View Full Version : Radio & mic questions
12-05-2005, 10:16 PM
All right, After suffering through with some pretty poor radio equipment, I am ready to take the plunge and purchase a decent radio set up. I have narrowed the headset options down to the Eagle bone conduction, the TTMKII throat mic and the Devgru Lash Military edition. I know that some of you have the Eagle headset and I am interested in perhaps trying one out at a skirmish before shelling out the big bucks. The Cobalt, Iasus and the Pryme Gladiator dont seem to be a good option for me as they all are a bit large for my neck. The Otto headsets also seem too large. I would also enjoy any radio advice that you may wish to share, because I don't know about the programming needed for Motorola and Icom radios.
12-05-2005, 10:45 PM
Marimba, if you are looking at higher-powered radios (5W), be aware that a easy-to-procure FCC license for the GMRS channels is legally required. It is about $75 for 5 years, or something like that. Info on that can be found be searching for "GMRS" on the forums.
Now, onto equipment:
1. Some of the Motorola radios you see on the field are the SABER series. Old, but dependable technology. Requires old programming setups, but local players should be able to help with that, having access to such equipment. Saber radios can be found semi-cheap on Ebay most commonly. I think SaberII radios can be found for less than $200 easily on Ebay, but I haven't checked for a while. Very durable. The Saber series use a special adapter for headsets, hand mics, etc. that drives up the price of headsets for it.
Another option is the ICOMs, and Hammerhead can help you greatly with those. Those use newer programming technology, and again access to programming is available locally with players. Numerous players use those also, and they work great. They are not too expensive if I recall correctly.
2. Headsets: New Eagle bone conduction is mad expensive if you buy new. Very pricey, but it has been my favored headset by far. They can be sometimes found on Ebay or tactical forum sites in used condition for a much, much better price. They can then be sent in to be rewired for the radio you have. As for the TTMK and/or LASH, talk to Katana. He had some high-end throat mic at some point, but his teammates bitched too much about not being able to understand him. ;)
The Cobalt *might* be an option if you ensure to get the cloth strap. It seems to work for Bear pretty well in that config, although I think he has a larger neck. ;) It worked ok for me at times, but I didn't have the cloth strap, so it was inconsistent according to those who had to listen to me.
If you want to give the Cobalt or New Eagle a shot, let me know.
12-05-2005, 10:58 PM
I know many people that love the Otto units. Compared to a radio manufacturer-stock sub $100 dollar unit, these people consider Otto's to be really good, so bear that in mind and give them due consideration.
I considered the first high-dollar radio headset I ever got to be the best purchase in airsoft I ever made, because it was such a night and day difference from your run of the mill unit. It was a $350 'SAS' unit, from http://www.tacticalcommand.com/ (back before they had the fancy website). A professional-grade coiled audio-tube headset with a properly-fitted earpiece was communications nirvana. Transmission of audio to my ear was crystal-clear, could not be heard by those around me, and yet my peripheral hearing was *completely* uninhibited. Completely. I LOVED that headset. I wove it into my harness and left it there. As far as I was concerned, there was only one problem. Being a two-wire system, the mic was a lapel mic. It was high-quality and very hardy, but was still mounted on my collar. That meant that to be heard while whispering, I had to cock my head to one side and speak into it. There are a very few times when this was a hassle, but they did come up from time to time. Hard to believe, but I felt I was so close to the perfect headset, that I could do better.
That meant going to a boom mic, which will keep the mic in front of your mouth, but also had all the hinderances of a boom sticking out in front of your face (there aren't many, but when you have slings and straps on your gear and you run through brush and vines, stuff gets snagged). Regardless, my current unit I'm equally happy with. It's a New Eagle 'bone induction' unit. With the options I wanted (quick disconnect on both cables coming from the PTT, a volume control on the PTT, etc) the cost was just under twice what I paid for the SAS unit from TCI. I'm only equally happy with this headset, not twice as happy. Don't get me wrong, this thing is really, really good, but it wasn't the ultimate. Boom mics have inherent problems that you just have to learn to deal with, the 'bone induction' pads are a bulkier replacement for the coiled audio tube, and the extra connection points I got were just extra places to service after running in inclement weather conditions (if you play in the rain and crawl through muck, you obviously have to take care of your gear. These breaks in the wire gave me static when I failed to do so, so shame on me). On the other hand, I LOVE the volume control on the PTT, as well as the ability to leave the unit woven into my rig and just plug in and unplug the radio at will, without having to use a tool to dismount the radio.
