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We’ve discussed the importance of protecting your hearing time and time again, but this is especially important for you to consider if you’re working in a field where you will be exposed to loud noises on a constant basis. If you’re a pilot, then this definitely applies to you. You have to have some sort of headset that will allow you to communicate effecvely with others on the flight and that will protect your ears from the noises produced by the wind and the plane’s engine. This can greatly impact your flight and your overall health, as not wearing the proper hearing equipment can damage your hearing on a flight.
So what are some of the best aviation headsets out there? What are some features that you should look for in a headset? We’ll answer all of these questions and more in our article.
Different Types of Aviation Headsets
First, there are many different aviation headsets that you can consider before you make a purchase. This will include different design types, listening features, and more.
ANR or PNR: This is one of the most important differences for you to consider when you purchase an aviation headset. While most pilots nowadays prefer headsets that offer ANR, there is nothing wrong with considering a PNR set, either. Both work well to make sure that you can protect your hearing adequately over the course of the flight.
- ANR: ANR stands for active noise reduction. They look exactly the same as PNR headsets, but each ear cup has a special microphone attached to it that cancels out ambient noise on the plane. This allows for more hearing protection, as ANR headsets are able to cancel out ambient noise by up to 30 decibels.
- PNR: PNR stands for passive noise reduction. These kinds of headsets are traditional and the less expensive option and they work to prevent sound waves from entering your ears. The ear cups have a special seal around them that provides ample insulation to prevent noise from getting in. This tight seal might be uncomfortable depending on the type of headphones. PNR headsets will be able to cancel out noises between 15 and 20 decibels, so they do provide a bit less protection.
Earbuds or headset: This is a choice that is entirely based on preference. Whether you prefer to use headphones or earbuds is totally up to you. Now, headphones are the more preferred option over in-ear aviation headsets because they provide more protection. Pilot earbuds might not be able to provide all the insulation that some headphones are able to, which would make them a less attractive choice if you want to make sure that you’re as protected as possible. However, if you’re someone who wears glasses, then you might fight that a headset is a bit uncomfortable for you, in which case you would feel inclined to turn to earbuds.
Many different brands manufacture headsets for pilots, but there are two brands that stand out the most.
Bose: Bose is a brand that is well-known for creating headphones of all types and other audio products meant for a commercial audience. But it also excels in producing professional equipment, including aviation headsets. The one we have included on our list has been one of the best-rated across the market because of the innovative features it provides, which is characteristic of the Bose brand itself. So, if the product you are purchasing is from Bose, you know it’s going to be good.’
David Clark: This is perhaps the most popular brand for pilots in general. All kinds of professionals have trusted David Clark for their headsets, including the US Armed Forces and first responders. Their headphones all have innovative technology to keep you protected on your flight, while also making sure to provide good performance and extra comfort.
Top 5 Best Aviation Headsets
These aviator headphones were among the top-rated on Amazon with almost 400 reviews, so that’s why they take the top place on our list. Many pilots were pleased with the performance of this headset and were especially pleased with the highly-affordable price. Coming in at $160, you wouldn’t think that such a professional product would be so inexpensive. They come with a carrying case so you can keep them safe, and they have a high noise reduction rating of 24 decibels to keep your ears protected. You can control the volume on each ear cup, and when you want to start listening to music, they also come with a jack that will allow you to plug them into your phone or tablet. According to lots of pilots, these fit well if you’re someone who wears glasses and they’re comfortable enough for long-term use. In addition, the ear cups have ear seals to prevent you from growing tired and in pain. The sound quality is great and the microphone is easy to use. It also works well for when you will be communicating on the flight.
This headset was also one of the highest-rated on Amazon and is considered to be an Amazon choice. They are definitely one of the more inexpensive options on the market, coming in at only $85. But since this brand is known for its aviation-geared equipment, you know that you are getting a good product out of the deal. The body of the headphones is made out of stainless steel, which is known to be one of the most durable products on the market.
