First aviation headset- choice?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by tobnpr, Oct 6, 2022.

  1. tobnpr

    tobnpr Filing Flight Plan

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    Purchasing my first aviation headset.
    On a budget (five bills or so), and would prefer noise-cancelling.
    I'm leaning towards a used Bose X which would be in that price range, but also looking at a Pilot Communications PA-1779T.

    I figure I can't go wrong with Bose, but can find little info on the PC headset. Also like the fact that Bose takes off-the-shelf batteries while the PC has an internal (which means the headset would need to be sent back, and at some point it would probably be impossible to get that proprietary battery?).

    Thoughts? Any other headsets in that price range to consider?
     
  2. RyanB

    RyanB Super Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Meh, I’d pony up the dough and get something that will be decent and last you awhile. The Bose X isn’t supported anymore. Personally, I’d go with the Light Speed Sierras at minimum.
     
  3. Brad W

    Brad W Cleared for Takeoff

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    My thought is that pretty much any will be fine...especially if you are only just starting out and on a budget.
    How far along are you?
    I bought a low end passive Flightcom that served me well all through my training and flying in the early 90's ...till I went rusty pilot a few years ago....I ended up with a few of them over the years. Broke em out a couple years ago and did a couple flights with one. Although one wasn't working well...rotted in storage I guess....the others still work fine all these years later
    I forget the model but it was basically their 4DX Classic but with a different boom. Looks like new today you can get it for $129..... put the other $400 towards flight time.

    Even back in those days it might not have been the absolute best....or the absolutely most comfortable...but it was better than the previous generation sets...It worked.
     
  4. kujo806

    kujo806 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The Lightspeed Sierra has served me well for many years. It is around $500 price point with bluetooth and active noise cancellation. Also if you have any issues, Lightspeed will take care of you.
     
  5. Half Fast

    Half Fast Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I’m using an ANR headset from Gulf Coast Avionics that goes for about $250 and is occasionally on sale for about $200. I’ve had it for several years and it works just fine. Uses a pair of AA batteries.

    If you’ll settle for a passive headset the ASA is a bargain, sounds good, and has a lifetime warranty.

    With any low-cost headset, buy a set of cloth ear covers. Makes a big difference in comfort.
     
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  6. Pinecone

    Pinecone Cleared for Takeoff

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    ANR works against the higher frequencies. A lot of lower frequency noise in airplanes. Reducing that relies on the passive headset portion.

    Look at threads about durability.

    I have flown with David Clarks since the 70s. And am actually still flying an original DC from then. Yes, I have replaced the original dynamic mic with an electret. And put on gel ear seals.
     
  7. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Most of the companies offer a 30 day free trial period. Try them out, see which you like best and which are the most comfortable.
     
  8. Daleandee

    Daleandee En-Route

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    I realize you noted noise cancelling (ANR) were preferred but the Clarity Aloft I use is IMHO quieter than a few of the ANR sets that I've tried over the years. Admittedly I haven't tried the higher end Lightspeeds or Bose. If you can tolerate an "in-ear" headset the Clarity Aloft is worth considering. I've had mine for a number of years and are quite pleased with them. The biggest improvement came from finding the correct ear tips from a different vendor. And .. no batteries required! ;)
     
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  9. OneCharlieTango

    OneCharlieTango Line Up and Wait

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    The idea is right, but the specifics are wrong. ANR works on low frequencies, passive on the highs. It's important because low frequencies cause fatigue, but high frequencies cause hearing loss. So, the headset that makes you feel the best might not be the one that protects the best.

    As to the OP, they're all Ok. Comfort is the most important thing, and you can only find that by trying some. Marv Golden and Sporty's have generous return policies, so you can try several before you buy.

    Or get a used David Clark 10-13.1 and upgrade the pads.
     
  10. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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  11. sarangan

    sarangan Pattern Altitude

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    For so many years I tried to save money by buying a mid-range ANR headset, not because I couldn't afford it, but because I hated wasting money. When I finally got the Bose A20, my biggest regret was why I didn't do this sooner.
     
  12. tobnpr

    tobnpr Filing Flight Plan

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    Agree, I'm of the "buy once, cry once" philosophy when possible.
    Everything I've read about the Bose A20 puts them ahead of the competition, so I'm probably going to up my budget to the $700-$800 range for a used A20.
    In my own experience, any piece of quality electronics that lasts past the "burn-in" and goes for a few years doesn't have issues down the line. On the off-chance it does the $4-500 saved at purchase covers it.
     
  13. Pinecone

    Pinecone Cleared for Takeoff

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    Teach me to post while in an online meeting. :D

    Yes, I got it backwards. But the same idea.
     
  14. Jereme Carne

    Jereme Carne Filing Flight Plan

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    I just can't bring myself to be a Bose fanboy, I just feel like I'm supporting the man. haha

    I use DC One-X and love them! Bose ANR is slightly quieter but I find the DCs way more comfortable.
     
