Military headphones, earphones and headsets perform one or more of several main functions, including reduction in volume of loud or unwanted noises such as explosions, gunshots and engine noise, and amplification of desired sounds and audio signals that may be too quiet to hear effectively. They may also include a standard or throat microphone for voice communication, and provide standard audio jack, USB or Bluetooth connectivity as well as a push-to-talk function.
Headphones and ear defenders are used by the armed forces to prevent hearing loss and fatigue, and may also incorporate active or passive noise-canceling technology that lessens the effect of background noise found in many military vehicle and aircraft environments. They can enhance situational awareness, minimizing missed or misunderstood commands and audio cues. Army headphones may fit under or be integrated into military helmets and ballistic shells, and include soft liners, ventilation, and bump protection for users in vehicles moving over rough terrain.
Military headsets may also use earbud-style in-ear headphones, which may not provide as much protection against loud noises but can still utilize noise canceling. They have the advantage of being lighter and more compact, and may be more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. Earbuds are ideal for applications such as patrolling, where the wearer must still maintain audio awareness of their environment.
Waterproof & Rugged Earbuds
Headphones may need to be built to withstand harsh environmental conditions such as wind, rain, snow and ice, as well as extremes of temperatures, and provide ingress protection against liquid, dust and sand. Some headsets may be able to survive immersion in water down to a particular depth, making them ideal for combat divers. Military standards for environmental protection and EMI (electromagnetic interference) that headphone designs may need to comply with include MIL-STD-810G and MIL-STD-461F.