Analog
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Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 2:29 am

Last year I (passenger, not a pilot) switched from active noise cancelling (ANC, aka ANR) headphones to an in-the-ear noise isolation set. The in-the-ear models are far smaller, lighter, more comfortable, and much more effective at blocking noise. The small size (shirt pocket when in their container) means they are inherently more durable.

The question is, why are there no such things for the aviation market? All the aviation headsets that I see are bulky over-the-ear models that, in my experience, can be uncomfortable in hot environments. The ANC models are quite expensive, while the passive headsets don't block noise very well. The ANC models also require a power supply for the noise cancellation, while the in-the-ear models are fully passive (no power needed).

A product like that already exists (headphones + mic), though I'm sure it's not suitable for aviation use:
http://shure.com/PersonalAudio/Produ.../ISeries/us_pa_i4c_headset_content

Marketing comparison between ANC and in-the-ear noise-isolation:
http://shure.com/PersonalAudio/Resou...oundIsolatingTechnology/index.htm#

I use Etymotic headphones:
http://www.etymotic.com/Default.aspx
The Etymotic noise-isolating headset, with its superb noise reduction microphone, would be great for this application, except that it only blocks sound in one ear, as it is designed for cell phone use.
 
xjramper
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 2:59 am

Quoting Analog (Thread starter):
The question is, why are there no such things for the aviation market? All the aviation headsets that I see are bulky over-the-ear models that, in my experience, can be uncomfortable in hot environments. The ANC models are quite expensive, while the passive headsets don't block noise very well. The ANC models also require a power supply for the noise cancellation, while the in-the-ear models are fully passive (no power needed).

It does exist....

Mach 1:



XJR  Smile
Look ma' no hands!
 
airfoilsguy
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:14 am

Is noise canceliation headsets for pilots realy a good thing? Dosen't the pilot want to be able to hear if his engine is running funny or some other part of the plane has started to make a noise?
It's not a near miss it's a near hit!!
 
SlamClick
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:19 am

Quoting XJRamper (Reply 1):
It does exist....

The big bulky Dave Clarks and such that you see are probably mostly on small plane drivers. In fact airline (jet) pilots who clamp one of those over their skull in a 737 are probably going to be accused of trying to save their hearing for a "real" job somewhere else. That, based on the fact that lots of Metroliner pilots did exactly that when they were hoping to get on with a big airline.

I have only once or twice seen a jet pilot at a major airline wearing one of the big clunkers. When you live out of your suitcase for a four-day bagdrag you learn to economise on space in the things you pack. Also you have to be able to hear words spoken on the flight deck that don't come over your headset. So you would probably have to wear them with your inboard ear uncovered.

The one argument I've heard about the in-the-ear type: A friend of mine had the earpiece come loose at altitude and as he descended the increasing air pressure drove it into the ear canal where he could not retrieve it himself. Had to make a quick trip to the emergency room.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
 
ThePinnacleKid
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:34 am

SlamClick... on the ERJ's you need the headset as opposed to the CRJ and other airliners.. the ERJ's are loud up front... that being said... I'm thinking about trying an in ear headset... I'm sick of wearing the old prop job headsets

Chris
"Sonny, did we land? or were we shot down?"
 
SlamClick
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:51 am

Quoting ThePinnacleKid (Reply 4):
I'm sick of wearing the old prop job headsets

In retrospect I suppose I should have worn the Dave Clarks more, early in my career. I am very deaf in the right ear but have normal aggravated hearing loss in the left. I could have saved the left ear!

Something about two years in sawmills
A lifetime of bigbore shooting including muzzle-loading cannons
Several motorcycles
Blacksmithing
Several thousand hours of recip and helicopter time
A year of aircraft sheetmetal work
A couple years on the ramp right next to where 727s and similar planes went to takeoff thrust.

...all without hearing protection

Lipreading is not so bad though, unless you are talking to someone with their lower lip packed with Copenhagen. Gets a little rough when they don't move their lower lip when they talk.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
 
xjramper
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:04 am

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 5):
In retrospect I suppose I should have worn the Dave Clarks more, early in my career. I am very deaf in the right ear but have normal aggravated hearing loss in the left. I could have saved the left ear!

Something about two years in sawmills
A lifetime of bigbore shooting including muzzle-loading cannons
Several motorcycles
Blacksmithing
Several thousand hours of recip and helicopter time
A year of aircraft sheetmetal work
A couple years on the ramp right next to where 727s and similar planes went to takeoff thrust.

...all without hearing protection

Lipreading is not so bad though, unless you are talking to someone with their lower lip packed with Copenhagen. Gets a little rough when they don't move their lower lip when they talk.

