Yesterday I posted Part #1 of 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 ready read Part #1 of this article you might want to now…
< click here to read Part #1 >
The clear overall winner is the AnyTone…no doubt about it.
Here are the final ratings –
- Tied – Retevis & DreamSky
But it isn’t always that simple. Here are the retail (Amazon) prices:
- AnyTone $22.89
- Wouxum $11.99
- Retevis $11.99
- DreamSky $6.99
- Baofeng $3.50 – $5.66
Therein lays the challenge…cost or quality. Or, is it really an issue at all?
To get the best quality you spend as much as 6.5 times more money than the budget brand speaker/mic. Then again, you can always settle for second best. But you are still paying 3.5 times more money than the Baofeng OEM (budget priced) speaker/mic. So, which is the right choice?
There are some folks who would fall back on “You get what you pay for!” And, they are right. But, if you don’t have the $22.89 but you do have the $3.50, then it doesn’t leave you a whole lot of choice.
Then there are others, “Get the inexpensive one, and have 3 or 4 backups.” And, they would have a valid point as well. It would be nice to have a couple of replacement speaker/mics if/when the one you are using breaks.
And then there is…”But the AnyTone is rainproof!” Yup, and that is a huge plus, no doubt about it. If you are using your radio in the rain, you can protect the radio from the rain and leave the speaker/mic exposed for transmitting and receiving. But the Wouxum and Baofeng are water-resistant which would hold up nearly as well in a rain situation.
I will give my final opinion on which speaker/mic to buy in just a minute. But, let me give you some details on each of the units I tested. So, again…which is the right speaker/mic for you?
AnyTone Tech QHM22 –
The overall quality of this unit is outstanding, far above the other units. The PPT button has a solid feel to it and a clear “click” that just gives you the feeling that the underlying switch is good quality. The clip in the back of the unit is large, strong with plenty spring tension to hold onto whatever it is clipped to. There is also a little “button” enabling you to clip the speaker/mic onto a microphone holder/bracket, great for vehicle operation. When you rotate the clip for any of the 8 possible clip positions you can feel the solid quality built into the clip housing.
The cable is good quality and 20” long relaxed. When extended it reaches well over 48”. One of the things I look closely at is the stress/tension reliever where the cable connects into the speaker/mic housing. This point is the most prone area for failure of the cable. The AnyTone has the best stress/tension reliever of any of the speaker/mics by far…and I mean by far. You can see that in the picture to the right. The two prong connector is solid and easy to grip. It also has a sufficient stress/tension reliever as well.
Just a minor but telling point…the 3.5mm jack. The jack on the AnyTone is the only one that is built into the side of the speaker/mic housing. It is the only unit where it was easy to plug the 3.5mm cord into it without having a tough time getting the plug in/out and a potential weak spot.
Another little piece of information is the lack of a red transmit LED. Three of the five speaker/mics have a silly red LED light that glows when you are transmitting. I know when I have the PPT button depressed, I don’t need a glowing red LED in my face.
This unit is not made in the USA but feels like it. It is made in China, but you can tell the quality in this unit. The people who designed this unit either knew how a speaker/mic was used, used it themselves, or really listened to their customers. This is a high-quality unit. And just in cas you are wondering…it is made by Baofeng who makes the UV-5RA radio.
It is the largest of all the units: 2-5/16” wide x 2-7/8” tall x 15/16” deep (without clip) 1-1/2” deep (with clip).
The AnyTone rated the highest on clarity of transmission, clarity of reception, and clarity of the earpiece jack. It also rated the highest on overall quality and workmanship. The AnyTone is the best speaker/mic…period.
When I picked up this speaker/mic for the first time I wasn’t impressed at all, it felt small and kind of cheap. But then I realized that small didn’t equal cheap or junk. The quality, like the size, wasn’t in the same class as the AnyTone but the longer I looked it over and handled it, the more I realized that it really was a pretty decent little speaker/mic. And that is the point, it was designed to be little.
The cable is decent quality and 23” long relaxed. When extended it reaches well over 48”. The two-prong plug is solid, well-built, great stress/tension reliever on it and easy to grab. The stress/tension reliever connecting the cable to the speaker/mic housing is pretty inadequate (and will fail at some point) but acceptable. In addition to that, the earpiece jack is too close to where the cable comes into the housing. While it isn’t as bad as the rest (the AnyTone is not in this group), the jack should be located elsewhere. But, it is workable and acceptable. The clip on the back has plenty of tension, feels like it will hold up, and has a crisp feel to it moving it to one of the 8 positions available. This unit, like the AnyTone, doesn’t have the silly red LED light that glows when you are transmitting…nice.
