A while back I posted a series of articles on Baofeng UV-5RA radio speaker/mic options. I tested five of the most popular brands of speaker/mics to see which one came out on top for preppers. If you haven’t already read those articles you might want to now…
Part #4 was an especially fun article to write because I integrated the speaker mic with a Howard Leight Impact Sports hearing protection headset. It was so awesome to have great hearing protection along with the radio. The clarity was incredible and when the bullets started to fly my hearing was protected while allowing me to continue to communicate via radio. I love that system in many ways for many reasons.
But, this is a follow-up article not really a new article. Let me explain. I have a client who wanted to place a large radio order. He was purchasing a cache of radios from me for his family and friends. He thought highly of all the equipment I recommended, however, he had a speaker mic that he was already using and that he liked.He told me about it and explained why he liked it. He made excellent points and a convincing argument. I ordered in a sample for testing purposes.
I received my “29series Rainproof Mic Speaker”, here are my test results and subsequent review.
Let’s get right to the technical specifications first:
- 2.2″ wide
- 3″ tall
- 1″ thick (without clip)
- 1.75″ thick (with clip)
- Cable is 25″ (coiled)
- Cable is 89″ (completely extended)
- The plug is a standard 2-pin for the Baofeng UV-5R line of radios (including the “A” and the “MHP” models that I am a fan of).
- Rainproof – but then there is this added note (Please note that the mic speaker is rainproof only. Do NOT soak the mic speaker in water.)
Right out of the package the first thing I noticed is the “feel”, it felt pretty dang decent. I put a lot of stock in the “feel” of a piece of equipment. I have learned that if it feels like junk there is a good reason for that…it probably is just that…junk. The 29series speaker mic didn’t feel like junk.
Next I noticed that the cable was a very respectable weight. The I noticed that the clip on the back of the unit was big, I mean pretty dang big. I had mixed emotions about that, big is good for making a solid connection to your tactical vest or pack but it also means that it sticks the unit out, potentially in the way.
So now I gotta start doing some comparison to the #1 choice from the original evaluations I did on the first five units. Why the #1 choice? I doubt that anyone is interested in knowing how it compares to the #4 choice. This unit is either better than the Anytone speaker mic (previously designated as the top unit) or it isn’t. So that will be the basis of comparison…29series vs. Anytone.
Back to the clip…the 29series sticks out about 3/4″ vs. only 3/8″ with the Anytone. That makes the Anytone a bit more compact and better attached to gear. The 29series clip can handle a strap of just over 1″, the Anytone can only handle a strap slightly under 1″. Both have about the same amount of clip spring tension. However, due to the design of the 29series clip it would more easily or more likely fall off accidentally.
Next comes one of my two pet peeves – the pin housing. That means the chunk of plastic that the 2-pin connector is mounted in. And why is that a pet peeve? The 2-pin connector by default must fit securely into the radio. And when you go to remove the 2-pin connector it is either hard or easy to do. And that ease of removal is dependent on one thing…the ability to grasp the connector. While testing that aspect of the 2-pin connector I did recognize that the Anytone has a much better “fit” into the radio jack. But, when it came to removing the 2-pin connector the Anytone was far, far better. The 29series is not designed to be easily grasped with your fingers and then pulled to remove the 2-pin connector from the radio. The Anytone is truly designed for the ease of this operation…besides the better fit.
Now, another pet peeve, but this one has more operational application – the stress points. As you continue to use a speaker mic the cable will begin to wear at the point where it enters the speaker mic itself. You prevent abnormal or early wear and tear by having a way to reduce the stress on the cable (wire) at the point where it enters the speaker mic. The more movement that is absorbed by something other than the cable, the longer the speaker mic will last. The Anytone stress point was longer, thicker, and better designed than the 29series.
Now, a little something that shows attention to detail. Almost all speaker mics have the option for a acoustic earpiece. This is a great option if you want, or need, to be discreet about who hears incoming radio traffic. Another application would be tactical…you don’t want the bad guys to hear your radio crackle to life. To match an acoustic earpiece to the speak mic there is a jack located in the speaker mic housing. So far all the speaker mics I tested, with the exception of the Anytone, have that jack right at the same point where the cable goes into the speaker mic housing. Ah, not good!
What happens is when you plug in the acoustic earpiece pin it is jammed up against he cable stress point. Sometimes it makes it very inconvenient (i.e. clumsy), sometimes it doesn’t allow the pin to seat firmly. Additionally, the protective covering for the jack is always a very lightweight, ill-fitting piece of plastic. That means it is only a matter of time before the plastic breaks, the protective covering disappears, and the jack is now exposed to dirt/dust and water/rain. The 29series is just like all of the others. But, the Anytone engineers recognized those problems and designed a really nice option for that acoustic earpiece jack. Anytone beat 29series on this one very easily.
So, which is the “winner” and the speaker mic I recommend?
Let me show you an interesting chart first…
If I were to get into the weeds and “weight” the different features, I would add more weight to features such as the “Acoustic tube jack” and the “Cable – stress point” which would affect the scoring.
For me, I use Anytone for applications where quality and dependability are paramount…and worth the money.
However, all that being said…I would have absolutely no problem using the 29series…period. I think it is a great speaker mic option.
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