The Best Aviation Headsets – Complete Guide 2016
If you think getting behind the wheel of your car and driving down a busy highway puts you in a loud and very uncomfortable environment, imagine having to fly a plane. An aircraft engine generates so much noise that sitting in the cockpit with that beast roaring close by makes communicating with your crew, co-pilot, or passengers becomes difficult. And if it wasn’t loud enough on the ground, getting up in the air, where blade noise, airflow, and altitude can really do a number on your hearing, is like turning a blender on in your ear.
Fortunately, pilots are not only protected from noise, but they are also able to communicate with their crew or passengers when they need to thanks to their best aviation headsets. These headsets are designed to help reduce ambient noise and enhance communication. All aviation headsets, whether you use them on a plane or in a helicopter, allow for intelligible radio and intra-cabin communication. Without aviation headsets, it would be difficult for pilots to keep the aircraft flying, let alone take off.
Types of the Best Aviation Headsets
There are generally two types of headsets designed for aircraft use. While both types protect you against loud ambient noises and hearing loss, they do so using very different methods.
- PNR Headsets – These headsets use passive noise reduction to keep noise out and protect your ears from suffering any damage. PNR headsets use their design and build to mechanically ward off sound waves and keep them from entering your ear. They have insulated ear cups that form a tight and noise-proof seal your ear, making it difficult for ambient sounds to get in. Most of the best traditional aviation headsets that you see today are likely PNR headsets.
- ANR Headsets – Most headsets used by modern pilots have active noise reduction that protects your ears against outside noise and potential damage. Instead of relying on the physical attributes of the headsets to cancel out ambient noise, ANR headsets use microphones installed on each ear cup to sample the noise. Integrated processors then analyze the sample, and then an equal but opposing audio signal is sent out to cancel the background noise.
While PNR headsets are inexpensive and do a fairly decent job at cancelling out background noise, most pilots today prefer to use ANR systems, which are capable of reducing noise up to 30 decibels. Most PNR systems have a noise reduction rating between 15 to 20 decibels.
Key Characteristics of the Best Aviation Headsets
- Good Noise Reduction – Whether you choose to get ANR or PNR headsets depends on what type of aircraft you intend to use them in. For some smaller planes that do not need a significant amount of noise reduction, less expensive PNR systems should more than suffice. But if you can afford them, it would still be better to get a pair of ANR headsets.
- Audio Quality – The headsets that you choose must be capable of delivering good audio quality. The ability to understand instructions from the airport radio tower, or intelligibly tell your co-pilot to ease up on the throttle, is understandably very important, especially when you consider that many planes have gone down because of miscommunication.
- Comfort – Depending on how long you expect your flight time to be, you will want to get a pair of headsets that is comfortable to wear over long periods of time. During long-distance flights, ill-fitting headsets can cause some discomfort, which could be a distraction that you don’t want to have to deal with when you’re flying with passengers, and you’re 8000 feet in the air.
- Wide Warranty: Since aviation headsets can be costly, many of these brands provide excellent customer care and warranty deals. In fact they seem to drawing from the playbook of in-flight hospitality staff when dealing with headset buyers.
- Additional Features : These are not normal headphones stuck in the rut of basic characteristics. Rather, the aviation headsets have many discerning qualities like cockpit recording, individual ear piece volume control, Bluetooth capability and you name it.
The top 10 best Aviation Headsets – Complete Chart 2016
|1. Bose A20 Aviation Headset with Bluetooth Dual Plug Cable||$$||4.5|
|2. Rugged Air RA200 Black General Aviation Pilot Headset||$$||4.3|
|3. Lightspeed ZULU.2 Aviation Headset||$$||4.3|
|4. David Clark DC PRO-X Hybrid Electronic Noise-Cancelling Aviation Headset||$$||4.3|
|5. ASA HS-1 Aviation Headset||$$||4.3|
|6. FARO G2 ANR Premium Pilot Aviation Headset with Mp3 Input||$$||4.3|
|7. David Clark H10-13.4 Aviation Headset||$$||4.3|
|8. KORE AVIATION KA-1 Premium Gel Ear Seal PNR Pilot Aviation Headset||$$||4.3|
|9. Rugged Air RA900 Black General Aviation Stereo Pilot Headset with Flex Boom||$$||4.3|
|10. Lightspeed SIERRA ANR Aviation Headset||$$||4.3|
Bose is a pioneering force in audio industry and Bose Aviation Headset X monopolized the aviation headphones market for a decade to prove that. When they debuted the A20, most pilots wondered if these can fill the rather responsible shoes of its predecessor. A20 took on that challenge and Bravo Zulu! We have the best peripheral for our best aviation headsets list.
