What exactly is a walkie talkie headset

A Walkie Talkie is a handheld receiver or portable radio. Walkie talkies come in a pair and they communicate quietly with one another using radio waves, on a single shared frequency band.

Almost all of us grew up with walkie talkies. As children, and especially before the age of mobile phones and technology, we all had a pair and played with them in our gardens.

Walkie talkies have made a comeback. Or maybe they never really went out of style but now they’re sophisticated.

Each unit is battery powered and has an antenna for sending and receiving radio wave message. There is a transmitter / receiver and a loudspeaker. The loudspeaker doubles up as a microphone. There is a button that you push to talk, pretty much the same way that an intercom works. Some more sophisticated walkie talkies have separate loudspeakers and microphones; it just depends on what you need the walkie talkie for.

Walkie Talkies with noise cancelling headsets

Technology has changed so much and become so much more sophisticated. In the old days, think of the crackles that came with walkie talkies. It was often very difficult to hear what the other person was saying. But a pair of noise cancelling walkie talkie headsets will reduce or remove any unwanted sounds by using active noise control. Note that this is very different from passive headphones which use technique such as soundproofing. Noise cancelling is not soundproofing.

Our worlds are busy and we become bombarded and overwhelmed by everything around us. We need to listen to some things, but we want to cut out others. Noise Cancelling allows us to do this, while still allowing us to listen to the things we want to listen to at the volume we want them.

Pros of a walkie talkie headset?

Remember when we used to listen to music really loud so we could block out all the other external noise? You don’t need to do this anymore. walkie talkie headsets will block out most excess or excessive sound, or the ones you want blocked out anyway. You can now listen to your music at the volume you want, which does not need to be crazy, and the other external sounds (baby crying, man snoring next to you) will be blocked out anyway. Finally, you can listen to and enjoy music in the way you want to enjoy it, at a natural volume. You can hear the fabulous music, have a rich listening experience, and still not be disturbed by chatter around you.

Noise cancelling headphones are fabulous for when you travel or commute. You may be the kind of person who gets on a plane and train and chats to everyone around you. But you may be more solitary and want to sit down and zone out. You can do this easily with a walkie talkie headset. The beauty is that on a plane you won’t hear the noise of the aircraft or its passengers, but you will still hear the safety announcements.

It’s really easy to work in a noisy environment with noise cancelling headphones. You can focus easily without being disturbed and can make use of any space, productively. You can even go and study your history while at a party or in a restaurant. It is also a good idea to use them at home, while studying for exams or so; they cut out the excess noise and you can focus totally on your work.

Students used to turn up the volume of their earphones in order to cut out the outside world’. But with a walkie talkie headset they are finding it is easier to study when music is at a lower volume and when the outside distractions have been eliminated.

Cons to noise cancelling headphones?

There are always cons to everything. Some parents may say they would prefer no headphones at all. They like their children to be available and to engage more and talk more, but we know this is the way of the world. Everyone uses headphones; parents included/ Use them in moderation of course, but still be sociable and take time out in the day, be headphone free, and engage.

Noise cancelling headphones are not very cheap and are in fact possibly even ten times more expensive than ordinary headphones. However, like anything that costs money, they will last for a long time and are super reliable. They may cost more money but will ultimately give a much better noise-free experience.

Lots of research has gone into the design of these special noise cancelling headphones. Each set consists of inner components that cancel out the disturbing external sounds. Ordinary headphones do not have these components, i.e., you cannot cut out the outside sounds. It is quite obvious then, why noise cancelling headphones are more expensive.

These internal components also use up a lot of power. The power can come from internal replaceable batteries or they can be rechargeable. The walkie talkie headset that carry their own power supply means they are heavier than ordinary headphones. Not all sets carry their own power supply. The ones that are rechargeable are lighter, but they can drain the devices they need to plug into for power.

The quality of sound when can be compromised. It is unusual though and it is only the most sensitive of ears that would pick this up. There have been very few complaints of a tinny almost mechanical sound, but these complaints are few and far between.

Not all sounds are blocked out by a walkie talkie headset, although we did mention this under pros as well. It is never possible to cancel out all external sounds, but we still need to be able to hear police sirens, pilot announcements or the high pitched screaming of your next door neighbor. All every day external sounds though are muffled and definitely much quieter, and the sounds that you don’t need to hear, are gone.

Intel Made A VR Headset And It’s Totally Cord-Free

Intel just announced its own virtual reality headset called Project Alloy, a VR competitor to the Oculus Rift,HTC Vive and the forthcoming PlayStation VR headsets. But what separates the Alloy from the pack is that it’s completely wireless (the wire above is for capturing video for the demo) and it should give you complete spatial awareness without all the dongles the Rift and Vive currently require.