The unit is made in China but it is obviously has been engineered to a higher standard vs. just pump out a piece of electronic gear to sell to dumb Americans. This unit actually feels like it was meant to be a good speaker/mic from the very beginning.
It is the second smallest of the units: 1-3/4” wide x 2-3/4” tall x 7/8” deep (without clip) 1-3/8” deep (with clip).
The Wouxon was tied for second best in terms of transmission clarity and second best in terms of reception clarity behind the AnyTone. The earpiece clarity was also tied for third best behind the AnyTone and Baofeng. The combination of all its ratings easily won it 2nd Place to the Anytone, and well above the rest overall.
This speaker/mic is a contradiction in just about everything. It is the least expensive (notice I didn’t say “cheapest”) unit by far. But, it is still a decent little speaker/mic. It had a stupid red LED on the front that shows you are transmitting, insulting and no real purpose. But, the clip is really decent and great tension. The PPT swtich has a nice “click” to it, but the click is really loud relative to the other units. The transmission and reception clarity are both very respectable and the earpiece reception quality was second only to the AnyTone.
The cable is adequate but the two-prong plug is really well-built, and solid. The stress/tension reliever at the two-prong plug is adequate but the one at the housing really isn’t. And like three of the other units (AnyTone excluded), the earpiece jack is not located very well. That and the operation of the jack protector piece make the jack hard to use. The cable is decent quality and 23” long relaxed. When extended it reaches to just over 48”, but is under stress when you stretch it that far.
The housing is a nice size and feels good in my hands, not too big, not too small. The tension on the clip on the back feels decent enough but not enough to make me feel really comfortable in a hardcore physically demanding operational environment. While the speaker/mic is supposed to be water-resistant, it isn’t rain-proof like the AnyTone.
It size is nice: 2-1/8” wide x 3” tall x 7/8” deep (without clip) 1-3/8” deep (with clip).
The Baofeng is clearly the 3rd place winner is overall quality, but the price really makes this little baby shine. I think this speaker/mic is absolutely fine for most radio operations. With its rain-resistant capability it simply is a nice little unit to use. Is it the quality of the AnyTone? Obviously not, but it will do the majority of jobs with no problems.
Retevis & DreamSky-
I was going to do an individual critique of this unit like the previous three speaker/mics. However, there is no need to. Why? I am telling you flat out…DO NOT BUY THIS SPEAKER/MIC! It is not worth the money and it is not the right quality to be used in a prepper environment, or much of any other kind of environment either.
So, if you really want to buy this speaker/mic…you are on your own. I am recommending to you that you don’t buy it. It is cheaply made, poor quality workmanship, transmission/reception quality is not good, and it is just worth it.
And bottom line…the DreamSky came in last place overall. It is a piece of crap.
So here is how I would probably go about it –
- I would not own or buy a Retevis or DreamSky…period. They are poor quality units that I wouldn’t trust under any circumstance.
- If I had the money ($22.89) I would simply go with the AnyTone from the very start.
- If money was really tight I would go with the Baofeng ($3.50 – $5.66) when I bought the radio. As a little extra money came available I would upgrade to the AnyTone.
- If I was buying speaker/mics for a “cache” situation and I had the money I would probably go with the Wouxum ($11.99) since it is a good unit and the “rain-resistant” would be just fine. This would be assuming that the radios would be used in emergency or disaster situations and subjected to somewhat harsher conditions than family recreational use. That would make it worth the little extra money.
- For my own unit, or my wife’s, or any tactical environment…the AnyTone would be my only choice. The $22.89 is worth it when your life depends on it.
But don’t get me wrong…the Baofeng speaker/mic works fine, it just isn’t the quality of the AnyTone or Wouxun. But, when you can buy the Baofeng for $3.50 each, you can afford to have multiple spare units. And that is especially inviting considering I preach “two is one, one is none, three is a good start.” The Baofeng is our back-up speaker/mic…actually, it is our multiple back-ups.
Bottom line, don’t let the price difference of the various brands keep you from buying a speaker/mic. You will appreciate the versatility that it gives you. If all you can afford at the time is the Baofeng…then do it. Upgrade as finances permit. The nice ting with an upgrade plan…your old Baofeng speak/mic then becomes your back-up unit.
I have purchased a variety of earpieces to test with the speaker/mic. When the testing is complete I will add another article to this series. I also have a slightly different take on the speaker/mic option that I will be working on within the next week or two. I will post article focussing just for that twisted option. Watch for it!
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