Radio and Security Earpiece/Mic

Hello all.

Been doing a lot of browsing on the internet lately, looking at different 2 way radios and different earpieces/mics, and haven’t been able to decide what I should buy. I’m a big believer in forums, as you generally get the best advice from them, and sure enough, I was able to find this one.

So, I’ll elaborate on what my situation is and what I’m looking for.

I work at a restaurant/events venue (a large, 90 year old, cement building) and I’m looking for a radio (or rather, a pair/one that comes in pairs so we can get several) so that I can communicate to my boss and other staff. I’m also looking for a security earpiece/mic set that will work with the radio (compatibility obviously being a big concern).

Some general requirements.

Range: I know most radios have an effective range that is significantly below what is advertised, but that isn’t an issue for me. I don’t need much more than a few kilometers in distance (1 or 2 miles). Really, it just needs to be able to transmit in and around the building (there’s busy highways just to my north and Lake Ontario to my south, so take those environmental factors into account).

Sound quality: This is the most important aspect. Loud music is standard for our events, and even when it’s not blaring there’s generally no shortage of background noise. So I need something that’s going to be able to transmit clearly and audibly despite those factors.

Battery life: The longer the better, more as a matter of convince, but I need something that will last a minimum of 12 hours straight. I don’t really care that much how it’s powered, but 12 hours is a must, and if it uses its own rechargeable battery then it needs to be able to endure back to back 12 hours shifts with about 8 hours charging in between.

Durability/Size: Nothing too heavy or bulky, but definitely not some tiny thing thats just going to break. Waterproof not necessary, but if it drops onto the wet ground while raining or something then I’d like it to be able to survive. A sturdy belt clip is a must, which will hopefully eliminate the chances of the above scenario, but stuff happens.

Channels/Privacy: I’m really not very knowledgeable about how much interference/other activity can be expected, but as I mentioned earlier, I work in an urban environment. A busy street, a major highway, 2 busy transit lines (train and LRT) and another busy street, in order, are all to my north. The beach and waterfront are on my south and parks and a public pool occupy my flanks. So I need to able to operate without disturbance from any of that.

Earpiece/Mic: Obviously needs to be compatible with whatever radio I end up using. Earpiece/visible cable needs to be clear. I’ve heard that you can buy adapters to make the earpiece fit more comfortably and effectively in your ear, one of those would be great too. Unsure of whether I want to wear it as a lapel or sleeve mic, so having the option of both would be good. PTT an obvious must.

I’ve never bought a legit 2 way radio before so I’m unsure of what I might specify with regards to the more technical aspects of the radio. Presumably they just have more features/get more advanced as you move up the price range, which brings us to the end.

Price: Definitely willing to drop some cash on everything if I’m getting good quality, but don’t want to break the bank. I don’t want to pay extra for something over engineered with tons of functions that I’ll never use. Obviously the lower the price the better, but if I have to spend $100, or a bit more to get what I need, then I’ll do it. Absolute top dollar would be $150, but if I don’t have to spend that much then I don’t want to.

Thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to read my request. Feel free to tell me off if my requirements are unrealistic or absurd, I don’t think they are but what do I know? :smiley:

Like most other things in life, you get what you pay for.

You are asking for a durable, business-class radio with non-interference and long battery life … for the price of a bubble-pack consumer-grade FRS family radio. This would be like me asking for a car that can run the Indy 500 race for under $1000. At your price range, something will be compromised.

You can get cheap FRS/GMRS radios that will break when you drop them and need charging after 6 hours, plus everyone and their dog will be on the channels. (I take it from your name and description that you are in Canada, and therefore you do NOT need a licence to use GMRS bands, unlike the U.S. However, you are more restricted in power.)

Range is a function of physics more than power output anyway. In and around a building, you may be better off with a UHF radio rather than a VHF radio.

Sound quality is a DIRECT function of cost and of audio output. Better radios have better speakers and more audio output. That’s one of the reasons why they are more expensive.

As far as privacy, you basically have three choices in Canada:

  • FRS/GMRS radios that are shared channels between you and everyone else around you. They offer little privacy, and interference depends on how many people are on your channel at any given time. Advantages - they are cheap. Disadvantages - they are cheap. With heavy use, expect to throw them away and buy new ones at least once a year, plus replace ones instantly that get dropped.

  • Business-class radios broadcasting on your own dedicated frequency. You are assigned a frequency and no one else can broadcast on your frequency. (Anyone can listen on your frequency however.) You will need a licence and be assigned a frequency, but this opens up your choices to some very top quality products that have most of what you are looking for. You will need to apply for and pay for a licence and have your radios programmed to your assigned frequency. For an idea of choices, look at the business radios on our host’s website; they have some top quality choices. You will also notice that there are LOTS more accessories for business class radios available, and the radios should last for years.

  • Business-class radios, broadcasting on unlicenced spectrums. Basically, you now have a choice of MURS (on VHF frequencies,) and FHSS radios (on UHF frequencies.) The laws on MURS in Canada are due for change within a few years and they are not technically legal, nor are they technically illegal. You should be able to operate them no problem in Canada because the government has already announced their intentions to create unlicenced frequencies for them. You share MURS channels with anyone else with a MURS radio, but there will be far less of them simply because they are not toy radios that one can buy in any Walmart.

FHSS radios (the Motorola DTR series) have everything you need … except for the price. They have great audio, LONG battery life, mil-spec business-class construction, water-resistance and lots of very high-end accessories. They are professional-class radios that produce professional results, but they cost much more than $150 each. As for security, the only radio than can receive or monitor transmissions is another DTR radio. (There are almost 1000 channel combinations though.) There have been no documented cases of anyone being able to monitor a transmission with consumer-grade scanners.

I hope this helps. I am sure a few others in here will offer more views. It is the age-old question: do I buy the best once or the second best three times?

No one can answer that question for you.

As for me, I work in very fast-paced (film production) and very noisy (gunshots) environments, and audio quality was my number one criteria. I started with two DTR radios and I now have four. If I had the money, I would get another four. Every time I use them and listen to the clarity of the transmission, it reinforces that I made the right decision for my purposes.

So basically, you need to decide which of your criteria you are willing to compromise on.

Just as Chickenhawk said, you get what you pay for.

I have some old Motorola Radius radios that would need to be recrystaled, and needs new batteries, if you want to buy some good / cheap radios.

They were set up for the old fire band here / 47 mhz.

I appreciate the honest reply. I really know very little about this subject so I wasn’t sure if I was being realistic or not.

Let me try a different approach. In the course of my searching I came across this:

http://www.buytwowayradios.com/products/midland/midland-gxt-2050-vp4.aspx

Through reading specs and reviews I thought that it might be a suitable choice, but I really don’t know.

So do you think that the GXT2050VP4 would be a decent fit for my needs? Or should I be looking at something else?

NO to the Midland radios. They are the family FRS radios that you were already warned not to buy. I don’t know about the licensing in Canada, but if you get the Motorola DTR radios you don’t have to worry about it. You have the best in reliability, long battery life (you will need spare batteries if you run back to back shifts) and audio clarity. You will need a headset with one or two ear muffs (two if you have really loud music) and a boom mic. There is no sense of trying to go cheap and wasting your money. Do it right if you have to borrow the money.