If you’re serious about airsoft and the use of teamwork on the field, then communication is a must. It is essential that communication be clear, precise, and direct. If your directions or information do not make it to the intended recipient,or is unintelligible, then it is useless. With the low cost of FRS radios and the increasing use of them on the field comes the need fast and easy to use headset system. First pioneered by our nation’s special forces, and now in use in the military, law enforcement, and sports enthusiasts; throat mic headsets are becoming more popular and often cost as much at $100+.
Entering the field is the new, more cost effective, AirSplat Throat Microphone Headset! For under $30 (at the time of this publication), you can receive a throat microphone with ear piece and Motorola style plug! Just like many of you, I’m a bit skeptical about such an inexpensive piece of gear (given the cost of it’s competitors), so I had to investigate.
The set came packaged in a tidy zip-lock style bag which was well packaged in a cardboard box. Inside the bag the throat mic wires were neatly coiled and bound and in an additional plastic bag was the hook and loop strip and secondary earpiece. Nothing fancy… but you didn’t buy this for the packaging did you?
Construction / Materials
The throat mic itself appears to be made of ABS plastic and metal, and is flexible enough to adjust to fit, yet rigged enough not to loose shape. The band is metal covered with a soft plastic cover for comfort and to protect the wire underneath.
The end pieces appear to be made of ABS plastic and each end is secured with a metal screw. These end pieces house the microphone and the speaker.
The ear tube is made of soft clear plastic with a coil to allow it to stretch while taking up a minimal amount of space. The plastic appears to be flexible enough to be comfortable, yet durable enough for field use.
The ear piece appears to be a silicone type material and is very soft and pliable and has a contoured piece to fit in your ear.
The wiring itself is much like what you’d find on a set of headphones. The insulation appears to be a bit thinner than I had expected, but we’ll wait till the field test to determine if that’s a problem.
A nice feature I didn’t expect to see on a product in this price range was the swivel mount for the ear tube. This allows you to point the tube in the direction most effective for reaching your ear while keeping it out of the way.
I was also surprised to see a PTT button on this system as well. Unlike some cheap systems the have a PTT included at the mic location or inline on the wire to the radio, this system features a separate PTT button that is wired separately from the headset. This allows placement wherever it is easiest to access.
The plug is built for use with the Motorola style single pin radios. If you’re looking to use this with anything else you will need to pick up an adaptor. I’d like to see AirSplat sell adaptors so those with Midland / Kenwood / other 2 pin radios, could use these throat mics as well.
I had a chance to field test the AirSplat throat mics over the past weekend. I was able to get a full hour of testing in before the batteries on my radio took a nose dive (no fault of the throat mic), so I can say that I got a good feel for them.
As far as comfort goes, I never really felt uncomfortable wearing them. I’ve got a pretty thick neck (shirt neck size 17 1/2), and once on, you quickly forget that you’re wearing them. I know many other throat mics out there use straps to help hold them in place, but over the course of an hour of running about in the woods and hiding in the thick brush I never needed to adjust them. However, I can see how people with skinny necks might wish for a strap to hold them in place, but for the majority of people 15+ years old, it shouldn’t be a problem.
When it comes down to it, ease of use is one of the top reasons people pick up a throat mic, and in this area I must say it preformed well. The PTT button (push to talk), has a nice snap or click to it that makes it easy to determine when you’ve pressed it and engaged the switch. The textured rubber coating is a nice touch, that with or without gloves, makes it easy to press without sliding off of while in mid sentence.
The ear piece fit in well into my ear and blocked out all the noise from that side. To some this is great as it increases the clarity of the sound from the speaker, to others it might be an annoyance as you loose the ability to discern the directionality of sounds around you. Regardless of what throat mic you pick, that’s something you’ll need to deal with. After an hour of play my ear had not fatigued from wearing the ear piece, but I would suggest taking it out between games just to prevent soreness (although I did not experience any myself). I found that the ear piece never came loose from my ear, probably due to the molded over ear design that holds to your ear making it easy to keep in. I did find that the length of tubing from the throat to the ear to be too long. I wrapped the tubing around the throat band and moved it towards the back to take up some slack. I think about a half inch could be removed from the tubing and still fit most people, but I never had an issue with it slinging around or snagging on anything.
One thing that I would like to see AirSplat include is higher quality and wider loop strip for the hook and loop fastening of the PTT button. I found that every once in a while it’d start to dangle or would slide a bit from where I placed it. A wider strip might help prevent that. I’d like to see it come with a strip that is equal to the width of a MOLLE / PAL webbing strip, making it easy to attach to a vest or plate carrier; in addition to a 1.5-2″ wide strip for mounting to a shoulder strap or other gear.
Overall I must say that the sound quality was good. Sending was crystal clear with little to no distortion and did not pick up outside noises. I will recommend that you do NOT use these with the voice activation feature of your radio turned on if you can avoid it. If your gear rubs against the outside of the throat microphone, or you start saying something to someone close to you, you’ll start broadcasting immediately. The microphone is very sensitive and you might need to adjust your speech to compensate for it. It does not take much volume to communicate clearly over these. On the speaker side, I noticed that it did sound a bit like someone is talking to you from the bottom of a well. Now that’s probably due to the tube style ear piece, and inherent in many throat mic systems; so you will need to adjust if you haven’t used one before. After playing for a short time with them I was able to understand and communicate effectively with them.
While I did not have any problems with the wires snagging on branches or brush, I still feel the insulations should be thicker around the wires. I carefully routed my wires through my gear and didn’t have a problem, but it only takes that one rogue branch to ruin your throat mic.
Okay let’s be fair here. These are not IASUS or Devgru style systems, and to compare them would be to try to compare the local farmers market to the Garden of Eden. For the money these are excellent. The construction quality is what one would expect at this price range, although I would like to see thicker insulation on the wiring. The sound quality is acceptable and efficient for voice communications, and the microphones are well adept at picking up every word you say. Comfort is excellent with these weighing mere ounces. With most other systems like this you’d spend $100 or more, but for the weekend airsoft player on a budget, these should fit the bill just fine.