My Favorite 2-Way Radios For Restaurants
QUESTION From: Danielle in NC
“We’re looking to integrate headsets/lapel microphones for our FOH. Which ones do you like?”
I’ve only ever used the Vertex (EVX 530 series) back in the day and Motorola CLS walkies/headsets (most often & more recently) but put the question to a few folks in my immediate network and it seems these Motorolas really are the most popular and most widely used. As they say: “If it ain’t broke...”
The model I’m talking about is the Motorola CLS1110 / 1410 (or CLP which is like a CLS “earpiece only” radio & DLR which is the digital 900mhz version)
Frequency: UHF, GMRS, FRS, Business Band) and I just noticed that the Specialists at my local Target, Best Buy and Apple Stores uses them too. So if it’s good enough for Apple…
Like the Chevy Suburban, there’ve been very little changes to these models from year to year.
While the Vertex and other radios are more suited for outdoor use (with long rage / 3+watts of power) or multi-floor / large hotels; the lightweight / comfortable Motorolas are more suited for indoor use (shorter range -1watt).
Here’s what the general consensus seems to be as far as feedback, personal experience and online reviews go:
“Very affordable and very basic functionality so not a lot opportunity to push the wrong buttons, etc...”
“Hundreds of compatible audio accessories / earpieces.”
“Turns on, works, turns off! I have no complaints about these talkies.”
“...super durable, have some good distance and the clear channel feature is amazing.”
“We use them for weddings and entertainment gigs and we've run into overlapping channels and just hitting a button and moving us to a clear line instantly is priceless to have.”
“Excellent radio but could be louder
I'm using 2 of the radios at a high end nail salon in Bali, Indonesia for the front desk to communicate with the staff in the back room. When the key on the radio is pressed it emits a loud and unique tone to attract attention. However, even at full volume the speech coming through can be difficult to hear. When using an ear piece this is not an issue. Before bringing to Indonesia I tested in midtown NYC and picked up all kinds of radio chatter. Thanks to the many frequencies available on the Motorola, I was able to find a clear frequency.”
“The radios for our use may be a bit overkill but I like the fact they're rated to go through many floors of concrete and Motorola has an excellent reputation. The charging stations are well done and hold the radios vertically so they can be used while charging.”
“...rated for 220v!”
“The only negative aspect is the volume of the handheld radio. In a moderately noisy environment I fear I may miss a call if clipped to my belt / [not using the earpiece].”
“1 channel and 1 watt of power, providing coverage for up to 200,000 square feet. The CLS1110 supports 56 UHF business frequencies with 121 private line codes.”
Used at my local Apple Store
Easy to use
12hr battery life
5mi rural range
Charging station ports dont always work / sit loosely in the doc sometimes
The second most popular 2 way radio seems to be the Vertex (3watt EVX s24 DMR). Vertex Standard is owned by Motorola.You’ll see these in more hotel applications like Marriott / Ritz Carltons and is the closest competitor to the Motorola CLS series (and Kenwood TK3230 series).
It has loud digital quality sound that’s ideal for very noisy environments and outdoor applications.
Very Clear (digital) Coms
Very Light 8oz
(could wear around a lanyard)
Pre-program text msging
Channel Call Interrupt
The third most popular walkie / earpiece set was one I found through a fb group I moderate: -TIE- Kenwood & The Emerson Black Diamond $199.95
Not a lot of feedback either one of these other than identifying this brand/mode as “the ones we use” but from what I found online, these seem to be as small, lightweight, durable and reliable as the Motorola - just haven’t found anyone who can compare the two head to head.
“The CE420 packs a lot of punch at an economy price and has been popular in nightclubs for many years.”
A fourth option I found through some online research is the BF-888S Handie-Talkie By Baofeng.
These walkies seem to be more popular for outdoor / hunting use but their positive reviews and technical specs suggest they’d be strong contenders for indoor use as well.
“We have 250 acres we hunt on and they work all over the wooded property.”
“We use these radios programmed with an encode/decode tone for the church security team during special events. I have had only one issue with one radio, the speaker did not work, but the ear piece worked just fine.We only use the radios with the earpiece so it is not an issue.”
“The voice scramble function is very useful if you want additional privacy and can be turned off and on via the programming. I also have some of these programmed to ham radio frequencies for the local repeaters. The programming with the computer is simple and straight forward. I can program/re-program in about 15 seconds. I purchased all my radios for under $10 each, including shipping. You can not beat the flexibility and dependability of these talkies.”
“I just bought 5 more for a buddy of mine that is going hunting in Colorado. My wife and I use these radios all the time, everyday. The battery life is amazing.”
“I am licensed amateur radio operator and have been using radios for almost 30 years, but I believe these radios are simple enough for anyone to use. An outside antenna at the house or a roof magnet mount antenna on the vehicle will greatly extend the range of the radio. SMA to SO239 adaptors and GMRS/Ham antennas are available all over eBay.”
“They might not put out the 5 watts they claim but 2 watts is good and the battery lasts a long time. On receive they go into a low power mode if not scanning which is really nice and works good. I accidentally left one on new out of the box without charging the battery and three or four days later it was still receiving great and the battery only took about half a full charge.”
“Okay this is not the nicest radio that can be bought but it is a good 2 watt simple radio that grandma can even use on frs or gmrs frequencies to help keep track of family. For the price it is hard to beat. After programming these little guys are very good for short range communications”.
Good Batt Life
Simple to Use
Many other features programmable with software Built in VOX
Needs computer to program for some applications
You can program pf1(top red push-button) to monitor or toggle power from high low
If You’re not sold on the wireless walkies with wired earpieces/headsets; You might want to consider looking into paging solutions like this one:
Good luck and let me know what you decide on… As well as if you encounter someone who has tried Both the Motorola and the Emerson earpieces.