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The 12 Best Aviation Headsets in 2022 and How to Pick the Right one

145.9k views | By Senne Vandenputte | Last updated on June 29, 2022

An aviation headset is one of the most important accessories and tools a pilot has in his cockpit. Hundreds of different headset models and brands are on the market today, but which one should you get? How much should you spend? And what about ANR vs. PNR aviation headsets?

Finding the right aviation headset for you can be confusing, especially given the many different brands out there, promoting their newest models with all the usual bells and whistles.

Let us help you make a well-thought-out decision with this definitive guide on how to choose the best aviation headset in 2022!

The 13 Best Aviation Headsets in 2022 and How to Pick the Right one

In a Hurry? See Our Top Picks

Just click on any image below to see price, ratings and reviews on Amazon.

Kore Aviation KA-1 PNRBest budgetBuy now on Amazon
Faro G2 ANR ANRBest price/qualityBuy now
Bose A20 ANRBest overall qualityBuy now on Amazon

We will start this guide with a list of some of the best aviation headsets you can buy today. In different sections, we will cover the different budgets for aviation headsets: under $200, under $500, over $500 and lastly the more expensive ones over $1000.

If you’re interested in learning what to look for when buying a (new) aviation headset, make sure to read our buying guide below as well!

Video

Do you prefer watching videos? Good news: we recently made a YouTube video summary of this guide! Check it out below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel if you like it 🙂

The Top 12 Best Aviation Headsets - Which One Should You Get in 2022?

The Best Aviation Headsets Under $200

1. Faro G2 PNR

The Faro G2 PNR is a headset we personally own and love. Faro’s basic headset model is perfect for student pilots and those not willing to spend a fortune on a headset.

The Faro G2 PNR is Faro Aviation’s least expensive model. With passive noise reduction up to 26dB, the G2 is quieter than most other PNR headsets we cover in this guide. The large soft cushion provides extra comfort for long cross-country flights and makes the headset feel light. The G2 also comes in different colors, has dual volume controls and an MP3/iPhone input. All in all, a great inexpensive starter headset for pilots or their passengers.

What we like about this aviation headset:

  • Inexpensive
  • Made by pilots
  • Free shipping in Continental US
  • MP3 audio input
  • Comfortable

What we don’t like about this aviation headset:

  • No ANR: Not as quiet
  • Microphone could have been more sensitive
Bonus: You can get 10% off every Faro headset with coupon HANGARFLIGHTS!

$170.99 $189.99

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2. Rugged Air RA200

Rugged Air’s  RA200 aviation headset is one of the least expensive ones on the market, hence why it’s a popular option for student pilots and as a passenger headset.

They offer clear sound, MP3 audio input, decent noise cancelling and an overall weight of just 13.4 oz!

What we like about this aviation headset:

  • One of the cheapest headsets on the market today
  • Great Amazon customer rating
  • Includes ballistic-nylon bag
  • Flexible mic boom
  • AUX audio input
  • Volume control
  • Good build quality
  • Great mic sound quality
  • Only 13.4 oz

What we don’t like about this aviation headset:

  • Can become uncomfortable on longer flights (too tight)
  • Mic can be overly sensitive
  • Quite bulky

$96.99 $105.00

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3. Kore Aviation KA-1

The Kore Aviation KA-1 is another great basic aviation headset. It’s very similar to the just-mentioned ASA HS-1, but for about 40 to $50 more, you get an MP3 audio input and a carrying case.

This headset features dual volume controls, a flexible mic boom, great noise reduction and aux audio input for your smartphone. It’s a great inexpensive headset for pilots, passengers, instructors, student pilots and flight schools.

What we like about this aviation headset:

  • Very inexpensive
  • Great build quality
  • Dual volume control
  • MP3 audio input
  • Comes with carry case
  • Great sound quality

What we don’t like about this aviation headset:

Best Budget

$194.99

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Looking for more inexpensive aviation headsets? Check out our student pilot guide to affordable aviation headsets.

