What is VOX on a walkie-talkie?

15 june 2021

Nowadays, most models of two-way radios or walkie-talkies have a PTT function to allow the user to communicate and broadcast their message at large. Another feature, that most of our rental Motorola walkie-talkies have, is the VOX (“voice-operated exchanged” or "voice activated transmission") capability. 

Essentially, VOX two way radios allows the users to communicate through the device hands-free by simply speaking to an attached accessory, in this case, a microphone. When activated, the device then picks up the user’s voice and transmits it just as it would with the PTT function when it hears the user speak. 

As mentioned above, the hands-free feature is ideal for workers or recreational use when your hands aren’t available to use the PTT function or for ergonomics on non-stop usage throughout the day.

Fun fact: Cell phones use VOX technology as well!


How to set up a headset on your VOX device?

First thing’s first. If you’re using a VOX headset, verify that your rechargeable two-way radio is turned off. Secondly, plug in your headset, and then you can immediately turn the radio back on. Your device should then detect the presence of a VOX accessory input device, in this case the microphone, and show the VOX icon on the display. 

The next crucial step is to verify the VOX sensitivity. Typically, most users tend to set the VOX with the least sensitivity, since they work in noisy environments and don’t want all that excess noise to trigger the recorder. Earpieces are typically the preferred option for loud environments and for them to be more concealed.

Different two-way radios models have different sensitivity levels. Let us help you make sure you get the proper equipment for your needs!

Sound activation

The technology behind the VOX feature isn’t specifically designed to recognize the user’s voice and turn on; it will react to any ambient sound it hears, given the tolerance adjustment isn’t optimized. 

This is specifically why handheld two-way radio manufacturers have included a switch between PTT and VOX, to get the proper setting for the environment, and an adjustment for the VOX sensitivity to assist with the noise activation setting to not pick up ambient sounds when the individual is in a loud setting. It may take a bit of testing to get the adjustment right at first, but once it’s there - set it and forget it. 

It is always ideal that, before purchasing or renting two-way radios with VOX function, to verify if the sensitivity of the device is adequate for the intended use.

Delay option

The delay option on is a setting that allows the user to give a small lapse of time to continue recording after it stops hearing your voice, to counteract the regular pauses that occur in conversation. Evidently, the longer the delay, the longer the device will be receptive after it stops hearing sound. It goes without saying that the background noise has an influence on when the dual band mobile radio stops recording to begin the delay. 

An older method of overcoming the recording delay is to let out a “uh” to trigger the recording and not have the beginning of your phrase cut out. Modern VOX circuits eliminate this issue, but some folks still prompt the device by letting out the classic “uh”.

Which industries rely on VOX?


When air traffic controllers (ATC) spend most of their time communicating with aircrafts at long range, it would be a waste of resources, not to mention also an extra step, to communicate with pilots if they were to use PTT equipment. VOX allows them to speak quickly and efficiently, without needing to use a push to talk button. 


A great deal of security teams use VOX technologies in their communication devices. In a quieter setting, for instance, a more discreet option could be using an earpiece paired with a VOX walkie-talkie. This would allow the personnel to listen to instructions without it being broadcasted out loud. It can also allow for more discreet surveilling for more delicate situations.


When covering great ground in your line of work, the use of bidirectional radios are more than necessary. When your hands are busy doing work, it’s sometimes impossible to reach to your walkie-talkie and communicate.


Rock climbers are the perfect example of people who’d want to use two-way radio communications when engaging in their sport. Both hands are typically busy engaged in the sport, thus communicating with voice only is a great option.


VOX walkie-talkie rentals for professional and commercial use at Accès Communication

Renting walkie-talkies isn’t always as easy as it sounds. With over 20 years of experience in the world of radio equipment, our team at Accès Communications will be more than glad to answer your questions and inquiries with expert guidance in the field. We will direct you to the proper Motorola two-way radio equipment in order to efficiently take on the job.


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