Aviation Headsets Guide

It starts with the type of headset you need. You have PNR = passive noise reduction, ANR = active noise reduction and earpiece type headsets.

PNR relies on the shell and the seal (which is gel or foam [gel when broken will leak and requires a full replacement of the seal, foam will live through it. Apparently foam also works better around spectacles / sunglasses. Gel tends to offer slightly better noise cancellation]) to cancel the noise of the propeller. ANR send out noise cancellation signals to cancel the noise of the prop. These require batteries. The noise cancellation qualities are usually measured in db (eg 24 dB NRR)

Other differences are
* Are there volume buttons on one or both earpieces
* can you select mono / stereo? Usually you just want mono
* is there a music input for your ipod / phone
* bluetooth onboard?
* weight
* adjustability of the headband (NB large adjustable screws are prone to breakage and banging into stuff)
* material of the headband (you want metal, as it is more adjustable and less prone to breaking)
* quality and materiaal of the padding around the headband (for comfort)
* the quality of the speakers
* is it a fixed or adjustable boom for the mic
* the quality of the mic (how well the mic filters ambient noise and automatically starts transmitting when you start speaking)
* price

Some more information can be found in 2015 plane and pilot headset buyers guide

NB. If you get gel ear seals, make sure you get some protective covers: they will help save the gel seals and also keep your ears at a more comfortable temperature. The covers are very cheap and replacement ear seals are pretty expensive.

Apparently it’s better to have PNR than a poor ANR headset, poor ANR headsets are pretty disastrous.

Bose headsets are the absolute best in ANR, followed closely by Lightspeed. Prices vary from $ 800,- to $ 1300,-

In the PNR world, David Clark is the old world standard but they are quite expensive (and expensive!)

So the one I originally wanted was the Kore Aviation KA-1 $ 150,- with carrying case and foam ear seals. Unfortunately they wouldn’t ship to the Netherlands, so there was no way. (the ear covers are here)

In the end I bought the Rugged Air RA900 headset with ear covers. They retail at $199 but I found them at Mypilotstore for $165 I am very happy with these, even though the first set they delivered had a broken speaker lead. Rugged Radios replaced the entire unit quickly and hassle free and I have had no problems since. The mic picks up spoken words immediately and the speakers are high quality.

Finally you have child headsets in prices ranging from $ 80 to upwards. I quite like the Rugged Air RA250 Child’s Headset but it doesn’t have a flexible boom mike, which I think is a drawback.

There is also the possibility to turn any headset into a bluetooth compatible unit for streaming music or picking up phone calls with this bluetooth streamer for $24,-

Happy flying!

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