It does this using two of Intel’s RealSense cameras to continuously map your environment. It can even map your hands.

Intel calls the idea “Merged Reality”, essentially combining inputs from cameras around your environment into a virtual world. And Intel was able to pack everything — the processor, sensors and controllers — into one cord-free headset.

During Intel’s demo, however, the RealSense camera didn’t seem quite as fluid as you’d hope, especially if it’s your primary means of reacting to the digital world around you. Intel says that its hardware will be open source in the second half of 2017 (ugh), so the headset won’t be available anytime soon. Intel is also working with Microsoft so Alloy can run Windows Holographic, the software which powers Hololens, according to Microsoft’s Terry Myerson. Microsoft says that Windows Holographic will also be released in an update for all Windows 10 PCs next year.

Source – http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2016/08/intel-made-a-vr-headset-and-its-totally-cord-free/

Army to Launch Another Competition for New Soldier Radio

In the modern world the army has to have perfect communications, from coordinating attacks to communicating with other platoons, on the battlefield it really could mean the difference between life and death. This article plans to find the next Military radio.

U.S. Army tactical radio officials plan to launch a competition for a new handheld radio next year that would give soldiers twice the capability of the current Rifleman Radio.

The Army currently uses the single-channel AN/PRC 154A Rifleman Radio as its soldier handheld data radio. It runs the Soldier Radio Waveform, which small-unit leaders use to download and transmit maps, images and texts to fellow infantry soldiers in a tactical environment.

If they want to talk to each other, they often rely on another single-channel handheld — the AN/PRC 148 MultiBand Inter/Intra Team Radio, or MBITR, which runs the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio, or SINCGARS, for voice communications.

The Army plans to release a request-for-proposal in 2017 for a two-channel radio that will allow soldiers to run the Soldier Radio Waveform, or SRW, for data and SINCGARS for voice on one radio, according to Col. James P. Ross, who runs Project Manager Tactical Radios.

The change will mean that soldiers will no longer need the 148 MBITR and be able to rely on the new, two-channel radio for both data and voice communications, Ross said.

“We know industry can meet our requirements. … We know it’s achievable,” he said.

The move represents a change in strategy for the Army since the service awarded contracts in 2015 to Harris Corporation and Thales for a next-generation version of the Rifleman Radio.

“We went out with a competition for the next generation of the [Rifleman Radio]. Two companies, Harris and Thales, competed,” Ross said. “We went through testing, and we were on the verge of being able to buy more of them when the Army said, ‘Our strategy now is two-channel.’ ”

The Army had planned an initial buy of about 4,000 Thales AN/PRC-154B(V)1 radios and Harris AN/PRC-159(V)1 radios, according to Army program documents for fiscal 2015.

“We will not be taking action on those,” Ross said.

The current Rifleman Radio was developed as part of the Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit, or HMS program. HMS radios are designed around the Army’s tactical network strategy to create secure tactical networks without the logistical nightmare of a tower-based antenna infrastructure.

It’s also a key part of the Army’s Nett Warrior system. It hooks into an Android-based smartphone and gives soldiers in infantry brigade combat teams the ability to send and receive emails, view maps and watch icons on a digital map that represent the locations of their fellow soldiers. The concept came out of the Army’s long-gestating Land Warrior program.

The Army purchased about 21,000 Rifleman Radios under low-rate initial production between 2012 and 2015.

Army officials maintain that are enough single-channel, handheld radios already produced under the low rate initial production that are sitting waiting to be fielded. The service plans to field another two brigade combat teams per year with the single-channel Rifleman Radios through 2019.

The Army will conduct testing of two-channel radios in 2017 and early 2018 and then down-select to one or two vendors sometime in 2018, Ross said. Operational testing is scheduled for 2019 and fielding will begin in 2020 if all goes as planned, he added.

For now, the Army intends to field four BCTs a year with two-channel handheld radios, Ross said.

Small-unit leaders would then be able to retire the MBITR radio from their kit — a weight savings of about three pounds, according to Army officials at Program Executive Office Soldier.

“One thing the PEO Soldier is very passionate about is weight — driving that weight down that the soldier carries,” said Lt. Col. Derek Bird, product manager for Ground Soldier Systems, which helps oversee the Nett Warrior program.

“If we can cut three pounds off a soldier by taking two radios and shrinking it to one … that is a big deal.”

Introducing Ursa Straps – the Perfect Addition to the Radio Microphone Box

Now it’s not the usual field that we cover, but it hit our radar. How many times have you seen an enthusiastic presenter or an excited contestant on TV drop their radio mic and crawl around on the floor, trying to pick it up! Well when a costume designer and a sound man get together then things get designed, and why this hasn’t be invented before is beyond us, but it looks like an idea that could take off. Read the full article here.

