Pilots wear aviation headsets to reduce the noise levels in the surroundings when in an aircraft. This includes noise from the blade, airflow and engine. If pilots and passengers don’t use hearing protection in a non-pressurized aircraft, they could end up with hearing loss. Additionally, these devices can be used to increase communication between people seated in an aircraft.
Types of aviation headsets
There are two types of aviation headsets:
- Active Noise Reduction headsets (ANR): The basic design of these headsets are similar to the PNR headsets. However, they also contain a specialized microphone outside the ear cup. The microphones take in surrounding noise in the cabin of an aircraft and cancels it with an opposing sound wave.
- Passive Noise Reduction headsets (PNR): Passive noise reduction (PNR) headsets are used to contain hearing loss. These headsets work by blocking sound waves from hitting the ears mechanically. They come with a specialized ear cup and a noise-proof insulation. The ear cup seals the pilot’s ears from noise. PNR headsets are better priced than their ANR counterparts.
Pilots prefer the ANR systems because they can reduce ambient noise to a maximum of 30 decibels, whereas PNR headsets can reduce cabin noise by just 15 decibels.
Features of aviation headsets
If you’re looking to buy the best aviation headset but are not sure of the must-have features of one, read on to know exactly which features to look for in your prospective model.
- Shape and comfort: When you look at an aviation headset, try it on. After all, heads are of all shapes and to find a comfortable fit in headsets, you need to wear it and check that it’s comfortable. Besides, you will be wearing one for a long period, so it pays to check out the comfort aspect before you buy.
- Active or Passive noise reduction: Active Noise Reduction headsets are extremely light and quite but need to be electrically charged and are more expensive than their passive counterparts.
- Bluetooth: Go in for Bluetooth features that can connect your headset to your smartphone wirelessly. This will enable you to make calls from the cockpit while also enjoying noise cancelling benefits from your headset. If you’re a flight passenger, you can listen to music in the plane or you can use its inbuilt audio controls to pause, play and skip songs.
- Attenuation: This refers to the opposite of amplification of sound or a noise reduction in terms of strength.
- Digital (Dynamic) Noise Reduction (DNR): This is a new and different technology, so it analyzes and attenuates unwanted noise differently. It uses electronic techniques to get rid of noise from incoming signals by using math formulae and digitization.
- Frequency Response: This is the ability of a headset to reproduce all frequencies correctly. Aviation headsets show an attenuation curve or a graph that shows the extent of attenuation and at what frequencies.
- Cable and Plugs: The cable and plugs you buy will depend on the aircraft you fly. For instance, helicopters demand connectors that aren’t used in general planes. So, ,check that you’re buying the right ones.
- Noise Reduction Rating (NRR): Go with higher values as they will cut out engine and wind noise and you can then hear radio calls.
- Headset Style: You can choose from the earcup headset style, in-ear headsets or over-the-ear headsets that sit on the ear.
- Weight: You’re going to wear this on your head until the flight lands, so it should be something you can carry, not one that hurts your head or gives you neck pain, so choose wisely. Earcup headsets are the heaviest, but over-the-ear headsets weigh just 3-4 ounces while in-ear headsets are barely 3 ounces in weight.
- Cost: Set yourself a budget and don’t go overboard. Stick to your budget and believe in its capabilities.
7 best aviation headsets for pilots
This is regarded as the best aviation headset for helicopters. With this headset, your aviation is bound to improve. That’s because it has very good noise reduction and very clear audio with extremely good equalization. You can get a good and comfortable fit with very little clamping force, making even a long flight enjoyable.
Its singular features include a sensitive electret microphone with a Bluetooth audio and communications interface for better navigation, 30% more active noise reduction than traditional aviation headsets, wired audio input, customizable audio prioritization and intuitive operation for plug-and-fly convenience. This headset is compatible with several kinds of commercial aircraft. It has an ergonomic control module with inbuilt Bluetooth connectivity to take calls or listen to music. It can also mute and mix settings.
- This headset enhances comfort by providing less clamping.
- It has enhanced customized audio features.
- The headset comes with high-performance Bluetooth features
The FARO G2 is widely respected for being one of the best pilot headsets of 2017. It is wonderfully comfortable even on long flights. Its noise cancelling electret and fully adjustable microphone beam comes with a windscreen and gives ATC and your friends clear reception. It reduces noise in the surroundings by using ANR and PNR. The anti‐noise and the surrounding noise will cancel out each other before reaching the ear, thereby affording silence to the user.
It does not need a battery and it is compatible with an MP3, radio, iPod and iPad. By using the cable, it becomes a simple plug-in operation. Noise reduction is comfortable due to the silicone ultra thick gel ear protection and can go up to 52dB. If it is defective, the company stands by its three-year replacement warranty.
- The Fargo G2 headset provides sound reduction of 52Db.
