When operating an aircraft, vision and hearing are the main physiological sensory mechanisms that allow you to obtain critical information for safety. Hearing is more affected in an aircraft, with a myriad of sounds coming from different places. Therefore, you will need the best aviation headset to eliminate most of these sounds to fly safely and, more importantly, ensure the sounds do not damage your eardrums.
What Is an Aviation Headset?
Aviation headsets are on-ear or in-ear headphones designed to eliminate most external noise so you can communicate effectively with your co-pilot, cabin crew, passengers, and air traffic control. In design, the best aviation headsets have great padding and a microphone that should also block surround noise to communicate better.
When buying pilot headsets, you will pay attention to the aircraft you fly as it determines the level of noise you will need to block. In addition, you can also consider the duration you will be wearing the headset, where factors like comfort, weight, and fit come in.
You can buy three main types of aviation headsets, determined by how they block out noise. There are Active Noise Reduction (ANR) headsets, Passive Noise Reduction (PNR) headsets, and Dynamic Noise Reduction (DNR) headsets. Some premium quality pilot headsets will also feature Electric Noise Reduction technology, but these are not as common in the market, and where you can find them, they may cost an arm and a leg.
Before we talk about the best features to look for, here are ten of the best aviation headsets you can get today. We review them based on several features like comfort, good sound quality, connectivity, brand, price, and 5-star reviews online. Read on also to learn their pros and cons.
Which brand has the best aviation headset?
1. Bose A20 Aviation Headset
- 30% greater active noise reduction than conventional aviation headsets. Connectivity...
- 30% less clamping force than conventional aviation headsets. The ergonomic control module...
- Clear audio with active equalization. Simple, intuitive headset operation plug it in, turn...
- Now with Bluetooth audio and communications interface for connectivity with your...
- Customizable audio prioritization control lets you mute an audio signal when receiving a...
Looking for the best external noise-canceling aviation headset? The Bose A20 is exactly what you need. The headset brings comfort, quality, style, and safety to your cockpit, while it is also designed with the best Bluetooth connectivity to reduce cables as you fly.
According to Bose, these headphones can cancel about 30% more external noise than other conventional flying headsets. And, with Bluetooth connectivity, you can connect to other communication devices and GPS systems to reduce wires and cables in the cockpit.
The headphones boast 30% less clamping force compared to competing headphones, and as lightweight as 370g, these headphones are comfortable on your head even on long haul flights. As you know, with Bose headphones, sound quality is almost always guaranteed and is a feature that becomes quite imperative for pilots. These headphones guarantee crystal clear sound when relaying messages and also when you want to listen to your favorite music.
The best aviation headset needs a great microphone. The microphone should also eliminate external noises from your surrounding, as does the one on Bose A20 on-ear headphones. They have a sturdily-built microphone with a foam muff to suppress cabin noises. Additionally, the microphone powerfully picks up your sound to relay it to ATC and cabin crew when you have an announcement to make.
The headset also comes with an ergonomic control module with an auxiliary audio input and an intercom. In addition, the auxiliary priority switching features allows you to mute other sounds so you can listen to traffic warning systems.
The Bose A20 headphones are certified by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), so you know it is safe to use on any flight. Unfortunately, while these headphones look, feel, and work so well, they come at a high price above $1000.
2. Lightspeed Zulu 3 Aviation Headset
- FIVE STAR COMFORT: Embark for every journey sporting maximum comfort. Our over the ear...
- FIVE BY FIVE COMMS: We understand reliable communication is key for safety. Our...
- EXCEPTIONAL QUALITY: Invest in your future. Aviation headsets for pilots are essential...
- PREMIUM FEATURES: Pair with our exclusive app to capture incoming and outgoing...
- DESIGNED BY FELLOW PILOTS: As a company of pilots and flight enthusiasts, we strive to...
The Zulu 3 premium aviation headset is your second-best model when looking for a durable option. The headphones come with contoured ear seals that reduce side and jaw pressure so that you can wear them for many hours. And, you can wear these headphones on long flights since the batteries will last about 45 hours after a full charge.
The ANR headset is comfortable and has Bluetooth connectivity so that you can listen to music from your phone. Additionally, the control module enables Automatic Shutoff or ComPriority features, so you don't miss an ATC message. The noise suppressing Dual Aperture Disc electret microphone is adjustable so you can get the best fit to relay clear messages to ATC, cabin crew, or passengers.