Sound recordist Simon Bysshe and costumier Laura Smith have combined their knowledge and expertise to create URSA Straps, a unique range of low profile body worn straps designed to conceal radio microphone transmitters.

Introducing Ursa Straps – the Perfect Addition to the Radio Microphone Box

Officially launched this month and now available in the UK and Europe, URSA Straps are made from a specially developed bonded fabric that is ultra-slim and provides excellent stretch, comfort and breathability. Each strap incorporates a pouch to keep the transmitter locked in place and a cable pocket for managing excess microphone cable. URSA Straps are available in black, beige and brown skin tone colours and can be worn around the ankle, thigh or waist.

Bysshe and Smith developed URSA Straps after listening to numerous artists express discomfort while wearing radio mic straps. Traditional thick neoprene or elastic straps can irritate the skin, become soaked in sweat and are often impossible to disguise under figure hugging costumes.

“It was obvious that a better way of discreetly securing transmitters was required,” Simon Bysshe explains. “As a boom operator I had worked with many artists who disliked wearing transmitter packs because their associated straps could restrict movement and become uncomfortable. In some cases they had simply refused to wear them.”

Laura Smith’s knowledge of costume making proved invaluable as she was able to construct prototypes and identify the exact fabrics required to suit the needs of costume, artists and sound departments.

“After many months of research we decided to create our own unique hybrid fabric by fusing two stretch fabrics together,” Bysshe explains. “This resulting fabric is just 1mm thick and much lighter and softer than any other fabric of its kind. Crucially we incorporated a hook Velcro compatible outer surface that allows the straps to be securely attached to themselves at any point.”

Introducing Ursa Straps – the Perfect Addition to the Radio Microphone Box

Bysshe tested the new straps while working on the second series of Sky Atlantic’s The Tunnel. Lead actress Clémence Poésy was an immediate convert and provided valuable feedback to help develop the product. Bysshe has subsequently used URSA Straps on the third series of Peaky Blinders. The USRA Thigh straps were particularly popular with the cast members who found them secure, light and comfortable. The fact they can be worn around the thigh as opposed to the waist made them invaluable for use with the period costumes.

“With URSA Straps we have created such a comfortable low-profile solution that artists often forget that they are wearing them. Now we have to make sure that actors remember to take them off before they leave!” Bysshe adds. “The straps can be washed and re-used every day for many months. Our Thigh straps are particularly popular as they are designed to not slip down the leg. We achieved this by bonding on a strips of Polyurethane gripper to the inside of the straps.”

Outside film and television, URSA Straps are also proving popular with dancers who need to receive audio cues during a live performance. Using waist or thigh straps the sound team can easily conceal a receiver pack on their bodies without restricting movement or compromising the look of their costumes. URSA Straps have also developed a Double-Pack strap allowing artists to wear two packs on one strap.

Oscar-winning production sound mixer Simon Hayes was an early adopter of URSA Straps and describes them as a total game changer for his team.

“URSA Straps allow us to rig radio mics on costumes previously thought to be unmicable. Tight dresses, sportswear, stunt harnesses – they can all be easily miked using low profile URSA Straps. These straps are so popular with the actresses I work with that many have asked to keep theirs at the end of the production.”

URSA Straps are suitable for a variety of wireless transmitters including Lectrosonics, Zaxcom, Wisycom MTP40 and Sennheiser 5212. Two different pouch sizes are available to ensure optimum fit. Three different waist sizes are available: small, medium and large.

“Initially Laura and I were making the straps by hand in our garage,” Bysshe says. “When we realised their potential we scaled up production by taking on two experienced manufacturing firms in Leicester. Our launch has been a huge success with orders coming in from all around the world! We are now on our third large production run and expanding our market into Theatre, Concerts and Outside Broadcasts.”

Motorola Solutions Envisions Virtual Reality Transforming Public Safety

Virtual reality and augmented reality will creep into our lives slowly in the next 10 years, it has so many applications from gaming to business. Motorola have been leading the radio industry for many years and are taking the initiative with this technology, While this will take away the need for CCTV, radios, radio earpieces and headsets, it will add a more immersive, structured way of running events and festivals.

Motorola Solutions  is exploring a future where virtual reality will immerse a public safety command center supervisor in an incident scene. By using a combination of virtual reality and eye-interaction technologies to navigate through video and data feeds from multiple sources, incident responses can be quickly coordinated and information shared widely to help guide officers and protect people at the scene.

Motorola Solutions will show live demonstrations of the virtual command center on Aug. 15-16 at the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) 2016, held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. (booth #1337).

