Pilot headsets are essential for communication and flight safety while in the air. Quality headsets are necessary as pilots communicate with the tower and other pilots in the sky.
There are various brands and varieties of aviation headsets for pilots to choose from, which can make the purchase overwhelming. Coast Flight Training and its fellow pilots are here to show you their favorite headsets to use while navigating the skies.
There are two major categories to differentiate from, active noise reduction (ANR) and passive noise reduction (PNR). Active noise reduction headsets cancel out the engine noise by adding noise electronically, while passive noise reduction uses padded cups that seal the ear to reduce noise. Besides choosing an active noise reduction or passive noise reduction headset, you must choose between an over-ear or in-ear headset. We took into account cost, quality, and popularity when making our recommendations. We have provided some of our preferences in these categories below:
Most Cost Effective: David Clark Headset: H10-13S (PNR) ($350)
David Clark headsets are popular passive noise reduction headsets in the flight training world. They are durable and on the cheaper end of most aviation headsets. This headset is great for pilots who prefer sealed padded earcups to reduce engine noise versus electronic noise cancellation. The David Clark H10-13S headset is on the heavier side, weighing 17 oz. However, pilots enjoy David Clarks for the low price and durability of the headsets. They are great for students new to flight training.
Mid-Range Price: Lightspeed Sierra (ANR) ($650)
The Light Speed Sierra headset has several technological updates compared to the David Clark headsets but not with a heavy price tag. Light Speed adds Bluetooth connectivity and active noise reduction electronics to this headset. In addition, light Speed Sierra headsets use “ComPriority” for better communication. As an automatic response, “ComPriority” will lower the volume of any device connected to the auxiliary, so an intercom or radio transmission can be heard. This headset will last you 40 hours before needing to change batteries. The mic is side adjustable and is flexible for your comfort. It is 16 oz in weight which makes it an ounce lighter than the David Clarks. If you are looking for a tech upgrade but are not willing to pull out the big bucks, then Light Speed Sierras are a great choice.
Highest Quality: Bose A20 (ANR) ($1,095)
Bose headsets are the top-tier pilot headsets in aviation. Bose A20 has superior technology capabilities than other aviation headsets in the market. Like the Lightspeed Sierras, the Bose A20 has Bluetooth capability but also has customizable “audio prioritization” and “active equalization for enhanced audio”. Bose A20 headsets have a battery life of 45+ hours. Plush and durable sheepskin cushions are affixed to the headband to reduce clamp stress. The mic can be adjusted to whichever side and part of the face to the user’s preference. “Customizable audio prioritization” allows the user to either mute or mix incoming transmissions with the Bluetooth or auxiliary connected device. “Active Equalization” equalizes transmissions automatically to ensure clarity. These headsets are lightweight, coming in at 12 oz, which is less than most aviation headsets. Bose A20s are some of the “best of the best” in aviation headsets, and rightfully so, but due to its high-end features, it is made for a pilot who is willing to pay more for the quality.
Best In Ear: Clarity Aloft Classic (PNR) ($525)
For pilots who prefer in-ear headsets, Clarity Aloft Classic is a favorite. Clarity Aloft Classic is a passive noise reduction headset that is notably lighter weight. This headset weighs under 2 oz and is built to wear for long periods without unnecessary weight. Additionally, this headset provides 6 different style earbuds to adapt to the user’s personal comfort.