The cable construction is perfected around the Kevlar Core, guaranteeing strength and durability. In addition, the headset construction is made of durable magnesium and stainless steel, with a body that also keeps wires protected for a cleaner cockpit.
The aviation headset comes with a 7-year warranty and costs under $900. In addition, it is compatible with FrankLink, the new free in-cockpit recording app. The package also comes in a durable carry case that will protect your headset from damage when not in use.
3. Sierra ANR Aviation Headset with Bluetooth
- Auto Shut-Off
- Battery status indicator
- (2) AA Batteries - 40 hours of operation
- Stereo/Mono switchable
- Left and right ear volume controls
These new Sierra Black ANR headsets are lightweight, comfortable, and stylish, plus they are perfectly suited to help you communicate in the cockpit. They have Bluetooth compatibility, so you can also enjoy your favorite music. Even better, the headset is compatible with the new in-cockpit recording app FlightLink.
This headset comes with comfortably padded ear seals that guarantee comfort even when you wear them for long hours. In addition, they use two AA batteries which provide more than 40-hours of juice, thus your best aviation headsets for long flights. Unlike other conventional aviation headsets, the Sierra ANR headset also has a battery status indicator, so you will know when you need to recharge them.
This headset also comes with dual volume controls, while the headband is also carefully padded to give you a good fit. Even with the excellent padding, these headphones are still lightweight, only weighing about an ounce. In addition, they come in a durable carry case that prevents damage when on the move.
The headset also comes with a flexible and adjustable microphone that you can swap from one end to the other. Not only that, the microphone transmits clear sounds without background noise for the best in-flight and ATC communication. The Auto Shut-off feature allows air traffic control messages to play over whatever music or entertainment you'd be listening to, thus guaranteeing the best safety.
The aviation headset is one of the best mid-range options available and comes under $700.
4. Faro G2 Active Noise Reduction Premium Aviation Headset
- Backed by FARO’s World-Famous Commercial-Grade Three-Year Replacement Warranty. Pilot...
- Premium Pleather Ear Protection offers up to an incredible 52db of Noise Reduction with...
- MP3/Radio/iPod/iPad Compatible
- Pilot Headset engineered in the United States
- Premium Noise Cancelling Electret Microphone ensures crystal clear communication every...
When airborne, nothing can improve your experience than knowing you can communicate to ATC, cabin crew, and passengers and enjoy your favorite music with the same headset. Faro G2 is an aviation headset made by pilots for pilots. It has the best passive noise reduction and active noise reduction abilities, reducing 52dB of ambient noise for safer and healthier flying.
These headsets feature soft ear cups that enable passive noise reduction, while powerful technology enables even better ANR. Additionally, the noise-canceling Electret Microphone allows the best ATC correspondence. It has a fully adjustable microphone beam with a wind screen to passively block cabin and engine noise, so your communication is delivered clearly.
The aviation headset comes with a 3.5mm jack that allows you to connect to your favorite music player for entertainment thousands of feet in the air. It is a wired headset which means you have to understand if it is compatible with the aircraft you fly before buying. However, the dual plug connectivity is designed for GA aircraft.
The headset, which supports mono and stereo intercoms, comes with a 3-year warranty and a replacement guarantee if you experience challenges after buying. It is one of the best aviation headsets under $400.
5. Bose Proflight Series 2 Aviation Headset
- Proflight Series 2 includes a thinner, lighter and more flexible cable, updated tap...
- Engineered for pilots of moderately noisy, pressurized Turbine-powered aircraft – built...
- The smallest, lightest, most comfortable Bose aviation headset
- Innovative design and 4. 5 ounce (128 gram) on-head weight keep pilots comfortable, even...
- Digital active noise cancellation reduces noise so users can lower radio volume and hear...
Are you looking for the best in-ear aviation headset? The Bose Profligt Series 2 is your best option. Though coming at a very high price, these in-ear headsets are more lightweight, comfortable, and flexible than most over-ear aviation headsets.
The in-ear aviation headset weighs only 128g and is designed for a pressurized Turbine-powered aircraft that produces moderate noise. While the ANR headset guarantees minimal ambient noise, you also get to choose the level of noise reduction you want. The Bose headset features three selectable modes, and each reduces the ideal amount of external noise depending on the environment.
The excellent headset design features microphone winglets that allow you to choose the best microphone placement for easy communication. In addition to the boom, your mic also has noise reduction capabilities, so you can relay clear messages to air traffic control, cabin crew, and passengers. In addition, when you want to communicate out of the intercom, you will only need to double-tap either earbud, eliminating the need to remove the headset as you'll do with other aviation headsets.