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  15. TheFB

    TheFB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I’ve had the Fargo G2 ANR unit since 2017 ($350ish on Amazon). They are great.

    Hardly scientific but two friends have had to send back their Bose for repairs in the same timeframe.
     
  16. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I used Bose for more years than I can remember. Just replaced it with the DC one-x and have been happy with. Them. And a few hundred cheaper than the Bose.
     
  17. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Just get a nice one you will keep forever. All these conversations about starter headsets etc you'll just end up spending more money in the long run.

    It's also not like a car or a house where the first one you get is affordable and cheap. Good ear protection is important.

    I purchased mine back in 2016 and have not looked back since. Have replaced the ear cups and headrests a few times but otherwise still going strong..
     
  18. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    Used to be. It's up to $700 now. Darned inflation.
     
  19. RyanB

    RyanB Super Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Check eBay. I got a set that was nearly brand new for $450.
     
  20. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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  21. RyanB

    RyanB Super Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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  22. kujo806

    kujo806 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yikes! Maybe I should have bought the Zulu3 at oshkosh for 785.
     
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  23. chemgeek

    chemgeek En-Route

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    If you are going to be flying for a while, buy for comfort, quality, durability, and support. The Lightspeed Sierra would check most of your boxes, but you would not be disappointed in a Zulu 3 if you splurged. If you purchase unsupported and obsolete equipment, if it breaks you are SOL.

    If you can settle for passive headsets, David Clarks will last a lifetime and they support and repair pretty much anything they have ever made. They fixed a set of ancient H10-30s for me for a pittance, and I still hand those and/or an H10-13.4 to pax. They are my backups. I personally fly with a Zulu 3 and I still own an operating original Zulu (which my spouse and copilot uses.)
     
  24. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    If you’re on a budget, find a good, used DC 13.2 and add the noise cancelling kit from headsets inc in Amarillo. I have used mine several years for all my flying except when with my son in law in his Baron where he has a $1,000 Bose in every position. The only advantage the Bose has is a little lighter weight. Overall I prefer my poor boy conversions.
     
  25. donjohnston

    donjohnston Pattern Altitude

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    I flew with David Clark's with ANR. Then Bose X. Then Lightspeed Zulu's. I've been using Halo's for about 10 years now. No batteries and you'll have money left over for avgas.

    Unless you don't like in ear headsets.
     
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  26. tobnpr

    tobnpr Filing Flight Plan

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    This is an interesting option, thanks for mentioning. New electronics fitted to a passive headset, didn't know this is possible.
     
  27. WDD

    WDD En-Route

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    I bought a starter DC headset. Then I got a Lightspeed. What a waste of money - to have bought the DC starter helmet.

    You’re spending $8-$12k dollars for flight training. Why degrade that with with a cheap headset?

    A properly fitting and quality noise reducing headset will greatly improve your training.

    BTW - frugal is good, cheap is bad. Frugal means you spend where you need to and not where you don’t. It doesn’t mean be cheap everywhere - that gets expensive.
     
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  28. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    Don’t buy a “starter” headset of any brand. A DC 13.2 is a quality piece. Add the noise canceling kit to a quality headset and you have something worth having without laying out a thousand bucks.
     
  29. Andrew

    Andrew Filing Flight Plan

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    I love my David Clarks - I also have a noise canceling set, but when noise canceling is active, I sometimes feel like I might be missing some important sounds from the engine or something. I haven't tried other brands but I personally think the DCs are pretty comfortable.
     
  30. WDD

    WDD En-Route

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    Whatever you do - go to a shop and wear several pairs for 5 min each. Yes, walk around the store with the headset on. Above all else it must be comfortable.

    I suggest trying on a Bose a Bose A 20, light speed, Sierra, and a David Clark X.
     
  31. drummer4468

    drummer4468 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I flew my first few lessons with the standard loaner DCs, they're not terrible but also not great. But they're cheap to buy and cheaper to buy used/broken and have them refurbished. I keep a pair as a backup for the occasional second passenger.

    After a few lessons, though, I decided to splurge for the Lightspeed Sierra. Oh man, so very worth it if you're serious about flying. The noise cancellation is fantastic and really eliminates a huge chunk of fatigue you get from the engine drone and ambient noise. Made lessons much more productive as I was more alert and receptive to learning, and overall made flying much more enjoyable. Always amazes me when the batteries occasionally die and I boggle at how I tolerated the noise before ANR, lol. Having bluetooth capability is great, too. I get to hear all the FF alerts and rock some tunes on longer flights.

    A couple years later I migrated to my current Zulu 3. Honestly haven't noticed much difference in the ANR quality, but they are markedly more comfortable, built tougher, and less bulky. The kevlar-wrapped cords are really much nicer than the standard rubber ones, they don't tangle nearly as much.

    Also test-drove a pair of A20s once, and they were indeed mighty comfy. The ANR seemed marginally better but that may just be my imagination.

    Bottom line, if you're serious about flying, it's DEFINITELY worth trying out the Sierra, Zulu, and A20s.
     