Bose A20 aviation headsets are quite comfortable (a QuietComfort pun intended!) at 12 ounces. Premium materials have contributed to a strong yet springy build. The large earcups and headband are padded to reduce clamping pressure. You can control the volume on each ear piece separately. The boom-mounted mic goes on the left earcup. A cable descends from the same, with an inline panel and terminates in a general aviation 2 plug jack. The mic and cord assembly can be unscrewed and replaced with a different cable like the 6 pin, should you need to customize the A20 aviation headset. Inline panel has buttons for switching on active noise reduction (ANR) which is what Bose aces in. There’s a battery cavity for 2 AAs in the inline control. The passive noise cancellation is already pretty superlative in A20 and the ANR can make you forget that you are in the vicinity of an airplane engine. At a $100 difference, Bose A20 is available with Bluetooth. This functionality is best utilized on the ground where your cell phone signal can ping towers. The inline panel also has a port to connect the 3.5mm male-to-male audio cable to use with smartphones, mp3 players, tablets etc..Audio quality is Bose’s signature clean sound, both ways. You will never have trouble getting your point across to the ATC. A20 comes with case that can hold all your key flying documents like license and medical papers apart from the headphones.
Rugged Air RA200 is a seriously low cost aviation headphone that warrants respect for its features. They can be your entry level aviation headsets when you don’t want to be renting cans at criminal rates. It can also double as a normal headphone with 3.5mm jack if you want to get off flying and just listen to music or make a call.
Rugged Air has gone for some luxurious padding on both earpads and headband of this aviation headset. The EM 56 noise reflective ear pieces can swivel inwards to fit your ears correctly. They completely seal you ears against outside noise. It boasts of 24dB Noise reduction Rating (NRR), which will help take the edge off the engine and wind mayhem. It has a wired mic with a metal gridiron to lock its position. A cable comes out of the left earcup and ends in your typical dual plug for airplanes. Sonic quality is surprisingly well executed and can compete with gold standard headsets that cost more. RA200 aviation headphones are all shine and rugged. They will not classify as classy but they do the job at their price. A 7 year warranty reinforces your faith in Rugged Air’s commitment to customer care.
Rugged Air RA200 bails out many a student pilots who don’t want to plunk down money on fancy aviation headsets. These are not gentle enough for long flights but they match the latter in everything else. Hence our call to put RA200 on our best aviation headsets list.
Lightspeed Zulu 2 makes productive use of active noise reduction and a comfy architecture to give the Bose A20 aviation headsets a run for the money. It definitely gets one up on the price front.It has upgraded significantly from the previous Zulu version, which already made a big splash in the aviation headphone market. An added perk is that when used in tandem with FlightLink app, Zulu2 can be used for download in-flight cockpit recordings.
Zulu 2 aviation headsets have a streamlined design. A balance in cushioning on the over-ear ear pieces and headband keep it light and sturdy. Passive noise isolation is fairly good and reduces the low frequency noise well. The mic has a unique diaphragm for excellently cleaned audio output. Active noise reduction via MicroportVent technology works with magnesium earcups to effectively nullify the low-end buzz and wind whistling. This LightSpeed aviation headset also features Bluetooth and has an auxiliary port to connect to cellphones and the like. Its ComPriority characteristic lowers the volume of any secondary device, automatically, during incoming radio or intercom contact. The cable which connects to the left ear piece has an inline panel that has power, volume, Bluetooth and ComPriority buttons. The accompanying hard case can hold the headphones and the essential flying documents. There’s also a 5 year warranty on these headphones and LightSpeed will salvage parts for you even after that.
LightSpeed has the unbeatable combo of immaculate customer service, agreeable fit and suave looks. With that kind of talent, it gets a special mention in our best aviation headsets list.
David Clark sure seems to be beating prices while keeping up the appearances. DC Pro aviation headsets are a cross between jet friendly and piston airplane compatible headphones. They work beautifully for both kinds of aircraft environments and have refreshingly new blueprint. Their talents are elicited in moderation, the elegance of which is appreciated in our best aviation headsets list.
