One of the pieces of kit I've been most impressed with over the last few months is the TEA X50 Headset control module and Invisio earpiece.
I saw this combo for the first time when I attended the Victory First course last fall with Matt Cox, then saw it again when I visited Panteao to see how they put together a DVD. I didn't actually spend much time wearing them myself, but Victory First's Matt Jacques swears by them and now that I've been asking around it appears he's not alone. I've heard others describe the TEA rig as 'perfect for patrolling outside the wire or conducting a boarding action'.
I asked for candor and I got it. "I f*&%ing love it dude," he said bluntly. "They are far superior to any electronic headset I've used in over twenty years of doing this. They are pricey, but I'm more of a buy once, cry once kind of guy and these are worth every penny, for a lot of reasons. For instance, with some headsets it's hard to get on a long gun, and when you're shooting a shotgun there's a tendency to bump them off...with these it 's like you're not even wearing hearing protection. You're gonna put 'em in and forget they're there. I can take ‘em and put it in a 2mm jack...use my Android phone and talk through it driving down the road or…plug into Motorola, a link-up for XTS3000 and 5000 Motorola series, with two different push to talks...one is small like finger, one for kit like for a SWAT or military application. Hell there is also a connector for ICS on an airframe, and they all work perfectly. They're also great with a helmet. Normally you'd have to fightw ith a MICH or OPSCOR to wiggle chinstraps over regular hearing protection. These provide no obstruction or obstacle at all because they fit flush inside the ear..."
All that is cool, of course, but I wondered about the basic noise cancellation/amplification qualities. I already knew he'd used them by themselves with belt-fed weapons and I'd seen him wearing them with a handgun and carbine, but I wanted his perspective.
"These amplify so much sound I normally don't even have them all the way up. I had my phone on vibrate one night when I first got them...I was clear on the other side of the house and was messing around with them turned all the way up, and I kept hearing this buzz. I thought, 'What the hell is that noise?' Eventually I figured out my phone was vibrating to tell me I was had a new voicemail. I was astounded by the ambient noise it would pick up."
For more information, check out teaheadsets.com/index.php/invisio/x-series/invisio-x50.html.