The virtual command center proof of concept uses eye-interaction technology from startup company Eyefluence, a Motorola Solutions Venture Capital investment, to envision the future of public safety.

A look at today’s smart public safety solutions

Today’s public safety command centers can integrate the Project 25 (P25) standards-based, interoperable ASTRO® 25 land-mobile radio (LMR) network for mission-critical communications with the power of LTE broadband and the latest in smart public safety solutions to turn data into intelligence.

Since 2009, Lake County, Fla. has been using Motorola Solutions’ ASTRO 25 LMR network as the core network for emergency interoperable communications for several counties across Florida. On Aug. 17, Greg Holcomb, Lake County public safety communications technology manager/E911, will join Motorola Solutions in a managed services panel discussion at APCO entitled “Systems Down: Best Practices for Eliminating this Status from Your Network Performance Logs” (see all Motorola Solutions presentations at APCO 2016 here).

“The Lake County core network and many connected sites on this P25 mission-critical communication system are managed by Motorola Solutions,” said Holcomb. “With their robust managed services offerings, the company ensures 24×7 availability, reduced risks and maximized performance for our public safety network.”

Motorola Solutions’ CommandCentral platform provides real-time intelligence throughout all phases of police work – from planning, to operations, to investigations. CommandCentral Aware aggregates video from several sources, allowing crime center analysts to view multiple feeds on one screen and share high-definition images of suspects, vehicles, license plate numbers and other critical information to responding officers in real time.

“Law enforcement agencies have access to data from multiple sources including 9-1-1 calls, live video feeds, social media activity, nationwide databases and more,” said Jim Mears, senior vice president, Motorola Solutions North America Sales. “Motorola Solutions’ CommandCentral platform captures this information and turns it into real-time intelligence that helps first responders resolve incidents quickly and even prevent them from happening.”

The CommandCentral platform will be showcased at APCO 2016, along with several of the latest mission-critical communication solutions from Motorola Solutions’ Innovation Design Center in Plantation, Fla. This includes the Si500 body worn camera andCommandCentral Vault digital management solutions, which automates and streamlines the processing of video from the point of capture to video management and review, and the LEX L10 LTE handheld device designed for the rigorous demands of real-world, front-line policing.

Introducing new mission-critical solutions at APCO 2016

Motorola Solutions is launching the new APX™ 8500 P25 all-band mobile radio, updated ASTRO 25 network features and the IMPRES 2 energy management system.

APX 8500 P25 all-band mobile radio: With Motorola Solutions’ new APX 8500 P25 all-band mobile radio, first responders can use a single mobile radio to exchange critical voice and data communications – such as text messages and GPS coordinates – with multiple agencies and jurisdictions operating on different radio bands. Radio updates can be made instantly without interrupting voice communications; the radio does not need to be brought to a shop, saving both time and money. When connected to the Motorola Solutions VML750 LTE vehicle modem (now available globally), the APX 8500 frees up radio channels by offloading data to LTE.

APX Personnel Accountability for ASTRO 25 trunked networks: The APX Personnel Accountability solution is now available for ASTRO 25 trunked networks (which enable efficient operation of large systems with a small number of channels) and continues to also be available on ASTRO 25 conventional networks (where users select communication channels).

Commanders using the APX Personnel Accountability solution can automatically perform tactical notifications and streamline roll call processes via a computer. They can automatically account for staff using APX radios at the scene of an incident. If a team needs to evacuate, commanders can instantly alert them through their radios and receive acknowledgements. Commanders can monitor radio battery life, identify radios and receive radio power down indications. If a radio is on the wrong channel, a commander can remotely switch the channel to the right one and ensure the entire team can communicate with each other.

ASTRO 25 Enhanced Geo Select: Geo Select provides hands free operation of APX radios when entering a defined region, or geofence, and this feature is now available even if the radio is no longer on the network. When entering a geofence, APX radios can automatically take action such as change channels, alert the user and change power levels. No manual intervention is needed.

ASTRO 25 Over-The-Air radio software updates: ASTRO 25 Over-The-Air Programming (OTAP) has been available for radio managers to remotely program APX radios. Now they will also be able to update APX radio software over-the-air for their entire fleet simultaneously over the course of a few days, without disrupting radio function in the field. With this new feature, there is no need to bring radios to the shop for software updates, saving both significant time and money.

IMPRES™ 2 energy system for APX radios: The new IMPRES 2 high-capacity, water-resistant batteries keep APX radios powered longer. When combined with the new IMPRES 2 charger, they deliver 60 percent more charging cycles than traditional lithium-ion batteries. The IMPRES 2 charger’s enhanced diagnostics provide usage data including a battery’s ability to hold a charge, letting users know when it’s time to replace it. The multi-unit chargers also feature customizable charging – batteries in service can be charged at 100 percent while those in storage can be partially charged to optimize battery life.