These headphones will provide clear communication between everyone on board the flight, including instructors, passengers, pilots, and other members of the crew. In addition, the brand has worked to make sure that these headphones will also protect your ears because flying an airplane can potentially lead to some hearing loss. So, they have a noise reduction rating of 24 decibels, which includes noise reduction. The microphone includes wind-blocking foam so that the other people on your flight will be able to hear you clearly. There are foam fit ear seals that work to provide extra comfort, considering the fact that you will likely be wearing these for long periods of time. If you want to be able to listen to your favorite music while you’re getting comfortable on the flight, that is now a possibility due to the included input jack.
This Bose aviation headset has also been highly recommended by many users. Even though they are pretty expensive at over $1000, you will be getting a great and professional product out of the deal. This headset comes with 30 percent more noise reduction than you would get in other headsets on the market, so you won’t have to worry about potential noises bothering you too much. It’s also very lightweight, so you won’t grow tired from using it for hours on end. The minimal clamping force also is a major plus. If you want to be able to listen to audio on your phone or tablet, they also come with a jack that allows you to plug them in. The Bose headset also makes sure to provide you with high-quality audio, and in addition to that, the microphone picks up on sound clearly no matter where you are, so all the other crew members will be able to hear you well when you speak. The headset comes with a control module that lets you take calls, listen to music, and do more to customize your experience with the headphones. And last but not least, the headphones also can be used with Bluetooth, which lets you connect easily to communicators and navigators.
The brand David Clark is known for producing headsets that are comfortable for all kinds of people, especially those who wear glasses. In addition to this, there is extra padding all across this helicopter headset, including on the headband area, so you won’t feel uncomfortable when wearing it for long periods of time. There is a volume control knob on the side, which allows you to adjust the volume as you see fit. The microphone is one of the best on the market due to its M-7A feature, which makes it have better noise-canceling features than most others. You won’t have to worry about hearing too much background noise other than what is necessary. The ear seals will provide you with the best-quality audio and comfort. And in addition to all of this, these professional headphones don’t cost as much as some others do; you will be able to purchase them for $336 on Amazon.
And last but not least, this Lightspeed product has made it on our list according to aviation headsets reviews. Lightspeed is another brand that many pilots have commended for its ability to produce high-functioning and comfortable headphones for all kinds of users. These headphones, like many other ones produced by the brand, have extra padding all over, including on the headband. This is important because you will probably be wearing these for several hours at a time. The Sierra is considered to be the best of budget ANR headsets, which makes it an even more attractive option to consider purchasing. It’s compatible with the first recording application for flights, FlightInk, which you can connect to any of your Apple devices. It also can connect to Bluetooth. You will be able to listen to audio and conversations clearly and receive updates for important aviation conditions. It’s also possible to customize where the microphone sits thanks to the reversible headband. In all, this is another wonderful and professional option to consider.
Even More Options
Now that we’ve discussed some of the different options you have to choose from, it’s important to talk about some important tips that you need to consider before you buy any aviation headset.
The NRR. This is, undoubtedly, a very important feature as it’s what will determine how much protection you’ll get while wearing the headphones. A higher NRR means that you will get more protection, which is crucial while you’re in the air and faced with noises such as the wind and the engine.
How comfortable it is. The comfort of any headset that you choose should also be considered. Since flying a plane isn’t something that only takes a couple of minutes, you need to make sure that any headset you purchase has all the necessary features to keep you comfortable throughout the duration of your flight. This is especially something to consider if you wear glasses. Having a headache while flying a several-hour flight is a no-no.
Does it support Bluetooth? Most aviation headsets nowadays support Bluetooth so that you can connect to communication and navigation devices, but it’s still a good idea to check anyway. This will make things a lot easier for you when you’re up in the air.
How long does the headset last before needing to be charged? This is also another crucial feature. Aviation headsets are made with the idea that you will be using them for long hours in mind, so most of them have long battery lives of over 40 hours.
If you’re a pilot or just getting into the field, you now know about the importance of using high-quality headphones. Aviation headsets will help you to protect your hearing against the loud noises caused by the wind, the airplane’s engine, and other factors. Not wearing these headphones can lead to hearing loss down the line, which would not only put your career on hold, but also decrease your quality of life. So, making sure that you allocate a little bit of money to purchasing a good pair of aviation headphones is key to having the best career possible.