I don't have nearly the amount of time that you do fixed wing or not, but as of my last few hours...i toss in ear-plugs ontop of my PNR Telex headsets. I can still hear just fine and I know im protecting my hearing.

But I did pick up that Mach 1 a while ago and I only use it if I have someone with me that doesn't have a headset. The Mach is a great headset and I would recommend it to someone who is going to fly outside of the prop driven a/c genre because I can imagine its that much better when flying the turbine driven a/c.

XJR

XJR
Look ma' no hands!
 
Analog
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:27 am

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 3):

The one argument I've heard about the in-the-ear type: A friend of mine had the earpiece come loose at altitude and as he descended the increasing air pressure drove it into the ear canal where he could not retrieve it himself. Had to make a quick trip to the emergency room.

Now that you mention it, equalization is a problem for in-the-ear headphones (at least with rubber flange earpieces). This is mainly on decent, as increasing outside pressure improves the seal.

I'm sure this problem could easily be rectified by providing an escape path for the air. The trick would be not letting it get clogged with ear wax. The in-the-ear headphones use filters to block ear wax:
http://www.etymotic.com/ephp/er6i-filter.aspx
 
Analog
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:32 am

Quoting Airfoilsguy (Reply 2):
Is noise canceliation headsets for pilots realy a good thing? Dosen't the pilot want to be able to hear if his engine is running funny or some other part of the plane has started to make a noise?

I would think that understanding ATC and your copilot are also very (more) important. It would be a huge understatement to say that it's kind of difficult to understand someone in a small piston aircraft w/o some sort of noise blocking headgear. In the long term being able to hear at all is also very important.

The noise cancelling/isolating headsets do not totally stop the engine noise (if we're talking Cessna 172 type aircraft).
 
Analog
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:42 am

Quoting XJRamper (Reply 1):
It does exist....

Mach 1:

You learn something everyday. Thanks.

An informative article from the company's web site (though originally from "Aviation Consumer")
http://www.anrheadsets.com/PDF/Aviat..._Lightweight_Headset_Article_R.pdf

The question is, is this:
http://www.anrheadsets.com/products-Mach1sDetail.asp
that much better than this:
http://www.etymotic.com/ephp/er22.aspx
It's probably the gain control in the little box that makes the difference.
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:59 am

Note. I am a pax, not a pilot, and the following comments are from a pax perspective.

Quoting Analog (Thread starter):
Last year I (passenger, not a pilot) switched from active noise cancelling (ANC, aka ANR) headphones to an in-the-ear noise isolation set. The in-the-ear models are far smaller, lighter, more comfortable, and much more effective at blocking noise. The small size (shirt pocket when in their container) means they are inherently more durable.

Comfort and sound quality are highly subjective. I find big phones more comfortable after a few hours. I also find they block noise better.

Quoting Analog (Thread starter):
The ANC models also require a power supply for the noise cancellation, while the in-the-ear models are fully passive (no power needed).

Most modern big phones have the power supply integrated in one of the ear cups, and are battery powered with lives up to 30-40 hours.

Quoting Airfoilsguy (Reply 2):
Is noise canceliation headsets for pilots realy a good thing? Dosen't the pilot want to be able to hear if his engine is running funny or some other part of the plane has started to make a noise?

Voices are actually pretty clear in my NC phones. The droning and whooshing in diminished, not the rest of it.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Analog
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 8:53 am

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 10):
Voices are actually pretty clear in my NC phones. The droning and whooshing in diminished, not the rest of it.

Noise isolation (in-the-ear) headphones block everything, which, as a pax, is a great thing. I don't want to hear the hour long conversation behind me, nor do I want to hear crying babies.

However, in the cockpit of smaller (ie noisy) aircraft, the pilot/copilot, etc. talk to each other over the mics/headphones (at least I did in my limited experience)., so this is not important, right?
 
corey07850
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 9:11 am

Id be interested in trying out the in-ear type that ATC's use. A lot have the type that are molded to the ear and are incredibly compact. I'm not sure exactly how they would adapt to the jacks in aircraft, but I don't see that as something hard to do...

Of course I need to land a job flying something quiet enough that I don't need a DC headset to drown out the noise of the props first  Wink
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 9:24 am

Quoting Analog (Reply 11):

Noise isolation (in-the-ear) headphones block everything, which, as a pax, is a great thing. I don't want to hear the hour long conversation behind me, nor do I want to hear crying babies.

Good point. My in-ear were not of this type, just NC with a silicone ear bud.

The Etymiotic phones look cool, but they also look a bit flimsy. My Sony's basically broke after a while. I fly 50-125k miles a year and the phones and cables are regularly squeezed, bent, sat upon despite my best efforts. What has your impression been of durability?

