PERCEPTION VS. MEASUREMENT
A live round splits the air with an ear-shattering crack. That was loud, you think. Good thing you’re wearing hearing protection. But how loud was it? While our perception tells us a particular sound is loud, (and we should be protecting our hearing, even if that means jamming our fingers in our ears), only measurement can validate frequency ranges and decibel ratings.
“There’s a few different ways we can use our equipment to confirm a reading, and we use it for both R&D and production, and getting certifications,” says Brad Medine, Category Director for TCI.
Through careful audio measurement of a unique environment—like a Blackhawk helicopter in flight—TCI can design, manufacture and test hearing and communications equipment specifically for that environment. “We can take that same level of noise and frequency range and re-enact it inside of our chamber and get a solid reading on how well our equipment performs.”
In communications, having an equally balanced headset not only improves your ability to hear audio clearly, it’s also necessary for achieving accurate sound localization. If a headset isn’t balanced, it can throw off your ability to identify where sounds are coming from. For instance, if you’re at a shooting range and there’s a bunch of people around you, you want to know exactly where they are at all times. The need for 360 degrees of situational awareness becomes even more critical in a tactical environment. Imagine being on a mission and you hear the sound of someone cocking a weapon, and you don’t know if the sound came from behind you, or off to the left. A balanced headset provides the most accurate sound localization, so you can correctly discern where that sound originated.
In addition to testing headsets for balance, TCI also has the capability to test all of its components, before they’re become integrated into a complete piece of equipment. “This information is extremely valuable when it comes to product development,” says Brad, “and we can use this to test every individual component to make sure our speakers, our microphones, even our earmuffs outperform everything else on the marketplace. It really does give us an advantage.”
TWO LABS, ONE FACILITY
One of the unique aspects of the Safariland TCI facility is that engineers have the ability to fire a live round in the ballistics lab, measure the frequency range and decibel rating of that particular firearm or round, and then replicate it in the acoustics lab. The information is then used to develop or test a product for that specific audio environment. “It’s phenomenal to think we have both a ballistics lab and an acoustics lab under the same roof in production. This is just another example of how we all work together to save lives.”
VALIDATION & RESPONSIVENESS
Once products are tested and validated, the results are documented in the Safariland TCI system. This is necessary for ISO quality testing, and the logs are also useful in the future if a customer has a question about the equipment. “We can bring up the log of when the equipment was tested and the range it performed in, and have documentation on the testing that was done. It’s a great tool to be able to have and to say, ‘It did test in range.'”
Brad takes great pride the Safariland TCI service department. “When things break or they’re not working properly we are extremely responsive.” If a customer hears a noise in one ear of the headset, or thinks the headset isn’t balanced, Brad can hook it up to audio testing equipment, run a test and verify the exact problem. Measurement, validation, and responsiveness: they all lead back to one purpose — “We’ve been developing the highest level of communication equipment for over 20 years,” says Brad. “We have one goal, and that is to give our operators the tactical advantage to ultimately save lives.”
Learn more about TCI and their line of communication solutions and hearing protection here.