I have been working on a long-term project trying to make the Baofeng UV-5RA compatible with tactical gear. No, I am not trying to put lipstick on a pig. I am trying to make an affordable handheld radio useful in a more tactical setting. So far so good. There are a couple issues but I will write about those when the project is complete.
What I want to write about here is using a headset with a boom mike. There are lots of tactical applications and a couple non-tactical as well where a headset with a boom mic would be a great asset. Whichever category, tactical or non-tactical, you are interested in you get privacy with the earphone part of the headset. Other people will not easily, if at all, hear the messages you receive. The boom mike is a nice option because it does free up your hands and there is a certain amount of background noise cancellation as well.
If you are wondering about the tactical application all you have to do is imagine yourself in the field. You might be wearing a boonie hat or maybe a bump helmet. Some of the nice things about a boom mic and headset combination are:
- You will have both hands freed up to handle your weapon,
- Your radio won’t blurt out incoming messages for the bad guys to hear,
- You will have the capability to speak quietly directly into the boom mic.
Another semi-tactical situation is your radio operator. Without a headset that has the nice little earphone pieces, how would you maintain security with the radio blaring away every time you received a message? Everyone within earshot would be privy to the message contents. And if you have a larger base or camp with several radios set-up, that headset sure comes in handy to keep the noise down while your radio operators try to hear incoming messages.
Then there is the vehicle scenario where the ambient noise level makes it difficult, if not impossible, to hear incoming messages. Then again, imagine yourself on a UTV, ATV, or simply riding in a truck with the windows rolled down holding onto the UV-5RA trying to hear what is being said. Yeah, right…real easy, eh?
This article is all about testing several popular versions of a headset and boom mike. The units are similar in many ways, but there is a basic difference in how they set on your head. And that is more important than what you might think. So, before I go on, here is the mission statement –
“To provide more effective and efficient radio operations in environments where noise and privacy is an issue.”
Restrictions and requirements –
- The headset must be functional and comfortable in conjunction with a “bump” or ballistic helmet.
- The reception and transmission must be at least as good, if not better, that the radio’s built in speaker and microphone.
- The unit must be able to withstand a moderately harsh environment and remain operational.
Just for the record, and to make sure I answer a question before you think of it, I am not using the headset in combination with the radio’s VOX option. It is my intention to identify all of the equipment that I will be using with the Baofeng UV-5RA radio before I test the radio’s VOX setting. I do not want to be testing the radio VOX in an environment that I won’t be using and/or recommending that option, it would simply take too much time.
I originally identified three headsets that showed the most promise through my research. Although one headset sits on your head slightly differently. I thought using these options would be plenty sufficient to evaluate this equipment method and a good quality recommendation. I was wrong. After initial testing I expanded the number of models tested to six.
Note the differentiation in the last statement? There are two basic configurations for a headset with a boom mike:
- Securing band over the head that uses tension on the band to hold it in-place.
- Securing band running behind the head with a “loop” going over both ears for added stability.
Both styles of headsets use a single padded earpiece for your left ear and a boom mike coming around the left side of your face. Yes, you can switch it and run the headset on your right side if you wish.
Here are the units that I ended up choosing for evaluation –
- Wouxun 2-pin Headset – $10.99
- Bigstone 2 Pin Overhead Earpiece Headset – $10.99
- Baofeng 2-Pint PPT Headset – $13.99
- Retevis 2 Way Radio Headset – $14.99
- Arama B380K01 Overhead Earpiece Headset – $15.98
- SUNDELY® Over Head Earpiece/Headset- $23.99
As I was looking over the headsets at the beginning I was really not impressed with the second style of headset (behind the head), I saw it as placing weight or stress on my ears. So, I naturally decided to test the other headsets first.
Bigstone 2-pin Headset –
Looking over this unit I started thinking that maybe “low price” meant “cheap.” I was right. I also noticed that the PTT button on the unit I had received didn’t have the “Bigstone” logo on the PTT button like the picture did, but the package was marked “Bigstone.”
The fit was not real comfortable but it was stable enough. I asked for a 5-count…no loud “pop” or “crack,” but there a telltale “snap” when operating the PTT button on the headset. The incoming transmission sounded very clear, easy to listen to. I asked for another 5-count, same results. I gave my 5-count, then another. When I asked for the quality check I received a “clear” as the response. They said it was easy to understand what I was saying, even when I spoke softly into the boom mic.
The PTT button was cheap plastic and not well protected from the weather. On the upside was the well-padded earpiece. But that wasn’t enough to convince me this was a headset worth spending my money on.
Fail…do not buy !
Retevis 2 Way Radio Headset –
The over-the-head support band fit well, expanded to the proper size with sufficient tension to hold it in-place. The earpiece adjusted properly and laid on my ear comfortably. I was able to hear a person talking naturally to me from a normal conversational distance on that side with no problem. Once the fit and comfort evaluation was completed then it was time for the operational test.
I turned my radio to a mid-volume setting and requested a “5-count” radio check on a clear GMRS channel. The sound was very clear, a little loud though until I got the volume knob set just right. But, and there is a big “but” here. At the end of the incoming transmission there was a very, very loud static “pop.”
I did a 5-count for the other person and asked for a quality check. They said my transmission was very clear and easy to understand. And then came their static “pop” once again. I tested it multiple times on multiple radios on multiple frequencies and each time…ouch. Yup, it was loud enough and sharp enough to actually hurt my ear.
So it was a reasonable quality headset with clear transmission capability. The incoming sound is clear and easy to understand. But, the headset is unusable due to the static “pop.” Yes, you read that right…this is a strong…
Fail…do not buy !
Wouxun 2-Pint PPT Headset –
As I got everything lined out to test the next headset (Wouxum) I was not encouraged. I started thinking that maybe it was the price range that was dictating the quality of the equipment. I kind of worried that this headset might be just as bad due to its price alone. Then I looked at the Bigstone headset, they were the same. The testing results are exactly the same. What I write for one, is the same as for the other, both headsets are the same thing, different package.
I kept looking the units over for quality control issues. These are cheap headsets that aren’t worth the money
Fail…do not buy !
I still have three headset units to review. A couple of encouragements and a really cool surprise announcement in the next article. And you don’t even have to wait long…the next article will appear tomorrow!
Associated Article –
- Headsets & Boom Mikes for Baofeng UV-5RA (Part #1)
- Headsets & Boom Mikes for Baofeng UV-5RA (Part #2)
Related Articles –
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