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What is the explanation for needing to wear these (in or out of universe)? It seems arbitrary that sometimes they have them, other times they don't. Characters don't seem to use them much either, reaching for the handheld radio or using the intercom loudspeaker. Perhaps there was some audio production value?

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Plantronics produces earpieces like this, so it may either be a prop or a real thing. They are bit on the pricey side, so it may be a prop, especially since the real thing is wired, and I believe the team in the show is using wireless headsets. I don't think Plantronics makes those, but other vendors are available. But as they are very expensive, easily in $300+ range, I don't think anyone in production would even try to justify this kind of expense.

This type of a headset is designed for constant use in high-noise environment (so high volume output, noise reduction functionality etc.). Ship's bridge, expedition C&C (Dr. Weir's case) or combat are prime examples of these, and provided pictures show no exceptions, and from the point of view of the actual story each time they are easily explainable, if not very common-sense.

For example, I think picture is from the time Ronon is taking part in search in Atlantis for Michael, so he needs both hands free to handle gun. All he uses is one finger to press button in this headpiece. Dr Beckett is also in need of use of both of his hands most of the time he's in his "office". Colonel Caldwell is a starship commander and he literally needs to be in constant communication with a lot of people, so for him is all-round-on-duty equipment.

If they're using radios with their hands while wearing these, only explanation is the headsets are part of different network, possibly internal for the facility (i.e. city of Atlantis) or a vessel, while radios are for other communication.

I doubt it would be for increasing sound quality for production, though. Those sets provide clear and loud sound, but it is hardware-altered for better voice, which would sound awful for viewers if used in the actual production.

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    I'm not really sure how this answer the question asked in any useful way
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 16:16
  • @Valorum 1) they are used when character needs both hands 2) they might be connected to internal network in Atlantis 3) they are used in high noise environment like gunfight (usually when people need to use both hands). And I am adding number 4) it is just a cool aesthetic.
    – jo1storm
    Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 11:03
  • The edit improves things. Can you identify in which episodes they're used?
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 11:24

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