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  #1  
Old 01-12-2020, 12:13 PM
Guy Prevost's Avatar
Guy Prevost Guy Prevost is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: albuquerque, nm
Posts: 1,188
Default Long Term Review of the CQ1 Headset + Comparisons to the competition

About a year ago, I wrote a rave review about the CQ1 Headset by Card Machine Works. http://www.vansairforce.com/communit...d.php?t=167636 I?m likely biased in my opinion, but such bias is hard won and isn?t always a bad thing. I?ve known Scott and Tanya for years. I think very highly of them. I?ve met few individuals with their combination of integrity, drive, intelligence, and capability. To find a pair of them marching forward together in life is a true gift. Enough of the disclaimer, on to the review.

Guy?s basic headset requirements:
  1. Must allow excellent communication in both directions. Great noise attenuation is a must. Music quality is important to me too.
  2. Must be comfortable, without undue pressure on my head.
  3. Must allow wearing of glasses without increased sound levels or pressure points from the earpieces. I won?t tilt my glasses at some daft angle. In two seat RVs, must allow me to wear my wide-brimmed hat. (I recommend Tilley)
In the last year, I?ve flown about 100 hours with the CQ1. Merideth has about 70 hours of flight time on hers.





We still use our custom ear tips made from Howard Leight Max Lite ear plugs, but that?s because they work for us and we have 1000s of hours wearing them in the shop, on motorcycles and in airplanes. The primary difference I?ve noticed between the CQ1 and the in-ear headset it replaced (QT Halo) is QUALITY. Quality in communication, Quality in fabrication, Quality in the consistency of fit and placement. I?ve not had to fiddle with the CQ1, and that?s utterly remarkable. I think Scott?s annoyed I haven?t sent it in for a checkup. Why would I? There?s nothing wrong. I formed the headset to my noggin once. It?s still in that shape and sits exactly where it should on my head. The mike stays exactly where I place it, instead of the constant creep experienced with my previous headset. Sound quality is excellent. I hear ATC crystal clear. Once my wife switched over the CQ1 microphone quality was immediately obvious over the intercom. It?s really striking to do a back to back comparison with the Halo. All in-ear headsets look similar, but they don?t wear and sound the same.

Other notes: With my previous headset I had to take the control box apart periodically to clean the volume potentiometer or at lease one ear would lose all volume. I?ve had no issues with the CQ1. The Kevlar lined cables are likely durable (I?ve had no failures), but they also don?t twist and tangle like other lightweight cables. The cable clips are excellent. Pilot distraction from annoying details is a real issue and no headset I?ve worn comes with fewer distractions and annoyances.

Comparisons:
BLUF: If you want the best overall headset comfort and sound quality, buy the CQ1.



If you can?t stand something in your ears or you're purchasing for children, buy the BOSE. With the latter you?ll give up the ability to wear a wide-brimmed hat, the ability to wear glasses without impact to comfort and sound quality and you?ll spend twice as much.



Intro:
This is a comparison between two in-ear passive headsets and two traditional over-the-ear active noise cancelling headsets. The in-ear models are the Card Machine Works CQ1 and the Quiet Technologies Halo. The over-the-ear models are the Bose A-20 and the Lightspeed Zulu II.



Communication Rankings in Order:
  1. Tie, CQ1 and Bose A20; excellent incoming sound, microphone is excellent, noise attenuation is excellent. The CQ1 being passive has a less tiresome noise attenuation method. Bose has slightly higher music sound quality.
  2. Lightspeed Zulu II; Still pretty good, just not as rich sounding in, or out, as the previous contenders.
  3. QT Halo: Sometimes it?s good, even better than the lightspeed. Then the mike moves, or the volume knob gets bumped and the control?s poor quality makes the sound disappear in one ear, or, (choose your own adventure)?

Comfort Rankings in order:
CQ1, Halo, Bose, Lightspeed.
CQ1 disappears and doesn?t require fiddling. Halo is good as well but requires frequent fiddling with the mike and cables. The Bose is comfortable for a while then gives me a headache. Same for the Zulu II?s, but with a slight nod to the Bose. Again, for me, in-ear is dramatically more comfortable than over-the-ear.

Glasses / Hat compatibility:
CQ1, QT Halo, Bose, Zulu II.
Over the ear headsets don?t work well with glasses and hats. Any layer that the seal must try and conform to admits unwanted noise. Even with ANR the noise is not all compensated for. The CQ1 only wins over the Halo because it stays where I put it and doesn?t require adjustment if I bump the brim of my hat.


