Communications is key in our line of work, no matter what your assignment might be. We travel in packs and the ability to communicate effectively is key to our effectiveness and survival. One of the biggest challenges to this effective communication is a loud environment. Think concerts, special events, bars; many of the venues we typically find ourselves in as officers. A standard earpiece fixes the receiving portion most of the time, but clearly transmitting is another story. Traditional microphones are easily overwhelmed by crowd noise and officers often get lost in the background. This is where bone conduction or vibration microphones, or "bone-mics," really shine.
Originally purpose-built for tactical teams to remain covert, the virtues of the bone mic have become increasingly popular as technology brings down the price. Pryme Radio now offers one of the most user friendly versions I've seen to date: the NEP-BH series. This is about as simple as a communications system gets. The adapter, available for a wide variety of duty radios, is attached and a single wire leads up to a small transmit button that can be clipped to the wearer's clothing. From there a second wire leads up to the brains of the operation: the bone conduction earpiece. Looking like a small black hearing aid, the earpiece is coated in black rubber and fits snugly into the wearer's ear canal. The only part that is visible from the outside is the small black wire leading into it. This could easily be mistaken for a music earbud and makes this a great system for undercover work. The microphone can be activated by either the remote push-to-talk switch or the main button on the radio itself.
I decided to give mine the ultimate test and did a little talking while on the shooting range. This was a busy training day and there was no shortage of noise for the Pryme system to overcome. I was able to hear all transmissions clearly and the guy on the other end only caught a bit of the chaos in my background. Considering its intended purpose I would say Pryme knocked it out of the park with this one.
I've used Pryme products my entire career and have never had a problem with any of them so I have no problem endorsing this one. For a retail price of $100 this is one of the best ways out there to make sure your voice is heard no matter how crazy of a situation you might find yourself in.
A.J. George is a patrol sergeant with the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Police Department who also serves as the SWAT team's crisis negotiation supervisor.
- Vibration mic picks up sound directly from ear canal
- High-quality speaker is combined with mic assembly and fits inside user's ear canal
- Rugged, polycarbonate PTT housing for maximum durability
- Large, metal clip secures the PTT unit to the user's belt or clothing
- PTT includes 2.5mm jack for optional remote finger PTT
- Kevlar-reinforced cables and robust design for maximum durability
- Price: $100