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The Best Aviation Headsets Under $500

1. David Clark H10-13.4

David Clark is one of the oldest and most trusted brands when it comes to aviation headsets. The H10-13.4, its most popular model, has been around for many years and used all over the world in every different type of aircraft imaginable. Wherever you go, you will always see people wearing the trusty DC H10-13.4.

The super-soft, double foam head pad make the headset comfortable to wear, even on longer flights. It comes at a slightly higher price point than other comparable headsets and doesn’t have the double volume controls or auxiliary audio input, but it is backed by David Clark’s famous reputation for quality and service. When buying the H10-13.4, you’re set for years of reliable service.

What we like about this aviation headset:

  • Well known and long-established brand
  • Great build quality
  • Excellent microphone
  • Volume control knob
  • Comfortable

What we don’t like about this aviation headset:

  • No audio input
  • No ANR (but still decent noise compression)

$385.00 $499.99

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2. Faro G2 ANR

Next up is the Faro G2 ANR headset. This is the active noise reduction version of the previously-mentioned Faro G2 PNR. For about $200 more, you get noise reduction up to 52dB for the quietest cockpit and most comfort.

If you’re looking for an ANR headset but not willing to spend $500 or more, the G2 ANR certainly gives you the most bang for your buck!

We have personally used this headset during our own PPL flight training, after upgrading from the cheaper ASA headset. The improved comfort and noise reduction is immediately noticeable the first time you use this great headset.

What we like about this aviation headset:

  • Great value for price
  • Made by pilots
  • Free shipping in Continental US
  • MP3 audio input
  • Comfortable
  • Great ANR noise reduction (52 dB)
  • Leather ear cushions

What we don’t like about this aviation headset:

  • Microphone could have been more sensitive
  • Significantly less noise reduction once batteries run out
Best Price/Quality

$350.99 $389.99

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Bonus: You can get 10% off every Faro headset with coupon HANGARFLIGHTS!

We wrote an in-depth review about the Faro G2 ANR aviation headset, check it out here.

3. Faro AIR

Most pilots put up with carrying a large heavy headset on their head for hours and hours. The Faro Air changes this.

With its 28 grams, the Faro Air is the lightest and the only in-ear headset in this list. Its noise reduction of up to 50dB makes the Faro Air also as quiet as most ANR headsets, which is great for pilots looking for an ANR headset but not willing or able to spend too much.

The small weight and size also make it very convenient to store the headset in your flight bag.

What we like about this aviation headset:

  • Great value for price
  • Made by pilots
  • Free shipping in Continental US
  • MP3 audio input
  • Very comfortable
  • No more bad hair days!
  • Extremely light (28g)
  • Comes with additional earplugs in different sizes

What we don’t like about this aviation headset:

  • Takes some time to get used to
  • Putting it on your head takes more time
  • Microphone may not always stay in position
  • May not fit your head well, so make sure to try it first
Bonus: You can get 10% off every Faro headset with coupon HANGARFLIGHTS!

$350.99 $389.99

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We wrote an in-depth review about the Faro Air in-ear aviation headset, check it out here.

The Best Aviation Headsets Over $500

1. Lightspeed Sierra ANR

Next we have the Lightspeed Sierra, a popular active noise reduction headset made by Lightspeed Aviation. This is a great choice for budget-conscious pilots, students, and passengers. It offers high-end performance and features – including outstanding noise cancellation, full Bluetooth integration and compatibility with FlightLink, which is Lightspeed’s in-cockpit recording app. It’s a great place to start in the world of ANR headsets.

$699.00

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2. Faro G3 ANR

Weighing only 255 grams, the Faro G3 ANR is a very lightweight aviation headset. Because the G3 is the first headset made out of Carbon Fiber, it weighs nearly half of other typical on-ear models!

The G3 has everything you want in a headset; it’s affordable, has great active noise reduction, and it’s equipped with Bluetooth, MP3 audio input and ultra-comfortable ear cushions. The headset also comes with a headset bag and audio cable.

