Thanks to many glowing recommendations, two weeks ago I became the new owner of a Quiet Technologies Halo Tubephone headset. I was wanting a headset that was lightweight and didn't feel like my head was being clamped after a long flight. It also would be nice to not have headset hair anymore, too-and-there are no need for batteries-bonus! Similar headsets, such as the Clarity Alofts range from $525 to $795. The QT Halo is only $359. It has been windy and gross and we've been pretty busy. Yesterday after work we took the break in the weather (albeit it was still chilly!) to fly to RDG for a $100 hamburger dinner (review tomorrow). So as promised, the following is my thoughts on the QT Halo after my first round-trip flight trying it out.
There are three ways to wear the Halo. 1. Behind the head 2. On top of the head (like most headsets) and 3. On the shoulders. I noticed I had quiet a bit of extra tube that made it look like I had giant hoop earrings on. Luckily, they can be trimmed to suit your own head shape (be sure to follow the instructions on where to trim!) I started with just an inch. I wanted to be sure I had enough tube so that when I wouldn't have trouble wearing the headset in each position, as well as be able to turn my head without it getting too tight. Also, I noted in the instructions that it could effect the sound quality, but very slightly, if so.
We hopped into the plane for our 1/2 hour flight and I was already fiddling and testing out the Halo. First, I ditched the rubber tips. Perhaps they were made for people with larger ear holes, but I didn't have a tight fit with those or notice a difference in dimming aircraft sounds. While Bob taxied, I unplugged the rubber tips and popped in some foam ones (the smaller, beige ones). Easier said than done. I recommend doing so when you are in a well lit area and not bumping around, although, I got it eventually. Much, much, better. I noticed a definite seal, the noise around me quieted, and we took off. As you can see in the photo on the right, I started off with the headset resting on my shoulders. It was light and comfortable, however, the microphone does not follow you as you turn your head.
So, I switched the resting on the ears, behind the head option. This was super comfy since it was so light. I still had a bit of giant hoop tube earrings going on, and they didn't seem to want to wrap around my ears or tuck in anywhere. I could opt for shortening the tubes a bit more, or just hooking them up to the headset with a twist tie. For the remainder of the flight to dinner and the flight home I wore the Halo in this configuration. There is a way to tighten it up a few inches around the head and I put it to the tightest setting. I do wish there was a setting for the adjusting the width, as it could be easily knocked off my tiny head when resting on the ears.
Comfort: Despite a temperature inversion, it was quiet a bit chilly at 5,000 feet and was happy to see that the Halo works just as great with a hat on. It should be no problem for sunglasses then, too! For sunglasses, it may be easier or more comfortable to wear them in the over the head or shoulders position. That's a test for my next flight, when I can see the sun! In addition, I found that I adapted to the ear plugs quite quickly and it wasn't something that I had to try to get used to like I originally assumed. The only time it felt the slightest bit strange was after landing when I think my ears had a little more trouble than usual equalizing.
I'm sure you're asking me to hurry up and tell you about the sound quality and noise cancellation. Both were superb. I had no trouble hearing my voice, Bob's or air traffic control. Bob said that I sounded crisp and clear when talking to him. The noise cancellation was also excellent. Try as I might, I could not find a difference between this and my old headset. I didn't notice immediately that it was any worse or better than an ANR headset. In fact, upon landing we put the airplane into a high RPM and I switched between the Bose and the Halo. I couldn't tell which one was better!
I purchased my Halo new from Ebay. I've been stalking the site for Halos so I could take advantage of their Bill Me Later 0% for 6 months offers. I noticed that these are popular headsets and the price quickly reaches in the high $200 range for used headsets. Each one listed has always had 20+ watchers. So, when I saw a new headset on Ebay with a buy me now option I immediately jumped on it. It arrived with a slight separation in the volume control box. I emailed the seller and he stated that it was not damaged in his care and that his personal pair had the same gap and that he thought it was a manufacturing issue. I did not see that it effected the Halo performance, although I hope it doesn't get worse in the future.
To conclude, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I quickly adapted to and enjoyed the QT Halo. I'll be sure to report back on my second flight with the Halo.