The headset comes with a thin and durable cable, and like other Bose aviation headsets, it also comes with FAA and EASA certifications. In addition, the ergonomic control module is easy to use, while the headset also works with Bluetooth.
6. David Clark H10-13.4 Aviation Headset
- Super Soft, Double Foam Head Pad
- New Comfort gel, undercut ear seals
- Universal Flex Boom for perfect microphone placement
- Exclusive M-7A, the most advanced noise-cancelling microphone available
- Low-profile volume control knob with detent settings
David Clarke is one of the best aviation headset manufacturers who make products for pilots and student pilots. As an experienced pilot, you may have used the David Clark DC One-X ENC aviation headset, but we find the David Clarke H10-13.4 headset better for comfort, reliability, and performance.
Straight out of the package, you will notice the comfortable ear cups that will cover your whole ear for maximum comfort. But, while many headsets make ear cups super comfortable, not many pay attention to the head pad, but that is not the case with this headset. Instead, this headset features a comfortable double foam head pad even when you wear the headset for many hours.
The aviation headset comes with a powerful microphone that guarantees clear communication to ATC. The Universal Flex Boom design lets you find the best mic placement, while the mic's M-7A technology guarantees the best active noise reduction.
The five-foot-long dual plug connectivity cable works on different aircraft, but you may not be able to use the headset on some helicopters. In addition, these are wired headphones, so they may limit your music entertainment or other types of connectivity you prefer. Nevertheless, the aviation headset comes at an affordable price. Furthermore, with the build quality, you are sure of comfort and the best audio communication quality as you fly your aircraft.
7. UFQ A7 ANR Aviation Headset
- UFQ A7 2022 version ANR Active Noise Reduction aviation headset-Compare with QC25 together...
- Super comfortable for long time wear, let you enjoy flying all the time Use 2 x AA...
- The mic boom can be rotated by 360 degree so the microphone can be used for left or right...
- NOW Free with a good quality headset bag easy to carry with and well protect this headset
- With 3.5 jack for cellphone or music and link cable while can enjoy music and...
This UNQ headset is great for your piloting hours. It offers excellent noise cancellation, is comfortable, allows clear correspondence with ATC, and comes with a cable to connect to your music player.
Though the UNQ A7 ANR headset comes at an affordable price, it is built to last you long and never compromise comfort. You get soft ear cups and a padded head pad, plus a mic boom so you can find the best microphone placement for clear communication.
The headset uses an electret microphone that offers ample cabin and engine noise reduction. The wired headset also uses two AA batteries that can last up to 48 hours, thus best for long flights. The ergonomic control module makes it easy to control volume. While the headset works with aircraft using dual-plug connections, it also comes with a 3.5mm cable jack so you can connect your music player or smartphone to enjoy your favorite songs.
The aviation headset comes in a durable case and a Bluetooth adapter for when you need to make it a wireless headset.
8. KORE AVIATION KA-1 Premium PNR Pilot Aviation Headset
- FOR CLEAR COMMUNICATION - Premier noise reduction rating (NRR) of 24db and electret...
- FOR COMFORT - Ultra plush silicone gel ear seals and extra thick head pad with adjustable...
- FOR PERFECT SOUND - Independent volume control on each ear with ultra-lite neodymium...
- FOR DUAL COMPATIBILITY - Mono and Stereo radio adaptability with built in switch on cable...
- FOR CONVENIENCE - Custom fit headset bag included for easy carry and protection
The Kore Aviation KA-1 aviation headset is ideal for students looking for budget-friendly options. They offer the best passive noise reduction with comfortable ear gel seals. According to the manufacturer, they have a noise reduction rating of 24dB.
In addition to the passive noise reduction, these aviation headsets also come with a flexible mic boom so you can find the best placement. Furthermore, the headset is quite comfortable as it also comes with a padded headband.
With dual volume controls, you will find it easy to achieve the best sound quality on each ear cup, while the headset also comes with a 3.5mm cable jack for connecting to your best music player. It is a wired aviation headset under $200. The headset comes with a durable carry case, and the microphone, which allows clear communication, also reduces ambient noise.
9. Rugged Air RA200 General Aviation Pilot Headset
- Includes $18 Rugged Headset Bag at no addtional cost
- Overall weight of Headset Only 16.24 oz.
- Custom fit headband to adjust tension on the band to make it tighter or looser for the...
- Adjustable single volume knob controls the 50mm audio speakers for on point sound. Keeping...