The bone induction pads are little more than variants of speakers and can be overheard if they're cranked to be heard in a noisy environment. Having an actual headset instead of just a whisper-light earpiece can be awkward at times, regardless of whether it's minimal or not.
Before going to the New Eagle unit, I also tried a high-dollar TCI throat mic. I really wanted that thing to work. It had a coiled audio tube ear piece and the promise of allowing me to whisper without resorting to a boom mic. It was also around $450 or so. It's still lying around here somewhere. Throat mics work better for some people than others, and are VERY sensitive to where they are positioned on your throat (something which changes as you sweat and move around). If the throat unit moves out of position, you are screwed. Even when you are understandable, your clarity is only 1/2 of what it is with a well-positioned and decent quality boom mic. I've never heard someone transmit with a throat mic and heard it sound good. The best they've ever been is understandable. The average is that they're understandable if I really concentrate. The worst case is that I have no clue what they're saying. I've heard around half a dozen brands of throat mic in the field, a couple of them actually being expensive ones, and it was always a disappointment.
I'm kind of rambling at this point, but hopefully I've given you some things to consider. If you have other questions just ask me on the field some time.
Good luck to you, regardless of which way you decide to go.
12-05-2005, 11:08 PM
The other comment I'll make is that some people are comfortable with earpieces/earbuds, while others are not. I've only used an audio tube setup on one headset rig, and while the sound is great, it is highly annoying to have it pulled out of your ear at times in thicker vegetation. The other annoyance, and this might not be true for others, is that earbuds/earpieces get uncomfortable over a long period of time, as well as tending to block hearing in that ear, which I have found to make a difference at times in the field.
There is another option out there, but I'd have to look up the name of it. It was an audio tube type bone conduction earpiece that is custom molded to your ear. Basically, audio tube brings sounds up to your ear, while there is a small transducer in the unit that rests against bone when placed in your ear and picks up voice vibrations through bone structure in order to transmit. I imagine it is location specific, and personally I would be hesitant that vegetation and granches wouldn't also pull that tube out.
I don't have as much experience with high-end stuff, but I'll throw my two chips out there anyhow.
The Icom F4 series radios are, in my opinion, one of the best bang-for-your-buck deals around. I got my F4S with a battery, charger, and speaker mike for around $70 off ebay. I also learned not to skimp when it came to headsets. You really do get what you pay for when it comes to comms. My Otto was relatively cheap and works extremely well.
About the Cobalt: it worked well for what it was, a lower end throat mic. Teammates still complained about the muffled audio, and I can see how those with smaller necks might have trouble getting the pickups correctly situated. Also, the earpiece provided completely cut out my peripheral hearing. I could see a custom earpiece (unlike the one provided with the kit) working better, but I know my teammates appreciate more clarity in radio transmissions so I'll stick with the Otto.
12-06-2005, 09:36 AM
I'm in the same league as Bear when it comes to the high-end/high-dollar radio gear, but I completely agree with what he said.
I picked up an Icom IC-F4TR radio off ebay for really cheap (one of those impulse bids that ended up winning...oh well!) and I couldn't be happier with it. The biggest problem I had a that point was programming. I found a local shop off 1325 in Round Rock called S&P Communications that's a full-service Icom dealer and repair shop. They programmed my radio for $20 while I waited. Additionally, they are an Otto Engineering dealer, so I was able to pick up an Otto Breeze headset.
The only complaint I have about the headset is that I didn't get the Breeze with the PTT pigtail connection. The standard inline PTT button is much better than I have seen on other headsets, but I still have trouble finding it at times. If I had the pigtail PTT connector, I could have gotten one of those 80mm PTT buttons and had no problem finding that when needed.