DC Pro aviation headsets have done away with plastic and gone for a Magnesium alloy headband. With a complicated suspension assembly and articulating arms, they have made sure that these cans are light in spite of the solid metal build. Earcups are more of an on-ear design that sits more comfortably than some purely over-ear headsets and creates an effective passive noise seal. Pleather padding on both ear pieces and headband is ample to relieve your noggin of all kinds of pressure, provided you find the right position to put them on. The arms of this headset fold inwards reducing its overall footprint. Its dual plug cable has an inline control for regulating the volume of two earcups separately and a Bluetooth control. You can connect the DC Pro Aviation headset to audio devices via Bluetooth 2.0. There is no 3.5mm port for this. It uses ANR to combat external noises which does fairly well though not as good as Bose A20. But this could be an advantage for jet jockeys who complain that A20 can get too quiet and obstruct conversation between pilots. Sound quality is commendable in these aviation headphones. There’s no static, only the competently played instructions from ATC. Mic does a good job of relaying your dialogue across. To sum it up, it’s light, convenient and has remarkable audio. What more could you ask for?
<<Latest customer reviews and prices of David Clark DC PRO-X Hybrid Electronic Noise-Cancelling Aviation Headset>>
ASA HS-1aviation headset could be a well-meaningclone of the RA200. This headset is a heavyweight in noise reduction with 23dB NRR and does not have any ANR. Noise cancelling aviation headsets see a light buzzing in the background because of the circuitry involved in the job. Only few leading brands like Bose have been able to keep this issue at bay. With no ANR and good passive noise cancellation ASA-HS-1 headset gives you an ingenious solution.
HS-1 aviation headset has a deep earcup design with metal frame and padded headband. Over-ear ear pieces completely cover the ears for highly effectual noise isolation. They are mounted on arched cup holders which allow them to lean inwards and adapt to your ears. Sound quality is the real cherry on this very affordable cake. It produces crisp audio with no hissing to hinder clear communication, if its position is adjusted to give proper seal against noise. HS-1 can take all similarly priced competition to the wall in this aspect. Mic also picks up your voice better than some more expensive models out there. The HS-1A variant has flexible boom for the microphone. HS-1’s cable ends in a two plug used in general aviation. Without too many bells and whistles, these headsets get the basic features right and wrap it in the budget of student pilots. The benefit of lifetime warranty lends more conviction in the street cred of this headset.
ASA HS-1 aviation headset sports the holy trinity of superior build, cost-effectiveness and delectable audio. It’s hard to keep such a performer out of our best aviation headsets list.
FARO aviation has made quiet the mark in aviation headsets market and you can tell that with G2 ANR headset. Robustly designed, these headsets are quite the lookers. With dual plug and mp3 capabilities they can work both on and off flight. FARO G2 juggles radio communication and music well enough to grab a spot on our best aviation headsets list.
FARO claims an impressive NRR of up to 52dB in G2 aviation headset’s spec. Passive noise capability is definitely a wow factor in these headphones and reaches 23dB. An additional 29 dB reduction is apparently lent by ANR. Noise reduction does not reach Bose A20’s level but noise isolation redeems its performance. ANR is powered by 2 AA batteries which should last through a good 40 hours. Earcups of G2 are lined with faux leather and are gentle when cradling your head. That and the padded headband will keep you from feeling much clamping pressure over long flights. Mic and cable are connected to the left earcup. Mic performance is satisfactory. The cable has an inline control to handle ANR and control volumes of both ear pieces separately. It also holds the battery cavern. The back of this inline control box has a clip to hook it up to your pocket or seat belt so that the weight of the control does not burden the headset. Cable terminates in a dual plug that goes with most commercial airplanes. FARO has a three-year replacement warranty on G2. At its modest price, all these points tip the scales in G2 aviation headset’s favor.
<<Latest customer reviews and prices of FARO G2 ANR (Active Noise Reduction) Premium Pilot Aviation Headset with Mp3 Input>>
David Clark H10-13.4 aviation headset is a funky looking can that has won many hearts at its moderate cost. DC is no novice in the aviation headphones market and that is revealed in the potential of this headset. Even without active noise reduction many pilots swear by 13.4s because they simply do their job really well, without any fuss from this feature and that.