Value: CQ1, QT Halo, Zulu, Bose.
CQ1 dominates in everything metric that matters. It?s the second least expensive and nearly half the price of the overall runner-up Bose. Bose wins in long term value if you have kids. See below.

Other considerations and comments:
Bose A20 are the best choice for children. The central hinge allows them to fit heads from nearly infant to adult. They?re expensive, but you only have to buy them once instead of cycling through an assortment of poor-quality uncomfortable youth headsets with questionable attenuation as your kids grow. If your kids aren?t comfortable, they?ll let you know at the worst possible time. I have two A-20s. My kids (currently 4 and 6) haven?t been able to hurt them.

FWIW, I don?t like active noise cancelling. I can hear (maybe sense is a better word) the white noise from the negative sound waves. It gives me a headache in time. Active cancellation doesn?t provide much more noise attenuation in an aircraft than good earplugs. I?ve compared them in the same flight in the same aircraft many times. Active Noise cancelling was a tremendous improvement over passive over-the-ear headsets that required tight clamps and tight seals to do their jobs. Modern ear plugs are amazing and do the job without putting your head in a vice or requiring a battery pack and thousand dollars? worth of electronics.
Some people think that in-ear headsets are a less capable, but less expensive alternative to active noise cancellation headsets. I firmly believe in-ear is better. In my day job, we?ve learned that most people can?t insert foam ear-plugs properly without training. Read the instructions and practice. Google it. Proper insertion and finding ear-plugs that work for you makes a huge difference.
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Guy Prevost
Albuquerque, NM
RV-8a Built, Enjoyed, Sold
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RV-10, Bought, Rebuilt, Enjoying
Build / First Flight Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8f9HXzZT1dE

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  #2  
Old 01-12-2020, 07:46 PM
Scott Hersha Scott Hersha is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Cincinnati, OH
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Default

Guy,
What did you use to make the hole in those ear plugs? It doesn?t seem like a regular drill bit would cut a smooth hole in foam. I think those Howard Leight ear plugs are more comfortable too. As soon as I get my airplane back together from an upgrade, I?m going to try those. I haven?t been able to get comfortable with the supplied ear plugs, so I?m still using my Bose. I bought my CQ1 at Oshkosh last summer, and Tonya showed me the correct way to install the ear plugs, so I think I?m doing that part right. Maybe those other ear plugs will do it for me.
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RV6/2001 built/sold 2005
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  #3  
Old 01-12-2020, 07:55 PM
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Check6 Check6 is offline
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Georgetown, Texas
Posts: 161
Default CQ Headset review

Excellent post Guy. My disclaimer is that I have known and flown with the Cards for many years. So Ditto what Guy said about them. I have posted before on how much better the CQ headset is than the previous ones I had used - Clarity Aloft, QT, Bose and Lightspeed. I find the CQ to be the go to for me and my RV ops which is a lot of formation, gentleman acro and XC. There is some air to air work I do where I have been engaged with someone else and they end up in a not favorable position because their headset fell off. Doesn't happen with the CQ. For me not having to readjust the boom constantly is the real game changer. The quality is excellent and making sure you take the time to put them in properly makes them the winner!
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  #4  
Old 01-12-2020, 08:28 PM
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scard scard is offline
 
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Location: Cedar Park, TX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Hersha View Post
Guy,
What did you use to make the hole in those ear plugs? It doesn?t seem like a regular drill bit would cut a smooth hole in foam. I think those Howard Leight ear plugs are more comfortable too. As soon as I get my airplane back together from an upgrade, I?m going to try those. I haven?t been able to get comfortable with the supplied ear plugs, so I?m still using my Bose. I bought my CQ1 at Oshkosh last summer, and Tonya showed me the correct way to install the ear plugs, so I think I?m doing that part right. Maybe those other ear plugs will do it for me.
Scott, I'm not Guy, but I can tell you that with the Howard Leight max lite plugs squished into a flat disk, a leather punch makes a nice hole. Insert your tubing before the foam expands and apply a very strategic drop of CA glue and you've accomplished Guy's DIY ear tip. I'm pretty sure he is using 3/32 heatshrink tubing. We have some other options for that as well. In addition to a range of other ear tips we provide, we also have a little "diy" kit of tubing and fittings for those that really want to roll their own. Please shoot a note to Tanya at tanya@cardmachineworks.com and I bet we can help you on your way.

