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Headsets What to buy and why?


leebrewer
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As a student you may as well save your money and continue using loaner headsets (if that's what you've already been using,...and they're free).

 

Once you become rated, start off with a relatively cheap "passive" David Clark (something around 27 decables should be quiet enough). You should also wear ear plugs underneath for added protection (especially if you fly with the doors off a lot!).

 

After five years or so, go ahead and upgrade to a Zulu, or Bose, with the ipod/phone interfaces. You don't really need that stuff (sure the phone can be usefull to call a tower in the event of a lost comm or something), but in the beginning those extras aren't really worth the added expense (unless you have money to spare, in which case,...start with the Zulu!).

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I bought the Bose Aviation X when I started my training and I never looked back. That was 5 years ago and they have never needed anything but new batteries. The new ones are supposed to be sweet but are pricey.

 

If you can afford it, go ahead and get your own. Its not nice using someone else's sweaty headset on a hot summers day....

Edited by Trans Lift
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Music, telephone, bluetooth? No, you don't need them. I have a headset with an input for a cellphone/mp3 player, but I've never used that feature, except for a quick check to see if it worked. I don't need to use the phone while flying, nor do I need music. Bluetooth might be nice in some situations, such as flying offshore with multiple crew, where one pilot gets out for crowd control and the ability to hear the other pilot might sometimes be useful, but in general, it's a gimmick, and likely to be less reliable than a cable connection. I personally don't like ANR headsets, but many people do. David Clark still makes the most reliable headset in the industry, IMO, and has the best customer service. If the headset breaks, they will fix it. I prefer in-the-ear headsets, such as Clarity Aloft or Quiet Technologies, but not everyone does. Until you know you'll have a job, and will be flying long-term, don't buy the most expensive headset you can find. Reliability and resale value are more important, IMO, and David Clark can't be beat for those.

 

If you use the school's headsets, having a supply of alcohol-based cleaning pads keeps them clean enough. The school should provide those, but many don't bother. You certainly want to disinfect the mike if nothing else, and the earseals if possible. Kissing the last dozen pilots who wore the headset isn't the best of ideas, and that's what you're doing if you don't clean the mike.

Edited by Gomer Pylot
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I've had the basic David Clark since private and haven't considered upgrading because it does the job. Never had an issue in-flight, unlike the students I've instructed who fussed with their ANR ones. I tried a Bose and Lightspeed and felt that the extra cost didn't translate into exponentially better comfort or comm quality.

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Definately recommend getting your own. If any of your flight instructors have a headset you are thinking about getting, they may let you borrow it for a flight to test it out. Also, I believe Bose and Lightspeed both offer a 30 day money back program. David Clark's do what a headset is suppose to do, I just never liked them and had a hard time hearing.

 

I have a Bose. The only time I've seen the audio/phone option being used on a Zulu was when I ferried a helicopter across the country and the other guy called his wife.

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I think the use of the Bluetooth capability depends mainly on the specific person and the type of flying.

 

I have both a DC and a Lightspeed Zulu. They are both ANR, the DC has much superior passive with power off and the Lightspeed ANR seems to work better. Just my humble opinion though.

 

I use the crap out of the Bluetooth, mainly for music, but occasionally I will answer a phone call once in a while.

 

In the overall grand scheme of things, considering dropping $50k+ for training, an extra 1k is a good investment in avoiding long term hearing loss.

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DC 10-13.4 or similar passive is a great 1st headset and a great backup or use for your future passenger... you'll never be unhappy with it... you may be jealous of the bose or zulu... but the DC works fine... I went back and forth this year at heliexpo trying the bose and zulu and almost bought one... but then I got home and decided to buy some more helicopter parts... my old headset is still fine after 15 years... but sure, I'd like to upgrade.

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I went with the Telex Heli XT headset and been quite happy with it. It has Telephone and music input capabilities. I have only used the music capabilities on long cross countries. The difference in noise canceling compared to difference in price with the Bose, I don't believe the Bose is worth the price.

 

Most important thing to consider is protect your hearing. You only one go around in this world with your hearing.

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I bought the Zulu LightSpeed after I passed my Private Checkride. I had a plan and was sure I was going to do this as a career. I have been so grateful for Noise Canceling(ANR).

 

I think ANR is important for comfort and hopefully saving your hearing. The other bells and whistles are just bells and whistles.

 

Watch for deals and order out of state. I ordered from a company online in California and didn't have to pay shipping or taxes. Also watch their websites and sign up for their newsletters and you can sometime get deals.

 

Take care,

Brett Reeder

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As a student you may as well save your money and continue using loaner headsets (if that's what you've already been using,...and they're free).

 

Once you become rated, start off with a relatively cheap "passive" David Clark (something around 27 decables should be quiet enough). You should also wear ear plugs underneath for added protection (especially if you fly with the doors off a lot!).

 

After five years or so, go ahead and upgrade to a Zulu, or Bose, with the ipod/phone interfaces. You don't really need that stuff (sure the phone can be usefull to call a tower in the event of a lost comm or something), but in the beginning those extras aren't really worth the added expense (unless you have money to spare, in which case,...start with the Zulu!).