[Edited 2007-01-24 01:26:59]
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
ULMFlyer
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:24 am

Quoting Airfoilsguy (Reply 2):
Is noise canceliation headsets for pilots realy a good thing?

Actually. the FAA believes there could possibly be problems with ANR headsets but is not sure. Therefore, its Flight Standards Service issued the following InFO (Information for Operators, 1-page PDF).
Let's go Pens!
 
pygmalion
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 11:07 am

Plantronics headsets come standard on many larger commercial aircraft. There are both in and over ear models:

http://www.plantronics.com/north_ame...n_US/products/cat1230032/cat640036
 
AAR90
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 12:14 pm

I have tried many different headseats during my 20 years with AA. AA planes come standard with Telex headsets (pilot provides the earpiece) and little/no sound protection. Not a problem in 757/767 and MD80/90 cockpits as that is a relatively quiet environment. F100 cockpit was the quietest I've experienced (quiet engines and so slow there was little wind noise). B738 is the loudest cockpit I've worked in (don't remember 727 or DC10 FE days) and I've tried Telex, Sounhousen(sp?), Panther Electronics CAT and BOSE QCII.

First two were "on-ear" ANR headsets with descent (10-12db) noise reduction but uncomfortable for longer flights (hot spots on ears and top of head). Panter CAT was "in-ear" headset with one ear being a mic. Soft personally molded earpieces were rated at 35-40db reduction that were "too good" such that I could not hear cockpit conversations (not good to not hear your FO). Couldn't take the earpiece out without losing either receiver or transmitter so... dumped that headset (bulky cords as well). BOSE QCII with a UFLYMIKE microphone has been my headset of choice for over a year now. Excellent noise reduction (yes, you can still hear engine noises and most cockpit conversations), excellent transmit quality, simple (and relatively small) case [I have extremely small kit bag and it still fits] and the same price (headset + mic) as everything else. Those that have used the Aviation-X headset tell me the QCII is much more comfortable so for the time being it will remain my headset of choice.

Many AA 738 pilots I fly with are using the QCII/mic system as it is effective and comfortable. My last two FAA physicals have shown definitive hearing IMPROVEMENT!!! I flew with a pilot who used the MACH-1 last month and he is "sold" on its performance. He was not pleased with the foam plugs, but said there is a custom molded earpiece option that is now being offered. And for those who get concerned about cockpit conversations, if I have another pilot using an ANR headset we simply apply the "intercom activation devices" to the ICS switch (rubberband to hold toggle switch to "active" mode) and operate with "hot mic" on ICS. Only had to learn to deactivate that mode whenever making a P.A.  wave 
*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
 
AirWillie6475
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 12:16 pm

If it ain't broken, why fix it?
 
Analog
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 1:25 pm

Quoting AirWillie6475 (Reply 17):
If it ain't broken, why fix it?

To make it better.

That's a pretty pessimistic attitude to live by. The Wright Flier wasn't "broken"... why fix it?
 
Analog
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 1:34 pm

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 13):
The Etymiotic phones look cool, but they also look a bit flimsy.

I have the ER6i headphones (no mic). They are GREAT. Can be had for US$90 new (jr.com). Normally I have to crank up the volume when listening to music on an aircraft. Not with these. I can use almost minimum volume and still hear the music perfectly.

The ER6i look flimsy as can be. I am really rough with my stuff. However...

So far they've survived far longer than any headphones I've owned (more than a year), and I use these pretty much every day. The fact that they're small and have no real "solid" parts makes them hard to damage. The only problem so far is that I've had to replace the filters a few times (clogged w/ear wax) and that the white eartips did not stay white for long (yuck). I replaced the white ones with grey ones.

Unlike ANC earmuffs, these things fit in your shirt/pants pocket, so they don't waste valuable carryon space.

http://www.etymotic.com/ephp/er6i.aspx

Edit: Just to show how abusive I am with these: I often sleep with them on (not on aircraft, in bed). You can't rest your head on its side when using earmuffs.

[Edited 2007-01-24 05:36:14]
 
AirWillie6475
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 1:40 pm

Quoting Analog (Reply 18):
To make it better.

No I mean there's nothing to make better. Jet cockpit headsets are very light to begin with and do the job. As far as general aviation planes, well I don't think any earbud style headset is going to take care of the noise.
 
cptspeaking
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 2:11 pm

Y'all are gonna think I work for this company considering the number of times I post this link, but here goes...I'm just a VERY satisfied customer...you can't beat the comfort and sound quality offered by these:

http://www.clarityaloft.com

Your CptSpeaking  wave 
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thegreatchecko
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 5:59 pm

Quoting Airfoilsguy (Reply 2):
Is noise canceliation headsets for pilots realy a good thing? Dosen't the pilot want to be able to hear if his engine is running funny or some other part of the plane has started to make a noise?

