We all know how Concept Industries has been a rising star in the headset business over the past few years, and a recent review of their ATC-2Y intercom proved to me that their intercoms are just as good.
Well, there’s more. I just took a flight to Colorado and grabbed a handful of headsets to review along the way. One of them was in a neat padded and zippered bag with the Soft-Comm logo.
The headset was the Model C-90, a medium-priced, noise-attenuating stereo headset. The Model C-90 looks like other Soft Comm products, except for an extra wire coming out of the left side.
This wire plugs into a 3" x 3" x 1" box which contains four AA batteries and Soft Comm magic. They call this unit the Electronic BNC (for Background Noise Canceling). I didn’t want to be bothered by hooking everything up at takeoff, so I simply used the headset as a regular headset at first.
The fidelity was just as crisp as should be expected in one of Concept’s products, and the response on the mike was equally as good. If it were a plain old headset, it would still be quite good. Then I plugged into the box.
A Piper Apache isn’t the world’s quietest airplane. Back in 1954, when they built N1082P, the art of soundproofing was limited to how much fiberglas insulation could be crammed in between the fuselage skins and the upholstery.
My ride for the trip was a thirty-nine year-old airplane, and the door had sagged, the win dow seals had dried up and hardened, and any efforts toward cabin comfort had been defeated long ago. Noise was a part of the panache of this old classic, and she had a lot of panache.
When I plugged the little extra line into the box, however, the somewhat subdued din of the Apache was cut at least in half. Without sticking a decibel meter probe into my ear for a com parison, I can’t give empirical data, but in terms of comfort, the difference was dra matic.
Like all noise-canceling headsets, the C-90 uses sensors to pick up the noise which makes it through the ear cup cushions, de termines those frequencies and transmits frequencies which cancel out the noise.
It’s a “phase thang!” What Soft Comm does is focus on the low frequency noise, allowing the higher frequency stuff to be heard. This would normally be the kind of noises you need to hear should something go wrong with an engine or whatever.
The problem I personally have with the high-dollar noise cancelers is that they effectively block out nearly all noise, includ ing screaming passengers and baggage doors flapping in the slip stream.
Speaking of high dollars, the Soft Comm unit lists for $595, and can be bought through some mail order houses for around $495. You can put the extra money into another unit, or fuel, or gift subscriptions to US Aviator.
The great thing about this unit, to me, is that it is reasonably priced and cancels out the noise which has the most deleterious effect on our poor pilot ears. Pilots who fly a great deal usually suffer some hearing loss in the lower reg ister from all of the rumbly noise.
This set does what it has to and no more, so we’re paying for what we need, not what the factory can do with their tech nology. The fact that Concept has taken great pains to make the unit adaptable to a vari ety of head shapes and sizes doesn’t hurt, either.
The headset is fully adjustable, from the band size and angle of the ear cups for oddly-shaped craniums to a large, dual density foam headband pad and a four-way adjustable mike boom. They can even ex change headband sizes. They have another model, the C-60 Silver Edition, which is designed purely for comfort.
By the way, all of Concept Industry’s products are made totally in the USA by American citizens. None of this shipping jobs or dollars overseas for these guys. All of the Soft Comm product line is suited to anyone from a student to a jet jockey, from carry- on use in a C-152 to built-in intercoms for the Corporate Joe.
Their prices are reason able and their stuff works. We have never heard a complaint in the office from anyone regarding a Soft Comm product. That’s just as good as bragging on them.