic field close to the receiver to sustain communications, it is immune to interference from nearby RF sources. NFMI envelops the personal space of each user, creating a “personal communications bubble” that ensures privacy and enhanced security. It allows for reliable coexistence with WiFi, CDM, TDMA, and GSM, and is five times more power efficient than typical RF-based systems.
The FreeMotion 100 Wireless Communication System is a single-ear tactical headset powered by near field communication technology. Its lightweight design provides optimum comfort, and provides twenty hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. The microphone picks up voice even at a whisper, making it ideal for surveillance operations. Highly weather-resistant, the FreeMotion 100 comes with an assortment of ergonomically designed ear gels and ear hooks for a comfortable, secure fit. All FreeLinc systems interface with a portable radio through a FreeLinc adapter, which features an on/off switch that returns the radio to standard operation without having to remove the adapter.
FreeLinc Vice President of Sales, Diane Eller, states, "With NFMI technology your transmissions are inherently secure and without the wires, there's no more need to alter clothing or worry about broken or tangled wires. Our new Remote Push-To-Talk and Boom Microphone Extension for the FreeMotion 100 make it a great addition to your portable radio for snipers, bicycle patrol or mounted divisions." She encourages agencies interested in purchasing FreeLinc products to contact a representative for information on pricing and volume discounts.
Since 1991, Klein Electronics has been a leading provider of 2-way radios and pro-quality accessories for radios and Nextel. Certified as a Small Business, Disabled Veteran Owned Enterprise, Klein Electronics is committed to their clients, which range from OEM, distributors, military and public safety, retail chain stores, and the consumer direct. They offer a wide range of products designed specifically for tactical police and military applications.
Ideal for SWAT and rescue operations, both The Commander™ and Modular™ Series allow for on the fly customization of headset kits. The Commander™ Series Tactical Headset is an extreme heavy-duty headset with a noise cancelling flexible boom microphone. It features behind-the-head design with an adjustable rubber sizing bar, and is weather resistant. A Tygon clear acoustic audio tube offers protection in extreme noise conditions. Available with various cable lengths, materials, diameters, and PTT button styles, the Commander™ is priced at $139.
The Modular Commander™ Military/Tactical Headset offers the same features as the Commander™ but requires a modular junction box and connector cable. The speaker is encased in weather-resistant housing located on the back of the headband. The price of the Modular Commander ™ is $90.
For patrol officers, the Shadow™ Listen-Only Earpiece and the Director™ 2-Wire Surveillance Kit are considered the best choices. The Shadow™ features a hi-quality speaker, and a clear audio acoustic coil tube with quick-disconnect (an optional black K-Tube™ - DET is available). It comes with a pinkie eartip, a clothing clip, and a 12” or 42” length cord. With available connectors that include 2.5mm right angle, 3.5mm right angle, and 3.5mm threaded, the Shadow™ is priced at $39.
The Director™ is a 2-wire earpiece unit with a clear Quick-Disconnect Audio Tube. It features true noise reduction microphone with side-bar PTT and improved Kevlar-reinforced cabling and materials. Motorola, Blackbox, HYT, Icom, Kenwood, Relm, Sepura, TEKK, Tetra & Vertex connectors are available. The Director™ is $69 with eartips and a steel clothing clip included.
PRYME Radio Products
For more than two decades, PRYME has been a leading manufacturer of high-quality radio products, serving the commercial and industrial markets, as well as police, emergency, and tactical professionals. Their product line includes headsets, lapel and speaker microphones, earphones, GPS accessories, and adapters. Headset options range from medium- to heavy-duty, mini-boom to in-helmet microphone, plus the latest in noise resistance bone conduction technology.
Built to MIL-STD-810, PRYME’s Patriot™ SPM-1400 is a medium duty behind-the-head headset designed for rugged conditions. The noise-cancelling boom microphone and high-quality single-ear speaker allow clear transmit audio and audio receive. With the adjustable padded headset and reinforced strain relief, the Patriot™ delivers optimal comfort and durability. Remote Push-To-Talk and the rugged polycarbonate housing provide the versatility and toughness needed for multiple uses in the field. Starting At $43, the Patriot™ comes with a one-year warranty.
PRYME’s newest headset product, the SPM-1600, offers cutting-edge bone conduction technology that allows the user to hear both incoming radio calls while maintaining situational awareness. Dual-Bone Conduction temple microphones pick up transmit audio directly from vibrations below the skin, and reduce background noise. Ambient receive speakers leave the ears uncovered, allowing the user to hear incoming transmissions as well as the sounds around them. The SPM-1600 headset features an adjustable wrap-around style that secures behind the head and uses PRYME’s upgradable tactical PTT. It comes with an HD 2-year warranty, with prices starting at $159.
The SPM-2400 Commander™ is a medium duty over-the-head unit that is padded for extra comfort when worn for long periods of time. The noise cancelling boom microphone is covered by foam to reduce wind noise and is mounted on a flexible boom that can be worn on either the right or left side. The Commander™ has a locking PTT for VOX (Voice Operated Transmit) and also has a built-in jack that allows use of an optional PTT extension. Starting at $53.00, it comes with a full one-year warranty and is available for a broad range of radio connectors.