 

Shouldn't be using a phone while flying anyhow. And there are procedures for loss of communications; You don't need a phone for that. Know of the people that cause car accidents while using a cell phone? Imagine what would happen if pilots did that on a regular basis... Not a good judgement call.

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I think phone calls should be the least of our worries.

 

They expect us to copy clearances on a kneeboard, read approach plates, flip through charts, change radio frequencies, chance instrument and gps selections, and talk all at the same time while flying.

 

I would think that training would put even a below average pilot way ahead of some retard who plows their car into a sidewalk full of nuns because they can't drive and talk on a phone.

 

Could be wrong though, my two cents.

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Shouldn't be using a phone while flying anyhow. And there are procedures for loss of communications; You don't need a phone for that. Know of the people that cause car accidents while using a cell phone? Imagine what would happen if pilots did that on a regular basis... Not a good judgement call.

 

Actually there are times when using the phone is appropriate. It's knowing when. And it is nice to have that capability when you need it.

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Shouldn't be using a phone while flying anyhow. And there are procedures for loss of communications

 

I know of a situation where having an iphone and the ability to be able to call, follow the gps on the phone and use the foreflight app all came in pretty handy when there was a full electrical failure on the aircraft. Saved a lot of time and money. Sometimes it is definitely appropriate!

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Our R44 has 4 x factory installed Bose - very comfortable, clear comms, excellent noise suppression and great for music too.

 

Does anyone know of a good heli helmet with integrated noise reduction headset? Wearing helmets seems like it would be dumb not to, even for transport ops so aiming to go this way next time. But as yet have not seen anything with ANR.

 

Greetings from Coromandel, NZ in sunny springtime!

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Get the best passive protection you can get, and hopefully it has ANR. ANR doesn't protect your hearing. It just makes it so you can't hear the damage being done.

 

So a decent ANR headset with poor passive protection is actually going to damage your hearing more than a really good passive headset with no ANR.

 

Earplugs are a must, especially doors off!

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Get the best passive protection you can get, and hopefully it has ANR. ANR doesn't protect your hearing. It just makes it so you can't hear the damage being done.

 

I would hate to get rid of my Zulu (which has extremely crappy "passive" NR) and return to my old DC (which has a very good "passive" NRR of 27) , but still seems louder,...so I must ask; From where did you get your info?

:huh:

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I would hate to get rid of my Zulu (which has extremely crappy "passive" NR) and return to my old DC (which has a very good "passive" NRR of 27) , but still seems louder,...so I must ask; From where did you get your info?

:huh:

 

 

I've had it explained to me by a few different people smarter than myself that ANR simply hears the soundwave first, then creates an inverted mirrior image of the soundwave and then blasts it out of a speaker to cancel the incoming wave. Your ear is still getting pelted with waves, just ones you can't hear.

 

:unsure: Made sense to me? Maybe I've been misled?

 

One of these people claimed to work for bose as well.... I didn't know him personally.

Edited by Rotorhead84
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I've had it explained to me by a few different people smarter than myself that ANR simply hears the soundwave first, then creates an inverted mirrior image of the soundwave and then blasts it out of a speaker to cancel the incoming wave. Your ear is still getting pelted with waves, just ones you can't hear.

 

:unsure: Made sense to me? Maybe I've been misled?

 

One of these people claimed to work for bose as well.... I didn't know him personally.

 

The way I heard it was that, because of how the ANR headsets are designed, you cannot have one that is good both "passive" as well as "active", so its either/or, which would mean that, if your right, and I'm right, none of us should be using ANR headsets?

:( :huh:

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I use Bose. I use both a Bose X and the Uflymic with the QC-15. One of these days I'll invest in an A20 (it's the same electronics as the QC-15, incidentally). For utility work, I wear a helmet, but where a headset is applicable, the Bose has worked out to be the best choice for me.

 

If you're going to get a passive headset, any of the basic headsets works fine, but spend a little more to upgrade them using the Oregon Aero kits. The wider sheep-wool headband is a big improvement and helps eliminate hotspots. The temperfoam earseals mould to your head and I've found that they go a long way toward eliminating jaw pain at the end of the day. The interior foam seal replacements that go inside the earcups definitely make the headset quieter, and it's a hard-to-beat investment.

 

A Bose headset can be had, however, for considerably less than retail, and is easily found on ebay or other such places. I picked up a fairly new Bose X a few years ago and took it to the desert; it survive some rough conditions and served very, very well. It went several rounds out there, in fact, and is still going strong, today. When I found one earcup was hissing, I stopped by the Bose booth at Sun n' Fun one year and mentioned it. The salesman handed me two new ear seals over the counter, free of charge, and told me to try those. It was the ear seal deteriorating, he said. He was right. Good customer service, great headsets, and a LOT more comfortable than DC style head clamps.

 

If you're going to invest in a headset, invest a little more and get one that will last a long time, and be comfortable at the same time.

