Jun 16

New tandem headset system

by in Stuff

Recently my very ancient review on the Tandem Club of America website brought me in touch with a blind tandemist from the Amsterdam area. Richard was hell-bent on finding a great solution as he has many “pilots” who don’t hear well. After exploring the Wiwi from Korea which looked promising but they were impossible to communicate with and had no refunds and another system that was $1000+ designed for surgeons, we settled on giving the Arbiter a try. They’re designed for, and widely used by, referees and sold in the USA with a brief return policy. They’re not inexpensive, about $500 for a pair with headsets (use the $25 coupon code you get when you subscribe). We decided given that our old Simultalk from Eartec was needing repair and they’re not making it anymore and we were tired of the wires of our very old Tandem-Com (note they do offer a wireless system but it’s using Eartec’s Simultalk) that it was worth trying the Arbiter since we’d have a narrow 3-day return window.

We rode about 55 miles yesterday with our new Arbiter system. Here’s a summary of the pros and cons. Bottom line, we’re keeping it.

Pros:

  • small & light weight
  • well-made and sturdy construction
  • excellent headset, can easily switch ears as needed
  • no interference experienced between us or with others around us
  • charged quickly in wall
  • wind did not seem to be an issue
  • Full Duplex Communication System (No Push-To-Talk required)
  • Waterproof (IP65)
  • lasted way longer than any other device we’ve tried which is a HUGE plus for us (advertised as 10+ Hours of battery Life)
  • Charged in about 2 hours (advertised as a charging Time: 3 Hours)
  • We could talk when pretty far apart (2 floors in our building still worked without line-of-site, and when it finally didn’t work and I returned to range it reconnected automatically) advertised up to 800-meter line-of-sight range
  • 1 Year Warranty

Cons:

  • the antennae and headsets plug protrude from opposite ends of the device. Not a huge problem but slightly awkward for putting in a jersey pocket
  • the headset cord is short….just long enough to go under the arm to the back pocket. Would be too short to use these headsets in a wired device as stoker couldn’t stand if connected to captain by wires. They are reportedly working on making it longer and it’s not an issue now.
  • sound quality was not as high fidelity as I’d like. Several times Spencer sounded garbled enough that I had to have him repeat. This was close to a deal-breaker for me but since Spencer’s hearing is not that great he didn’t notice. And I like so much about it we both think it’ll be OK. Their rep suggested we re-pair when away from any other blue-tooth to see if that helped. They were surprised as they’re known for good sound quality.
  • Bluetooth pairing has to occur and took a while to figure out. Then turning it on each time is a multi-step process which we’re still learning but not a big deal. The documentation for this is not great. But once you have it you never need it again.
  • You have to reestablish the necessary volume setting each time since it’s a +/- system and not a dial that can be left at the setting.

I’ll report back after we ride STP with it next month. That’s back-to-back centuries. We’ll need to charge overnight but theoretically they should hold up each day without issue.

Post-STP Update

We were VERY happy with our headsets on STP. We had the headset on and working from 6 AM to 6 PM both days with a 2-hour charge before going to bed Saturday night. It never failed us. Please note that if you mention that I referred you we get a tiny commission. Thanks!

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