1-Wire vs. 2-Wire: How to Choose the Right Surveillance Earpiece

It’s time to purchase a new surveillance earpiece. You want to pick the perfect product, but you don’t want to go overboard in terms of technological capabilities or cost. So how do you choose?

One of the most common questions we get from customers is whether they should go with a 1-wire surveillance earpiece or a 2-wire surveillance earpiece. We created this blog to help answer that question, so keep reading to learn more!

What Is a 1-Wire Surveillance Earpiece?

With 1-wire surveillance earpieces, there is a single cable that travels from the radio connector to the PTT unit and then onto the earpiece. Because they don’t have as much cable as their 2-wired cousins, users of 1-wire surveillance earpieces are limited to wearing the PTT and mic on their collar or lapel.

When Is a 1-Wire Surveillance Earpiece Used?

The most common markets for 1-wire surveillance earpieces are:

  • Security teams and patrols
  • Event staff
  • Hotels and hospitality

In general, 1-wire surveillance earpieces are more ideal for warmer climates or when users are wearing short-sleeved shirts or uniforms. 1-wire listen-only earpieces are best suited for situations in which users only need to monitor radio communications and are typically more cost-effective than 1-wire earpieces with PTT and mic. Listen-only earpieces could be used by shift supervisors or police departments, for example, who do not need to talk to others (they simply want to keep an ear on radio traffic).

What Is a 2-Wire Surveillance Earpiece?

2-wire surveillance earpieces have separate cables for the PTT/mic unit and earpiece, which gives users the option of wearing the PTT/mic on their lapel or running it down their sleeve.

When Is a 2-Wire Surveillance Earpiece Used?

The most common markets for 2-wire surveillance earpieces are:

  • Police
  • Corrections
  • High-end security at establishments like casinos and resorts
  • Factories, construction sites, and industrial uses

2-wire surveillance earpieces are more “covert”, making them the preferred choice for discrete applications like among secret service agents who hold the mic in the hand.

Regardless of your industry or profession, choosing the right type of surveillance earpiece at the outset is the best way to ensure you get the most out of the device over its lifetime.


IMPACT™ is a world leader in the design and manufacture of unique communication products including surveillance earpieces for a range of industries and applications including public safety, security, hospitality, and others. Contact us today to learn more about our product offering!

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Categories: Headsets