Aviation Headset
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How To Choose A Good Aviation Headset?

Good Aviation Headset

Being a pilot requires you to have a lot of good quality gear, but buying an aviation headset is one of the essential purchases you’d have to make. Typically, there are many things to consider when choosing the right aviation headset. And in case you’re confused or overwhelmed by the choices, we’re here to make it easier for you.

Choosing an aviation headset is an immensely conscious matter. There is no “correct” answer for every pilot; it is determined by your flying, the aircraft you fly most commonly, and your preferences. We’ve listed down the most important factors to look at when choosing an aviation headset, and here are the details:

Noise Reduction

Pilots are frequently subjected to significant volumes and poor frequencies over extended periods, risking severe hearing loss. So having a headset that can provide excellent noise reduction is a must. There are two common ways to cancel noise. One is passive noise reduction (PNR), and the other is active noise reduction (ANR).

Nearly every headset has some PNR caused by the ear seals physically preventing sound from hitting your ears. These are usually the most affordable headphones. They have noise-canceling foam that fills the ear cup chamber and passively decreases noise by shutting out external noises. PNR headsets should be snug around the side of your head for optimal noise suppression.

In addition to passive noise reduction, ANR headsets incorporate electronics to detect noise in the cockpit and negate it by generating a sound wave with the same amplitude but a reversed-phase. It’s a unique application of science that uses a mix of microphones and speakers to do this. These headsets are battery-powered and contain a filter to distinguish between desirable and undesirable signals. ANR headsets mainly filter frequencies below 300Hz to avoid blocking necessary signals like alarms or a sputtering engine.

ANR headsets may often reduce noise by 10-20dB. These headsets are more costly than passive noise reduction headsets in most situations. If you’re going to use your headset every day, though, these may be a better choice because they minimize the amount of noise you’re exposed to, sparing your ears over time.

The dynamic noise reduction (DNR) headset is another active noise-canceling headset. These are more costly than ANR headsets, but they are lighter and provide an extra degree of noise-canceling by removing noise components from the input headphone signal using digital electrical methods. The noise reduction rating on these headsets indicates how well they can block sounds. The absorption rating is given in decibels (dB). The greater the noise reduction level, the more potentially harmful sounds the headset blocks. And the lower the rating, the lesser the decrease in surplus noise.

Microphone Quality

One should consider the sorts of headphones and their capacity to block incoming noise, but you should also consider the microphone’s outgoing noises. An electret microphone is found in most current aircraft headsets. Suppose the microphone on your headset does not have noise suppression. In that case, noise can infiltrate the audio system of your airplane’s intercom or be broadcast over the radio to other airplanes and ATC, making your calls far less clear and comprehensible.

You may have observed that many microphones include a mic muff, or windshield, to help with cabin noise reduction. However, this is not adequate to keep all unwanted noise from your mic. Microphones, like earmuffs, require an excellent noise-canceling foam muff. Furthermore, draping a ‘jacket’ over the foam will improve its performance. So when selecting a headset, be sure to focus on the microphone as well.

Bluetooth Features

Bluetooth capability on your headset can be a significant benefit and a compelling reason to pay a little more. Many headsets can link wirelessly to your GPS or smartphone through Bluetooth, allowing you to make phone calls while experiencing the noise-canceling features of your headset and removing the need for extra wires in the cabin. This is useful for reaching Flight Service from the ground or informing family members of any changes to your plans. Passengers also like using this option to listen to music while traveling, which is often necessary when flying with children.

Bluetooth audio is also a wonderful method to get audio notifications from your preferred electronic flight bag program to your headset. It can significantly boost safety while keeping your eyes outside rather than staring down at your phone or other devices. However, Bluetooth headsets are generally more expensive than non-Bluetooth headsets, so buying a non-Bluetooth headset could be the better alternative if you’re hunting for a deal.

Comfort

Comfort is another significant measure when choosing aviation headsets. The more lightweight a headset is, the more convenient it will be. Also, less weight in the headbands and more on-ear cups is typically more pleasant.

After a time, specific headsets have the unfortunate side effect of increasing side pressure on your head. Use the headset for at least a few minutes to get a sense of how it fits, and check the materials used in the ear cushions and headbands to see if they might lead to pain after long periods of use.

Other variables to consider are the quality of the ear covers and headband. Because the electronics reduce the need for substantial soundproofing, ANR headsets are generally lighter. Some headphones even include comfort settings, such as clamping force, that you can easily change. Because comfort is such a subjective concept, what fits for one pilot may not do for another. You’ll be wearing them for hours on end, so ensure they fit and feel well.

Cable and Plug Variations

Most headsets come with cable options, which refer to the form of the plugs that link to the airplane. The twin plug, often known as PJ plugs, is the most popular connection. These are commonly found on fixed-wing aircraft, notably general aviation planes, and are also used by many commercial airlines.

The 6-pin or LEMO plug is another suitable alternative for standard aviation planes. It lets the headset’s ANR box get electricity from the aircraft panel, removing the need for batteries. Many modern planes are equipped with this connector from the factory, and if you want to modify an older plane, an installation kit is also supplied. Helicopters have a U-174/U connection, which is a single, shorter plug. And airbus jets, on the other hand, use an XLR connection.


Aviation headsets are an essential investment, so it’s best to look at all your options before choosing the right one for you. We hope this article helped you clear any doubts and narrow down your choices. Now it’s time to get your headset and enjoy your time in the clouds!

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