Bonus: You can get 10% off every Faro headset with coupon HANGARFLIGHTS!

$620.99 $689.99

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3. David Clark DC Pro-X2

The Pro-X2 is David Clark’s latest aviation headset model. Based on the brand’s previous best-seller models, their new headset offers best-in-class Hybrid electronic noise cancellation and Bluetooth wireless technology. All this is packed in a sturdy, yet feather-light magnesium alloy suspension. With its weight of just 215g, the DC Pro-X2 is also the lightest over-ear headset on this list.

And thanks to its collapsible, compact design, the DC Pro-X2 can also easily be stored in the David Clark soft-sided headset bag.

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4. Lightspeed Zulu 3

The Zulu 3 is Lightspeed’s most premium aviation headset. This new model has new contoured earseals that reduce pressure, new cables that are more flexible and durable, and the same ANR technology other models of the brand use. Additional features include Lightspeed’s Auto Shutoff and ComPriority, which helps increase battery life and improve safety.

And just like the Lightspeed Sierra, the Zulu 3 is compatible with FlightLink, Lightspeed’s in-cockpit recording app.

$899.00

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We often get asked about the differences between the LightSpeed Zulu 3 and the Bose A20/LightSpeed Sierra, as they are all very popular and great options.

So we have recently written 2 separate guides about the Lightspeed Zulu 3 vs. Bose A20 and the Lightspeed Zulu 3 vs Lightspeed Sierra!

5. Bose A20 ANR with Bluetooth

With its price point of just over $1k, the Bose A20 Bluetooth aviation headset is about the most expensive on this list. If you have ever used Bose headphones or other audio systems, you know what superior sound quality the company’s speakers can produce. The A20 aviation headset is engineered to be more comfortable and provide more noise reduction than any headset Bose has ever made, while still delivering the clear audio you expect from them.

The A20 is one of the most comfortable headsets, if not the most comfortable one, we have used. The soft leather ear cushions and the comfortable fit of the headband make this headset very comfortable, especially on longer flights.

At this price point, you expect the best. The Bose A20 does a great job delivering just that.

The Bose A20 is available with or without Bluetooth. The non-Bluetooth version is slightly less expensive, but if you’re spending quite a bit of money on a Bose, we highly recommend going in all and getting the Bluetooth version. This way you won’t have to pay the +- $299 for the Bluetooth module when you change your mind later!

Best Overall Quality

$1,195.00

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Not entirely convinced yet? In another guide, we listed 10 reasons why you should purchase a Bose A20, just like we did!

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6. Bose ProFlight Series 2 Aviation Headset

And finally, there is the Bose Proflight in-ear aviation headset.

The Proflight is the smallest, lightest, most comfortable headset from Bose. Lightweight, in-ear active noise cancellation for long-term comfort over extended flights, with many new features designed specifically for airline and corporate aircraft flight decks.

Bose frequently received the question “Will this headset work in my GA aircraft?” – Bose: “The ProFlight is designed and best suited for quiet to moderate noise levels in flight decks of pressurized turbine-powered aircraft. […] The ProFlight is not recommended for use in single or multi-engine piston aircraft. If you fly that type of plane, the Bose A20 Aviation headset is still your best option.”

$1,045.95

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Not quite sure whether you should go with the Bose A20 or Bose ProFlight Series 2?

Check out our article comparing both Bose aviation headsets in more detail!

The Best Aviation Headset Accessories

Most new aviation headsets come with accessories like a headset bag, other microphone muffs, ear seals or other items and replacements. The headset bag, for example, can be a very good impromptu flight bag to store some charts and other items you need.

Other useful accessories can include adapters for smartphones or intercoms, flashlights to mount on your headset when flying at night, more comfortable ear seals and headbands, handheld transceiver adapters, microphone windscreens, plugs and jacks, and more.

Make sure to check which accessories could be useful when purchasing a headset.

