It looks like a winner. Sennheiser's latest active noise-canceling headset, the HMEC 460, is light and stylish, and it's packed with features that pilots want. At $789 street price, it's a premium headset. And it's designed to look like one. With sparkling silver earcups, leather padding and a sleek shape, the HMEC 460 looks as good as any headset on the market today.
And it feels good, too. Sennheiser stuck with an existing design for the headband and earcups, but gave them softer pads. The result is a very comfortable headset, but with a little more pressure than the popular Bose Aviation Headset X, while being a good passive headset.
The active noise reduction (ANR) is effective. Sennheiser claims that between passive and active technology, the HMEC 460 cuts noise an impressive 30 decibels. In flight, it's quiet. As with other ANR headsets we've tried, fit is everything, and I had a hard time getting the Sennheiser to fit just right, causing unwanted outside noise to creep in. The optional gel ear seals seemed to work better than the standard foam seals.
It's convenient that you can power up the HMEC 460 any one of three ways: a pair of double-A batteries, a connection to an onboard power plug or by a cigarette lighter adapter. Moreover, if you don't power it on at all, it's still a good passive headset.
There are two connectors on the control module, one for a cell phone and one for a music player. The system automatically mutes when an aircraft transmission is received.
The HMEC 460 is one of the most expensive headsets. But with good comfort, sound and noise canceling qualities, the Sennheiser product is definitely worth a look. For more information, visit sennheiserusa.com.