I know a lot of you have been asking for it, and now Gentex has added the RAC Communications Headset to the Ops-Core website for direct order. They are in stock and ready to ship. In fact, during a recent visit to their factory in Manchester, New Hampshire, I watched them assembling the RACs in anticipation of this move.
RAC consists of outer earcups, wireless earbuds and a boom microphone. It is a delicate balance between protecting and enabling hearing. From the beginning, Ops-Core wanted to offer an internal earbud, which greatly increases hearing protection. For example, with just the earcups, RAC offers 20db protection. By adding the NFMI earbuds, that protection is increased to 32 db. Adding RAC’s wireless earbuds isn’t analogous to adding foamies, which would block the Situational Awareness advantage. Additionally, wired inserts aren’t the answer because wires get in the way of pro masks, balaclavas, etc. Some systems use one form of RF signal or another but, that raises security issues due to encryption.
Instead, Ops-Core decided to use a magnetic system. It’s battery free and wireless. The audio signal stimulates a coil which becomes the transmit antenna. Because it uses a magnetic field to work, you must keep the coil contained in the earcup close to the earbuds. For instance, you can open the earcup slightly to vent, but you can’t move it to the rear in the storage position because the earbud won’t receive the signal.
The RAC features an interesting 3D hearing, Situational Awareness capability, made possible by the integration of what is essentially an artificial ear, combined with electronics. The intake for ambient noise is at an angle, like your ear, rather than flat across the front like on other systems. Inside the intake, the SA microphone is located at the top to avoid the effects of wind, and to help water drain down, after immersion.
Additionally, the external boom microphone is immersible and noise canceling. To swap sides for the boom microphone, you remove the plug and swap it. Although the earbuds are wireless, the earcuos are commected via a cable which is attached to the helmet via Velcro. Various cables are available for connection to comms systems.
Compatible with the Ops-Core FAST and Sentry Helmet Systems, RAC is designed to attach directly to the ARC Rail. RAC mounts to the lower, angled section of the ARC rail. This keeps it out of the way, leaving room for other accessories on the upper section of the rail.
The earcups are mounted on a gimbel to fit a wide variety of ear and head shapes, but one of the most unique features is that RAC has a built-in storage ability. The earcups rotate back to the rear of the helmet when not in use, creating a very low profile. In fact, the earcups aren’t visible from front view when stowed.
RAC is offered in Urban Tan, Foliage Green and Black. However, RAC accpets dipped patterns very well. Additionally, RAC can be purchased with the NFMI earplug capability or without. RACs purchased without the NFMI system are not upgradeable.