We sometimes get asked by customers why their ear seals or head pads are wearing out. Some may believe that this part of their premium headset should last forever and not show any signs of deterioration. Well hopefully, this explanation may help you better understand why your soft goods don’t last forever.
Soft goods are replaceable accessories that enhance the flying experience. Some of those accessories include Lightspeed’s performance ear seals for the Zulu series, Sierra, Tango and PFX. Other accessories that are soft goods include head pads that snap on and off under the headband to provide stability and comfort, and microphone wind screens.
Let’s start with the ear seals and head pads. They are constructed of conformal foam and covered in polyurethane leatherette. After time and general use, they will flake or show signs of normal wear and tear. This is normal. Sweat, heat, cold, humidity, age and extent of use are all elements that add to the shelf life of these soft goods.
Much like when you buy a car, you invest your research and hard-earned money to buying what fits your budget, the same as you will with a premium ANR headset. However, if your windshield wipers need replacing, you expect that this is just part of owning a car and go through the annual to 18 months replacement routine. You’re buying your preferred car, or your headset knowing that to keep optimal performance of the car or headset, parts will need to be replaced or updated over time.
The durometer of the foam inside the performance ear seal has been carefully engineered as part of the total ANR system. As it breaks down over time, the performance of the headset will degrade, even if slightly, over time. This is why Lightspeed (and other premium headset manufacturers) recommend replacing them every 12 -18 months. Even if they don’t “look” bad, they may not be providing the same level of ANR they did when new.
Finally, there are design tradeoffs. Lightspeed chooses comfort over “indestructible”. Ear seal material that might last much longer is available but is not anywhere near as comfortable as our current design. And in our own flying, and with the multitude of pilots we meet, comfort is the #1 criteria in choosing a premium headset.
Keeping your soft goods such as the ear seals, head pads and mic muffs, or windscreens in pristine condition maintains the comfort and safety these items provide to your flying experience as well as keeps your headsets hygienic for you and your passengers. Lightspeed offers a discount on these types of accessories and more to members of the Wingman Club. You can find out more about the program at https://www.lightspeedaviation.com/programs/lightspeed-wingman-club .