Headset advice- what you wish you knew?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Will Kumley, Aug 6, 2019.

  1. Will Kumley

    Will Kumley Filing Flight Plan

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    I'm in the middle of my flying lessons and have been using the schools rental headsets so far. After taking the wife with me last week she suggested we get my own headset so I don't need to worry about getting to the school and discovering that the rentals are all out. It has happened once and the girl at the counter handed me a set of Zulu 3's they had on display and said to give them a try. They were great, although I noticed I felt tired after the flight and have read some reviews that the ANR can cause that. I'm not sure I'll be so lucky next time if the school is out of headsets and the same girl isn't at the counter and with my wife willing to get me a headset I'm willing to entertain the idea.

    All this to ask, what do you wish you knew before you bought your first headset?
    -Cost is a huge factor as I'd rather put my money toward flying than gear right now.
    -Currently considering DC H10-13.4's but wondering if I should consider an ANR that is cheaper than the Zulu's?
    -I've seen some "cheaper" ANR sets from companies like Rugged Air, Faro, Telex, etc... - Should I consider any of them?
    -Some headsets seem to have full ear cups like a PNR set while others have something that reminds me of Sony Walkman headphones from my youth with ear pieces that sit on top of the ear, are there pros/cons to this style?
     
  2. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route PoA Supporter

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    You don’t NEED ANR. It’s a luxury you can put off, based on your comment about cost.

    Get those cheaper DCs. You can keep them for passengers and upgrade for yourself, or just keep rockin them.
     
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  3. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    Buy the David Clarks and later when you're finished with training, reward yourself with the ANR of your choice. I have two, Bose A20 and the Faro...something. I don't like the Faros because the mic has to be almost IN your mouth to pick anything up.
     
  4. 1anG

    1anG Pre-Flight

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    I Went zulu3, I used to and still.have as a back up the DC H10-13S, but decided to upgrade, I chose the Zulu 3 cuz they were cheaper then the Bose but still had great reviews and Bluetooth was free. The braided cable.is also amazing tangling is almost none existant. The head.clamping pressure was annoying at first but then I realized I could twist the earcuos to get a more flush fit so the pressure was evened out on the hole earcup. I Made the justification to get a better headset because it's better to keep my hearing for the long run. A 172 isnt quite.
     
  5. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I bought an inexpensive set of non-ANR headsets when I was a student pilot. They still work and are excellent as backups, loaners, or when I have more passengers than I have high end headsets.

    I'd go that way if I was you and upgrade later.
     
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  6. TheFB

    TheFB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have been using the Faro ANR for two years exclusively (except two times wit Bose). They are perfectly fine and comfortable at four hours.

    I’ve flown twice with the newest Bose and they are better. I like buying avgas with the savings.
     
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  7. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    I never understood why people use different headsets during training and certificated piloting. The plane doesn't get any louder after you get your license

    Your ears are important, I wish I had bought my Bose A20's earlier than I did. In the grand scheme of things $1,000 for a one-time expense is nothing compared to how much you will spend on the hobby and life in general
     
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  8. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I bought the Faro ANR's right out of the gate. Ended up selling them a year later for a second used Bose A20. I had already bought an A20 for myself. MUCH better - $600 better? not sure. There are decent deals on used Bose and Lightspeed out there. If you are patient, you can find decent deals/
     
  9. X3 Skier

    X3 Skier En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Bought a set of ASA’s back in the dark ages. Cheap, effective and a lifetime guarantee. Great for backups.

    I have a uflymike to use with my standard Bose QC15 headphones that I had for normal music listening. Lot cheaper than Aviation specific headset.

    Cheers
     
  10. Somedudeintn

    Somedudeintn Cleared for Takeoff

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    I bought a used set of Lightspeeds and they were a pretty good value. I've since switched to the QT Halo Headset and I love them. I don't get any headaches from the clamping pressure and the price is pretty reasonable. I just wish I had bought them sooner.

    Initially I thought I'd switch back and forth between the QT Halos and my lightspeeds, but I'm really not a fan of the over the ear headset anymore. I've flown with the Bose headsets and they were really nice but I still prefer an in-ear.
     
