Comm Gear


Soundwaves Cell Phone Earpiece w/mic

2/4/05 - At this year's SHOT show, I was at the TCI booth (Tactical Command Industries, Inc.), and saw Don Medine standing alone so i started to talk to him. He started talking and I realized that he was in the middle of a telephone conversation. When I took a closer look, instead of the normal earpiece cell phones usually come with, I saw that he was using a more 'professional' looking one - similar to the higher-end tactical earpieces. I wasn't aware they made versions to fit cell phones so I stuck around until he was done to see what the deal was. My current foam covered earpiece that came with my cell phone work decently, but it's not very secure and often falls out of my ear when I turn my head. I've tried some Jabra earpieces but those weren't any better either.

The Soundwaves cell phone earpiece (go to the TCI website and search for "555-000") has a universal 2.5mm pin to fit most cell phones. It comes with small, medium and large semi-custom earmolds, which I find much more secure and comfortable than the cheap foam ones. The short, clear, curved acoustical tube goes over the ear and is connected to a coiled wire covered by transparent tubing. The microphone and clip is next, then a straight length of black wire which turns into a coiled section, ending in the plug. It can be worn around the back of the neck or straight down from the ear, either concealed inside the collar or outside. It's long an flexible enough

The sound quality is excellent, and the coiled tube ensures that it doesn't snag, and allow complete movement of the head. I like it because it works well, not because it looks cool (although I think it does). In my opinion, a great improvement over my old earpiece.


Soundwaves cell phone earpiece

Worn straight down from the ear

Worn with coil around the back of the neck (this can be tucked inside the collar)

Around and down the front (again, this can be worn under the collar)

In the past, I've used Motorola T289 FRS radios, but wasn't very satisfied with them. The transmission and reception wasn't very clear, and they had a proprietary single pin accessory interface, for which there were very few aftermarket accessories. The Motorola earbud with inline PTT sucked, as you had to push the tiny PTT button (located on the mic) while holding the mic right up to your face. I really wanted something with remote PTT, and it wasn't available for this model of radio.
I then noticed that RadioShack had a sale on its 14-channel Personal Radios (21-1860) seen above. These are a nice size and shape, and take standard 2-pin (2.5, 3.5mm) accessories, of which there are many. They're pretty rugged, have a business-like, nice 'tactical' look to them, and have much less static/background noise than the T289s that I have.

  1. RadioShack Hands-free headset with PTT adapter (21-1890) - I liked the big PTT button, but the earpiece with boom mic just wasn't very secure or comfortable. The microphone wasn't very sensitive and almost had to have it in my mouth for clear transmission. Not recommended.
  2. Throat mic with earbud, and remote PTT with optional finger PTT button - I modified this throat mic by putting an elastic band around it for better security. The black round plastic microphone picks up vibrations from your throat through your neck. It's got a 'sweet spot' which you'll have to find. Note that if you have a chubby neck, the microphone may not pick up vibrations as well, and may not work well for you. The optional remote ringer PTT button is nice; you can route it through your sleeve and velcro it to yoru finger. You can also velcro it to motorcycle or bicycle handlebars. Since the throat mic picks up vibrations directly from your throat, it's good for eliminating a lot of background/wind noise. Reception is through the attached earbud, which also fits under my Peltor tactical headset. Recommended.
  3. Freephone Encased Ear Conduction Speaker Microphone - The Freephone is a combination speaker/mic that fits in your ear. It's the lowest profile of the 3 and works extremely well. I was surprised at how well clear the transmission and reception is; no background noise at all. I've tried other combo speaker/mics, but they didn't work nearly as well as this one. Its soft rubber earpiece fits in the ear, and has a patented 'vibration pickup microphone' in it that picks up vibrations from your ear canal. I wore it for about 7 hours straight without any discomfort. It has a PTT button with a jack for an optional finger PTT button (which is attached in the pic). It's more expensive than the other two but of higher quality. It may not fit under hearing protection, though.


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