Pilot Headsets: A Review of the Top Models
Aviation headsets have come a long way since the early days, when aviators were forced to suffer hearing loss as they accrued hours upon hours in the cockpit amid the continuous thrum of roaring engines. Any new headset you buy today will likely provide decent noise cancellation, new levels of comfort and, in many cases, great additional features. But not all headsets are created equal, and selecting the right one can enhance not only your flying experience but possibly your piloting skills as well.
While even a less-than-stellar headset will reduce critical levels of airplane noise, several recent studies have shown that any unnecessary volume that reaches your eardrum will cause pilot fatigue as time goes by. Discomfort can also be distracting and detract from the focus needed in the cockpit. Fortunately, much work has been done in the past decade to make headsets comfortable — with soft cushioning around the ears and on top of the head — so you may even forget you’re wearing one. Aside from pressure points, or the lack thereof, weight also matters, and several manufacturers in the market now provide featherweight models.
These days, many top-of-the-line headsets come with the ability to connect to a portable device. Music can definitely enhance the flying experience, and it is nice to be able to connect with friends and family by phone without having to scream over engine noise. However, to make sure you don’t miss any ATC calls, look for a headset that provides the ability to auto-mute the sound input during ATC communications. Bluetooth is also a very nice addition that eliminates clutter in the cockpit.
The most expensive headsets provide all the bells and whistles that are available today. But if your budget doesn’t support a $1,000 headset, there are some good budget options out there too.