In the world of Special Operations performance is everything. You have to demand the best of every piece of equipment you use to ensure you can operate at peak performance.
This holds true of hearing protection and communications equipment just the same as it does of a gun.
Special operations rely on teamwork and coordination to pull off high risk, critical missions. Radio communications in real time are critical to success.
That’s why United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has fielded the Peltor Comtac III. It’s a set of electronic earmuffs that also integrate a microphone for radio communications.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes the Comtac III’s special.
With any hearing protection, the first thing to consider is the Noise Reduction Rating that it has received. Noise reduction rating is measured in Decibels (db) and tells you how much the hearing protection dampens noises reaching your ears.
Second we need to look at sound quality, both for radio and for reproducing ambient sounds such as voices. Electronic hearing protection works by taking non-harmful sounds captured by external microphones and reproducing them on the internal microphones.
Poor sound reproduction quality can mean missed words, and when you are in a fast paced, dangerous situation that can result in serious issues.
Comfort is the final factor we will be taking a look at. Soldiers and other critical responders are often burdened with a lot of additional equipment. This equipment is critical for both safety and operational effectiveness, but can also impact the comfort of the hearing protection you are wearing.
Helmets are one item that is of concern. If earmuffs aren’t designed correctly they can be extremely uncomfortable to wear underneath a helmet, as it will press down on the headband. The chinstrap can also interfere with the microphone if the earmuffs are outfitted for communications.
With any electronics battery life is always a factor worth considering. This is doubly true for equipment that will be used inside of a demanding or hazardous environment. Long battery life is key for equipment that you will trust your life or vital functions to for long periods of time.
Price is the final factor we will add into our equation. Whether you are an organization that is looking to manage a budget or an individual who is making an individual purchase, you always want to maximize the performance you receive in exchange for you dollar.
Peltor built their brand name by providing outstanding hearing protection for some of the top soldiers in the world. The Comtac III is no exception; it was designed and built from the ground up with Special Operations soldiers and their equipment in mind.
They did an excellent job as both SOCOM and the US Army’s Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier have used the equipment.
First let’s look at the hearing protection aspects of the Comtac III. They have an NRR of 23. This is perfectly appropriate for the job they were designed to do. Hearing protection that is mostly for outdoor areas or lower noise indoor areas will typically fall into the 20 to 25 NRR range, so the Comtac III’s are very appropriate for the average noise level in a combat area.
Sound reproduction quality is one of the areas where the Comac III’s shine. They are well known for having excellent sound reproduction quality and excellent radio quality. The external microphones pick up 360 degrees of ambient noise and the foam covers on the microphones prevent the wind noise issues that can plague other electronic hearing protection.
The Comtac III’s were designed specifically with the comfort of the Special Operator in mind. The headband was designed to work with the Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH) and other helmet systems in use in both Special Operations, regular military and police forces. The result is hearing protection that works with the other gear that elite forces use, without compromising comfort.
Battery life is a critical factor with any electronic component used by soldiers. A loss of power at a critical moment can mean the difference between life and death. In the case of electronic hearing protection, it may mean missing a critical call from a teammate. There is little margin for error on running out of power on this type of equipment.
Fortunately the Comtac III’s take this into account by providing outstanding battery life. Just two AAA batteries will provide over 400 hours of talk time. This is absolutely outstanding for any pair of electronic hearing protection, much less one that integrates communications.
The Comtac III’s currently retail for $585 on Amazon.com. This is right in line with the price point you would expect to see for electronic hearing protection with integrated communications. While this is pricey if you are just looking for the hearing protection aspect, when integrating in a communications capability it is right on point.
NRR: Excellent NRR for less challenging noise environments. If you are going to be in an extremely noisy environment, this probably isn’t the hearing protection for you, but it is well proportioned for its target environment.
Sound Quality: The sound quality, both for external sounds and radio transmissions is excellent.
Comfort: The Comtac IIIs were designed specifically for comfort while wearing other Personal Protective Equipment.
Battery Life: On just two AAA batteries the Comtac IIIs provide over 400 hours of operation time. This is excellent for any electronic hearing protection, much less one that includes communications integration.
Price: If you are only interested in the hearing protection component then these are a pretty pricey piece of equipment. If the communications are important to you, then the price point is right in line for what you should expect to find.
As I’m sure you’ve seen as we’ve gone through this Peltor Comtac III review, these are one outstanding set of headphones. They aren’t for the casual user, but if you have a demanding job that requires all the features that these headphones offer then you won’t be disappointed with a purchase.
Images sourced from Amazon.com