What does shopping for headsets have in common with shopping for shoes? A lot more than you think. They’re both very personal purchases. A dress shoe isn’t right for hiking, and an “economy” headset isn’t the best choice for a frequent flier.
To help you get an idea just what you’ll want in your new headset, I’ve collected up a few insights that will help you make the right choice the first time.
#1: How many hours do you fly each month?
Obviously, the reason to wear a headset is to protect your hearing and to improve your communications. The more hours you spend in the airplane, the more you need really a quality, comfortable headset that will protect your hearing and stand-up to all that wear and tear.
#2: Do you fly a lot of long cross-countries?
The real comfort of any headset really comes into play on long trips. Any headset that’s too tight, too heavy, or just plain uncomfortable is the wrong headset. The discomfort and added fatigue can interfere with your ability to concentrate on flying the airplane.
#3: Do you want in-ear or on-ear?
This is a very personal choice. Top-end, in-ear headsets like the new Bose ProFlight Series 2 are extremely lightweight and offer excellent noise suppression. I think they're perfect for turboprops and jets. But they may not be the best choice for pilots flying piston aircraft or helicopters.
While on-ear models are a bit heavier, to me, they offer better noise suppression, especially in noisier cockpits. The quieter environment leads to less fatigue and better communications.
#4: What kind of noise-canceling technology do you want?
Today there’s passive noise reduction (PNR) and active noise reduction (ANR). PNR style uses the headphone’s padded cuffs to cover your ears and block out the noise. Because they need to form a tight fit, they can put pressure on the sides of your head. That can be a bit uncomfortable on longer flights.
ANR headsets use electronic noise-cancellation technologies to provide an increased level of noise suppression. Top-end ANR headsets can reduce in-ear noise by up to 30 decibels – about twice that of the PNR headsets.
Another thing to consider if you’re thinking of an ANR headset is the location of the batteries. Models that have them in the ear cups are quite a bit heavier than those that have the batteries located externally or get power directly from the aircraft.
Speaking of weight, some headsets use gel-filled ear pads. They’re typically more comfortable than foam-pads, but they’re also typically a few ounces heavier.
#5: Would you like fries with that?
Headset manufacturers are finding ways to offer an array of options, including:
• Selectable mono for COMs and stereo for music.
• Stereo with separate left/right volume controls.
• Bluetooth connectivity to your smartphone or cabin audio system.
• Hard-wiring into the aircraft’s power and audio system.
• Various wire and plug types to match your particular aircraft’s configuration.
Well, my opinion – and not just because GCA sells headsets -- buy the best one that you can afford. This is no time to skimp. Why? Like better shoes, higher-priced headsets are usually more comfortable and last longer. Plus, they have the added benefits of better audio and more optional features.
No matter what your budget, I strongly suggest that you try any headset before you purchase. GCA has all the top brands at our show booth. But if you happen to be near Lakeland Linder Airport, home of Sun ‘n Fun, our showroom has all of the best from Bose, David Clark, Lightspeed, and even our own GCA branded line on display and ready for you to try.
We also offer a 30-day money-back “fly and try” guarantee – if you don’t love the fit and feel, return it for a refund or exchange.
As always, if you have any questions, give me a call at 863.709.9714 (ext 112), and I’ll be happy to help you find your perfect fit – no sales pressure added.
Until next time, fly safely and have fun,