A giant solar storm nearly triggered a nuclear war in 1967

We all know how important radio communications are and at a time before the internet and even digital communications, governments relied on RF communications that were susceptible to the suns solar storms, if you add that to the cold war nuclear tensions then we could all be living in holes now.

Cold War history is rife with close calls that nearly led to nuclear holocaust.

In September 1983, for example, sunlight reflecting off a patch of clouds fooled a Soviet missile-warning system into detecting the launch of five US intercontinental ballistic missiles that never were. A wary colonel in a bunker ignored the alarm on a 50/50 hunch.

Two months later, US forces staged “Able Archer 83” — a massive nuclear-strike drill on the doorstep of the USSR. Soviet commanders panicked at the show of force and nearly bathed America in thermonuclear energy. Once again, an act of human doubt saved the planet.

Now scientists have one more hair-raising event to add to the books: The “Great Storm” of May 1967.

“The storm made its initial mark with a colossal solar radio burst causing radio interference … and near-simultaneous disruptions of dayside radio communication,” a group of atmospheric scientists and military weather service personnel wrote in a new study, published August 9 in the journalSpace Weather.

Hours later, high frequency communications dropped out near US military installations in and near the Arctic — one of the closest places to station nuclear weapons and launch them at a Cold War-era Soviet Union.

“Such an intense, never-before-observed solar radio burst was interpreted as jamming,” the study authors wrote. “Cold War military commanders viewed full scale jamming of surveillance sensors as a potential act of war.”

A ‘Great Storm’

Earth’s magnetic field protects life on the planet by corralling the sun’s high-energy particles toward the planet’s polar regions.

If the sun happens to launch a cloud of solar particles directly toward Earth during a violent outburst, called a coronal mass ejection, it can trigger powerful geomagnetic storms.

This not only leads to beautiful auroras, but can also scramble wireless communications and disrupt radar systems.

While The Washington Post wrote up a story about the storm as “City Gets Rare Look at Northern Lights,” top US military commanders sounded the alarms in secret.

The Air Weather Service (AWS) — a relatively new branch of the Air Force — had warned military leadership about the possibility of a solar storm, but US commanders believed the Soviet forces were jamming NORAD systems designed to detect threatening planes and missiles.

As the Strategic Air Command warmed up the engines of bombers and taxied toward the runway, the decision to go airborne may have been kicked all the way up to the “highest levels of government,” possibly involving President Lyndon B. Johnson.

“Just in time, military space weather forecasters conveyed information about the solar storm’s potential to disrupt radar and radio communications,” according to a press release from the American Geophysical Union. “The planes remained on the ground and the U.S. avoided a potential nuclear weapon exchange with the Soviet Union.”

And this all happened at the peak of nuclear armament — when a record 31,255 nuclear weapons were deployed around the world. (Today there are roughly 7,200 nuclear armaments at hand.)

“Had it not been for the fact that we had invested very early on in solar and geomagnetic storm observations and forecasting, the impact [of the storm] likely would have been much greater,” study leader and UCAR atmospheric scientist Delores Knipp said in the release.

After the near miss, the researchers say the military learned to listen to its space weather forecasters, improve its abilities to see another looming “Great Storm,” and avert the first and perhaps final global nuclear exchange.

 

Find the original source here

The Sepura Group to Provide Communications for the Olympic Games

It’s a brave move by the olympic organisers, the London Olympic communications was run by Riedel and they did an excellent job, they have experience in this field, but the Brazilians are obviously set on using Teltronic and we all hope that they do just as good as a job.

Teltronic, part of the Sepura Group, has been chosen by the public security secretary of Río de Janeiro State in Brazil to supply communications for the Summer Olympics and Paralympics, informally known as Rio 2016.

The €10m contract will cover four venues (Barra da Tijuca, Copacabana, Deodoro and Maracanã), two airports (Rio de Janeiro/Galeão – Antônio Carlos Jobim International and Santos Dumont) and several key transport routes in the Olympic area.

The agreement with Teltronic will see an extension to the traffic capabilities of the existing Teltronic network currently used by the Rio police, as well as the installation of further Nebula base stations to provide additional coverage for the state police and emergency services, and the Olympics organisation workforce.

The existing network was originally provided by Teltronic for the Pan American Games in 2007 and, after some upgrades, is now supporting over 100 dispatch operators and more than 18,000 radios. This new upgrade for the Olympics will feature two extra TETRA carriers for each site, to update the capacity of the existing network; base stations with up to 12 TETRA transceivers to support high traffic loads throughout the event; a CeCoCo Control Centre, to accommodate a further 50 dispatch operators; an additional 6,000 terminals featuring Teltronic’s Synchronous Data Manager application to pare down the GPS refresh time in AVL applications; and 24/7 maintenance and operational support during the Games.

