Lightspeed Aviation has been making its distinctive aviation headsets for several years now, and the popularity of the product has been due primarily to its being quiet and comfortable, thanks to effective electronic noise reduction and big puffy pads. So it might come as a bit of a surprise to see that Lightspeed's latest product, the L1 Headset, looks nothing like its predecessors. In fact, the headset doesn't even employ active noise canceling. It's all done the old-fashioned way, passively.
As you can see here, the L1 is an in-ear headset, so the little earplugs at the end actually go into the ear canal. The feeling one gets when wearing the headset varies greatly from person to person. Some people don't mind it at all, others simply can't put up with it, and I fall somewhere in the middle. The L1 has a variety of earpieces of different materials and sizes to suit individual tastes and needs. I apparently have small ear canals, so the smallest of the end pieces fit me best.
Flying with the L1 in the SR22 was a pleasant surprise. I'm not a big fan of traditional earplugs, so I was worried the new headset would be distracting and uncomfortable. But it wasn't. It sounded great, especially the mic, and the noise canceling seemed very effective, even with the rubber earplugs I was using, which aren't as effective at canceling noise, I'm told, as the foam end pieces. It took me a while to get the fit of the headset just right. It's a steeper learning curve than with conventional models, but once I got it where I wanted it, it stayed in place nicely for the remainder of the trip.
The big selling point of the headset is it's lightweight-it tips the scales at less than an ounce-the idea being that you can wear it for a long time without suffering from the common malady known as headset headache. I flew with the L1 for a couple of hours and, in fact, the top of my head was blissfully unaware that there'd been a headset there at all. My ears, on the other hand, were a little less happy. As I said, the fit of in-ear headsets is highly personal, so it's a good idea to try them, if possible, before buying.
The L1 can be worn with just the earpieces-the mic is attached to one side-or with the included plastic headband. I preferred the fit without the headband. As with Lightspeed's other headsets, there's a music/cell phone input. Cost of the Lightspeed L1 is $399. For more information on the headset and where to buy them, go to lightspeedaviation.com.