Review: How does the Silynx Clarus headset perform in the field?
The in-ear headset provides comfortable situational awareness and hearing protection
Sponsored by Silynx Communications
By Sean Curtis for PoliceOne BrandFocus
Billed as a unit capable of handling all this without extra weight, I was intrigued. I tested the original Clarus kit sent to me by Silynx while leading a training exercise on the gun range, where there are few excuses – things either work or they quickly fail and fall to pieces.
In my experience, communications are one of the first failures in any operation, so it’s critical that the systems and equipment are durable and reliable. Silynx products are made of rugged, military-grade components that allow their users a level of confidence in the field.
When I spoke with Matthew Hemenez, senior vice president at Silynx, he told me the company understands that tactical folks are hard on gear, possibly harder than anyone else. Their equipment is used by elite U.S. and international military forces, as well as serious law enforcement units across the country.
Designed to deliver maximum performance in a minimal package
Hemenez said the company had three critical goals in mind when they fashioned their products. No. 1, they recognize the plight of the shooter. Squeezing that trigger takes a toll on our hearing. For too long, those making their living via the way of the gun have ended up with a hearing deficit, tinnitus or both. The Clarus headsets are designed to protect hearing while providing you with ambient sound.
No. 2, Silynx provides hearing protection without sacrificing situational awareness, a critical need in the operations environment no matter your assignment. The Clarus provides an intense hear-through experience that is adjustable – users can turn the feature off or dial it to better-than-normal hearing levels.
Finally, the headset delivers key communications functions in a comfortable and user-friendly unit. Instead of bulky earmuffs or a boom mic, the company utilizes foam earbuds that swell to close the ear canal. These earbuds both deliver sound and pick up and transmit your voice using tiny internal microphones. This eliminates weight concerns and snag hazards, as well as comfort issues related to weight and heat.
Fitting this unit under a hat or helmet is a breeze compared to comparable products. Everything is significantly smaller but does the same job, critical to those with a strong quotient for high speed, low drag. In addition, it won’t grind your eyewear into your head like muffs do. No additional helmet mount is required, which also means you can continue to communicate with or without your helmet.
Setting up the unit
The greatest amount of time you’ll need with the Clarus is in the setup.
I was provided with a down lead that connected to my Motorola XTS and hooked up seamlessly. In the middle, the control box was core. The unit features two large buttons for talking on alternate channels, plus an up-and-down volume control for the hear-through function.
I clipped it to my plate carrier mid-chest, toward the support side but where I could get to it with either hand should things go south. Routing all the wiring through MOLLE webbing, clipping all components in and then plugging them together took some thought but was accomplished in a snap.
Working up from the control box, a set of wires wound up through my vest then split before reaching each ear with a foam plug and over-the-ear hook that held the units firmly in place.
Finding the right size ear-buds from the selection included with the system took some experimenting, but soon I was ready to rock and roll.
Range Day: Testing the unit
Complacency can be a killer in an operational environment, and training a new batch of shooters with only vague, conceptual knowledge of firearms is a challenge. People who don’t know the terms “muzzle” or “downrange” require heightened focus.
In this scenario, I donned the Clarus and boldly strode to the firing line.
The earplugs feel different than earmuffs – less restrictive, less heat retention. Pressing on the volume plus or minus generated a female voice in my ears telling me whether pass-through was off or at maximum.
With my collar clip in place, I began barking firing commands on the line. The responsive gunfire was enough to test the noise cancellation of the earpieces. Rated at 25 NRR (noise reduction rating), the units allowed me to get up close and personal with students.
Despite ambient sound, I was still able to press the mic button on the control box and deliver clear communications to a fellow instructor with a radio.
Conclusion: A system with impressive capabilities
This headset works, and it is tough.
I ran and demonstrated drills for the better part of the day in the hot sun at the outdoor range. The Clarus provided situational awareness and protected my hearing with a premium of weight savings and maximum comfort.
The in-ear mic and hear-through capabilities are impressive in this unit. At one point I was moving a target stand and my earpieces started buzzing. I thought I’d finally found a problem – but to my surprise, a large insect landed a few feet away then flew off.
Silynx makes these headsets capable of adapting to various radios and even cellphones. In addition, the control boxes can be adapted for those who cannot move away from earmuff-type hearing protection.
About the author
Sean Curtis is a law enforcement professional with nearly two decades of experience, serving with SWAT, diving and swift water rescue teams in Colorado. He has also served in wildland fire, search and rescue, EMS and emergency management.