Earlier this year, 3M Peltor released a new version of their popular ComTac headset, the ComTac VI. Technical advances from the ComTac VI and ComTac III have improved by refining hearing, comfort, and maximizing frequencies. Although, they both have a similar look and many of the features are the same, the upgraded features of the ComTac VI have given advanced improvements to the headset. The new headset was given technical advances that are specifically designed for warfighters and law enforcement professionals.
We will discuss the similarities and differences between both the III and VI models of 3M’s ComTac headset by exploring the many features
- Sound/Environmental Listening
- Battery Life
- Noise Reduction Rating
The ComTac III has been relied upon by PEO soldiers and special forces warfighters for over the last decade. However, the 3M Peltor ComTac VI has many new state of the art features that will clearly enhance the modern warfighters critical communications. The ComTac VI has new omnidirectional microphones and speakers that improve the overall sound quality of the headset. The sound in the VI has a more natural and clear sound designed especially for military combat operations in loud environments.
The environmental listening feature allows external audio to come through the headset at a safe decibel. A microphone on the outside of the headset can sense if the noise level is above the desired threshold and compresses the sound to a safe level. This is essential for warfighters where situational awareness is key. The ComTac VI also picks up sounds and transmits them more clearly and accurately. Environmental listening is especially important for warfighters because sound detection, sound identification, sound localization and speech communication are all important audio components necessary for efficiency and safety.
The ComTac III has the same environmental listening as the VI, that allows for situational awareness and verbal face to face conversation. Both headsets have single and dual COMM configuration made available. The ComTac VI has multi-COMM capabilities.
The ComTac VI has a new MAP (Mission Audio Profiles) option that allows you to adjust auditory settings. In more recent versions you were only able to increase or decrease the volume. This new MAP function provides listening modes that enhance the audio in 5 conditions.
Profile 1: Observation
- When you are standing and sitting still, this audio profile has the highest volume and widest frequency to maximize hearing.
Profile 2: Patrol
- High volume and limited high frequencies. This limits the sound of footsteps, grass or moving equipment on a person.
Profile 3: Conversation
- Maximize frequencies for face to face communication. This also lowers outside frequencies outside of the average speech volume.
Profile 4: Comfort
- Used when in noise for a long period of time like when inside a vehicle. This is good for when environmental listening is not a priority and communication and comfort is. This profile has low volume and narrow frequencies.
Profile 5: Mic off
- In this newest headset, you are now able to turn off the environmental listening feature without the need to power down the headset. This is a good idea in high noise environments where you don’t need the outside sound to help with communication.
NIB Natural Interaction Behavior
The newest feature in the VI headset is called NIB which stands for Natural Interaction Behavior. This allows the headsets to connect automatically when your teammates are within a 5-10m radius and when background noise is detected at a high level (72 decibels or above). This new technology allows you to listen at any given time allowing 4 team members and 60 people able to listen at a time.
ComTac VI and ComTac III both take two AAA batteries. The battery life is noticeably different between the two though. The VI has about 350 hours of battery life while the III has about 500 hours of battery life. This difference in battery life could be that there are more features in the newest headset as opposed to the later versions, that require more power. On the plus side, in both versions, external communication and environmental listening are fail-safe so in an event of an electronic failure, they will still both be operable.
Noise Reduction Rating
The external mics on the ComTac III have a noise reduction rating of 23. The ComTac VI is offered in several configuration options that can result in different NRR. They usually range from 20-23.
The colors are the same in both the ComTac III and VI. They can come in Foliage Green, Covert Black, Coyote Brown, and OD Green. The design of the ear cup in the VI has changed to ensure it is compatible with warfighter systems. The thickness of the cup now lies to a ½ an inch at the top, so it is compatible with mid and full cut helmets. The headset cable is in the front band to ease pressure points. In the case of a HALO operation, a second microphone port is available for connection to oxygen. The IV also provides stability and balance for full head movement. When the ear cups are closed, they will compress against the head. The ear cups also allow for ventilation in high heat environments by opening the headset. You are still able to monitor communication when having the headset open.
Lastly, 3M redesigned the boom microphone with their new patented closed cell foam. This allows for a more improved noise canceling microphone so high wind and noise are not a distraction.
Let us know what you think of the new 3M headset. Comment below.
Update September 2021: The 3M Peltor Comtac III is discontinued and replaced with the Comtac V headset. Find more information on the Comtac III discontinuation here.
About the Author
TAYLOR THOMAS is a Marketing Manager at First Source Wireless. With her experience in critical communications, she helped public safety professionals enhance their communication through the help of tactical headsets. Taylor has also attended many conferences including International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO), and International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE).