The 10 Best Aviation Headsets

Updated December 28, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

10 Best Aviation Headsets
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We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Given that just about everybody owns their own plane these days, you'll probably want to pick up a pair of these aviation headsets. They are designed to provide a comfortable and clear form of communication while minimizing the noises common in airplane cockpits. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best aviation headset on Amazon.

10. Kore Aviation KA-1

Dual volume controls on either ear allow the Kore Aviation KA-1 to balance your audio feed against the intensity of ambient sound coming from in and around your craft. Gold plated plug tips provide excellent sound quality, as well.
  • 24 db noise reduction
  • y-block switch included
  • suffer from hot spots
Model KA-1
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. David Clark H10-13.4

The flexible boom arm holding the microphone in place on the David Clark H10-13.4 allows for deeply nuanced placement of the device. That microphone, the M-7A, is one of the finer noise cancelling mics available on the market.
  • low profile volume control
  • comfort gel in seals
  • do not come with wind screen
Brand David Clark
Model H10-13.4
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

8. Lightspeed Sierra

The Lightspeed Sierra ought to run for up to 40 hours on a single pair of AA batteries, and the set has its own battery indicator to keep you informed as to when those power cells will need to be changed. An automatic shutoff feature helps preserve that charge.
  • switchable between stereo and mono
  • reversible headband
  • painfully loud lower frequencies
Brand Lightspeed
Model Sierra
Weight 2.9 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

7. Faro G3 ANR

A good headset needs to be both lightweight and durable, so the creators of the Faro G3 ANR turned to carbon fiber to provide the majority of their headset build. The result of that construction is a unit that weighs a paltry nine ounces.
  • active noise reduction
  • auxiliary audio input
  • high pressure fit
Brand Faro Aviation
Model FARO-G3
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. David Clark DC PRO-X Hybrid

The leatherette headband with its uniquely breathable design on the David Clark DC PRO-X Hybrid works well to eliminate hot spots and keep a pilot comfortable for long stretches in various climates. Its swivel hinge stirrups also help disperse pressure.
  • adjustable suspension
  • supra-aural shape
  • microphone arm is too short
Brand David Clark
Model 43100G-01
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. Lightspeed Tango Wireless

The rechargeable 3.7-volt lithium ion battery in the Lightspeed Tango Wireless is rated to last 10 hours through continual use with media and communications. With the quick charging base, it can be ready for action in as little as 2 hours, or it can charge while in use.
  • 40mm moving coil transducer
  • low impedance when wired
  • lingering echo issues
Brand Lightspeed
Model Tango
Weight 4.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. David Clark DC ONE-X

The David Clark DC ONE-X comes with the company's five year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee to back up what is already a highly regarded name in the aviation industry. It features a digital signal processor that ensures high-fidelity audio.
  • alloy headbands
  • slow recovery earcups
  • noticeable background hiss
Brand David Clark
Model 88-DC-ONE-X
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. Lightspeed Zulu PFX

At only 14 oz., thanks to the company's LightComfort technology, the Lightspeed Zulu PFX can sit on your head for hours at a time without causing very much discomfort. The soft ear seals are further designed to contour to your personal ear shape.
  • interactive smartphone app
  • proprietary pfx technology
  • bulky in-line controller
Brand Lightspeed
Model 4034
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Faro G2 ANR

The combination of densely padded pleather ear protection and the company's active noise reduction gives the Faro G2 ANR an impressive 52 dB degree of compression. A premium electret microphone provides an additional layer of ambient sound cancellation.
  • dual ga adapter
  • thick top cushion
  • 50hz to 20khz dynamic frequency
Brand FARO
Model G2-ANR
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Bose A20 Dual Plug

With 30% less clamping force and 30% more active noise cancellation than conventional models, the Bose A20 Dual Plug provides a clearer audio experience for both communications and music, all while being one of the most comfortable options on the market.
  • bluetooth connectivity
  • supports channel mixing
  • up to 45 hours of use from two aas
Brand Bose
Model 324843-3020
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Active Noise Reduction Versus Passive Noise Reduction

One of the first, and arguably most important, decisions that you have to make when choosing a new aviation headset is whether you prefer active noise reduction — sometimes referred to as active noise cancellation — or passive noise reduction.

