Buying an aviation headset is like picking your life partner, you test it out for a while and if you don’t like it you go on the hunt for a new one.
Everyone has their own preference for what to buy when purchasing a headset as well as their own price range. These are the things you need to consider when buying them:
Comfort & Weight
You will be wearing these bad boys for a few solid hours at a time, find a headset that fits comfortably.
Pilots that wear caps and sunglasses while flying should take them with and try the headset on over the top.
It may make you look like a fool for a few minutes but that’s such a small price to pay for hours of comfort.
Try it on for at least 10 minutes to get a proper feel for it.
Plugs & Cables
There are specific jacks/plugs depending on the aircraft type you fly:
- Helicopter (one plug),
- General Aviation (twin plug),
- lemo plug (for fancy planes that allows you to power your ANR headset without batteries)
- and the XLR (airline and corporate). Make sure you get the right type, pretty pictures below to help you know which is which.
The magic headset fairies (microphones placed in the earcup) listen out to what low frequency noises (below 300Hz eg. the buzz of the engine) are out there and they cancel most of that noise out by screaming (a speaker inside the earcup emits an exact mirror of the noise) so you can protect your hearing!
If you decide on an ANR headset, have a look at the battery life, you don’t want to continuously be replacing batteries.
Headset Noise Reduction Rating: What the hell is that?
In simple terms if a headset has a NRR of 20db, it reduces the sound by that much. The ANR (Active Noise Reduction) manufacturers usually give us two NRR figures. “Why 2 figures!? you ask”, so you know what the NRR is with the ANR on or off.
Being able to listen to Beethoven’s symphony with absolute clarity is of utmost importance, the air traffic controller just interrupts the beauty (jokes). Having a good quality of sound will improve your communication with controllers.
I am currently flying in Indonesia where HF radio are used (lots of static), couple that with getting weather reports in Indonesian (which I am still learning) you need the best quality of sound that you can get!
No, I didn’t make a spelling error, it is indeed electret which produces louder and clearer transmissions. The most modern headsets have Electret Microphones.
Handle abuse and vibrations a lot better and therefore they are usually found in open cockpits and helicopters.
Perfect for when you’re doing ferry flights and need to keep your concentration up with podcasts etc. I did have a situation where I had a radio failure and I used my phone through my headset to stay in two-way communication with ATC.
There are also apps that can record transmissions via Bluetooth. When you get weather reports in Indonesian as an English speaker this allows you to play it back a few billion times to try get an understanding of what is going on.
You may be tempted to go cheap, but you get what you pay for. Can you really put a price on your hearing? (well I guess you can, about 1000USD for a hearing aid)
Is there anything else that I should add to this list? Please comment below