January 18, 2010

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PoliceOne Staff How to Buy...
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How to buy tactical headsets

A tactical headset is obviously an indispensable piece of equipment for any tactical or SWAT unit. The headset will consist of a throat microphone, boom arm microphone or an in-ear bone conduction microphone. When considering the purchase of a Tactical Headset, there are several factors you'll need to consider:

1. Stability: For SWAT and Hazmat applications, the headset must stay in place and not fall off or move as a result of aggressive user movement. The headset must fit under all tactical helmets, hoods and be able to accommodate respirators.

2. Durability: All interfaces between cables and components must have grommets and strain relief and be clamped inside the component. The complete product must be capable of operation following a complete dousing of water and connecting cables must be able to withstand operating temperatures of -25 to +125Fº. The product must be able to handle drops, flexes and vibrations as specified in mil-spec 310C.

3. High Noise Operation: The headset should be capable of clearly transmitting and receiving radio signals when operating in an ambient noise field of 110db and the mic must not transmit background noise. The mic should be able to clearly transmit a whisper at the same level as normal speech.

4. Covert Monitoring: The headset user should be able to monitor and receive signals that would be inaudible by another person at a distance of 24 inches.

5. Peripheral Hearing: The user should be able to monitor radio signals without obstructing his peripheral hearing.

6. Gear Accomodation: Headset operation must not conflict with the operation of a gas mask, respirator or SCBA. There should be no disruption of communications while donning or doffing gas masks. Voice quality and whisper capability should not be degraded when gas masks are employed.

7. Press-to-Talk Switches: Multiple PTT switches must be available. One should be chest mounted with front surface action and the other on an optional hand switch (for Marksman applications).

8. Minimum Stress and Discomfort: As the headset must frequently be used for extended periods of time under life-threatening conditions, the design should minimize stress and discomfort to user. Vibrating transducers (for receiving signals) and transducers inserted into the user's ear canal can induce excessive stress and discomfort.

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