PRYME President Dave George said that public safety and law enforcement agencies generally look for cost-effective solutions that provide the durability needed in rugged conditions. The company strives to find just the right solution for each customer and then stands behind every product. “PRYME had been designing and building Professional Grade Radio Accessories for almost 25 years. Everything PRYME sells is designed and built to our own carefully controlled specifications.”
Tactical Command Industries
Since 1996, Tactical Command Industries (TCI) has been a leading manufacturer of radio communications systems and equipment. Founded by highly trained and experienced tactical professionals, the company offers a wide array of tactical headsets and accessories for the law enforcement, public safety, security, and military markets. In the lightweight, tactical, and high noise categories, the TABC II™, the SAS II, and the Liberator II™ are recommended options. Prices indicated below are MSRP – government and GSA pricing are also available.
TCI’s Tactical Assault Bone Conduction Headset (TABC II™) delivers exceptional audio performance during mission-critical operations. Lightweight, yet rugged, the TABC II™ system features a behind-the-head fit that provides added comfort and freedom of movement. The bone conduction transducers are positioned in front of the ears, rather than over them, resulting in greater situational awareness and peripheral hearing. TCI’s Tactical Press-to-Talk (PTT) allows central control of all radios and can be configured to specific models. The optional Remote Finger PTT provides hands-free transmission and comes with an adjustable Velcro strap. Pricing starts at $440.
The Special Air Service II Assaulter Headset (SAS II) is a high-performance, full-featured tactical headset ideal for both high-risk situations and lower-profile operations. Used by law enforcement agencies and military units worldwide, the SAS II headset is extremely durable and designed to withstand the harshest conditions. Features include TCI PTT switch, black Soundwaves R4 Ear Coil, multi-sized TACT-LITE Earmold Kit, and Waterproof/Noise Cancelling Microphone. This versatile headset system is easily concealed under clothing and can double as a reliable covert communications system without adaptation. Prices start at $440.
Used by military, law enforcement, and security teams around the world, the Liberator II™ is an integrated tactical communications system that allows the operator to interface, monitor, and transmit on one radio. Digital Threat Compression Technology (DTCT) compresses hazardous sound levels for enhanced hearing protection, without compromising situational awareness. Designed to exceed military durability standards, the Liberator II™ features low-profile ear cups, high battery life, and behind-the-head and over-the-head suspension. It is available in several configurations, with prices starting at $760.
According to company president Don Medine, TCI’s core competencies and tactical expertise allows them to fully understand the requirements of their customers and deliver solutions that repeatedly meet and exceed expectations. “We are much more than a tactical headset company and this experience make a difference for our customers - especially when it matters most,” said Medine.
Television Equipment Associates, Inc. (TEA)
TEA specializes in communication headsets and Push-To-Talk devices for two-way radios, vehicle intercom systems, and mobile phones. Since 1969, they have been developing products for the Department of the Defense, the Department of Justice, public safety and law enforcement agencies, and the military market. The TEA team offers extensive experience in the communications industry and is committed to helping each agency find the right products to meet their operational needs.
The INVISIO® M-Series is TEA’s line of tactical in-ear bone conduction headsets that provide clear, reliable communications to mobile patrol units, as well SWAT, special ops, and security teams. The design of the Bone Conduction Microphone allows speech to be picked up in the exact spot in the ear where the jawbone meets the ear canal, which means the user does not have to rely on sound directly from the mouth. Unlike external microphones, bone conduction technology filters out loud ambient noise and provides ultimate speech clarity.
All INVISIO® M-Series Headsets feature a small but durable Kevlar-reinforced cable, a cable strain relief for increased head movement, and a behind-the-ear cable management system that allows the headset to be worn with eye wear, balaclavas, and gas masks. INVISIO® M-Series Headsets are available in Standard (M3), Submersible (M3s), and Hearing Protection (M3h), in addition to the M4 Series which is custom molded to the ear.
TEA’s latest cutting-edge product, the Digital Ears® Multi-Com System, provides certified hearing protection, 360º situational awareness, and the ability to simultaneously monitor and transmit over multiple communication sources. The system includes the INVISIO® X5 dual in-ear headset (universal fit), X50 Multi-Com PTT, and a radio cable of one’s preference. A custom molded version of the dual in-ear headset, the INVISIO® X6, is also offered. The Digital Ears® System has a variety of accessories available, such as the M80 Dual Wireless PTT which can be mounted to the rail of an assault rifle, and various wired sniper and remote switches.
According to Nicholas Lafferty, TEA’s Director of Marketing, TEA has over a decade of expertise working with and perfecting bone conduction microphone headsets. “What sets us apart from other in-ear headsets is the INVISIO® headset’s consistency and clarity of speech in the extreme noise environments tactical operators are regularly exposed to,” said Lafferty. Requests for product information and pricing can be submitted on the TEA website.
