High Noise Application

I’m fairly new to the world of radios and despite lots of internet research, I don’t know much, so please bear with me.

I have been trying to accomplish what it looks like a lot of folks have. I want to be able to communicate over fairly long distances, but through open air, either over water or from low to high altitudes, (so there should not be too much in the way). The environment may be very noisy, like jet ski or motorcycle at high speed (i.e. wind and motor) noisy.

I bought some used Garmin 120’s thinking I wanted waterproof and I was only going to use the FRS, so the 1 watt transmit power didn’t matter. However now I am considering GMRS, and upwards of 5 watts. (I figure I can bag a non-waterproof radio). The catch is that I bought a single pin ear bone mic/speaker headset for the Garmin. (Thinking that an ear bone mic would be good to eliminate the wind noise.)

The most powerful 5 watt handie-talkie type radio I see is the Midland, which is two pin. I’ve seen single to double pin adapters. Do they work? If so, I can get the adapter and the Midland and be done. If not, I have a few choices and could use some advice. I can buy the uber expensive Garmin Hcx that is 5 watts, or buy the less powerful Motorola Talkabout MR356R, or just get the Midland and another headset to match it. (This is low on the list - the headsets were not cheap…!)

Motorola seems to have gone out of their way to not state how much transmit power their radios have. This has me worried that they may not transmit very far. Can anyone speak to this for my application?

I have not tested my current configuration yet, however, and all of the above is only relevant if it will be loud enough during high noise. Are any consumer grade in-ear headsets (i.e. something discreet and not married to a helmet) loud enough for such a high noise application, or should I be looking at another type of radio configuration altogether for what I want to do?

Sorry for all the questions. Any feedback will be most appreciated!

There are several companies that make molded in-the-ear headsets. These are used quite a bit by the motorcycle cruiser community. This might be the answer to a headset that fits your needs.

Etomotic research click here might be the folks you want to look into for another type of ear plug. As an alternative, the Scala Rider system clicky could be an alternative.

Just remember that these radios DO NOT TALK to the world. Don’t expect them to perform over vast distances. Line of sight is the best “long distance” you will get with these things.

Yup, you are going to find very little difference between 1 watt and 5 watts power. Maybe 20 or 40 feet or so. It is more of how the radio puts that power out there, and this is where higher quality radios with better antennas can defeat cheaper radios with 5 times the power.

The spec you are looking for is the audio output power. This is usually measured in milliwatts (mW). You want to get as much audio output as you can find. Some radios have 500 or 600 mW audio output power, and there are some professional-level radios that can have as much as 1000 mW or more of audio output power.

Another problem is that some radios can’t output that amount of power to the headset jack, but generally a higher audio output will be able to play louder in high noise environments. (That’s of course loudness … which has nothing to do with readability and clarity.)

Like power output, audio output is not a linear scale; 1000mW of audio output will not be twice as loud as a 500mW audio output radio. It doesn’t work that way. (The law of diminishing returns.) But start looking at audio output power specs as one of the possible deciding factors, and read reviews to determine clarity of the transmission and reception.

Thanks for the links. The Scala system does for motorcycles almost exactly what I’d like, other than being waterproof, and having a more limited range. If they were waterproof and didn’t require a helmet I’d probably get them and be done with it. I just know I can’t rely on keeping them dry. The first time I took my marine radio out it lasted one stop before getting submerged…

This is great. I had just come across this spec for the first time two days ago and you’ve highlighted its importance. I think I really need to find a radio that will send copious amounts of output to my headset.

Anyone know of any radios that are known for that? If not, I will start to search specs individually. My current radio does not give that spec, probably because it’s not that loud.