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Inside the cockpit, most airplane engines can reach noise levels up to 85 Db, which makes investing in one of the best aviation headsets incredibly important, not just to protect your sensitive hearing, but to maintain communication with your co-pilot, passengers, and ground control. It may not seem like a huge number, but technically anything above 80 Db can cause damage over a prolonged period. Headsets like the Lightspeed Zulu 3 at Amazon feature active noise cancellation, which drastically reduces the impact on your eardrums.
Anyone that's ridden in a small, single-engine aircraft will tell you, it's impossible to have a conversation with the person next to you without some type of radio. This is why having a solid boom mic is so important. Models like the Bose A20 at Amazon feature a side-swappable mic, as well as Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to work with a variety of plug types.
If you're curious how these headsets can help protect your hearing, make sure to read our guide on how noise-cancellation works before investing in one of the best aviation headsets.
With its communication systems used by everyone from first responders to the United States Armed Forces, David Clark’s reputation precedes it. The company has an extensive portfolio of aviation headsets, with the DC ONE-X undeniably being the best in the business. It uses advanced feed-forward and feedback technology to achieve hybrid Electronic Noise Cancellation (ENC) and features Bluetooth functionality for easy connectivity with smartphones, tablets, and other similar devices.
The headset comes with an integrated M-55 electret microphone and employs Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technology to ensure a high-fidelity communication experience. Compatible with all types of aircraft audio panel configurations, David Clark DC ONE-X features a compact, in-line control module. The backlit module provides easy access to all of the headset’s functions (e.g. on/off, volume), and is powered by two AA batteries that are good for up to 50 hours of use. The headset is TSO-C139a approved and is backed by a five-year warranty.
Although Bose is primarily renowned for its consumer-oriented audio products, the company also makes some special-purpose devices, a case in point being the excellent A20 aviation headset. It provides up to 30 percent more active noise reduction than conventional aviation headsets and comes with Bluetooth functionality for hassle-free wireless connectivity.
The headset’s "Active Equalization" technology automatically shapes and balances incoming signals, resulting in enhanced audio clarity. Bose A20 also lets you customize audio priority – you can either mute the auxiliary audio signal when receiving communication or mix inbound transmission with the plugged-in/Bluetooth audio. Featuring a side-swappable microphone that can be connected to either of the two earcups, the A20 comes with an ergonomic control module that uses two AA batteries to provide up to 45 hours of use. The headset is available with a variety of plug types, such as 6-pin and U174.
If you’re a student who’s just begun working towards getting their pilot’s license, there’s no point in spending a fortune on a high-end aviation headset. And thanks to Kore Aviation’s KA-1, you don’t have to. Easily the best affordable aviation headset on the market, the KA-1 uses high-density acoustic foam cups for best-in-class passive noise attenuation.
Having a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 24dB, it employs ultra-soft silicone gel ear seals that not only ensure a comfortable fit but also let your ears breathe freely. The headset features 50mm drivers, and its dual volume controls allow for quick adjustment on each earcup. You also get an integrated noise-canceling electret microphone for quiet communications, as well as a tough-molded Y-block switch for quickly toggling between mono and stereo modes. Kore Aviation KA-1 comes with a carrying case and is backed by a five-year warranty.
While top-of-the-line aviation headsets with their laundry list(s) of features are indeed awesome, there may be users who want something a bit simpler. If that includes you, take a look at Rugged Air’s RA200. Focusing on the essentials, the RA200 sports 50mm mono audio drivers. Having a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 24dB, this inexpensive aviation headset is ideal for student pilots, passengers, and even flight instructors.
Its foam fit ear seals and deep pocket ear canals ensure all-day wearing comfort, with the stainless-steel headband providing additional durability. The integrated EM56 noise-reflecting microphone comes with wind-blocking foam mic muff, ensuring clearer communication every time. Rugged Air RA200 features gold-plated plugs and even has a 3.5mm audio port that lets you enjoy music via portable music players. It’s backed by a seven-year warranty.
Although aviation headsets come at all price points, the best find that sweet spot between features and affordability. There are quite a few solid options available in the market that are reasonably priced for what they provide, but our vote goes to David Clark’s H10-13.4. Among the best-selling headsets in the aviation industry, it comes with comfort-gel ear seals. Having a patented undercut design, these seals are larger yet lightweight.
Then there’s the double-foam head pad, whose unique center hinge ensures a more comfortable fit. The H10-13.4 features an advanced M7-A noise-canceling electret microphone for ultra-crisp voice transmission, and its universal flex boom allows for better mic placement.
The headset’s molded cord assembly is resistant to pulling and flexing, and you also get a low-profile volume control knob with detent settings. David Clark H10-13.4 is TSO C57b, C58a approved and even exceeds RTCA/DO-214 standards. It’s backed by a five-year warranty.
When you’re in the pilot’s seat, being able to communicate clearly with the flight instructor/ATC is of paramount importance. For that, you need a noise-canceling aviation headset, and we have no qualms recommending Lightspeed’s Zulu 3. Delivering exceptional Active Noise Reduction (ANR) performance over a deep, broad range of low-frequency noise, it uses magnesium earcups that make quick work of blocking out high-frequency noise.
The integrated dual-aperture disc microphone provides enhanced noise cancelation, resulting in much more intelligible communications. It also comes with user-adjustable mic gain, which helps in balancing loud and soft voices in multi-headset environments.
Made almost entirely from stainless-steel and magnesium, and having cables built around a Kevlar core, the Zulu 3 is also one of the most-durable aviation headsets you can buy today. You get Bluetooth for wireless connectivity, as well as an auxiliary input for hooking up smartphones, tablets, and portable music players. Lightspeed Zulu 3 is available in a variety of configurations, including Dual GA, LEMO, and U-174.
If you’re going to be wearing an aviation headset over your head for a few hours every day, it needs to be lightweight and comfortable. Packing top-tier features in a body that weighs just nine ounces, Faro’s G3 is certainly the best lightweight aviation headset out there. Crafted out of 100 percent carbon fiber, it is an Active Noise Reduction (ANR) headset with a rating of 52dB. It’s also extremely comfortable to wear, thanks to faux leather ear cushions and soft padding over the headband.
The G3 features premium drivers for an enhanced audio experience and its noise-canceling electret microphone is 360 degree-rotatable for easy adjustment. Wireless connectivity is handled via Bluetooth, and there’s support for auxiliary audio input as well. Faro G3 comes with an in-line controller that lets you conveniently access all of the headset’s functions, such as dual volume controls, audio priority modes, and much more.
Pilots have to frequently reach for flight controls while they’re seated, and the last thing they need is a loose-hanging cord getting in the way. This is why a wireless aviation headset like Lightspeed Tango makes all the sense in the world. Instead of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, this feature-packed headset uses proprietary "Lightspeed Link" technology, resulting in improved signal reliability and enhanced audio quality. Interestingly, a "Lightspeed Link" connection is strong enough to simultaneously operate up to six Tango headsets in an aircraft.
The headset’s control module (called "Panel Interface") also comes with a backup cable, in case wired connectivity is required. Both components are powered by identical rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which provide up to twelve hours of continuous use on a single charge.
Lightspeed Tango is an Active Noise Reduction (ANR) headset and features a reversible electret microphone. Available in different configurations (e.g. Dual GA, LEMO, and U-174), it’s backed by a five-year warranty.
As ubiquitous as over-the-ear (or circumaural) headsets are, it’s still a hassle to carry them around. If you’d rather have something that’s a bit smaller (and more manageable), we recommend the feather-light Faro Air. Weighing just an ounce, this in-ear aviation headset provides a noise reduction of up to 50dB.
It sports an ultra-thin adjustable band, as well as padded loops that go over the ears for a comfortable fit. The Air’s in-ear drivers (rated at 280 ohms) deliver crystal-clear audio and come with replaceable foam ear-tips that fit deeper into the ear canals for better noise isolation.
You also get an integrated noise-canceling electret microphone and an in-line controller that allows convenient access to important functions (e.g. dual volume controls, stereo/mono switching).
Faro Air supports auxiliary audio input and is backed by a three-year warranty.
For an awesome aviation headset, look no further than the David Clark DC ONE-X, which is practically an industry standard. In use by the United States Air Force and Private contactors, this headset is second to none. But, if you're looking for something more commercially viable with excellent noise cancellation, we recommend the Lightspeed Zulu 3.