$22.18

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$42.15

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$49.99

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$36.00

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Tip: if you own a Bose A20, you might find yourself struggling with the headset module and cables hanging loose in the cockpit. There is a great little product that holds the module so you can mount it somewhere fixed in an easily accessible location and maintain a clean, safe, organized cockpit.

Keep your $1000 headset controls off the floor and securely clip your headset control with the headset control mount clip:

$29.99

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Why do You Need an Aviation Headset?

An aviation headset is easily one of the most important purchases you make as a pilot, apart from an aircraft of course. Your headset will be your tool to communicate with others inside and outside of the aircraft. Not only will it help you communicate, it will also play an even bigger role: protecting your hearing.

Some theory to illustrate why this is important:

Our human hearing system is sensitive to sound frequencies between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz and amplifies the sound between 2,000 and 5,000 Hz, since that’s where our human voice is situated. While sound frequencies are measured in hertz (Hz), the volume or intensity of sound is expressed in decibels (dB). A quiet room is around 40dB and a normal conversation around 50-80dB. Our hearing is sensitive to these so-called sound pressure levels (SPL), but it’s also very vulnerable to sounds with higher intensity, such as a rock concert or, more importantly in our case, airplane engines (120-130dB).

When you are exposed to sounds of 90dB and more, you risk damaging your inner ear, resulting in temporary or worse, permanent hearing loss.

Best Aviation Headsets Guide - Hearing Loss prevention

Pilots are exposed to high volumes, and usually in low frequencies, often for long periods at a time. Hearing loss can and, unfortunately, will occur if you’re not protecting your ears properly. The good news is, you can protect them! The key to this is having a quality aviation headset that does a good job handling and reducing these potentially dangerous noises.

Some more interesting reading material about the risk of loud noise and the importance of hearing protections can be found in this FAA safety brochure.

That’s why having a decent aviation headset is crucial, not only for safety when flying, but also to protect your own ears. Since hearing loss is irreversible, prevention is always better than cure. Exactly the reason why we decided to write this comprehensive guide with everything you need to know about purchasing the best aviation headset for your needs.

Types of Aviation Headsets

First of all, it’s important to distinguish a few different types of headsets. The main differences are the noise reduction technology the headset uses and the general look of the headsets.

In-ear vs on-ear

Just like normal headphones people use in their everyday life, aviation headsets come in two main categories. On one hand, you have the on-ear headsets, these are the most commonly used ones. On-ear headsets also offer the biggest choice of brands and models on the market. Well-known examples of on-ear headset brands are David Clark, Bose, Sennheiser and Lightspeed.

The David Clark H10-13.4 on-ear aviation headset

The second category cover the so-called in-ear aviation headsets. These headsets use little speaker plugs you insert in your ear, just like the headphones of your smartphone. These headsets are a little less common, but offer the great advantage that they are usually more comfortable and weigh a lot less (and don’t cause bad hair days!). However, the way they feel and sit on your head mostly depends on your ears. While on-ear headsets fit almost everyone, in-ear headsets can feel different from person to person. Good examples of in-ear headsets are the Faro AIR and Clarity Aloft headsets (more information about those headsets can be found later in this guide).

The Faro Air in-ear aviation headset

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PNR vs ANR & DNR Aviation Headsets

The second category of headsets is based on their ability to reduce or cancel noise and the noise reduction technology they use. We’ll discuss passive noise reduction (PNR), active noise reduction (ANR) and dynamic noise reduction (DNR) headsets.

Passive noise reduction (PNR)

Passive noise reduction headsets are usually the least expensive ones. They have noise suppressing foam that fills the earcup cavity and passively reduces the noise by sealing off sounds that come from outside the headset. For proper noise reduction, PNR headsets should fit firmly around the side of your head.

PNR headsets can range anywhere from $60 to $600.

