In mid-2018, MSA finalized its divesture of Sordin to Wikmanshyttan Safety. As a result, the longtime MSA product line of electronic hearing protection (Supreme Pro, Pro-X, and other) was rebranded back to Sordin. Talking Headsets, Europe’s largest distributor of hearing protection, updated the Sordin model with the latest technology and new features and dubbed it the SWATCOM Active8 line of headsets. Today the new SWATCOMs represent the future direction of electronic hearing protection for professional and recreational shooters and is offered exclusively at the USA and Canadian distributor for Talking Headsets, SRS Tactical.
The SWATCOM Active8 headsets feature the same housing design as the former MSA Sordin models, but with a few upgrades. While the traditional three-button functionality remains the same (ON/OFF, Volume UP/DOWN), the battery cap on the external power compartment now features an attached lanyard to prevent loss. A new battery save feature will give the supplied AAA batteries an estimated lifespan of 600 hours by automatically turning off the electronics after four hours of continual runtime. A leather headband protects the cabling and supports the ear pieces.
Featuring upgrades to its Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) and microprocessor, the SWATCOM Active 8 combines low-current audio signals with high performance cutoff that instantly compresses external sound impulses at a safe 82dB(A) level, while reducing them to 18dB level at the ear. The independent twin speakers provide 360-degrees of audio attenuation while maintaining clarity and awareness. Between the lowest and highest audio settings there are four levels of audio signal to choose from.
Specifications for SWATCOM Active8
- Waterproof electronics and microphone up to 1-meter for 30min
- Auxiliary input jack for compatible communication devices
- GEL ear-seals to ensure complete protective seal around the ear and to the head
- Leather headband
- Five-year warranty
The SWATCOM Active8 currently comes in Green (featured), Black, Sand and Multicam.
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Good (4/5): At $330 for high-quality hearing protection, the SWATCOMs are worth every penny. Add into the cost that you are buying the same legacy as the MSA Sordin headsets (which are currently $299), but with updated technology, then the consumer will see the Active8’s value grows. In the end, your hearing is irreplaceable and if you spend a significant amount of time in high-noise environments, then protecting it with a quality product shouldn’t even be a question.
- Comfort – Excellent (5/5): If you have been wearing lower-cost electronic headsets, such as Howard Leight that use foam cell padding in the ear cup, then stepping up into active electronic hearing protection with Gel ear pads is almost orgasmic. The dimensions of the SWATCOM ear cup completely enclose the ear, so the gel seals against the head rather than pinching on parts of the ear (a constant problem for me with Howard Leights). Wearing the SWATCOM for long durations is almost unnoticeable whereas other electronic headsets will cause headaches or soreness in the jaw from excessive pressure as the headset is attempting to clamp the foam earcups against the ear.
- Durability – Good (4/5): Advertised as waterproof to a degree (and with the AUX cap installed), the long-term durability of the SWATCOMs remains unclear. But the overall system won’t fail in outdoor rain or splash of the occasional water. Otherwise much of the same durability that made Sordin Pros popular is carried over in the current SWATCOM line. The leather headband and gel ear pads will likely bear the brunt of most wear, and sanitation kits are available to keep them clean and functional.
- Functionality – Good (4/5): Functionally the SWATCOM headset is pretty straight forward. When ON the sound mitigation is almost immediate, and the button adjustments provide a tangible feel/click/audible beep when adjusting. But with advancements in the ASIC technology, added lanyard to the battery cap to avoid loss, and automatic power shutoff, the headset has a very good level of improved functionality for both professional or recreational shooters. The 360-audio awareness is notable as the dual speakers in the SWATCOM give an almost surreal level of hearing sensitivity in all directions. It should be noted that while shooting at an indoor range at a pratical 2-Gun match I observed others needing to double up their hearing protection, while I fould the lowest audio setting provided the mest mitigation of the indoor sound mitigation while still being able to hear verbal commands.
- Weight – Average (3/5): Weighing in at 1 pound, the SWATCOMs are hardly noticeable when worn (thanks in part to even pressure holding the weight of the headset against the ear rather than leaving it to pull down on the head). In comparison to other electronic headsets, the SWATCOM is heavier than lower-cost models, but comparative in weight to other professional-grade systems, such as from Peltor or Safariland.
Overall Rating – Good (20/25)
I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.
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