 

The biggest advantage to me of the Bose isn't the weight, or the comfort, however. I spend a lot of time listening to foreign voices on the radio, and some of them can be hard to understand. Over the years, I've got a bit of hearing loss, and it's the drastic improvement in communications that I get out of the Bose that sells me on them. The long battery life, the clear transmission, the ease of use, the design features, the excellent customer service, the great resale value, and the durability are secondary, but excellent reasons to own one.

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The way I heard it was that, because of how the ANR headsets are designed, you cannot have one that is good both "passive" as well as "active", so its either/or, which would mean that, if your right, and I'm right, none of us should be using ANR headsets?

:( :huh:

 

:blink:

 

Maybe an email to bose and lightspeed is in order...

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The way I heard it was that, because of how the ANR headsets are designed, you cannot have one that is good both "passive" as well as "active", so its either/or, which would mean that, if your right, and I'm right, none of us should be using ANR headsets?

 

Why?

 

Are you planning on being stranded in some distant locale where batteries aren't available? The Bose headset goes a long time on a set of batteries. Carry an extra set in your pocket or flight bag. Done.

 

I've always maintained a practice of carrying a spare headset when I'm working. In the training environment, who cares? Go land, get a new headset. In the working environment, I've never had a problem in which the Bose let me down, despite some demanding environment and conditions. If the concern is that it doesn't provide a lot of attenuation with the electronics off, then the solution seems fairly simple, doesn't it? Don't turn the electronics off while you're flying. If you're really worried, carry a pair of foam ear plugs on the remote off-chance that the electronics might fail.

 

Choose quality equipment and you'll experience longer useful life of that equipment, fewer failures or issues, better customer service, and less fatigue, greater satisfaction, and higher quality. When it comes to buying tools, buy well and buy once, rather than going cheap and buying several times, or worse, getting stuck with equipment that doesn't deliver.

Edited by avbug
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Why?

 

Are you planning on being stranded in some distant locale where batteries aren't available? The Bose headset goes a long time on a set of batteries. Carry an extra set in your pocket or flight bag. Done.

 

I've always maintained a practice of carrying a spare headset when I'm working. In the training environment, who cares? Go land, get a new headset. In the working environment, I've never had a problem in which the Bose let me down, despite some demanding environment and conditions. If the concern is that it doesn't provide a lot of attenuation with the electronics off, then the solution seems fairly simple, doesn't it? Don't turn the electronics off while you're flying. If you're really worried, carry a pair of foam ear plugs on the remote off-chance that the electronics might fail...

 

Actually, the concern was that with them turned "ON" you are still damaging your ears!,...at least that's what I got from his post?

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No headset will provide hearing protection across the full spectrum; each one, whether passive or active, will give relief to noise, and some measure of hearing protection, within a relatively narrow range.

 

What's perceived as noise when the electronics are off isn't necessarily representative of what noise is being blocked or attenuated. It seems "louder," but is it?

 

Conversely, while electronic active noise cancelling appears to make things "quieter," by providing a signal out of phase with sounds in the aircraft or cockpit, the perceived protection isn't what's being heard.

 

Earplugs will make the sound seem less, but in fact one may still experience close to the same threat to hearing given that vibration entering the ear via the bones surrounding the ear. What we hear, or think we hear, isn't necessarily representative of the threat to our hearing, or the threat to specific areas of our hearing.

 

With ANR, you'll still hear low frequency sounds, but will be spared some of the higher frequency noises. Turn off the electronics, and you'll perceive that the sound is greater, because you're suddenly able to hear frequency ranges that were "invisible" to your ear before you moved the switch. What's actually threatening your hearing, however, is not necessarily represented by what you think you hear. It's not that simple.

 

You can wear earplugs and a heavy, head-clamp noise attenuating passive headset, and protect your hearing. That won't necessarily improve your communications, however, and wearing the headset is primarily about enhancing communication while providing some measure of protection. I've flown some aircraft that were just too much for an ANR headset one airplane I used to fly pegged out decibel meters, and ANR headsets went nuts trying to keep up. At lower power settings, the headsets were fine, but usless during takeoff thrust.

 

It's important in many aircraft to be able to hear certain sounds; wind over the cockpit, for example, or the sound of a rotor or propeller. Perhaps the sound of the engine. Sounds from chimes, bells, buzzers, and warning horns are crucial. A headset needs to enable you to hear some of the important sounds, while helping damp out those that are harmful and less important. Low frequency noises are often the ones you need to hear and will continue to hear, while higher frequency sounds will be (or appear to be) blotted out. Remember, perceived noise isn't the same as noise or sound; it's just what you recognize, or think you hear.

 

When you see noise reduction ratings (NRR) for earplugs or headsets, remember that those reductions are only applicable for certain ranges of frequency. Don't take them as blanket values that represent the amount of protection you can expect. Don't assume, for example, that an EAR foam plug rated at 35 db will provide superior protection to an ANR headset rated at 23 db. The base rating doesn't provide enough information.

 

Look for a quality headset that provides the features, comfort, and clarity that you need, and work around that. You'd be better off with a good headset that provides excellent clarity but less passive protection, using an EAR type plug, than a poor passive headset that clamps out a lot of noise in one range, but provides lesser utility, quality, durability, comfort, and clarity in communication.

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