Active noise reduction (ANR) and Dynamic noise reduction (DNR)

ANR headsets actively reduce and cancel the noise by using electronics inside the headset to remove or suppress unwanted aircraft noise. These headsets are usually battery-powered and use a filter to separate the wanted signal from the unwanted signals, usually below 300Hz. The separated noise is inverted and mixed with the original signal, which results in the noise and inverted noise-canceling each other. ANR headsets use a little microphone inside the headset to ‘read’ incoming noise and generate the anti-noise signal.

Active noise reduction headsets can usually obtain a noise reduction of 10-20dB, which means at 20dB, the noise is only 1/100th of the original level. Since you don’t want to block wanted signals, like alerts or a sputtering engine, ANR headsets only block frequencies below 300Hz. ANR headsets are in most cases more expensive than their passive noise reduction counterparts.

There is also another kind of active noise canceling headsets, the dynamic noise reduction (DNR) headsets. These are more expensive than ANR headsets, but are lighter and provide an extra level of noise-canceling by using digital electronic techniques to remove noise components from the incoming headphone signal. DNR headsets achieve this by digitizing signals in a series of numerical values, which are then processed to look for repetitive noise signals and remove noise components.

DNR headsets suppress noise by 15-25dB and noise signals of up to 3,500Hz can be detected and canceled. They can range in price from $250 up to $1500.

Best Aviation Headsets: Active Noise Reduction, How does it work?

Want to learn more about PNR, ANR and DNR? Check out our separate article comparing noise reduction technologies!

Microphones of Aviation Headsets

It’s not only important to look at the types of headphones and their ability to cancel incoming noise, we’ll also need to take into account the outgoing sounds from the microphone.

If the microphone of your headset does not have any suppression against noise pick-up, this noise can enter the audio system of the intercom in your airplane, or be transmitted over the radio to other aircraft and ATC, making your calls a lot less clear and understandable. You might have noticed a lot of microphones have a mic muff, or windscreen, to offer some suppression of cabin noise, but by itself, this is not enough to prevent all unwanted noise from entering your mic.

Like the earmuffs, microphones need a quality noise suppressing foam muff. In addition to this, a ‘jacket’ over the foam will increase its effectiveness. Always make sure to pay attention to the microphone when purchasing a headset.

Most modern aviation headsets have an electret microphone.

Things to Consider When Buying an Aviation Headset

When purchasing a headset, there are a few other things to consider than just the way they reduce noise.

Comfort

Comfort is key when it comes to choosing a new headset. You’ll be wearing these for hours on end, so make sure they fit and feel comfortable before going through the rest of this process! Be mindful of what ear cushions or headband materials are used and check if those factors could contribute significantly towards feeling discomfort after long periods of usage (they might). Some headsets have the bad characteristic of putting increased side pressure on your head after wearing them for a while. Be sure to wear the headset for at least 10 minutes to really feel how they sit.

Some aviation headsets also have replaceable ear seals or padding that can be replaced when worn out.

Bluetooth

Best Aviation Headsets: Bluetooth

The Bose A20 aviation headsets can be purchased with or without Bluetooth capability.

A common option for modern headsets is Bluetooth capability. Lots of devices, like GPS systems and smartphones, can be connected to headphones via Bluetooth, eliminating the need for extra cables in the cockpit. Having Bluetooth functionality on your headset can be a big advantage and a good reason to pay a little extra.

Headsets equipped with Bluetooth functionality are often a little more expensive than the ones without, so if you’re looking for a bargain, finding a cheap non-Bluetooth headset might be the easier option.

However, it’s good to note that aviation headsets that do not include Bluetooth functionality can often be connected to other devices via a standard audio AUX cable, allowing you to still connect your devices to your headset for audio input.

Noise Reduction

We’ve already discussed the different types of noise reduction of headsets. Deciding whether to buy a PNR or ANR headset depends on a few different factors.

First of all, set a budget for yourself and buy accordingly. ANR headsets can cost significantly more than PNR, but if you have the budget for it, ANR would be the best way to go.

Secondly, you’ll need to think about how often you will use your headset. Are you going to use it only a few times a month, or will you be flying with it daily for hours at a time? If you’re going to use your headset daily, you might find ANR headsets a better option since they will significantly reduce the noise you are exposed to, saving your hearing over time.

You should consider the headset an investment in your comfort and health, so it never hurts to spend a little extra on longer-term comfort.

Cable and plugs

Depending on the type of aircraft you’re going to fly, another type of headset plugs are required. Helicopters, for example, use other connectors than fixed-wing GA (general aviation) airplanes, and manufacturer Airbus uses another connector, XLR, which is also used in professional audio recording.

The Best Aviation Headsets: Common Headset Plugs

In general, aviation headsets will come in 4 different types of jacks:

  • Standard twin/dual plugs: also referred to as GA plugs, these are most common in general aviation aircraft.
  • Helicopter/military plug (U174): You may find these in most military aircraft and military/civil helicopters.
  • 6-pin LEMO plug: when using an ANR headset that requires batteries to run, this type of plug will supply power to your headset through the aircraft’s battery; it can be found in some privately owned or commercial aircraft.
  • Airbus XLR plug: Airbus aircraft are usually equipped with another type of plug, XLR, which is also a popular connection type used in the audio industry.

Always make sure to check which connectors and cables you’ll need and buy the correct one. However, it’s a good idea to buy a headset with the plugs you will use most often as many adapters are available which you can use to convert your plugs to another type for use in different aircraft.

For example, if you’re mostly flying GA aircraft in a flying club, you’d probably be best buying a headset with twin plugs. If after some time, you start flying aircraft with a LEMO-type jack, you can just buy a simple twin plug to LEMO adapter.

Here are a few examples of popular headset adapters:

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Weight

The weight of your headset can be another factor to take into account. PNR headsets are less expensive, but they are usually also heavier since the earcups contain noise-reducing foam.

However, because ANR headsets need batteries to run, they usually come with an audio module attached to the cable, which again increases the overall weight of the headset assembly. For example, the Faro G2 PNR and ANR versions both have the same weight (20oz, 565g), since the ANR comes with an additional Bluetooth/battery module, while the G2 PNR just uses a heavier ear cup construction.

Again, make sure to wear a few headsets to see which feels the most comfortable. Heavier doesn’t necessarily mean less comfortable.

Price

We’ve already touched on the price point of different headsets and mentioned ANR headsets are more expensive than their PNR counterparts, with DNR headsets even more expensive. As mentioned before, investing in a quality headset is an investment in your comfort and health. You really don’t want to buy a cheap PNR aviation headset to find out that you’re not able to wear it for more than 30 minutes at a time. If you have to buy additional headsets in the near future because you want to upgrade, it may often be cheaper to invest in a quality one from the start.

PNR headsets can range anywhere from $60 to $600. ANR headsets can range anywhere from $300 to $1100.

Just set a budget for yourself and stick to it. If you can afford a more expensive one, it could be the right thing to do. When in doubt, the best advice is still to “buy the most headset you can afford”.

Headset Buying Tips

Here are some additional tips that can help you decide on the best aviation headset for your needs:

  • Rule number one: you get what you pay for. Don’t go cheap and buy a knock-off, how tempting that price tag might be, it may not hurt your wallet, but it can seriously impact your safety and ears.
  • Always try to test out the headset of your choice in flight, to make sure you’ve made the right decision. Often it’s after flying with it the first few times that you can really experience the way it feels and functions. Don’t be afraid to use the return service after purchasing a headset that doesn’t fit as well as you hoped.
  • If the headset of your choice does not have the most comfortable ear seals or headband, you can always purchase some aftermarket ones that provide significantly more comfort.
  • Consider purchasing second-hand brand-name headsets. You can often find thousand-dollar headsets for a quarter of the price and pilots usually take very good care of their possessions.
  • If you decide to buy an ANR headset, consider the bulky battery pack and think about how it feels hanging on your neck or where you will put it.
  • There are different types of microphones (Dynamic, Amplified Dynamic and Electret), make sure to check which ones work best with your radio!
  • Always remember you will wear the headset a lot. Cheap in the short term can become expensive (on your ears and comfort) in the long term.

