Hary Milas 28 March 2021
The new Squadra One radio system is produced by the world-renowned Vokkero brand.
The New Radio
Vokkero Squadra One
VOKKERO is the brand used for more than 15 years by almost all the professional football leagues and federations in the world. The VOKKERO Squadra has been used during the last 4 Football World Cups.
Our Experience – initial testing
We tested a four-radio set at a recent referee training session.
We gave the radios to current A-League referees, NPL referees and current users of various other radio systems on the market.
The first reaction from all users was the amazement of the quietness of the headsets and radios, no background noise at all.
The first thing most asked was “is it on?” they were surprised when they received a crystal clear response from the other users saying “yes.”
The feedback from all users at training as they were extremely impressed with the noise cancelling of the units. It was like a normal game environment, a game was in progress with typical shouts and noise associated with a match, maybe a little more than normal as we two teams of referees playing each other.
The radios will activate only with a voice that is close to the microphone, it takes a little getting used to, most officials are used to a constant audio effect in their ears. It brings a smile to your face when you place the headsets in your ear and you hear nothing until your other users speak.
They are also used to hearing feedback and a slight buzz when they are close to another radio.
Some of the quotes we heard at training were, “the best available,” “ I can’t believe the quality,” “These are sensational”, “How small are they” positive comments all around.
Match Day Test One
Conditions: Very Heavy Rainfall for the duration of the game, almost like having a bucket being tipped over your head – associated wind
Equipment used: Vokkero Squadra One radios with KEN220 headsets
The conditions as described above were probably the worst you can encounter on the pitch with driving rain.
Being the first time to use the Vokkero Squadra One system, the conditions had us expecting constant wind noise, this is an issue we have consistently found with other radio systems.
The wind noise through the always-on microphones makes it very disconcerting during the match, it also makes it very difficult to hear what is being said over the wind hitting the microphone. Most people experience this when talking on a mobile phone outside in the wind, you can imagine how difficult it can be.
The Vokkero system with its built-in noise-cancelling technology took away the expected issue with wind noise through the mics. The system uses three levels of patented noise reduction technology, it delivers complete silence until one of the uses speaks. No background noise – white noise, no buzzing, no crackling, dropping out whist speaking, just a clear delivery of the audio from the users.
The noise-cancelling of the Vokkero seems to also somehow block out voices not associated with the user, this again adds to the wonderful world-class experience of the Vokkero Squadra One system,
The consistent rain that had us all soaking wet, the rain also got into our ear canals-as expected. We found the headsets became slippery in these conditions. The in-ear pieces moved a little with us running the game, a little piece of medical tape at half time helped this issue, although given the continuing rain it was not perfect. We cannot pass judgment as to other headpieces and the issue of the water and movement as this amount of rain had not been experienced by the users using communication equipment.
The radios and their intended purpose to deliver communication for the duration of the match was successful. It did so with impressively clear audio throughout the game given the above extreme conditions.
It surpassed our expectations.
If we were to expect these types of conditions again we would suggest using the Phonac Mic Earpiece. See review of this below.
We used medical tape in these conditions given our experience with the earpiece movement on our first game. The medical tape ensured a secure comfortable fit eradicating the movement in the wet.
The audio and performance were consistent with our first game with added clarity. We found the audio slightly clearer on this game.
We concluded that the water in our ears in the previous test hindered the audio a little by way of blockage.
Both AR’s had supporters and team benches in very close proximity to their line, the audio from the excitable supporters (who apparently knew more about the LOTG than us) did not activate the microphones. We have found that in other systems all sounds and voices are heard at all times.
The AR 1’s microphone closet to the technical area did not activate with coaches delivery of instructions or appealing for a free-kick, not even congratulating the referee for a correct decision against them (yeah right.)
We again found the noise cancelling of the system very impressive, we kept on checking the system was on by way of checking in with each other due to the silence when we did not need to communicate with each other.
A successful game experience with quality communication. A very impressive experience with hassle-free usability.
Match Day Test Three
Conditions: Sunny day with blustery strong winds for the duration of the match
Equipment used: Vokkero Squadra One radios with Phonak Headsets
We used the top of the line Phonak headsets (see review below) on this game.
We used the Phonak headsets and all three radios. The quality of the headsets and the added noise cancelling in them made for a first-class experience.
The audio is simply the best quality we have encountered, crystal clear audio delivered to the very comfortable earpiece. Again the blustery conditions were constant for the entire game, even with the wind the audio was exemplary. We did not have any interference that may have been caused by the wind, this type of wind would render some other systems unusable.
The pitch was an open field with no buildings to shield the wind from the pitch, this would be a typical field for many grassroots/semi-professional game situations.
In the last 15 minutes of the game the heavens opened up, we got drenched with rain as per our first test game. The audio was not compromised at all, the driving rain with the wind did not affect the performance or the headphone wearability.
Quality crystal clear audio that was most impressive, we found that this configuration was the best possible sound and user experience achievable for this price bracket.
Vokkero Squadra One Radio Communication System
2,3 and 4 user configurations
- Vokkero Squadra One Radios
- Ken 220 headsets
- Charging cradle
- x 1 Backpack
- Can support up to 4 users in total
- Peer-to-peer network, no base station or master units
- 800-meter line-of-sight range
- Over 10 hours of battery life
- Encrypted transmissions to secure your calls
- Crisp, clear, clean sound in any condition
- Size 95 mm x 50 mm x 13 mm
- Light and compact 100 grams
- Waterproof (IP67)
Vokkero has developed three levels of patented noise reduction technology in their radios. Twenty years of expertise and R&D in France with patent protection on its technology.
The Phonak Headset is the best professional headset for the sport, used by more than 95% of the professional Soccer referees all around the World.
This headset includes a very sensitive microphone for optimum audio quality. Durable and solid combined micro-headset adapted to all ear types.
Very high-quality boom-mic headset
Long-lasting comfort, no parts covering or hanging off the outer ear
No pressure around the head or discomfort: total freedom
Excellent speech intelligibility: crystal-clear sound
Vokkero SQUADRA ONE + Phonak Headset = the same audio quality as the Vokkero communication system already used in the latest Soccer World Cup 2018 in Russia.
Strong points of this headset:
VOKKERO is the brand used for more than 15 years by almost all the professional football leagues and federations in the world.
The VOKKERO SQUADRA has been used during the last 4 Football World Cups.
FIFA LIST OF INSPECTED VAR AND COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS PROVIDERS
Yapalong and Vokkero both feature in the list.