Communication is absolutely critical while you’re up in the air – and good quality aviation headsets make all the difference when you’re communicating with the tower and other aircraft. Whether you’re a brand new pilot searching for your first headset before you start flight training or you’re a seasoned airline pilot, you’re sure to find a headset that will meet your needs on this list.
What to Look for In an Aviation Headset
Here are some of the most important factors you should consider when trying to pick out an aviation headset. We receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Passive Noise Reduction vs Active Noise Reduction. A great aviation headset has to block out more than just one type of background noise and system interference at the same time. Some headsets are great at the one and not so good at the other, and many times this is something you’ll only discover once you’ve tested it out for yourself. Passive noise reduction is simply the noise the headphones block with their design. Most aviation headsets are over-ear headsets and will block out a good amount of sound.
Active noise reduction (ANR) is when a headset emits a second sound that cancels out the other sound. In simple terms, the emitted sound wave is the inverse of the outside noise sound wave and thus they cancel each other out.
Two headsets for pilots
Comfort: After a long 4-hour cross country flight with a bad headset, you’ll be ready to upgrade to something more comfortable. You want a headset that isn’t too tight but tight enough to provide a good seal and provide that passive noise reduction. To help you find a good fit you may be able to borrow different brands of headsets from your flight school to test out before you buy your own.
In-Ear vs Over Ear: Another thing to consider is in-ear vs. over-ear. Good in-ear headsets are comparatively new to the market but have become quite good at blocking sound (typically via active noise reduction). Even with advancements, however, over-ear headsets are still generally better at reducing noise in the cockpit. You may also find over-ear headsets more comfortable when wearing them for long periods of time.
Good Microphone: The quality of the microphone is just as important as the quality of what you can hear through your headset. Communication while up in the air (or still on the ground for that matter) is always a two-way street. What’s the point if you can hear the other side just fine, but they can’t hear a thing on your end? Again, testing out a few different headsets at your flight school can be a great way to find ones you like.