In my experience flying the 1900, I've found that with the ANR activated, I'm better able to hear the more subtle sounds that are more valuable. My David Clarks do a good job of cutting down the annoying droning. Also, it cuts down on the sound induced fatigue to almost nil.

For example, today the captain and I we're able to hear a low frequency vibration coming from the floor boards iduring cruise. Without ANR, I know all I would have been hearing is the props.

Checko
"A pilot's plane she is. She will love you if you deserve it, and try to kill you if you don't...She is the Mighty Q400"
 
airfoilsguy
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Wed Jan 24, 2007 9:18 pm

Quoting TheGreatChecko (Reply 22):
For example, today the captain and I we're able to hear a low frequency vibration coming from the floor boards iduring cruise. Without ANR, I know all I would have been hearing is the props

Thats good, I have never used the things myself. If pilots like them and can recommend them then they should be allowed to use them.
It's not a near miss it's a near hit!!
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:53 am

I just ordered the Etymotic 6i headset. Next day so I'll have it for my 5 flight hours home on Friday. Will let you know my impressions.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
pilotpip
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Sat Jan 27, 2007 10:09 am

I don't like the in-ear phones or plugs for that matter when I'm working on the ramp. Do you have any idea how nasty those things would be after a couple legs?
DMI
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Sat Jan 27, 2007 11:06 am

After 5 flight hours with the Etymotic ER-6i headphones, I am a convert. Noise cancellation is slightly better than Bose QC-2 or Solitude, but sound quality of movies and music is MUCH better. I had the laptop set at the lowest volume and movie sound was still crystal clear. When the F/A came around and asked me what I wanted to drink, I couldn't hear him at all with the earphones in. They're tiny compared to Princess Leia style headphones, thus freeing up valuable bag space and they don't require batteries.

The only "problem" is that you really have to shove them in there to get a good seal. As per Etymotic recommendations, I hold my ear back to increase the size of the ear canal. But once they're seated, they're pretty comfortable. Princess Leia style phones will press around your ear after a while and there's no way to lean on something with the side of your head.

Quoting Pilotpip (Reply 25):
I don't like the in-ear phones or plugs for that matter when I'm working on the ramp. Do you have any idea how nasty those things would be after a couple legs?

First of all, they only go in my ears. Secondly, they can easily be cleaned with an alcohol swab. I'll take the slight yuck factor if it brings me silent bliss.

Then again, on the ramp I would not wear Etymotic plugs. There is such a thing as blocking too much sound.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Analog
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Sat Jan 27, 2007 11:16 am

Quoting Pilotpip (Reply 25):
I don't like the in-ear phones or plugs for that matter when I'm working on the ramp. Do you have any idea how nasty those things would be after a couple legs?

If you have dirty ears then the in-the-ear phones will quickly get nasty (especially if you wear them while sleeping). That's why they have replaceable filters and flanges.

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 24):
I just ordered the Etymotic 6i headset. Next day so I'll have it for my 5 flight hours home on Friday. Will let you know my impressions.

It took me a while to get used to mine. Initially I could only wear them for half and hour to an hour at a time. Now I can keep them on for > 10 hours w/o any discomfort.

One tip: use the shirt clip. The noise of you brushing against the wires is LOUD.

It's also important to insert them correctly. Slightly moistening the flanges beforehand helps; just don't lick them  vomit 
 
pilotpip
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Sun Jan 28, 2007 1:16 am

I don't care how clean your ears are. If they are going in and out of your ears 4 or five times per day and in and out of the chart case they're going to get dirty. A friend of mine decided to go back to his DC's after having this problem. One of my students is an ear, nose and throad specialist and upon his consultation it seemed better from the standpoint of hygene to stick with the over-the-ear type of headset.
DMI
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Sun Jan 28, 2007 10:39 am

Quoting Analog (Reply 27):
Slightly moistening the flanges beforehand helps; just don't lick them

If I'm flying economy nowadays I may have little choice.  Wink Anyway I had only a little problem getting them in dry. Holding my ear out with the opposite hand helped. I must have looked like a chimp scratching his head of course.

Quoting Pilotpip (Reply 28):
I don't care how clean your ears are. If they are going in and out of your ears 4 or five times per day and in and out of the chart case they're going to get dirty.

Absolutely. But this scenario is a bit different from that of a passenger.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
pilotpip
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RE: Aviation Headsets: Why Not In The Ear?

Sun Jan 28, 2007 11:53 am

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 29):

Absolutely. But this scenario is a bit different from that of a passenger.

Oh yeah. My ears aren't that dirty but the major reason I don't wear the in-ear plugs in the plane or on the ramp is because they have a habit of collecting dirt very fast.
DMI

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