In the box you get the H10-13.4 aviation headsets with the general aviation 2 plug cable. You need to buy a carry case separately and also a Bluetooth adapter if you really want to use the same headphones for music playing. Fitment-wise the biggest advantage is that they provide a proper seal around the ears even if you are wearing sunglasses. They don’t press them against you ears or allow the noise to creep in through the barrier of passive noise isolation. Earcups also hold a volume knob with tactile advantage for changing volume. Instead of simply padding the headband, DC has used a pillow cranial support that evenly dissimulates the weight across it. Overall, 13.4 aviation headsets are super comfortable and will remain so for years to come. A flexible boom holds the special M-7A mic that is custom-designed to eliminate noise from your chatter. Audio quality is bargain for the amount you shell out for the headset. On top of that 5-year guarantee covers any issue that you may face with it in the long term.
Passive noise reduction is a huge victory for the David Clarke H10-13.4 aviation headset in its price coordinate. It is an integral part of any best aviation headset list.
KORE aviation KA-1 aviation headsets are light, both in weight and cost categories. It is one of those amazing products that come cheap and make you incredulous as to how do they manage to trump high-end headphones. KA-1 is a comfy, well-sounding, noise reducing, PNR aviation headphones with great customer service by KORE. Those are on too many reasons to have it on our best aviation headsets list.
Student pilots can afford this headset without burning a hole through their pockets. However, its build is not compromised at the altar of cost-effectiveness. The strong backbone of this aviation headset is apparent when you take a look at it. It has the elaborately padded headband and uber-plush gel ear seals to create pin-drop silent atmosphere for you with just passive noise reduction. KORE KA-1 keeps away from the nuisance of ANR, its maintenance and its hiss. 50mm drivers kick up the audio output with an NRR of 24dB which works untiringly to remove noise and provide an unblemished audio. There are volume knobs on either earcup to manage individual volume. The electret noise-cancelling mic protrudes from a flexible boom attached to the left earcup. This aviation headphone also has a mono/stereo switch and 3.5mm auxiliary port to connect to devices like smartphones, mp3 players etc.. The male-to-male cable for this facility has to be bought separately. Its cable ends in the general 2 plug used in airplanes. All this can be stowed in the accompanying carry case.
Rugged Air definitely builds some hunky headsets. RA900 aviation headset has the metal frame and brawn to claim fame in the looks department. And they perch extremely comfortably over your head over long flights. RA900 seems to be perfecting budget-oriented aviation headsets with RA200 and RA900.
RA900 aviation headsets offer a 24dB passive noise reduction and save you the trouble of dealing with ANR. The decent seal of deep pocket earcups can get you through the noise of piston airplanes successfully. Earcups have a similar noise reflective make as the RA200. There are volume control dials on either earcup to control individual sound and a push-to-talk button. You can switch between stereo and mono in these headsets for radio communication depending on the bird you are flying. They can also connect to 3.5mm jack compatible devices like cellphones via a separate cable. This audio is completely stereo regardless of the position of mono/stereo switch. The mic that connects to the left ear piece through a boom can be engaged by both flight radio and the 3.5mm audio devices. This is not possible in some other headsets as they allows mic to be used only for radio communication. RA900 carry the regular audio cable with dual plug for flying. 50mm drivers push through a clear and audible audio across the frequency spectrum in these aviation headsets. At their price-point, sound is pretty decent.
RA900 emboldens the already appreciated structure of RA200 with many small features. The latter made it to our best aviation headsets list, so does RA900.
<<Latest customer reviews and prices of Rugged Air RA900 Black General Aviation Stereo Pilot Headset with Flex Boom>>
Sierra is Lightspeed’s labor of love for the aviation headset. Built in black and metal contours, these headsets ooze quality. Their bold curves are a support the active noise reduction to provide a silent cockpit for flying. It comes with all the accessories necessary to set it up, be it with the airplane or other devices, and carry case. A 5-year warranty rounds up its case to be on our best aviation headsets list.
Lightspeed Sierra aviation headset works its ANR to reduce noise over a wide range of frequencies from low to mid. The lavishly built ear seals contribute substantially to creating a pristine audio by completely sealing out the external noises. Their soft nature also helps to keep these headsets comfortable over cross-country flights. Headband design allows you flip the sides of these cans while wearing. Outside airplanes, they can also be used with smartphones and other audio devices via a cable. Sierra has Bluetooth integration for wireless connectivity. It can play in both mono and stereo mode. While playing music, if you receive radio contact, its MusicMute feature will automatically drop the volume of the music so that you can listen to the ATC pronto. This aviation headset can also connect to the FlightLink app to record cockpit conversation. Lightspeed literally solves customer issues at the speed of light and free of charge. Sierra aviation headset is priced in the high moderate range and has the spec to back it up.