Frequently Asked Questions About Aviation headsets

In the above buying guide, most of your questions should have been answered. But, as you can expect from such an important topic as aviation headsets, many questions may remain unanswered. To help you make a more informed purchase, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about aviation headsets.

What headsets do airline pilots use?

Depending on the specific airline, airline pilots may use their own headset or one offered by the airline. When pilots use their own headset, the headset must meet certain FAA/EASA standards and requirements and have the right adapter for the aircraft. Airbus, for example, uses another adapter (XLR) than Boeing aircraft (twin- plugs or sometimes LEMO).

How long is the cord on an aviation headset?

The cord length varies depending on the specific model of headset, but it’s normally around 50-70 inches (130-175cm). Aviation headsets designed for helicopters usually have a shorter coil cord, to allow for a more flexible cord length.

What brand of headphones do pilots use?

Many different headset brands are used by pilots, but a few major brands are most popular: David Clark, Bose and Lightspeed. While each manufacturer creates quality headsets, the majority of airline flight departments have decided to go with the Bose A20 headset and the Lightspeed Zulu. Of course, many other great options exist.

How long does an aviation headset battery last?

Aviation headset batteries will last between 20 and 45 hours of continuous use, depending on the type of battery and make/model of headset. For example, the Bose A20 can last up to 45 hours and the Faro G2 ANR up to 30 hours on 2 new AA batteries. The exact duration will also depend on the amount of noise reduction required.

What pilot headset should I buy?

Many different brands and models of aviation headsets exist today, and the right one for you will depend on your specific needs, wishes and requirements. In general, you get what you pay for. When in doubt, the best advice is still to buy the most headset you can afford.

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How much does an aviation headset cost?

Aviation headsets vary in price depending on the specific model and features, but a quality aviation headset will normally cost between $200-$1000. Quality headsets can last for a decade, so it will be an investment that will pay off.

Why do aviation headsets cost so much?

Aviation headsets are usually more expensive than normal headphones because they require more complicated components and technology, need to withstand more constant use and abuses of the environment, and must be tested and approved to very specific standards.

The price of an aviation headset is also determined by features (Bluetooth vs non-Bluetooth), branding (ASA vs Bose), comfort (leather vs gel ear seals), noise reduction (ANR vs PNR) and overall build quality.

Do airline pilots buy their own headsets?

Depending on the specific airline, airline pilots may use their own headset or one offered by the airline. When pilots use their own headset, the headset must meet certain FAA/EASA standards and requirements and have the right adapter for the aircraft. Airbus, for example, uses another adapter (XLR) than Boeing aircraft (twin- plugs or sometimes LEMO).

The 13 Best Aviation Headsets in 2022 and How to Pick the Right one

What jacks do aviation headsets use?

Depending on the type of aircraft you’re going to fly, another type of headset plugs is required. Helicopters, for example, use other connectors than fixed-wing GA airplanes, and manufacturer Airbus uses another connector, XLR, which is also used in professional audio recording. Always make sure to check which connectors and cables you’ll need and buy the correct one.

Why do aviation headsets have two plugs?

When aviation headsets have two plugs, one is used for the audio output from the radio (headphones) while the other is the microphone jack. Twin plugs are mostly found in general aviation aircraft, hence why they are also referred to as GA plugs.

Other aviation headsets may also have just a single plug, like XLR, LEMO or U174.

What is a PNR Aviation headset?

PNR stands for passive noise reduction. PNR headsets have noise suppressing foam that fills the earcup cavity and passively reduces the noise by sealing off sounds that come from outside the headset. For proper noise reduction, PNR headsets should fit firmly around the side of your head.

PNR headsets can range anywhere from $60 to $600.

What is an ANR Aviation headset?