“This win builds on our long-term relationship with the Brazilian authorities and public safety agencies,” said Paulo Ferrao, the Sepura Group’s sales director for Brazil.

“We have a strong background in events of this scale, having supported communications for the FIFA World Cup 2014 and the Pan-American Games, both huge events in the sporting calendar of Brazil and, indeed, the world. We are delighted that Rio de Janeiro’s public safety agencies have, once again, placed their trust in us.”

Superintendent of critical communications at the Security Secretariat of the State, Colonel Alexandre Corval, commented: “We are extremely happy to have chosen Teltronic.

“The company has been a trustworthy partner to our public safety agencies for over ten years. Once again, they have exceeded our expectations in terms of technical development, quality of the deployment and, above all, their dedication to customer service: throughout the project, they have paid close attention to our technical and operational requirements.

“We are confident that this extension to the existing Teltronic TETRA system will optimise our mission-critical communications, enhancing the security of both visitors and employees throughout Rio 2016.”

Source- http://www.railway-technology.com/contractors/signal/sepura/pressolympic-sepura-brazil.html

In Ear Monitor Buyer’s Guide: Custom vs. Generic Fit

It is understood that ear moulded plugs are far more comfortable and effective than the mushroom plugs, but which ones are the best? The Custom fit or generic fit. This article runs over the positives and negatives of that question and comes to a conclusion, if your debating to get some moulded ear plugs or some from the shelf, you will want to read this first.

Over the past 20 years, In Ear Monitors (or IEMs) have become a near-necessity for live performance.

In years prior, engineers would inevitably have to crank up a venue’s stage monitors loud enough for the musicians to hear themselves over the audience, over the sound coming from the stage, and over the main mix.

This would often lead to an arms race of ever-increasing stage volume, potentially causing feedback issues and compromises in clarity and quality for the live mix.

Custom in-ear monitors from JH Audio, one of the first commercial brands to make a name for itself in the IEM market.

With the advent of in-ear monitors, all this began to change. In the mid-1980s, Etymotic developed the first-ever insert-style earphones, and soon after, a designer named Marty Garcia began making one-off custom in-ears for rock stars like Todd Rundgren.

By 1995, Jerry Harvey, founder of Ultimate Earsand JH Audio, brought some of the first commercially-available dual-driver IEMs to market. All of a sudden, everyday musicians had an option that allowed us to save our hearing, get better monitor mixes, and dramatically reduce the chances of feedback onstage.

Today, IEMs are increasingly being considered useful tools for the studio as well. Their ability to prevent sound leakage can be of tremendous value in helping to control click and instrument bleed, and in saving musicians’ hearing by allowing them to monitor at lower levels.

Some musicians and engineers, such as drummer Rich Pagano of The Fab Faux, will use IEMs to quickly check for phase when mic’ing up a drum kit, while others turn to IEMs as a kind of audio microscope, using them to help check for and remove extraneous low-level noise.

Any modern musician would be wise to consider adding in-ear monitors to their toolkit. But is it worth it to dish out the extra money on custom fit IEMs, instead of saving some money with the generic fit ones?

In testing a variety of in-ear monitors from brands like Westone, Ultimate Ears, Future Sonics, and even Skullcandy (that last of which is not recommended for professional use), I have found that there are cases in which generic fit earphones may work better than their custom counterparts. Making the right decision for your needs comes down to considering the following four factors:

1) Cost

Ultimate Ears custom fit in-ear monitors.

Custom fit IEMs tend to cost more than generic fit ones, as it takes more time and effort for the manufacturer to craft a product designed specifically for the unique anatomy of your ear.

Getting custom IEMs made also requires that you go to an audiologist to make a mold of your ear canal that the IEM company can then use to make your monitors fit as well as possible.

Take note of both of these costs, which can range from $100-$200 or more for a fitting from an audiologist, and $299-$1499 or more for the custom monitors to be made.

2) Comfort & Seal

Custom fit IEMs are custom, so they should feel really comfortable, right?  Well, yes and no.

In my experience, custom fit IEMs can feel a little tight in the ear canal compared to generics, especially at first. Hearing so little acoustic feedback from your performance can also take some getting used to, and the tight seal of custom fit in-ears can feel particularly awkward when signing.

Because of this, my looser-fitting Westone 3 generic IEMs actually feel more comfortable to me on vocal duties, so I often find myself using them over my custom fit Future Sonics when I step up to the mic.