  32. WDD

    WDD En-Route

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    Drummer speaks wise
     
  33. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    ….. or a 13.2 converted to noise cancelling for half the money.
     
  34. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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  35. Half Fast

    Half Fast Touchdown! Greaser!

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    While those are great headsets, bear in mind that some folks, particularly young people, are taking flying lessons on a VERY tight budget. Given a choice between laying out over a grand on a headset versus buying a $150 one plus six or seven more flight hours, the latter might be the better choice for them. We don't know why the OP set his budget at $500 (and it's none of our business), but he can certainly find good, reliable, functional headsets well inside that number.

    The truth is that the lower priced headsets do the job just fine, but they tend to be a bit heavier or otherwise less comfortable. Someone who is trying to pay for as much flight time as possible might be well advised to purchase a good budget model. Later on, if they choose to upgrade the budget headset can be used for a passenger.

    The ASA headset I bought during training for ~$100 back in 2016 still works just fine and I've let passengers use it. It sounds good, is reasonably comfortable for a couple of hours, and has a lifetime warranty. In no way do I regret purchasing it.

    I'm now flying with a Gulf Coast Avionics ANR headset that I picked up at SNF for ~$200. The ANR works well and I've been pleased with the headset for several years. I bought my wife a DC OneX because it felt comfortable to her. I've flown with it a few times and while I find it slightly more comfortable than my GCA budget model, the DC doesn't sound particularly better and the ANR in both units is comparable in effectiveness.
     
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  36. The rogue

    The rogue Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm a notorious cheapskate. I bought a Lightspeed QFR back when I was a pilot. I skrimped and saved and bought some Oregon Aero ear seals later on. Saving money and penny pinching is a lifestyle for me.

    That being said, if o was just starting out, knowing what I know now....I'd buy a Lightspeed Sierra or a Zulu. They're available on eBay used for around $500. Both use AA batteries. And you can get some 1.5v rechargeables from A----n.

    Your hearing is super important. Listening to ATC and the pattern is importanter.

    The Bluetooth and other conveniences are pretty cool, too.

    --Matt
     
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  37. tobnpr

    tobnpr Filing Flight Plan

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    Totally random- just a middle of the road number as a starting point.
    I'd just returned from my first flight lesson, where the CFI asked "Hey, you got your headset?"...
    The DC loaner was plenty comfortable for that hour in the air but I know there's a lot more to it, than that.

    I'm an avid shooter, and before going to in-ear electronic a few years ago I used muffs, and know they can get pretty uncomfortable after a few hours.
    At some point down the road, I'll want the bells and whistles like bluetooth, etc. but as a student pilot for the near future none of that is relevant.

    In-ear has been mentioned above, but from what I've read they're not ideal in the louder cockpits of the 172 and Cherokee I'll be in and more suited for quieter environs.

    I'm going with an H10-13.4 and the ANR kit from Active Headsets; for about $600 good quality and should serve my purpose fine for a while until it becomes a spare/passenger set.

    ETA: Looking on Ebay for a used set of the Zulus, H20s etc... if I can snag one in the next week (gotta have it...) that'll be the one.

    Thanks to all above for the input, much appreciated.
     
  38. Shepherd

    Shepherd Final Approach

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    I'll hit this from a totally different direction?
    What will you be flying?
    If it's old you may want to forget the noise cancelling headsets.
    I've had a couple of occasions when the change in noise level or pitch has alerted me to a problem.
    It both cases it gave me time to get on the ground before a catastrophic failure.
    Just my 2 cents.
     
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  39. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg En-Route

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    I fly A20s, wife flies One-Xs. I think hers are comfier and mine are slightly quieter.

    All of the high-end sets seem to hold their value well. Buy used and sell em later for equal money, then your cost is $0.

    I used to fly in Bose X's. The A20s are far better. But I'd rock them again if that was the financial choice I had to make.
     
  40. drummer4468

    drummer4468 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Oh, believe me, I'm fully aware. So was I. That's why I saved up for a few weeks while using the loaners, and diverted 2-3hrs of flying money to the "buy once, cry once" fund. I didn't need the $500 flight bag or $300 sunglasses or brand new iPad, etc, but I wanted to be sure I'd be comfortable for the few hours a week I'd spend behind the giant fan, both during and after training. Not that the DCs were garbage by any means, but comparatively speaking they were very uncomfortable and loud.

    I feel like this is a too-common misconception with ANR...I can still hear the engine just fine with noise cancelling on, and have detected a fair share of subtle engine abnormalities in the 60s and 70s birds I flew. The ANR doesnt cancel all sound, just reduces the barrage of low-end noise that passive headsets let through. If anything, passive sets are objectively worse on that front as they mostly only reduce the higher-end frequencies that are actually useful, and let the louder low-end noise drown them out more. With ANR I can much more easily hear a subtle valve tick, little squeaks and squeals, and even some stall horns that would otherwise be far too quiet to hear effectively.
     
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