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Pieps DSP Sport

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Product Description

Summary: The Pieps DSP Sport replaced the Pieps DSP Tour shortly after Black Diamond acquired Pieps in 2013. The Sport includes the strengths of the popular Tour plus a slew ofnotable enhancements. And the Sport costs $150 less than the Tour. Black Diamond is truly pushing the envelope with the price-to-features ratio of avalanche transceivers.


  • New Housing. The first thing you'll notice is the different appearance of the transceivers. Rather than the traditional Pieps-yellow, the Sport is now green and the Pro is brown-ish. The new models are slightly lighter than the older models if you include the harnesses and slightly heavier if you don't. They also have a smoother shape that makes the newer devices more pocket-friendly.
  • Controls. The next thing you'll notice is the updated Power/Send/Search switch. The new switch is much easier to operate while wearing gloves and is no longer subject to accidental changes by radios and magnets. The Pro version now has two buttons versus the original DSP's three.
  • Faster Searching. The directional indicators on the new DSPs sense and display changes in direction almost immediately. The older DSPs felt a little sluggish relative to the BCA Trackers.
  • New Display. The display screen is approximately 25% larger and is now made of hardened glass.
  • Improved Battery Life. The battery life was improved considerably by activating the "smart transmitter" only when the transceiver is relatively motionless. The Sport is still rated at 200 hours, but the Pro is rated at a whopping 400 hours.
  • New Harness. Now in its fourth iteration, the new harness is a pouch-style pocket that closes with a Fastex buckle. A clever design causes a pull on the closure strap to extract the transceiver from the pouch. The leash is elastic which makes it easier to extend while searching. The new harness is compatible with the original DSPs and can be purchased separately from Black Diamond.
  • Audible Indicator. While searching for another transceiver, the audible indicator now increases in pitch and cadence.
  • User Upgradeable. You can upgrade the newer DSPs via the internet using a special cable that needs to be purchased separately. Online updates are a first for avalanche transceivers and long overdue.
  • Multiple Burials. The new DSPs are much faster when marking multiple burials (via a quick press-and-release of the Flag button). This is a little confusing if you're used to the older DSPs, because pressing and holding the Flag button on the newer units has no effect (this will be changed on an upcoming software update). You can now "unmark" the last transceiver that was marked by pressing and holding the Mark button for three seconds.
  • Cadence Adjustment. The new DSPs no longer have the "Smart Transmitter" feature where the cadence of the transmission changes to reduce the likelihood of signal overlap during a two-victim multiple burial.
  • Antenna InteferenceAntenna Selection. The new beacons will transmit on the shorter (i.e., x-axis) antenna if the transceiver senses interference with other electronics (e.g., a cell phone) or if there is damage to the primary (i.e., y-axis) antenna. You can test this by waking up your phone (you don't need to be on a call) and holding your phone as shown in this picture. The display should then show that the shorter antenna is transmitting.
  • Battery Status. The battery status is now displayed as an icon that is either empty, 1/3, 2/3, or full. This is a downgrade from the original DSP and the Tour (and many other transceivers) which display the battery status as a percentage (e.g., when the battery now displays 1/3 charged, it can transmit from between 20 and 120 hours—a ridiculously imprecise range).
  • Improved User Manual. Although the new user manual is vastly improved, it's still filled with stilted sentences (e.g., "You can check punctually the angle of a slopes.").
  • Lower Price. The retail prices of the Sport and Pro are $75 less than the Tour and the original DSP.

Black Diamond obviously listened to feedback from their users and scoured BeaconReviews.com. The above changes, and the aggressive prices, once again position Pieps as an industry leader. You can't go wrong with either the Sport or Pro.

Back to Basics

The remainder of this review explains the core functions of the DSP Sport and DSP Pro. Other than the above mentioned changes (which are significant), these transceivers are basically unchanged from the Tour and original DSP.

The DSPs are undeniably strong contenders in a crowded market. They're small, have some of the longestreception ranges of the digitals (and an even longer on the DSP Pro), allow you to ignore a transceiver during a multiple burial, are excellent at dealing with spikes during deeper burials, and can be user-upgraded with newer features.

Searching: The DSPs have a long range and an intuitive direction indicator. The DSPs have outstanding range in the "worst case" antenna orientation (in many cases the DSPs' "worse case" range is better than when the antennas are aligned). That's a significant advantage because it makes it less likely that you'll fail to locate the victim during the coarse search.

As with almost all transceivers, if you are headed in the wrong direction (which can easily happen, since transceivers simply align you with the transmitting beacon's flux lines) you will need to notice that the distance is increasing and turn around.

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Multiple Burials: The handling of multiple burials is similar to other digital transceivers: you press the Flag button to ignore the current beacon and advance to the next beacon. The Pro also has a Scan function that will display the number of transmitters within 5, 20, and 50 meters. Read about the DSPs' multiple burial features here.

Spikes: The original Pieps DSP was the first three-antenna beacon and set the standard for spike handling. It remains excellent.

Controls: The switch that changes between Off, Send, and Search is the most intuitive of all the beacons I've reviewed. The Sport's single button, a flag, tells the transceiver to ignore the nearest transceiver during amultiple burial search.

Pieps DSP Pro

Comfort: The Pieps harness is now on its fourth generation. The new harness is a very comfortable pouch-style harness. It can be purchased separately from Black Diamond.

Other Features: All of the DSPs support the Pieps iProbe.

Pieps DSP Tour Avalanche Beacon
Pieps Tour

The DSPs will blink two of the little man icons () at the bottom of the screen if it senses a continuous background signal (i.e., an older analog beacon). To test this, I searched for an Ortovox M1 which had a strong background signal. The DSP's man icon did not blink during the coarse search, but it did display two blinking men during the fine search. The blinking men are an indication that the DSP is aware of an unusual signal.

Upgrades: The firmware can be user upgraded using a special cable. Read about the latest software updates here.

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