February 2011 Issue

In-The-Ear Headsets: Halo is a Top Value

A headset based upon earplugs isnít for every head or every mission, but the Halo offers comfort and versatility. Lightspeedís Mach 1 is the best performer.

After a couple of hours, most people are ready to get out of a traditional, skull-clamping headset. Go eight hours in a sweaty cockpit, and wearing even a top-of-the line Bose A20 or Lightspeed Zulu gets old. The alternative is an in-the-ear (ITE) headset, which is fundamentally a pair of earplugs with speakers and a mic. Donít knock earplugs. When inserted correctly, they offer noise reduction comparable to all but the best ANR headsets (We tried. Itís true.) They donít clamp down on your head or cause sweat to bead up around your ears, either. Still, they arenít for everyone. They require more practice and patience than a headset you can just toss on. They arenít for pilots who jump in and out of aircraft all day. ITE headsets are small and light, but the thin cords and tubes are more susceptible to tangling or breakage. And then thereís earwax. It will get on the earplug tips (call them eartips) and require keeping a bag of them on hand to replace as needed.

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