Using High-End Tactical Headsets with Motorola 2-Pin

I work in film and bought an Invisio X50 tactical headset to be able to mix my Motorola radio’s audio with an audio feed from the sound department (3.5mm connection) in my headset. It’s a dual-radio headset system.

The cables that came with the x50 are military-style 6-pin connectors (U-229 connection I think). I’m wondering if I can reterminate one cable for standard Motorola 2-pin and the other for 3.5mm stereo. Not sure if there would be PTT issues or if a chip would need to be soldered into the cable to work. Any help would be greatly appreciated as I’m having trouble finding a dealer or getting in touch with the manufacturer.

Invisio X50 (Pg. 38-39):

U-229 Pin Out:

The X50 was designed for tactical and military radios. It was not designed to interact with civilian radios.

But there are aftermarket adapters available for the X50 on eBay. You can buy a radio adapter with the Motorola pin configuration for your radio and the other com in can be a single-pin audio adapter designed for phones/iPods. No guarantees they will work properly of course, but might be easier than trying to reconfigure and resolder pins. They seem to be available for most of the popular professional or toy gamer radios.

The X50 seems overkill for film sets. I wear a surveillance headset with an ear mold so I can also hear ambient sounds. If I need an audio feed from a Comtek, I use an ear bud or headset over top of the surveillance ear tube. If I am doing gunfire, I use an electronic headset over top of the earpiece. It works fine, especially with gel ear cups.

Yes, that’s basically what I do also and it works fine most of the time. It’s just when I’m doing certain unscripted work and I really need to listen to talent for content and also to producers, I have a tough time hearing through acoustic tube for whatever reason, and I really dislike listening to different audio in each ear for long periods of time.

I found one cheap on eBay so figured I’d do some testing. The X5 headset is very comfortable and the situational awareness feature seems pretty solid. Also interested to try bone-conduction mic. So far, I’ve been able to successfully connect a 3.5mm jack to Com2 but I need to find a 2-pin plug to test the main radio connection and PTT, which will be the tricky part I think. There aren’t adapters for 6-pin to Motorola 2-pin because the PTT interacts with the ground differently. I could be wrong but it seems fairly straightforward to re-wire the 6-pin for motorola.

If it ends up being more complicated than that, I will probably just try to find OEM cables or unload the x50 and get a non-acoustic tube headset or IEM with pass-through ear mold of some kind.

Are you using the stock ear plug that comes with the acoustic tube headset? If so, that’s your problem. The optional ear molds allow ambient sound to pass through because it doesn’t block the ear canal like the ear plugs. You can easily wear headphones from your Comtek right over top of your acoustic tube, and you get the two-way radio in one ear, plus audio from the sound mixer in both ears. This is very comfortable and you can wear it for 12 hours straight with no problems.

If you need to block ambient sounds, such as during special effects or gunshots, you can wear one of the higher-end electronic headsets that have an 3.5mm audio in jack. I like the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro-X. Expensive, but I spend a LOT of time with ear muffs on my head. I carry a bag full of Peltor Sport Rangeguard earmuffs for the camera department, and they won’t last forever but are great for occasional use. The optional gel cups for the earmuffs really help, especially when there are a lot of gunshots because it will seal quite nicely around your acoustic tube.

Good quality electronic muffs will only block out the frequencies of the gunshot; they will not block out ambient sounds or conversations. (Test them by clapping your hands while talking. Your voice should not rise or fall, but all you will hear from the handclap is the echo.)

I’ve tried about every eartip I can get my hands on short of custom-made. I like the ear-mold passthrough style best but find that when I’m shouldered up shooting they tend to get ripped out of my ear. I think I must have unusual shaped ears.

Likewise, any kind of earmuff headset is too wide when a camera is on my shoulder and I lose situational awareness. Shooting embedded with law enforcement, for example, is a perfect example of a situation in which an operator really needs to hear talent mics and also producer radio transmissions without losing too much ambient for safety reason–you don’t want to step in front of a car or miss a warning of eminent danger. Right now I’d use a pass through earmold or closed tip in one ear and an over-ear listen only in the other but I feel like the X50 would be a big step up. Being able to dial up and down the ambient on the X50, alone, is really a great feature.

Thanks for the further details. Shooting off the shoulder while imbedded is a completely different application and now I understand your desire for the X50.

Invisio makes an optional iPhone adapter, so that might be one to explore.

Have you looked at SkyEye Comms on eBay? They make a variety of custom cables for the X50. The problem you are going to run into is that the Invisio cable has a chip in it to detect the radio, and this is why I feel that aftermarket cables may not work properly.

3M Peltor makes in-ear tactical earplugs that amplify ambient sound, and the latest version TEP-200 can accept 3.5mm audio inputs through a neckloop adapter. Not sure how you would do two inputs, but a y-cable, with one wire to a listen-only jack on a shoulder mic, and the other to a Comtek, may work.

My experience with in-ear tactical earplugs that amplify sound is that they do provide good situational awareness, but they do stick out a bit. (Probably about the same as the Invisio earpieces.) You would lose the bone-conducting microphone ability of the Invisio X50 system though.

My other live-fire trainer loves her in-ear tactical earplugs, but I hate them. I stick to my MSA Sordin earmuffs, and can run an audio cable to the 3.5mm jack directly into a mic with a listen-only jack, although in most cases, I just wear the acoustic tube headset underneath them. I get strange looks, especially when people don’t understand I can amplify ambient sound and hear them talking about me from a block away!

I have seen the Skyeye products but they don?t have a 2-pin Motorola Available. I?m really curious about the chip thing because if there?s a chip in these radio cables, it?s housed in Lemo-style connector in the end that plugs into the X50 and TINY. I?m wondering if it actually works more by identifying the pin-out. My logic is that the military radios use the same 5 leads as the Motorola?s (spk +, spk -, mic +, mic -, and PTT) and as such, could theoretically be rewired and retwrminated to work without replacing the whole cable. I?m going to give it a shot but if that fails, I did finally hear back from Invisio and they still have some cp200 Motorola cables for $195/ea (ouch). As I?ve already done some testing, I?m fairly confident I can rewire the other 6-pin to listen to one of the two stereo outputs in the camera?s headphone jack, which is fine for me.

The peltor is an interesting product but running two audio devices into one headset can cause them to drive each other, which is bad. Don?t want to risk frying the headset jack on an expensive camera I don?t own. I was also think of using in ear monitors with a product like this:

Will do more testing and post my results here.

The X50 is not a civilian thing, it is for mainly military radios.