- Electret Noise Cancelling mic for picking up your voice loud and clear - Gold Plated GA...
If you are looking for less-complicated headphones, these Rugged Air aviation headsets also come at an affordable price and with excellent features to guarantee performance, comfort and safety. The adjustable stainless steel headband is great for all users since you can find the best and most comfortable fit.
The aviation headsets have a noise reduction rating of 24dB, and with the deep-pocketed ear canals and foam-fit ear seals, your flight comfort is more than guaranteed. The noise-canceling microphone also guarantees clear communication with ATC, flight instructors, and passengers. The headset design also features the flex boom to find your best microphone placement.
These affordable aviation headsets come in a durable carry case plus a 3.5mm music port so you can carry your music player for in-flight entertainment. In addition, even as you listen to your music, you can easily control the headset to keep the radio volume higher, so you don't miss any alerts from ATC.
10. ASA HS-1 Aviation Headset
- Earcups of high-density acoustic foam for best passive noise attenuation
- Has noise reduction rating (NRR) 23 dB
- High fidelity speakers for clear, natural sound
- Electret, noise-canceling flex-boom microphone reduces background noise and allows...
- Gold-plated microphone and headphone plugs ensure best connection and resist corrosion
This inexpensive model is perfect for student pilots for the affordable price and the great features it packs. Coming under $150, it is the best aviation headset to get when on a budget. While it also comes with great construction quality, it is not suited for long fights, according to some online reviewers who noted it could get a bit uncomfortable with the high clamping force.
The headset has comfortable ear cups made with ample padding, while the headband is also padded for more comfort. The PNR headset also features an Electret microphone that eliminates external noise so you can send clear messages to ACT.
What Are the Benefits Of the Best Pilot Headsets?
Are you an aspiring pilot wondering why you may need to spend hundreds of dollars on a new aviation headset? Here are the benefits of buying the best model you can find.
- These headsets prevent hearing damage. Plane engines are very loud, and flying a plane without any form of ear protection can lead to hearing loss. So, you will need noise-canceling headphones, but make sure they don't block out alerts or ATC communication.
- The headsets allow clear communication. They are designed with powerful noise-canceling microphones that transmit clear messages to air traffic control, passengers, and crew members.
- They are comfortable. These headsets are comfortable in or on your ears, so you will not mind wearing them for continuous hours as you fly around the world.
- You can also use them for entertainment. Most modern headsets are compatible with Bluetooth so that you can listen to music on your smartphone on a flight. For safety, you should get headsets that automatically relay ATC messages over the music you play, so you don't miss a message.
What Are the Different Types of the Best Aviation Headsets Available in the Market Now?
There are two ways to distinguish between different aviation headsets;
- Noise reduction technology; your headphones can be passive, active, or dynamic noise reduction headphones.
- How you wear them; you can get on-ear or in-ear headsets.
a) Passive noise reduction aviation headsets
Also called PNR headsets, these are headphones to block external noise by using physical insulation. Often, the ear cups will be padded and designed to fit perfectly. However, these headsets offer the least noise reduction on aircraft as there is too much noise from the cabin and engines. Therefore, PNR headphones are suitable for student pilots who will not fly for long periods.
b) Active noise reduction aviation headsets
Alos called ANR headsets, the headphones use a microphone inside the headset that suppresses external and unwanted noises. The PNR headsets require batteries and powerful filters to separate and override the external noise.
In operation, these ANR headsets have built-in microphones which listen to the unwanted sounds from your cabin and jet engines. Then, the microphones separate the sounds, invert them, and mix them with whatever you listen to from your headset. As a result, both sound sources cancel out each other for a better listening experience.
The best ANR headsets cancel out up to 20dB of external noise. However, this could also include external noises you need at the cockpit to guarantee the safety of your aircraft. Thus, it is best to look for headsets that block frequencies below 300Hz, as these will let you hear important alerts.
Compared to PNR headsets, the ANR headsets are lighter and use physical insulation. At the same time, the headsets are also more expensive but more durable.
c) Dynamic noise-canceling headsets
DNR headsets are a more advanced type of active noise-canceling headphones. They use digital electronic techniques to eliminate external noise. In operation, they digitize external sound signals into a series of numerical values, and then they process them to detect repetitive sounds and remove unwanted noise signals.
Unlike ANR headsets, these headphones can cancel up to 25dB and sound frequencies as high as 3,500Hz. Unfortunately, these aviation headsets are not very common in the market, and where available, they also tend to be more expensive than PNR and ANR headphones.
d) On-ear vs. in-ear headset
Like the headphones you use daily, aviation headphones can also come either in an in-ear or on-ear design.