I know the Howard Leight Max Lite ear plug very well. Properly fit, their noise attenuation is on par with most others. I don't fly with them, but I sleep with them most nights. That particular ear plug is a pretty soft foam and is a slightly smaller diameter than many that you'll find. This makes them very comfortable for many people. Depth of insertion is key, as well as a "smooth roll" to avoid noise leakage. I often find that people gravitate toward too large of an ear tip. In fact, I use a small of one of our "premium" tips in my right ear and a standard yellow foamie in my left ear. Every ear is different and there are so many options.

Break.

Guy, thanks so much for the kind words.
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CQ Headset by Card Machine Works
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Last edited by scard : 01-12-2020 at 08:41 PM.
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  #5  
Old 01-12-2020, 10:13 PM
Guy Prevost's Avatar
Guy Prevost Guy Prevost is offline
 
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Location: albuquerque, nm
Posts: 1,188
Default I finally wrote up my method

Rather than starting a new thread on rolling your own ear buds, I revived Ironflight's post from 2007. My update begins on post 64, here:
http://www.vansairforce.com/communit...3&postcount=64

If you want to start from the beginning, the original thread is here:
http://www.vansairforce.com/communit...ad.php?t=23829

Guy
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  #6  
Old 01-13-2020, 09:59 AM
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N804RV N804RV is offline
 
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Location: Mount Vernon, Wa
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Thanks for the thread. I'll have to take a look at the CQ1!

I've tried QT Halo and Clarity Aloft. I like the sound from the QT a little better than the CA. But, since the QT suddenly developed an intermittent audio out problem, I've learned to live with the CA.
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  #7  
Old 01-13-2020, 11:16 AM
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Pilot135pd Pilot135pd is offline
 
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Location: Vaca Moo Airport - TA37 in East TEXAS
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I must be old, I have a Lightspeed Mach1 and it works great when I'm not using the helmet or the other headsets.
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  #8  
Old 01-15-2020, 11:19 AM
txnbuilder txnbuilder is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pilot135pd View Post
I must be old, I have a Lightspeed Mach1 and it works great when I'm not using the helmet or the other headsets.
Same here. I flew my ANR headsets for about 13 years and they were great. My wife has been using an in-ear headset for several years, but I just couldn't get used to them...couldn't really place it, but they just didn't feel right.

The night before we did the usual 7+ hour flight to Oshkosh a couple of years ago, Scott snuck into my hangar and left a prototype of what is now the CQ1 headset on my Mooney's wing. I figured I'd try it, but I still took my ANR headset with me 'just in case'. Well, the winds were brutal that year, and the flight was closer to 10 hours, plus another 7 coming back. Right away I noticed the CQ1 was more comfortable than my wife's in-ear headset, and once I figured out the right 'mix' of earplugs to use, I was sold.

Now with the RV, the OSH trip is down to around 6 hours, and I don't think those ANR headclampers have seen the inside of the canopy
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  #9  
Old 01-15-2020, 11:31 AM
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Pilot135pd Pilot135pd is offline
 
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Location: Vaca Moo Airport - TA37 in East TEXAS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txnbuilder View Post
Same here. I flew my ANR headsets for about 13 years and they were great. My wife has been using an in-ear headset for several years, but I just couldn't get used to them...couldn't really place it, but they just didn't feel right.

The night before we did the usual 7+ hour flight to Oshkosh a couple of years ago, Scott snuck into my hangar and left a prototype of what is now the CQ1 headset on my Mooney's wing. I figured I'd try it, but I still took my ANR headset with me 'just in case'. Well, the winds were brutal that year, and the flight was closer to 10 hours, plus another 7 coming back. Right away I noticed the CQ1 was more comfortable than my wife's in-ear headset, and once I figured out the right 'mix' of earplugs to use, I was sold.

Now with the RV, the OSH trip is down to around 6 hours, and I don't think those ANR headclampers have seen the inside of the canopy
My Lightspeed Mach1 is also an in-ear type headset, they came way before the other brands that are now available. I think Lightspeed was just ahead of their time so they ended up discontinuing them but I still use them.
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Sadly sold my RV-8 however still trying to enjoy life by living on my airport with FREE campsites for pilots to enjoy www.facebook.com/VacaMooAirport/ & flying my OnSpeed equipped C-177 while waiting for the RV15 !

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  #10  
Old 01-16-2020, 02:47 PM
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AndyRV7 AndyRV7 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pilot135pd View Post
I must be old, I have a Lightspeed Mach1 and it works great when I'm not using the helmet or the other headsets.
Me too! It's on my buddy's side of the plane.
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