My first high-performance regulator was a side breather, and I loved it! Keeping exhaust bubbles out of my field of view is a massive benefit that you don’t appreciate until you experience it. Unfortunately at that time, side breather regulators had the drawback of wet breathing and as technology advanced the side exhaust regulator was left behind. The technology has now made a quantum leap with the Hollis 500 SE. The 500SE utilizes a servo controlled valve to provide precision airflow and unparalleled performance. To achieve this, Hollis/Oceanic have perfected their original “lever-servo valve” they designed 35 years ago.
The 500SE’s pneumatically balanced servo-valve is actually a two-stage valve. Just a small sip through the mouthpiece opens the servo mechanism or control valve lever. Air flow from the servo valve creates a vacuum which immediately opens the main valve diaphragm allowing air to flow through the regulator to the mouthpiece. Instead of one small port to provide air flow from the first stage, the 500SE features porting around the entire main valve. With less restriction from the first stage, this allows maximum performance.
This pneumatically balanced regulator has a large soft-purge cover for easy clearing of the regulator, patented orthodontic mouthpiece for comfort and reduced jaw fatigue. The 500SE is easy to disassemble without the use of tools and even underwater if necessary. Another big advantage is that it can be configured for left-or-right positioning, no upside down. The obvious feature of the side exhaust configuration is that bubbles don’t get in a diver’s face when they exhale. Recreational divers and especially underwater photographers will appreciate that. The regulator is made from impact resistant Delrin plastics, rubber, stainless steel and chrome plated brass with silicone rubber components.
The DC7 first stage regulator is an overbalanced diaphragm first stage. It provides ideal hose routing for both back mount and sidemount users and optimum performance regardless of depth. The combination of 500 SE and the DC 7 produce one of the best-performing regulators on the market, perfect for both technical and recreational divers.
I believe once you try the 500 SE that it will be your benchmark for regulator design. The design allows you to comfortably route your hoses any way, you like and makes the 500 SE a great choice in an emergency as a backup air source. The positioning of the side exhaust valve is another example of purposeful design. Keeping exhaust bubbles out of your field of view is a huge benefit for all divers. Photographers and videographers however, will be especially thankful for the unobstructed views.
If you are thinking about a new regulator, make sure you trial the Hollis 500 SE.