Matt Bellamy from Muse (recently featured in Get THAT Guitar Tone) has been seen using both customUltimate Ears UE-11s and generic-fit Westone UM2s when on tour, and my guess is that he has similar reasons.

Though the tight fit of custom IEMs and lack of acoustic feedback from your performance can be a challenge, it’s worth noting that generic foam-tip IEMs also provide their own tradeoffs: The looser fit of generics can sometimes create a bit of a tingling or “tickling” feeling in your ear when playing at higher volumes, so it may be useful to have a pair of each and go with what feels best depending on the date and venue.

Silicone-based Encore Studio custom IEMs from ACS.

Another option here is the custom fit brandACS, which makes its IEMs out of soft silicone shells.

This softer silicone-based design is meant to offer both better comfort and a tighter fit than the hard acrylic shells used by brands like Westone and Ultimate Ears.

Though these silicone monitors sell for a premium price of $400-$1,200 and up, they may help bridge the gap between the tight seal of custom acrylics and the looser and easier fit of foam-tipped generic IEMs.

3) Hearing Protection

In addition to cutting down on sound leakage to help improve sound quality and reduce feedback, another primary benefit of IEMs is that they can offer considerable hearing protection by helping to block out exterior noise, allowing you to monitor at lower levels.

Some of the best custom fit brands like JH Audio and Ultimate Ears offer NRR ratings of 26dB in reduction, and some of the better generic brands advertise comparable results as well. (Though your results with generics may vary depending on the fit and seal in your ear.)

In the long term, reducing the levels you’re regularly exposed to—even by a few extra decibels—could mean the difference between a long and illustrious career as a “golden-eared” audio engineer and potentialtinnitus and irreversible hearing loss.

Also worth checking out is the REV33 system, which can be added on to your your in-ear-monitoring system to help reduce distortion and ear strain. Many live musicians, including Phil X and Steve Salas swear by the system. According to the company:

“All in-ear monitors and headphones generate damaging, unwanted noise and distortion that forces the ear to shut down and compress for protection. The REV33 reduces the symptoms of tinnitus, ear-ringing, ear-fatigue, buzzing and dampened hearing by preventing in-ear monitors and headphones from producing this unwanted noise and distortion.”

4) Waiting and Time Considerations

After getting my first pair of IEM’s made, I found that the right ear monitor turned out well, but I was not getting a proper seal in the left ear at first. This made the monitors essentially useless for my live sound needs at the time, and so I had to send them back for some tweaking.

When I got them back a couple of weeks later, the seal still wasn’t great, so I had to send them back once again for further modification, and visit my audiologist a second time to take another impression of my ear canal to send in.

Getting the perfect fit turned out to be quite a time-consuming process (as well as an expensive one) so unless you’re on the hunt for a long-term solution with as much acoustic isolation as humanly possible, you might satisfice with generic IEMs, or keep some around as an alternate option.

In that case, I would recommend the generic in-ears from Ultimate Ears, Shure, or Westone.

Ultimate Ears’ generic fit UE900 model sports 4 drivers for $400.

The Ultimate Ears UE900’s are a great sounding 4-driver IEM that only costs $399, while the $99 Shure SE215 single-driver IEMs advertise an astonishing 37dB of noise reduction (more than most custom IEMs) at a great price.

My own triple-driver Westone 3’s (since replaced by the W30 model) are the most comfortable in ear monitors I own right now, and they isolate a lot more noise than most thanks to their foam-tip construction.

Compared to custom in-ears, any of these model can potentially save you time and money, or work as a welcome supplement for those times when the tight fit of custom in-ears feels irksome.

I hope my experiences here help you make the right decision when you go to buy your own IEMs. In short, I found that less-expensive generic foam-tipped IEMs worked better for me in many situations, and the savings enabled me to spend my money on better drivers with a fuller sound.

If you’ve used IEM’s in the past, let us know in the comments below whether you prefer custom fits or generic fit ones, and why.

Extreme conditions no match for latest motorola solutions radio

We all know that Motorola produce the best two way radios and claim to be best in class, that can be backed up, by just using their products. This article (original can be found here) focuses on radios for the fire service, but as we all know they are well adapted for the police, ambulance and search and rescue teams.

Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI) continues its legacy of designing best-in-class digital radio solutions for firefighters and other professionals who face extreme conditions with the introduction of the APX 8000XE two-way radio and APX XE500 RSM. The newest entries into Motorola Solutions’ award-winning APX portfolio of Project 25  (P25) digital radios have been developed using the company’s well-established practice of hands-on research with firefighters and other first responders who need the most reliable mission-critical communications to do their jobs efficiently, effectively and safely every day.