Founded in 2001, VIMDIC is a global provider of officer-worn video and radio accessories, advanced file management software, and storage solutions. The company, formally known as EHS (Earhugger Safety), was the first U.S.-based company to introduce an officer-worn video system and is the manufacturer of the revolutionary, patent-pending Earhugger Headphone. With in-house production and extensive product testing, VIDMIC offers cost-effective, high quality solutions for budget-minded public safety agencies.
VIDMIC Two-Way Communication Headsets provide the discretion and clarity required in tactical situations, and are used nationwide by security and law enforcement personnel. All headset models feature tubular reinforcement at point of entry into the accessory connector to prevent shorts. Enameled, shielded, and jacketed wiring is reinforced at all stress points, while gold-plated plugs and pins ensure a better electrical connection. A soft plastic ear frame is included to provide additional stabilization of the unit if needed.
The Ear Bone Mic 2-Way Headset integrates speaker and microphone into one compact unit, and fits easily under helmets and gas masks. The Ear Bone Mic is ideal for any high-noise environment, including SWAT operations, sports events, and concerts. With Earhugger ergonomic design, it features an elliptical earpiece that rotates to lock into any size ear. It is priced at $100.
The Mini Boom 2-Way Headset is a small, lightweight unit that officers can leave on throughout their shift, while the Long Boom 2-Way Headset’s flexible boom allows for personalized fit. A popular choice among security personnel and bike patrol officers, the long boom is considered by many to be the staple piece in communications accessories. Both models feature an air cushion ring that encases 11mm earbud for enhanced comfort, and No Click In-line Push-To-Talk. Pricing is based on the cost of the adaptor, with the Mini Boom ranging in price from $65.00 to $85.00 and the Long Boom from $45 to $60.
The VIDMIC is a shoulder microphone that houses a full-color digital video recorder, a digital audio recorder, and a full-color still photo camera. Worn center mass instead of on the shoulder, the device does not require additional battery packs, and attaches to a radio drawing no more power from it than a standard shoulder mic. Wearing the VIDMIC, officers can video events as they occur during routine traffic stops, domestic violence calls, crime scene investigations, and a number of other scenarios. Video evidence has been proven to enhance officer safety and performance, reduce frivolous lawsuits, and increase the number of successful prosecutions. The VIDMIC is priced at $700, which is about 14% of the cost of a medium-priced dash cam.
A demonstration video of the VIDMIC can be viewed on the website, as well as product testimonials from law enforcement agencies across the country. According to VIDMIC’s Vice President of Marketing, Megan Haynes,over the next 18 months the company will be moving all of their production to the U.S.A. “Along with this move in manufacturing we have some great, new, innovative products that we will be manufacturing,” said Haynes.
Founded in 2003, Xacore is a leading manufacturer and distributor of wireless two-way radio audio accessories and equipment, providing custom products for both the public and private sectors. The company offers a full line of tactical headsets and radio audio accessories for SWAT and military operations, as well as law enforcement and public safety agencies.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), hearing loss is a growing concern among military and law enforcement professionals involved in tactical operations. To reduce the incidence of hearing loss, the use of ear plugs has been strongly recommended for individuals repeatedly exposed to hazardous sound levels that can damage the inner ear structure. While tactical professionals are willing to wear them during training scenarios, most are reluctant to do so during actual mission operations. Ear plugs obstruct hearing and compromise situational awareness, placing both the team member and the operation in jeopardy.
Addressing this problem, Xacore developed the x-62000 series headset that simultaneously incorporates the three functional requirements of the U.S. Army's Tactical Communication and Protective Systems program: hearing protection, talk-thru/hear-thru, and radio communications.
According to company CEO Patrick Armstrong, Xacore’s specialized algorithm technology actually mimics the way the human ear functions. “The human ear is very complex in its ability to process audio cues which determine the directionality of sound. Our headset closely reproduces the complexities of hearing using proprietary algorithms developed by audiologist and acoustic engineers. This means when you wear our headset you feel like you have nothing in your ears yet are protected from impulse and continuous noises."
The x-62000 In-Ear Digital Radio Headset with Boom Mic has four talk-through microphones, two on each side of the head. With certified 32dB Noise Protection, it offers impulse and continuous noise protection, while ensuring 360º situational awareness. Unlike typical in-ear mic headsets that are often noise-ridden on radio transmit (TX), the x-62000 radio transmit is completely independent of the active listening system. This virtually eliminates noise on radio transmit (TX) normally caused by the in-ear mics vibrating while running, or in tracked/rotary vehicles.
Compatible with most PTTs and up to three radios, the x-62000 offers natural ear, active listening muted, bionic, and adaptive noise reduction modes. This out-of-the-box system requires no programming or software, and can be used with a helmet or alone. Single radio setups have a MSRP of $999.
Susan Geoghegan is a freelance writer living in Naples, Fla. She can be reached at email@example.com.