Situational awareness is important in all kinds of fields, but few more so than law enforcement. Whether it’s a high-stakes hostage or counterterrorist operation or more mundane duty like a vice stakeout, officers need to know what’s going on, in as close to real time as possible.
Those are situations where earpieces can be valuable – as a quiet, discreet and low-profile way to receive mission-critical intel and updates. But a good earpiece requires several important attributes, and there can be key differences in their design and intended use.
Covert earpieces, for example, must be as inconspicuous as possible. When worn for extended durations, they must have a certain comfort. And they must work reliably, meaning it’s helpful to avoid unnecessary pieces and design complications.
With a quarter century of meeting police’s earphone needs, Earphone Connection knows a thing or two about bringing those attributes to products. And with its new Whisper covert listen-only earpiece, the company has combined them in a convenient package that’s affordably priced for stretched police budgets.
“With this earpiece, you’re going to hear very clearly without having to turn the volume up,” said Ruben Scheimberg, the founder and owner of Earphone Connection. “It’s great for covert situations because it’s not obtrusive – you’re not advertising you’re wearing this earpiece.”
TUBELESS DESIGN IS HARDER TO DETECT
For simplicity of design and operation, the Whisper is tubeless. That means it has no tube running over top of the ear, which makes it harder to detect visually.
While tubed designs are common and have served police reliably over the years, they can pose problems if the tubes become clogged or compromised. This means ongoing worries about maintenance in addition to everything else that concerns officers.
“The actual sound in tubed earpieces travels through the tube from this tiny speaker that gets clipped onto the back – it travels up and into the ear,” said Scheimberg. “There are many moving parts where that sound can get lost. Sometimes it can get lost through moisture and condensation that builds up in the tube and forms a little air bubble. That requires you to remove the tube and blow it out. And wax can get caught inside the internal moving parts.”
With the tubeless design – first offered by Earphone Connection with its Micro Sound tubeless listen-only earpiece – the speaker inserts into an ear mold and sits in the outer ear. The Whisper’s ambidextrous design can go in either ear, and the lack of tube means it’s easily worn with eyeglasses and sunglasses.
That proximity of speaker to ear delivers high-quality sound at low volumes – so much so that it may catch users more experienced with tubed designs by surprise. New wearers are advised to be cautious with that volume level.
“The sound is going to be very clear, but we warn users not to overpower the radio,” Scheimberg said. “Start at a low volume and turn it up incrementally. With the sound right there, you have to be mindful when wearing a speaker that’s inserted inside the ear. But what’s great about it is that now you can wear something that doesn’t require extreme high volume. To hear your earpiece better, you actually turn it down – the lower the volume, the clearer your piece will be.”
That’s also a solution to the feedback problems that can accompany multiple radios operating in close quarters: Giving everyone an earpiece will help eliminate it.
While the Whisper earpiece sits in the ear, it does not extend into the ear canal – like, for example, a hearing aid. So while it’s well-suited for covert use, it’s not primarily intended for regular patrol duties, where wearers may be running, fighting or engaging in other strenuous activities. (The Micro Sound, which comes with Fin Ultra ear tips to hold it in place, is more suited for that.)
“With the Whisper there’s just a wire over the back of the ear. There’s a little bit of a contour but no crimping,” said Scheimberg. “It’s intended for covert situations, plainclothes use, things like that. Now, if officers want to use it in a patrol setting, they can – that’s definitely up to them. There are officers who just like the look.”
The size and weight – it’s light enough to help avert ear fatigue – are pretty appealing too. Tubed designs, especially when combined with the weight of glasses or sunglasses, can put constant weight on the top of the ear – not a lot, but enough that you might notice it after a while. With the Whisper the tip of the piece that sits in the ear is also rubber, not plastic, for additional comfort.
SUPPORTING TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION
While the Whisper is listen-only, it can support two-way communication when paired with a traditional speaker microphone or Earphone Connection’s HAWK EP1305EC (easy-connect) lapel microphone. This requires a 3.5-millimeter audio connector. It also works wirelessly with the company’s Bluetooth products, such as its Interceptor speaker microphone and Nighthawk body microphone.
“There are instances where you could go very covert with this, where you could clip it onto one of our wireless microphones and actually use a wireless finger switch to activate the microphone,” noted Kelly Finicle, Earphone Connection’s marketing director.
Perhaps most notably, the Whisper covert listen-only earpiece is priced substantially lower than similar earpieces available to police. That’s partially due to both its one-piece design and ambidexterity – different pieces need not be made for the left and right ears. Earphone Connection retained its high quality of materials and workmanship.
The Whisper comes with cleaning supplies, a clothing clip and extra ear tips.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT EARPIECE FOR YOUR MISSION
Police face a variety of duties across their communities each day. Accordingly, Earphone Connection offers them a range of communication solutions for that range of needs. The Whisper covert listen-only earpiece is a strong choice when those needs entail covert or undercover work.
“We encourage people to be selective and choose an earpiece that suits their mission,” said Scheimberg. “Maybe you want two – the Whisper and the Micro Sound for a longer shift. It just depends on your objective.
“Really what we’re doing is providing the consumer with a cost-effective alternative. This is something that’s ambidextrous, very lightweight, and easy to wear with eyeglasses or sunglasses. And it will provide the same benefits and features of a more expensive unit.”
For more information, visit Earphone Connection.