The APX 8000XE features all-band functionality and is a rugged P25 two-way radio that can be used in either analog or digital mode across 700/800MHz, VHF and UHF bands. Time is of the essence for firefighters and they can be ready in moments by programming the radio remotely via Wi-Fi and radio management software to operate securely on different radio networks, allowing them to quickly help neighboring counties during large-scale emergencies.

Motorola Solutions works closely with firefighters and other radio users to find out exactly what they need and the APX 8000XE is the latest example of that thinking. It features the trusted ergonomics of the APX XE radio series, designed for easy operation in harsh conditions. The right-sized radio has a large top display, exaggerated controls for gloved hands and a dedicated push-to-talk button. It also provides best-in-class audio with a 1-watt speaker, three built-in microphones and automatic noise suppression for clarity in the loudest of environments.

“The APX 8000XE is an all-band rugged and submersible portable radio made for firefighters,” said Lieutenant David Hudik, Elgin, Illinois Fire Department. “With Wi-Fi access, we can reprogram the APX 8000XE on the fly when we are providing mutual aid assistance out-of-state.”

Most firefighters use a remote speaker microphone with their radios and the APX XE500 RSM is designed specifically for demanding environments, whether combating a fire or providing medical services at the scene of an accident.

– With five strategically placed microphones and automatic noise suppression, the APX XE500  provides clear communications when worn on either shoulder, center chest, or over the shoulder

– It can be submersed in 2 meters of water for up to 4 hours

– It withstands heat conditions of up to 500°F (260°C) for up to 5 minutes

– A channel knob automatically controls the channels of the user’s portable APX radio

“With the APX XE500 RSM, I can completely control my APX radio without having to hunt under my bunker coat for it,” said Lieutenant David Hudik, Elgin Fire Department. “With improved water porting, you can carry the APX XE500 upright or upside down for fast water drainage while maintaining clear voice communications.”

“Customer input is essential to our design and the Elgin Fire Department was right at our side as we tested the capabilities of the APX 8000XE and APX XE500 RSM,” said Claudia Rodriguez, vice president, Devices Product Management, Motorola Solutions. “The latest XE radio means firefighters will be able to talk with other first responders at the scene and across municipalities and regions. The new rugged RSM means they can communicate clearly in the loudest fireground environments, including blaring horns and wailing sirens.”

Trends in … hearing protection

Many business and factories are very well aware of their legal obligations when it comes to occupational deafness, and here in the UK we have the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2006. Many of the headsets that are listed on Headsetonline.co.uk are designed exactly for these types of industries, with their experience they are a leader in radio headsets and hearing protection equipment. But as the article below explains the protection has to personalised to everyone, so as to make sure that the individual is catered for and protected adequately. The original source of this article can be found here.

Hearing loss is preventable. Why, then, is it still so common? NIOSH notes that occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. And according to OSHA, approximately 30 million people in the United States are exposed to hazardous noise on the job.

“Noise-induced hearing loss is generally a gradual and painless process, so many workers don’t consider it a hazard … until it’s too late,” said Katie Mielcarek, marketing manager for Cleveland-based Gateway Safety Inc. Mielcarek went on to say that workers don’t wear hearing protection for many reasons, including discomfort, poor fit and problems with compliance monitoring and trouble inserting earplugs.

Here, industry insiders discuss what’s new and offer advice on hearing protection.

What’s new

“Electronic muffs contain the latest technology designed to protect against environments with impulse noises,” said Eric Moreno, market manager for Cranberry Township, PA-based MSA. “The technology amplifies weak sounds while compressing dangerous noises to a predetermined safe level of 82 dB or lower.” Moreno said this allows face-to-face communication and lets workers hear important sounds, such as warning signals.

Gary Klee, product manager for above-the-neck products at Latham, NY-based Protective Industrial Products Inc., pointed to a “level-dependent system” available with electronic earmuffs. This system has microphones in both ear cups to help limit sounds reproduced through the internal speakers to a safe level, which “allows communication with others while remaining protected against impulsive or hazardous noise,” Klee said.

Advice

Ricardo Allamelou, COO for Miami Lakes, FL-based Cotral Lab Inc., said providing every worker with the exact same type of hearing protection doesn’t make sense. “The protection has to be personalized since overprotection is as dangerous as no protection at all,” he said.

According to Moreno, “Overprotecting can actually increase the danger to a person’s life because this can hinder their ability to hear relevant noises such as warning signals, moving vehicles, other workers, etc.” To reduce the chance of overprotecting, Moreno recommends thoroughly understanding the level of noise in every area of the workplace to determine what level of protection each area needs.

Additionally, be sure your hearing protection is independently, third-party tested to verify noise reduction ratings, Mielcarek said. “This helps communicate quality in an industry where many manufacturers simply mark their products with a standard or a rating, without the testing to back it up.”