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  11. FORANE

    FORANE Pattern Altitude

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    ANR quiets things down and is nice but requires battery changes at regular intervals.
    You don't want the walkman sit over the top of the ear because they are far too loud in a general aviation cockpit.
    You do want a Clarity Aloft.
     
  12. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Most vendors ( Spruce, Sporty’s, Chief, etc ) offer 30 day trial. Try a number of headsets, see which you prefer. Everyone is different.
     
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  13. simtech

    simtech En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Can you handle ear plugs in your ears for extended periods? I switched from my lightspeeds to the CMW CQ-1 and love them. Just a quiet as ANR, cheaper, no batteries, and no clamping on your head. My wife switched from her Bose X to the QT halo and loves them. So both our ANR's are now passenger spares.

    However, they can be a bit cumbersome putting them in. But once in you're good to go. They do get easier in time once you figure it out though.
     
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  14. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    If you can afford ANR, get ANR and don’t look back.
     
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  15. deadeye99

    deadeye99 Filing Flight Plan

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    You can get 90%+ of the cost of the better headsets back on eBay down the road. Very little value left in the cheap ones. Very little risk to have nice ones.
     
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  16. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

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    I bought an ASA headset when I started training and still use it for passengers. It's an excellent passive headset, can't be beat for $100, and has a lifetime warranty. HINT - if you get this one, or any other inexpensive headset, get cloth earcovers for it. I found the covers to be a great comfort improvement.

    After training, I bought a Gulf Coast Avionics ANR headset, on sale at SNF for ~$200. I've been perfectly satisfied with it. Again, cloth earcovers help the comfort.

    My wife didn't find either one comfortable (she's picky), and I ended up buying her a DC-One-X which she likes. It's better than the GCA, but for me the difference in performance isn't great and not worth the cost delta.
     
  17. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy Pattern Altitude

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    For standard trainers I don’t think you need ANR. You can get a good ole Set of Standard David Clark’s that will last a lifetime, even in the used market for a pittance. Most training flights are relatively short and sweet.

    Once you have your ppl and are flying further distances in bigger, sometimes louder planes. The ANR I think does make a difference in the fatigue. I find ANR actually cuts down on the fatigue that is generated by the louder constant sound. I have zulu3’s. Love them. Have a used set of zulu2’s. for passengers and they work great too
     
  18. woodchucker

    woodchucker Cleared for Takeoff

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    I bought a lightspeed sierra set from PoA member @pigpenracing for around $100 off list.

    DCs are fine, that’s what I used in training (bought used off eBay). But you should have your own, and after getting your ticket make sure you get the Mrs. a nicer set than yours.
     
  19. flybill

    flybill Filing Flight Plan

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    Send me your info. I’ll ship you a free headset. Someone gave it to me when I started training last year. I would like to pass it on. Nothing fancy but it works. Save up your money and buy an ANR when you can.
     
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  20. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    Payin' it forward. Nice human!
     
  21. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    Get the 13.4's as mentioned you can upgrade later and use them as a passenger set. I have both a Zulu 3 and a set of 13.4's. When doing lots of short flights with different airplanes (6 lessons in one day) I often use the 13.4's as I think the are more robust than the Zulu's and handle being moved from aircraft to aircraft better than the Zulu's. If I am doing a cross country or flying a particularly noisy airplane (old 206), I will use the Zulu's.

    If you really want to be cheap get a $150 set of FlightComs (you don't need a stereo set), The work as well as the 13.4's but will probably only last 2-3 years before the cables start to break. The cheapest flightcoms and other cheaper headset often have cheap microphones that pick up to much background noise in the cockpit making communication difficult.

    Also check craigslist you can get some awesome deals on used headsets that way. One of my students picked up a set of DC10-60 for $125 and a Bose A20 set that was suppose ably broken for $100 that actually work just fine.

    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL
     
  22. Will Kumley

    Will Kumley Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks Flybill, I sent you a message.
     
  23. Will Kumley

    Will Kumley Filing Flight Plan

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    Lots of great advice in here so far and much faster than I expected. Thanks for all the feedback. It was nice to get responses instead of blasted for bringing up a topic I imagine is discussed a lot on here. I actually did a search first as some forums I've been a part of in the past would have crucified me for asking such a trivial question.
     