ANR headphones work by canceling out specific sound frequencies. A small microphone located in the earcup of an ANR headset picks up outside noise. The noise is then transferred to the headset's electronics, which power a small speaker inside of the earcup. This small speaker produces an exact replica of the outside noises, while at the same time the electronics add a signal that is 180-degrees out of phase with the original sounds sent by the microphone. A 180-degree, out-of-phase sound is an exact opposite frequency of the original sound. These two opposing frequencies cancel each other out, resulting in silence.

This doesn't mean that ANR headsets will leave you unable to hear anything going on around you. They are tuned to mainly cancel out low-frequency and repetitive sounds or those that contain a very limited number of frequencies — think the droning of an engine or hum of a large electronic device. High-frequency or constantly changing sounds, like somebody's voice or music, are more difficult to cancel out and will generally pass right through an ANR headset with minimal reduction. The fact that changing sounds are difficult to cancel out also means that if a constant low-frequency sound all of sudden experiences a change in frequency, like an engine suddenly reducing in power or a propeller slowing down, it should still be noticeable through ANR headphones.

PNR headsets work in a very different manner. Rather than using technology and opposing frequencies to cancel out sounds, they simply use soundproofing to muffle exterior noises. It is akin to what happens when you place your hands over your ears, though much more effective. To muffle exterior sounds, a PNR headset will make use of dense foam or gel combined with a pressure seal. The clamping action created by a headset's headband keeps the earcups firmly placed against the side of your head to create a seal that prevents exterior noises from entering.

The Different Types Of Microphones In Aviation Headsets

After determining whether your prefer an ANR or PNR headset, the next thing to look at is the type of microphone a given model uses. The primary types of microphones used in aviation headsets are electric, carbon, and dynamic. Electric microphones are the smallest and lightest of the three. They make use of a charged, flexible diaphragm that is set a very specific distance away from a fixed plate. As a user speaks into the microphone, the sound waves vibrate the diaphragm, causing slight changes in its distance from the plate. These changes are translated into electrical signals and then transmitted as sound. Electric microphones are the most effective at canceling extraneous noise and interference.

Carbon microphones are generally the least expensive of the three. They consist of two metal plates, which are separated by minute granules of carbon. When a user speaks into a carbon microphone, the sound waves hit the first plate, making it vibrate and exert a varying amount of pressure on the granules. The pressure effects the amount of electrical resistance the granules create. At the same time, a steady current is passed between the two plates. The varying electrical resistance causes a modulation in the current that mimics the varying pressure of the sound waves. These fluctuations are then amplified and transmitted. Unfortunately, carbon microphones have the narrowest frequency range of the three and they often produce a high amount of unwanted electrical noise.

Dynamic microphones offer a compromise between the high cost of electric mics and the low frequency range of carbon microphones. Inside of a dynamic microphone, there is a coil of wire attached to a diaphragm. This diaphragm is surrounded by a strong magnetic field. When a user speaks into a dynamic mic, the sound waves move the diaphragm and coil, generating an electrical signal. The voltage of this signal varies based on the amplitude and frequency of the sound waves. Despite being carefully shielded in aviation headsets, the magnetic field of dynamic microphones is susceptible to electromagnetic interference, which can result in garbled transmissions.

Other Considerations For Choosing An Aviation Headset

Typically, aviation headsets are worn for extended periods of time. For this reason, comfort is a major factor in how much you will like a particular headset. Models that are too tight can quickly cause a pounding compression headache, while models that are too loose won't be very effective at reducing outside noises. The best way to ensure that an aviation headset will fit you well is to choose a model that allows for a lot of adjustment. The more adjustment the headband allows, the easier it will be to position the earcups comfortably, while ensuring they create a nice seal at the same time.

You should also consider microphone boom adjustability. Some models have a fully adjustable boom that allows for precise placement, some may just have a hinge or two that let you move the mic closer or further from your mouth, and some may not be adjustable at all. Another nice feature some models have is a boom that swings all the way around. This allows you to wear the mic on the left or right side to suit your preference. As with headband adjustability, the more adjustable its microphone boom is, the more likely that aviation headset is to fit you comfortably.

The final considerations should be weight, padding material, and the amount of padding. Heavy headsets can strain the neck when worn for long periods of time and should be avoided. A good amount of padding around the ears and on the headband is nice, but can also add to weight and bulk. You'll have to find the right balance between too much and too little padding. Finally, consider the materials of which the padding is comprised. Gel padding is often heavier than foam, but many feel it provides better cushioning. A vinyl cover will often cause you to sweat more than a cotton cover, but usually creates a better seal.

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Last updated on December 28, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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