With the in-ear design, the headset will have little speaker plugs that go inside your ear. In the case of noise cancelation, this design is quite effective, but the design can also prove to be less comfortable for some people.
To get a good fit, you must ensure the speaker plugs are the best size, lest they keep coming off as you fly. In addition, some people can find the fit too intrusive, so they will not listen to music at higher volumes.
On-ear headsets are more common and feature the traditional ear cup that goes over your ear. However, when it comes to noise-canceling, on-ear headsets are more effective as they also feature padded ear cups, which allow passive noise cancelation.
Also, these types of headsets are ideal for all users since the design will fit almost everyone. However, the best fitting headsets also may get uncomfortable when worn for longer periods; some users acknowledge the headphones tend to feel too tight on their ears, also called clamping force.
Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Aviation Headset
Other than the type of aviation headset you want, here are more factors to consider for the best buy.
Aviation headphones need to be very comfortable, considering you will likely wear them for hours at a time. While you want to use them for communication, another important use is for protecting your hearing, and to do so, they need to feel comfortable when worn.
When in the market, look for soft ear cushions that will not press against your jaw and ears. Also, a padded headband is vital for a comfortable fit. However, as you look for this padding, ensure it does not add clamping force when you wear the headset for long hours. As is common with some headsets, they can start pressing against your ears after a while, which will be uncomfortable and could also affect your ear health.
To ensure your headset is comfortable, wear it for at least ten minutes before you purchase. Doing so will help you decide if there is too much clamping force, if the ear cups get hot after a while, or if the headset is too heavy to wear for many hours.
Aviation headsets are not only good for entertainment and ear health. You also need a pair that allows clear correspondence with air traffic control, cabin crew, flight controllers, and passengers. The key feature for your correspondence is a noise-canceling microphone.
When buying your best aviation headset, you can look for an electret microphone that converts your voice into an electric signal, thus getting conveyed to your audience more clearly. In addition, ensure the mic has some sort of padding or muffs that allow passive noise canceling, so the engines and cockpit noises do not tamper with the message you want to send.
You can look for the universal flex boom feature to adjust the mic position for better placement.
c) Bluetooth connectivity
Don't want bulky cables in the cockpit? Bluetooth headphones will be the best option. Most aviation headsets now connect with Bluetooth, making them the best options for connecting to various devices like a smartphone for music or GPS systems for better performance.
d) Aircraft Connectivity
You will need to understand how to connect your headset to your aircraft. For that, you will need to look at cable connectors on your aircraft. Most aircraft, such as helicopters, have fixed-wing general aviation (GA) connectors, while others have XLR connectors.
Before you buy your headphones, understand which plug-in, if necessary, you will also need to purchase so you can use the headset successfully.
Aviation headsets can vary in price from as low as $100 to over $1000. The price is often determined by how powerful the noise reduction is, Bluetooth availability, microphone quality, and build. The brand you buy from will also affect the price; for instance, Bose headphones are more premium than other brands and are more expensive.
Also, depending on your experience as a pilot, you may decide to buy a premium headset or go for a cheaper model. While they have amazing aviation features, budget models are more suited for student pilots who do not spend a lot of time flying. On the other hand, as a seasoned pilot flying a larger commercial aircraft, it may be better to invest in premium headphones from companies like Bose, David Clark, and more.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Aviation Headset
a) Which are the best aviation headsets?
Your best aviation headphones perfectly reduce unwanted noise, are comfortable in or on your ears, have the best connectivity features, and are durable. Considering these parameters, we found the Bose A20 to be the best headset you can get today. The headphones are also lightweight, and with an ergonomic control module, easy to control volume and intercoms.
b) Do I need to buy my headset as a pilot?
You can decide to buy your headset, although most commercial airlines provide headsets. But, these headphones are often cheaper in quality, especially if you'd also like to use them for entertainment. Before buying the headset, make sure it meets FAA standards, such as the Bose A20 aviation headset.
c) Why are aviation headphones special?
Wondering why regular headphones won't be enough for pilots? Flying a plane takes special communication with ATC, crew, and passengers, so not only do the headsets need to be comfortable and noise reducing, but they also need a powerful microphone that relays your messages.
d) What is the best noise cancelation for aviation headphones?
If looking for a new pair of aviation headsets, look for active noise reduction, also called ANR. These headsets use built-in mics to separate and reduce external noise affecting your hearing and performance.