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Review of Clarity Aloft Aviation Headset

June 2008

You may have noticed that there are a few new pilot headsets showing up in catalogs. These new headsets are not Clarity Aloft Headsetthe traditional "cup" that goes over the ear, but rather lightweight "in ear" speakers.

The Clarity Aloft headset from Aloft Technologies is one of these new entries. It looks rather unusual compared to the traditional headsets. It's composed of a very lightweight Wearing Clarity Aloft Headsetplastic headband that wraps around the back of the head and loops over each ear. Connected to the headband are two sponge ear tips that are inserted into the ear canals (similar to the ear plugs that you roll, insert in your ear, and then expand). The headset has a little box farther down the cord that has a volume control as well as an input for a music device.

Prior to purchasing this headset, I wore a fairly standard David Clark gel-filled headset. Although the David Clark functioned fine, I found that on sweltering hot summer days, my head would sweat where the headset cups covered my ears. I have a fairly thin head and if I abruptly looked up or down, inertia would send my headset sliding forward or back on my head. This was annoying and sometimes almost dangerous.

After eyeballing the Clarity Aloft headset at my local pilot shop, I decided to take the plunge. The only initial concern I had was having to replace the sponge ear tips on a regular basis. I've never been one of those people who willingly buys into products that have a built-in recurring fee.

The headset is very lightweight. Once it's on, you really don't feel it at all. I really like the fact that it's not covering my ears. Another benefit is that there isn't a band that goes over the top of your head and messes up your hair. I also like that I can wear a baseball hat or sunglasses without any interference (both of these were problematic with my David Clark set). The microphone works well and the in-ear speakers work really well too. The ear tips seem to do a very good job of blocking outside noise. I've never used an ANR headset, so I don't have anything to compare against, but overall, I'm pleased with the noise blocking capability of the ear tips.

The headset is comfortable. For flights up to two hours I've had no problems. Flights that extend into the three or four hour range start to cause some pressure on the top of my ears where the headset sits. Clarity Aloft with paddingI made a slight modification to my headset that has completely removed this pressure and I've taken flights for as much as 4.5 - 5 hours with no pressure annoyance at all. I modified my headset by adding some extra padding to the part of the headset that rests on my ears and against my head. I purchased a neoprene sunglasses neck strap from the dollar store and cut of the ends (the part that slips over the end of the sunglasses). I slipped one end on one side of the headset (where it rests on my ear). I couldn't slide the other side on because the microphone is in the way. I unstitched the neoprene and held it in place and then stitched it on the headset and I was in business.

As it turns out, the sponge ear tips last a long time. I've only used two pair of them in the last 200 hours (12 tips come with the headset). The company says that 12 tips should last about 6 months, but mine have lasted longer without appreciable difference in noise blockage. I probably fly a little less often than some people but I often have 4 hour legs (and sometimes two of those a day).

Overall, I love my Clarity Aloft. I think, at this point, I would find it very hard to go back to a traditional headset.

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