Needless to say, I'm much happier with this setup than my old one. I can clearly hear what's on the air, and others can hear me clearly as well. All in all, I've got about $180 into the setup including programming costs which isn't too bad IMO. It was well worth the money and if for whatever reason I decide to sell it all, I can probably get most of it back.
12-06-2005, 10:07 AM
OK, Icom does seem to be tho consensus. I began to lean toward that direction a while ago after speaking with HH. I do appreciate the information and will start searching for a F4 series. Katana, I am curious about your throat mic. Do you know the brand/style? Is it one of the ones that has a strap that goes around the neck to secure it? Austinwolv, I would like to see how your New Eagle headset fits/sounds. I know the Otto breeze headsets are popular, but once again, almost any headset of the onesize fits all variety is almost always too large. On the one Otto headset I tried on the wire "frame" fits all the way around my head without making any contact. I couldn't see how the thing would stay on while moving about. The Cobalt I have ruled out because the metal band that fits around the throat seems to be sized for 16-18" necks and even if drawn together will not stay in place on me.
Thanks to everyone for their info.
12-06-2005, 10:35 AM
Austinwolv, I would like to see how your New Eagle headset fits/sounds. I know the Otto breeze headsets are popular, but once again, almost any headset of the onesize fits all variety is almost always too large. On the one Otto headset I tried on the wire "frame" fits all the way around my head without making any contact. I couldn't see how the thing would stay on while moving about.
If you are out in a couple weekends from now, remind me regarding the New Eagle.
The Otto really does just sit on the top of your ears with the band around the back not really touching anything. Surprisingly, it stays in place pretty well, but there is a bit of movement. Not anything that I recall being an issue on the field though. It is incredibly light. The wiring is much thinner than higher-end units, but the headset holds up well, as I've thrown mine all over the place in gear bags, toolboxes, had it torn from my head once or twice when running through brush, and it still works great. It is a touch deformed now in that the speaker doesn't sit flat against the ear as well as it used to. For the price, great value and works well. You can borrow mine from Kilo to give it shot as well if you like.
12-06-2005, 11:26 AM
The throat mic I have is a TCI TTMK. TCI are the same people that made the SAS 2-wire rig I discussed in my earlier post. The TTMK uses an adjustable 3/4" stretchy strap with a clip on the back to hold itself in place around your neck. It's almost exactly the same thing as a LASH with a coiled audio tube instead of that big ear clip the LASH uses.
The thing is bomb-proof, but also taught me that throat mics are a last resort hostile environment rig, not a first choice.
I love the Otto!
No, Wolv, I ain't giving it back!!! Hahahahaha
12-06-2005, 04:15 PM
Do not anger Wolv.
12-06-2005, 05:08 PM
The OTTO line of headsets are almost certainly the best mid-level units out there. They offer reasonable performance, comfort, and toughness for a good price.
You can definitely get better sounding and tougher equipment, but the next bracket up in quality starts at two to three times the cost of an Otto.
12-06-2005, 05:35 PM
Yes, but the two Ottos that I tried on don't seem to fit me. They were so loose that looking around caused them to fall off. I would also like to see your TTMK if you would be willing to bring it out one weekend.
10-19-2006, 10:09 PM
I just registered my FCC license. It is actually $80 now, but still for 5 year periods.
10-24-2006, 11:38 PM
Since this is a radio thread I gotta ask. I have a Cobra clearcall radio. It's got 14 channels, PTT capable and jacks for a headset. It should be able to work fine with other radios right?
If the channels cover FRS freqs, you should be gravy.
10-25-2006, 12:03 AM
Fantastic. They sure do. Guess I'm gravy. Just need to find a nice boom mic for it.
10-25-2006, 12:14 AM
I got a pair of boom mics from Fry's of all places for my Midland radio's. Not quite as high speed as some of the others mentioned in this thread, but they've worked great, and only $30 for the pair. Only beef so far is that I wish that the PPT button was a little bigger, but I hardly notice now.
10-25-2006, 01:56 AM
Checked out the Cabela's website. Gonna go to the Buda location....it's literaly just down the street from my dad's house. They have a boom mike with a PTT button inline. So, I will probably grab that.
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