Security Officer wearing an acoustic tube earpiece in ear

Earpieces are a great way to hear radio transmissions directly in your ear instead of being broadcasted out loud. They’re perfect for covert communications and are popular among law enforcement, security officers, FBI, secret service, and more.

Earpieces may seem easy to wear but there are some tips to make them more comfortable and sturdier while in your ear. In this blog, we’ll go over the 4 easy steps for properly wearing a radio earpiece.

4 Steps to Wearing a Radio Earpiece

Step 1: Put Earpiece in Ear

We’ll start at the top and work down. This way you have room to adjust the fit how you like it before attaching the mic or PTT to yourself. Wrap the acoustic tube around the back of your ear so it sits properly and is not loose. Then place the earbud inside your ear.

Step 2:  Place the Mic in the Best Position

There are a couple of places for your earpiece mic that is considered the best position. You’ll want to place your mic where it can pick up your voice.  One way is to place the mic on your collar just below your head. Another way if you want to be more covert, is to place the mic on your sleeve.

You’ll want the mic to be placed a couple of inches away from your mouth when you’re talking to avoid a muffled sound. This placement is completely up to you so try a few places and figure out which works best for you.

Step 3: Connect to the Radio

Now that the mic is securely attached to you, bring the wire down to your radio. For a more covert look run the wire underneath your shirt. Then, affix the earpiece connector to your radio. Make sure it's securely attached to your radio and not loose which can disrupt the connection.

Step 4: Test Your Earpiece

Testing 1…2…3. Once everything is set up, test that your earpiece works. Try talking to your partner on the radio, are they able to hear you? If so, looks like your earpiece is set up correctly.

If there’s any discomfort, you can’t hear, or your mic sounds muffled, try adjusting the radio earpiece until you are satisfied.

How to Style an Earpiece with Multiple Wires?

In some cases, your earpiece might have either 2 wires or 3 wires. These types of surveillance kits are used mainly for covert communication to conceal the wires for a discreet look. Many secret services and plain-clothed officers don’t want to make it obvious they are wearing wires.

With several wires, it can be confusing where each wire goes. We’ll explain where to place each wire depending on the type of surveillance kit.

Two Wire Surveillance Kit Set Up

On a two-wire surveillance kit, one wire holds the push-to-talk button/microphone, while the other houses the acoustic tube.

With this style, you’ll run the wire with the PTT button and microphone across the body and down your sleeve. The second wire with the earpiece can be brought straight up from the radio to your ear. For a discreet look, these wires are underneath clothing.

Two Wire Surveillance Kit Set Up

Three Wire Surveillance Kit Set Up

On a three-wire surveillance kit, one wire holds the PTT button, the second wire holds the microphone, and the third holds the acoustic tube.

To set this up, bring the wire with the earpiece up to your ear and place properly in your ear, then take the wire with the microphone and affix it to your lapel (collar or shirt). Lastly, take the wire with the PTT button and run it across and down your sleeve and bring the mic to your hand.

 3 Wire Surveillance Kit Earpeice

Making a Radio Earpiece More Comfortable

If worn for a long period, earpieces tend to cause ear discomfort. There are a few ways you can fix ear fatigue.

  1. Take breaks. Take the earpiece out of your ear when you don’t need to have it in. Even if it's only for a few minutes at a time, it will help your ear breathe.
  2. Change the ear tip. Typically, an acoustic tube comes with a standard mushroom ear tip. These are known to fall out of ears easily and be uncomfortable.

    One alternative is a semi-custom open ear insert. These fit right on your acoustic tube and offer a flexible breathable fit and come in 3 sizes (small, medium, large) making them customizable.

    Flexible Open Ear Insert

    Another alternative is the Comply™ foam tips. This is an extremely soft breathable foam ear tip that conforms to the inside of your ear for a tight seal. These are noise canceling and allow you to hear in loud environments.
Comply Foam Eartips

Shop Ear Inserts and Tips

Benefits of a Radio Earpiece

A lot of people prefer using earpieces because radio transmission is not broadcasting out loud, like a speaker microphone. This keeps eavesdroppers from overhearing important conversations.

Another benefit of earpieces is you can hear radio conversations better since the earpiece is in your ear. Sound can be easily transmitted because the microphone doesn’t pick up a lot of background noise.

Lastly, as mentioned before, it's great for covert communication. Undercover agents and plain-clothed officers can stay hidden, and the public would hardly know they’re mic’d up.


Downsides of a Radio Earpiece

While earpieces are great, there are some cons to radio earpieces that you should be aware of when wearing or buying.

  1. Ear fatigue

As mentioned before, earpieces can cause ear fatigue if worn for a long time. Luckily, there are other ear tip options than the traditional mushroom tip, that will help fight ear fatigue.

  1. Don’t work well with Hearing Aids

They don’t work well with people who wear hearing aids because the ear tip needs to sit inside your ear. If you do wear hearing aids, look for earpieces that sit over the ear instead of inside.

Over the Ear Earpiece
  1. Require proper cleaning

Earpieces with clear acoustic tubes require frequent cleaning. Acoustic tubes are known to cause blockage by ear wax or moisture. If you're having trouble hearing out of your earpiece, it might be as simple as cleaning the acoustic tube. Luckily, this is an easy task and doesn’t require a lot of time.


Waveband Communications is a two-way radio accessories manufacturer for the largest names in radios. Our accessories are used by thousands of agencies around the nation. Interested in our accessories for covert communication?

TAYLOR THOMAS is a Marketing Manager at Waveband Communications. With her experience in critical communications, she helped public safety clients enhance their team communication through the help of two-way radio accessories. Read more articles by Taylor Thomas.

Acoustic tube earpiecesEarpieceListen-only earpieceSurveillance kit

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published