- It is compatible with other kinds of devices.
- Its noise cancelling microphone guarantees better quality of sound.
The exterior design gets dirty or stained very quickly.
Here’s an extremely soft aviation headset that comes with two foam head pads for superlative performance. It also has a comfort gel and ear seals for greater comfort. A universal flex boom enables placing the microphone. It also has stat-of-the-art noise cancelling microphones. Its low profile knob for volume control has detent settings.
- This headset is made of durable and sturdy material.
- They afford a comfortable fit around the head, so they don’t slip off.
- They come with amazing gel pads that are refreshing to use in hot weather.
- This headset is extremely soft and comfortable, thanks to the undercut ear seals and comfort gel.
- It has a higher rate of noise cancellation.
- Though it is the lightest headset of the David Clark series, it is still quite heavy.
- It is not a typical ANR headset.
- A user complained that his headset stopped transmitting after barely two flights.
- Another user complained of the intermittent audio.
Whoever uses it, whether a pilot, passenger, student pilot, flight instructor or anyone else, it is ideal for him or her. Its ultra-soft gel ear seals, durability, clear sound with great noise reduction work together to provide the user with maximum comfort. Its NRR is 24dB and its gold plated plugs give the best connection, apart from being corrosion-resistant.
- These headsets will provide exceptional noise reduction benefits
- It also comes with acoustic foam earcups that stay in position and with several wire boom mics
- The gold plated design gives it a sleek and contemporary design
- Cons:They don’t really fit snugly.
These headsets rank among the best aviation headsets available today. They are ideal for student pilots, qualified pilots, passengers, flight schools, etc. Not only is it high on features and overall value, but it is also affordably priced. Student pilots and flight instructors can get the best of these headsets, thanks mainly to the device’s stainless steel headbands, foam ear seals and expensive ear canals.
With the RA200, you can easily get clear and dependable communication, whether between instructor and student, or between crew and passengers. It is designed with dual plug General Aviation avionics. This headset provides 24dB noise reduction, making it a sought-after device. It also has a noise reflective cup microphone along with a wire boom for the best sound. The audio speakers are fitted with an inline mono/stereo switch. You can get these headphones with an input jack and a pair of foam comfort ear seals.
- These RA454 headsets give the best noise reduction benefits.
- You can get better sound due to the specially designed reflective cup and wire boom.
- They also have special seals and a 3.5 mm jack.
- Adjusting the device is a bit difficult.
- It takes in some background noise when transmitting sound.
These headsets ensure your ears are protected from noise, that you don’t miss any of your radio calls and that your transmissions are absolutely clear. All these benefits are due to the earcups that are made of high-density acoustic foam for reducing passive noise. Its NRR is a fabulous 23 dB and it has hi-fi speakers that give out clear and crisp sound. Absolutely crisp and clear voice transmission is due largely to the noise-cancelling flex-boom mic that reduces background noise. You can depend on it for giving the best connection due to its gold-plated microphone and corresponding headphone plugs. Excellent among noise cancelling headsets.
- It is adjustable and affordable.
- It offers good ATC communications.
- It is uncomfortable on long trips.
- For people unfamiliar with this device, adjusting it is very difficult.
- The earpiece is uncomfortable.
- Compatible parts are difficult to find.
- For the mouthpiece has be activated, it needs to touch the lips.
These premium quality ANR headsets are the best in the category of budget ANR headsets, chiefly for its quiet performance, comfort and many advanced features that one expects from Lightspeed. Its Active noise reduction (ANR) and Bluetooth connectivity features endow Sierra with top-of-the-line features.
What makes these headsets durable are the high performance ear seals and robust fibre-reinforced polymer built. The audio devices here are built-in with Bluetooth and ComPriority™. The microphone can be placed on either side of the user, thanks to the reversible headband design. Sierra is everything you’ve been looking for in a budget-priced premium ANR headset. It is also compatible with FlightLink, the iPad and iPhone’s first in-flight cockpit recording app. Now, you can enjoy full clarity, hi-fi music and wireless access to audio messages from compatible aviation apps on smartphones.
If you need a particular level of sound, you can easily achieve it with the Lightspeed Sierra ANR aviation headset, due chiefly to the integrated wireless Bluetooth interface. This is also ideal for music and cell phone communication. This device has been specially designed to include the auto shut off feature and a high-powered indicator that shows the level of battery usage for best performance. The batteries used here provide over 40 hours of enjoyment.
- The Lightspeed Sierra Aviation headset is attractively matched with the Bluetooth connectivity feature.
- It has strong batteries that give more than 40 hours of power.
- A battery status indicator is also part of this device.
Now that you have a few good aviation headsets to choose from based on performance and your overall health, zeroing in on one shouldn’t be a problem. Whether you are a passenger or a flight professional, if you want an aviation headset, choose with care.