ANR stands for active noise reduction. ANR headsets actively reduce and cancel the noise by using electronics inside the headset to remove or suppress unwanted aircraft noise. These headsets are usually battery-powered and use a filter to separate the wanted signal from the unwanted signals, usually below 300Hz.

ANR headsets can range anywhere from $300 to $1100.

Are ANR headsets worth it?

ANR headsets can cost significantly more than PNR, but if you have the budget for it, ANR would be the way to go. Protecting your hearing is crucial in aviation. The best way to do this is by wearing a headset with active noise reduction, since these will significantly reduce the noise you are exposed to.

Do ANR headsets protect hearing?

Not only does an aviation headset help you communicate, it will also play an even bigger role: protecting your hearing. When you are exposed to sounds of 90dB and more, you risk damaging your inner ear, resulting in temporary or worse, permanent hearing loss. Active noise reduction headsets can usually obtain a noise reduction of 10-20dB, which means at 20dB, the noise is only 1/100th of the original level.

The Best Aviation Headsets in 2022 and How to Pick the Right one

What is the difference between ANR and PNR?

PNR stands for passive noise reduction. Passive headsets use foam or gel to passively reduce any outside noise that enters the earcups, while active noise reduction actively removes unwanted aircraft sound, using a little microphone inside the headset to ‘read’ incoming noise and generate the anti-noise signal.

What is a DNR Aviation headset?

DNR stands for dynamic noise reduction. These are more expensive than ANR headsets, but are lighter and provide an extra level of noise-canceling by using digital electronic techniques to remove noise components from the incoming headphone signal, by digitizing signals in a series of numerical values.

DNR headsets can range in price from $250 up to $1500.

What is a LEMO jack/plug?

A 6-pin LEMO headset plug is used to power ANR aviation headsets through the aircraft’s batteries/electrical system instead of the headset batteries. It can be found in some privately owned or commercial aircraft and eliminates the risk of running out of battery mid-flight.

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Why are helicopter headsets different?

A helicopter headset serves the same purpose as any other aviation headset, but it is often wired differently. Helicopter headsets usually come with a coiled cord and a U174 military/helicopter plug. The coiled cable is more flexible, and the cord does not whip about the cockpit or get tangled up, especially given that many helicopters have jacks installed in the cockpit ceiling.

Helicopter pilots also sometimes wear helmets with build-in headphones instead of regular headsets.

Do flight schools provide headsets?

Many flight schools will provide aviation headsets to their students as part of their training program. However, this is not always the case, so it’s important to ask your flight school if headsets are provided and if not, which type you will need for your training.

Often, students who registered for an integrated flight training program will be provided with all the necessary tools and gear, including a flight bag and headset.

Conclusion

In general, you get what you pay for. Quality headsets can last for a decade, so it will be an investment that will pay off. If you’re still not sure which one you should buy, ask a few pilot friends or people at your airfield if you can borrow theirs for a test flight. Always be aware of cheap headsets, they can be attractive but will do a very poor job protecting your ears.

Our Aviation Headset Recommendations
For student pilots, we recommend the Faro G2 ANR Aviation Headset. It’s a comfortable quality aviation headset making Active Noise Reduction very affordable. If you want to learn more about the Best Aviation Headsets for Student Pilots, check out our separate detailed guide here.

Private pilots will get the best possible price/quality from the Bose A20 Aviation Headset. It might be a bit more expensive compared to other headsets on this list, but in our personal opinion and experience, there’s no match for its (sound) quality, comfort and features.

Finally, for commercial (airline) pilots, we recommend the Bose ProFlight Series 2 in-ear aviation headset. An excellent in-ear aviation headset that offers the sound quality we are used of from Bose, bundled in an extremely lightweight headset that you can wear for many, many hours at a time without feeling any kind of discomfort.

When in doubt, the best advice is still to buy the most headset you can afford.

Finally, if you want to learn more about picking the right aviation headset, we recommend checking out this recent article:

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