Two-way radios had long been a tool for only government operators and officials, but in recent decades they have become strong tools for civilian use as well. From security details to communicating with friends and family during a natural disaster, walkie talkies and two-way radios are now a staple for vital communications and work when all other forms fail.
Radios are frequently paired with accessories to enhance their capabilities and keep the user safe on the job. One critical accessory is a communications headset, which comes in a wide range of different types and applications.
Headsets are commonly used to help communicate hands-free, with many offering hearing protection and advanced features such as environmental listening.
People who would benefit from a headset or earpiece for their two-way radio include law enforcement, emergency dispatch, public safety crews, construction, and many more. One of the primary benefits a headset offers for these groups is the hands-free setup. This advantage allows the use of the hands while operating the walkie talkie, which is crucial for police officers and construction crews who need to be ready and alert.
Second, a headset can be a great deterrent against hearing damage. For example, without one, an airport maintenance employee working around noisy aircraft is already experiencing serious hearing damage risk without protection, sometimes having to hold their speaker directly to their ear just to hear the messages. With the right headset, that employee can block out the harmful sounds without losing awareness of their surroundings and receive communications clearly at a safe level.
Hearing loss is one of the biggest health issues associated with the two-way radio industry, affecting individuals from all professions. Besides the benefits headsets offer for operational effectiveness, they are the front line of defense in safeguarding your hearing.
Several different types of headsets differ on protection, style, and capabilities, and we’ll cover the features, benefits, and costs of each below.
As you read, take a mental inventory of your radio and the capabilities demanded by your job. For example, a dispatch officer does not operate around the constant hazardous sound levels that a firefighter would and thus not require as high of a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) from their headset.
Headsets: Features, Costs, and Compatibility
Motorola Headset (RMN5058)
The Motorola RMN5058 headset provides high-clarity, hands-free, discreet two-way radio communication. The RMN5058 is a single-ear muff, and adjustable over-the-head to maintain proper comfort for extended-wear. This headset is recommended for those working in the public safety, transportation, construction, and manufacturing industries, and is compatible with Motorola XPR, MOTOTRBO, and APX models.
- Designed for wear in moderate noise environments
- In-line Push-to-talk (PTT)
- Noise-canceling boom mic transmission
- Compatible with Motorola XPR, MOTOTRBO, and APX models
- Kevlar-reinforced cabling
- 36-month warranty
- Price starts at $89
Motorola Tactical Headset (PMLN5101A)
This upgraded version of the RMN5058 from Motorola is a lightweight bone conduction headset. This headset has some similar features to the RMN5058 such as the inline PTT and boom mic but is more oriented towards tactical applications. This behind-the-head headset is compatible with Motorola APX, XPR, and MOTOTRBO models and is recommended for public safety, law enforcement, SWAT, and construction.
- Noise-canceling boom mic
- Kevlar reinforced cable
- Able to be worn underneath Kevlar helmets for SWAT teams
- Inline/remote finger PTT
- Price starts at $139
Harris XL-200 Tactical Headset
Designed for tactical operations, this lightweight bone conduction headset for the Harris XL-200 features in-line and remote finger PTT, and a 6-pin Hirose quick disconnect adapter. This slim, behind-the-head headset is frequently worn by SWAT officers and firefighters because of its comfortable fit underneath helmets and face shields.
- Noise-canceling boom mic
- Kevlar reinforced cable
- In-line/remote finger PTT
- Price starts at $199
3M Peltor CH-3 FLX2 Headset
This next-generation protective communication headset was designed for long workdays for those in the transportation, construction, and public safety industry. This headset was built around keeping the worker safe – it is colored bright yellow for enhanced visibility, provides hearing protection up to 26 dB, and has a gel ring option that will keep you perfectly comfortable all day.
- IP68 noise-canceling boom mic
- FLX2 accessory jack for quick and reliable connection to a wide variety of handheld devices
- Most parts repairable DIY
- Price starts at $240
Earplugs: Features, Costs, and Compatibility
3M Peltor EEP-100 (Electronic Earplugs)
The 3M Peltor EEP-100 is an electronic earplug designed to protect hearing and improve your communications and situational awareness in loud environments. The earbuds are rechargeable via micro-USB on the case, which doubles as a safe and convenient storage location when the earplugs are not in use. The small and discreet size allows them to be worn with most head borne PPE such as helmets and face shields.
- External microphones to aid communication and environmental listening
- Earpiece and charging case weather resistance rating IP54
- Choice of replaceable ear tips to fit most ear sizes, offering protection from 23dB with the UltraFit™ Communication Tip to 30dB with the Skull Screw Communication Tip
- Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
- Starts at $199
3M Peltor TEP-200 (Tactical Ambient Listening Earplugs)
The 3M Peltor Tactical Earplug helps protect your hearing and can help improve situational awareness and communications in challenging environments. Integrated with state-of-the-art level-dependent technology, the TEP 200 helps provide hearing protection in noise and situational awareness in quiet environments by only allowing sounds under 82 dB to pass through.
- Rechargeable Li-Ion battery through Micro-USB or 3-AA Alkaline batteries
- Provides hearing protection up to 30 dB
- Environmental microphones for level-dependent hearing protection and situational awareness
- Allow audio signals to be received wirelessly from a neck loop accessory
- Price starts at $449.97
Sound is an increasingly constant factor in the modern workforce, and employees in a wide range of occupations regularly deal with harmful noise levels that can leave a lasting impact on their ability to hear.
We hope our list served as a solid starting point or even decision-maker in finding the best headset to suit your demands. If you’ve already decided or would like to browse for more advanced hearing protection options to factor into your choice, head on over to First Source Wireless today!