  24. chemgeek

    chemgeek Line Up and Wait

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    Flew with various cheap passives, then DC passives for years. Then splurged on a Zulu (first gen). Game changer. Should have been flying with that from the day it came out. Still going strong, on second set of ear seals. Passives work but are C-clamps. Quality ANRs are very quiet and are not such a squeeze. Unless money is an option...go for a Bose or Zulu ANR set.
     
  25. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Don’t understand? Quite simple Watson:

    1) For some folks $1000 isn’t chump change; and
    2) Training involves comparatively short periods in the plane for the most part; 60 to 90 minutes is the typical lesson duration, with long intervals between exposures. Not much benefit for an ANR over a good passive in that situation.
     
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  26. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    I guess different strokes for folks.. from my perspective if you're committing to getting a pilot's license you're realistically going to spend about $20,000 on that.. why buy two different headsets (cheap trainer, then later Lightspeed/Bose) when you can just buy the one you want and keep it forever..

    For part 2 I guess that's mission dependent. Many of the weekend warrior pilots I know rarely fly more than 90 minutes in one leg anyway, and that noise exposure is cumulative and adds up anyway, at least for potential future hearing loss (even if 90 minutes is not enough for it to have a fatiguing effect)

    But I guess everyone is different. If somebody wants to spread their costs out but ultimately spend more in the long run then that works too
     
  27. Johnbo

    Johnbo Pre-Flight

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    No need for ANC; I have these and love them. Super nice if you end up in an open cockpit / cub with doors open or do acro. I went through some high end D&C and returned the high end stuff because these were so much better and clearer.

    https://cqheadset.com/
     
  28. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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  29. wrbix

    wrbix Pattern Altitude

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    Another vote here for QT Halo......wish I’d given up on headclamps earlier.
    Ask around your flight school/FBO....maybe someone will let you try theirs (with new ear plugs of course)
     
  30. jsstevens

    jsstevens En-Route PoA Supporter

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    One of the biggest and most over looked things is: How does this headset fit you?

    This is critical for 1) Noise reduction (whether passive or active a good fit of the seals is critical) and 2) comfort. I see lots of folks recommend David Clarks and they make a very durable headset. I can't wear them for more than 1/2 hour. (I have a large head. No, really-had to special order my motorcycle helmet. No smart alec comments!) Whatever you choose, make sure you can wear them for an extended flight before you're committed.

    An ANR headset should also be a decent PNR headset. Batteries tend to go dead at the most inopportune times. DC, Bose, Lightspeed all meet this criterion. As do many others I'm sure.
     
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  31. Gerhardt

    Gerhardt En-Route

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    I wish ANR was around when I was taking lessons in a 150. I can't imagine the permanent damage I did to my hearing using the overhead speaker. And worse, I had to fake being able to understand what anyone was saying.

    I have to second the notion that a $1K outlay during training is money well spent. If it's not doable, I get that. But if it's feasible at all it would be one of my first investments.
     
  32. jsstevens

    jsstevens En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Once you know what you want, check ebay. I bought 2 Telex first gen ANR headsets for $65. It's what I'm using now.

    Also, if you decide on higher end stuff (Bose, Lightspeed) check with @pigpenracing he sells used ones...
     
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  33. UngaWunga

    UngaWunga Cleared for Takeoff

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    Buy the DC headset. You can upgrade it to noise cancelling later with a kit. My go-to headset is DC with a noise cancelling kit I bought off of ebay. Been working great for years. I have a nice set of AKG headsets for the wife. Bluetooth, lighter, ANR, etc... I still wear the DCs.
     
  34. Barry

    Barry Filing Flight Plan

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    @ half way through my ppl training I bought the A20. I struggled with decision to spend that much, it seemed excessive at the time. But honestly it was by far the right decision for me. However, you mention cost is a huge factor right now. So, you could buy a good used DC non-ANR for a few hundred, and sell them/trade in for the same few hundred later when you can get a good ANR. Used ANR through pigpenracing is a popular choice here. I would stay away from cheap new ANR sets. Lightspeed Zulus are great if you can somehow swing it
     
  35. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Here is the deal with headphones.
    Comfort
    Quiet
    Cheap

    Pick any two.

