Tech Bulletin : What You Need To Know About Dual Ear Muff Headsets And The Tech Process Behind CR-MILTAC

codeRED has built their reputation for reliability by supplying professional grade 2-Way Radio accessories to the law enforcement market. Their Silent Listen only earpieces, Sherlock, Investigator, Recruit surveillance microphones, Hot Shot and Signal 21 remote speaker microphones, are Kevlar reinforced for robust performance, even under harsh conditions. Their cable tensile strength is up to 5 times as strong as some of those inexpensive headsets you will find on the internet. The market demands robust and reasonably priced dual ear muff tactical headsets with the fully featured option set needed for law enforcement tactical teams. After several years of research and development, codeRED has recently launched the CR-TAC and CR-MILTAC headset family of products. This article explains the features and subtleties of a modern tactical headset and helps our dealer base make informed purchasing decisions that offer the best solution for their customers.


People think of ear muff headsets as primarily for noise reduction and hearing protection. There are other features available that differentiate

the choices:

• Noise reduction only (inexpensive). No external communication, just ambient sound reduction

• Noise reduction with ambient sound amplification/clipping (also called “hear through” technology,

or “shooter’s headsets”, moderately expense), no connection for 2-Way radio

• Noise reduction with external communication (either aviation or 2-Way radio, higher cost)

• Noise reduction with ambient sound amplification/clipping AND communication (highest cost)

This last type of headset is preferred by SWAT teams and Military operators. One of the more common versions of this type of headset is the Peltor Comtac.



The combined features of the headset, along with robustness of design and intended use, will drive costs up. It is good to know what the features are and determine if your customers really need to pay for them.


The ear muff feature: 

The ear muff cups do the noise insulation, usually rated as Noise Reduction

Rating (NRR) and measured in decibels (dB). If users are in a 100 dB environment, a 22 dB NRR headset

will lower it to about 78 dB, which is under the OSHA limit for continuous exposure. NRR is not exactly that, and involves weighted averages and math, but let’s keep this simple. Gun shots can be over 130 dB depending on caliber, so combining ear muffs with foam ear plugs for extended shooting range visits is a good idea.


The communications feature:

Muffs have speakers in each cup and a microphone, typically a boom microphone, which is the best choice for high noise environments. There can be some noise cancellation in the mic, but really the dominant feature is proximity of the mic to the users mouth (our website has more detailed

technical information on boom mics as well). The users voice will over come the ambient sound, so keeping the mic as close to the users lips is best. Usually, general aviation head sets are a bad choice for 2-Way radio use, the electrical impedances (resistance, in Ohms) can be considerably different, and many times will not work with a 2-Way radio. The “hear through” feature is more complicated and deserves a little more discussion. We have seen this feature referred to as “noise cancelling” which is a little misleading.


The noise cancellation, or reduction, is taken care of by the mechanical insulation of the ear muff.

What these headsets do is more accurately described as “noise clipping”. Essentially what is going on

with this feature is users have a micro phone (not the boom mic) external to  the ear muff cups. This microphone picks up the ambient sound and amplifies it to the users ears inside the ear muff. Typically, these speakers are limited to how much sound they can transmit, and better designs keep it below the OSHA limits. It should be said that any amplified sound will be added to the sound that comes through the physical ear muff cups. When the ambient sound exceeds some predetermined design criteria 

the amplification will be clipped, or, shut off completely. Usually clipping starts around 80 dB and happens in a few milliseconds. Restoration of ambient sound will have a small delay, something less than 1 second. Better designs have settings that give the user better than ambient sound amplification, creating a sense of “super hearing”, great for stealth use and situational awareness in a quiet environment.




The ambient sound amplification and noise clipping in tactical headsets is powered by batteries, which must be maintained and replaced when needed. A good design will includeauto-shutoff, when not in use to extend battery life. If the batteries die, users still have the NRR rating, they just will not have the  ambient sound amplification. No noise clipping will be necessary as the ear muffs will be working at their maximum NRR. True electronic noise cancelling is where the external ambient sound microphone samples the ambient noise frequencies and generates sound waves of the same frequency (pitch) and amplitude (volume), but 180 degrees out of phase, to counteract the continuous ambient sound. Sometimes it works well, but that technology is not appropriate for tactical use. It would be better suited for industrial applications where machinery is creating continuous rhythmic ambient sounds.




At codeRED we currently have a high noise ear muff headset offering for 2-way radios, including blue tooth capability. It is more of an industrial product line and does not have the “hear through” technology. It is obvious there is a desire in the market-place for a full-featured design that is robust and affordable. For many departments across the country, affordability is a critical feature.

Photo by Chris Bravo 

     Several years ago, our R&D team wrote up a specification that had all of the features our customers needed for a tactical dual ear muff headset. These features included: slim ear cup design, full  functioning sound clipping, enhanced sound amplification, US NATO interface for communications, comfortable fit for all day use, OSHA and ANSI compliance, and options including silicone gel ear pads, ARC/Team Wendy/M-LOK rail adapters, as well as others. We also required an ambidextrous boom mic, dynamic boom mic option, and we have modified our field proven assault throat mic as an option for use with gas masks or SCBA. In Q4 of 2021 we launched a product we have been working on forseveral years. This product has been thoroughly vetted and tested with our target markets including law enforcement SWAT teams local to our headquarters in Southern California.



We have settled on a design we think “ticks all of the boxes”. As mentioned, we launched this design in early Q4 of 2021. The first launch was SWAT team specific and complemented our field proven Pro series PTT family. It is called the CR-TAC. Initially it was available only as a complete unit with the Pro series PTTs. With the success of that initial offering, we expanded the product platform to include our NX series PTTs including dual PTT options. Then, in Q1 of 2022 we launched a military version of

the headset with hardened features and compliance to stricter MIL STD requirements.


Listed below is an overview of the CR-MILTAC feature base:

  •  Dual ear Muff headset with “hear through” technology and noise cancelling electronics
  •  Ambient sound amplification for heightened situational awareness
  • OSHA compliant hearing protection for high noise environments, NRR Rating 24dB
  •  Mounts onto Team Wendy/EXFIL 2.0 and 3.0 ballistic helmets using our CR-TAC EXFIL rail helmet adapters
  • Available for Motorola APX, XPR, XTS series radios, all Kenwood multi-pin radios, and Motorola and Kenwood 2-pin radio connections


We have had excellent feedback and sales on these two product lines, so much so that we are having trouble keeping our inventory levels to meet the increasing demand. The CR-TAC product line is generally stocked in large volumes, while the CR-MILTAC will be built to order for larger requirements.

 Our CR-MILTAC product is being introduced at half that cost. This is a product we can put our reputation behind and we expect it to be very well received. We believe this is a product that has been desired by the market for quite some time. The combination of our reputation for high quality, a feature rich design, and affordability should make it a long-term industry stalwart. If you have any questionsor want to look into this product for your team, contact Kroll directly, or check out our websitefor technical specifications.


— Mike Gaston, Owner codeRED

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