    My perspective: Headphones aside, flying is an expensive extravagance. If I'm spending a significant amount of money on something that's a hobby, I want to enjoy it as much as possible. Life is too short and aviation is too expensive to waste time on headphones that aren't comfortable and quiet. And that means they ain't gonna be cheap.

    The DC 10-13.4 were my first 'good' headphones and they were super comfortable. But they never got used once I got my first ANR Lightspeeds. I later upgraded the 10-13.4's with an aftermarket ANR kit. That did a good job, but the add-on box was not elegant and by the time I bought the headphones and the ANR kit, I could have just bought a good pair of Lightspeeds in the first place.

    My advice: Get your third set of headphones first. Cheaper in the long run because you're going to end up there anyway.
     
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  36. rtk11

    rtk11 Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Great idea about getting your own headset. It’s not availability for rent per se, but the fact that the last guy who used them could have been really sick. I got sick after using a flight school headset. Ick!

    I agree with the others about criteria to fulfill. Mine was to eliminate the clamping pressure and sweat around the ear cups. Like another poster. I went with the QT Halos and love them. Other pilots I know like ANR, but that’s a luxury and will add a battery check to your preflight. One pilot I know is a CFI, so he’s in and out of planes frequently. He went wireless with ANR, and that works extremely well for him.

    Find what’s comfortable and quiet, then figure out what you can afford from those choices. You’ll forget about how much you spent, but you won’t Forget about how uncomfortable or how loud a headset is after a purchase.
     
  37. simtech

    simtech En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Two different brands. I own both, and while I fly exclusively with the CQ-1 the QT Halo is basically the same. The QT's did not fit my head right and the mic boom was too short. So those are my wife's now and they fit her perfectly. The CQ-1 has a longer mic boom which is well worth the extra expense for me. Both are great headsets though!
     
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  38. old_biker

    old_biker Pre-takeoff checklist

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    as student only worn DC a few times, but I understand too well, I rode open piped Harley many trips across USA with either nothing, or small earplugs when I was younger, for the last 10 years I still have a loud bike, but it is muffled way down compared to my last bike. but for noise, I have earmuffs for sound I wear, but when running a grinder for hours grinding metal, I do what is necessary, no matter how uncomfortable, I wear to protect my hearing. I am on a severe budget myself, and slightly browsing at cheap headsets.
     
  39. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    I love my Clarity Aloft. The passive noise reduction of plugging into my ear is both effective and, for lack of a better word, natural-feeling. The only disadvantage of the CA has been fragile wiring. Not extremely so, but if you handle them carelessly you will be sending them in for repair. The company has treated me well with the repairs that I have needed. I also did not use the CA when I did aerobatic lessons a couple years back, because they put me in a David Clark cloth helmet with a headset snapped into it for that. I suspect you could use the CA in an open-cockpit plane, but I have not tried it. It does great in the Cub with the door open, at any rate. I have also worn the CA in a P-51 and I still have my hearing. The pilot of the P-51 is a CA user, as well, and I assume he has experimented with what works best in warbirds before settling on it. The CA is compatible with wearing a hat or sunglasses with zero change in how it feels or works.

    I also have time with a Bose A20. It seems more durable than the CA. It feels less natural but doesn't really bother me at all. Sunglasses will run underneath the cups and possibly degrade the performance or feel weird on your head. Hats with a button on the top might create a pressure point with the headset clamped over the top.

    A good quality passive over-ear headset will do most of the job for you, as well. My advice is to save up for a good pair, whether it's passive, active, or in-ear. If you can, try out different options before spending your money on one. You may find that you hate in-ear or love it. You may find that you get more joy out of two good pairs of David Clarks than one Bose and one cheap set for passengers.
     
  40. SethV

    SethV Pre-Flight

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    If you really want to fly for years to come, get the Bose. If you think this is just a short term thing and you will soon give up, get the miserable David Clamps. Cost is pretty insignificant when compared with the total cost of a years flying.
     
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