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Headsets and hearing loss


flying high
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So how worried should heli pilots be about hearing loss when it comes to their headset?I havn't done any real reseach on this topic and I'll be the first to admit I really don't know much about whats out there these days.So maybe some of you guys or ladies out there with some hours under your belt have some advice. I understand some headsets are going to be better than others and there are many variables that will also come into play,like which bird your flying in ,Noise cancellation options and the headset model,also the pilots exposure to noise before he started flying.I also understand that substantial hearing loss usually develops over time. But lets say you've got a middle of the road headset How worried should you be ?

What brought this question to mind was a friend of mine has been grounded due to some hearing issues, he had only been flying for about 50 hours in an r-22.He basically couldn't hear radio calls anymore.Shortly after, he spoke with a long time pilot and was told his headset was probably the cause,because of its low quality he said it was more suitable for a fixedwing pilot.Specifically the David clark h10-13 model.I find it hard to beleive this could happen in such a short period of time but then again I'm no expert.Is this BS? Has anybody heard of something like this,or know of somebody who may have experienced something of this nature?I do have friends who use the Bose headsets and love them,I have also used the bose and noticed the difference but just can't get myself to drop a grand on them,Yet. Obviously I will be upgrading inthe near future but what about in the meantime should I really be concerned?I also fly with the same model as my friend.Does anyone have any reccomendations on some cheaper models that have been performing well?

Edited by flying high
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I been flying with David Clarks H-10-13 H's for better than 20 years now. And Before that with other David Clarks. While my hearing is not as good as it was when I was twenty, then again I most certian need to have my ears cleaned of ear wax. I get build up of Wax that needs to be taken care of from time to time. As for your friend. Well he has not spent enough time in helicopters to go deaf , you friend has a problem that has nothing to do with flying. He should go see a good ear/hearing doctor. As for that guy saying David Clarks were the cause, is pulling your chain for some reason. DC's are one of the very best you can get. While noise canceling is a great way to go, if you have a straight set of Dave's you will be fine. More Pilots world wide fly with Dave Clarks than anything else. I have heard of people loosing there hearing over a short period of time, do to some kind of virus infection. Not from flying an R-22 for 50 hours.

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I agreewith gmsemel, losing your hearing after only 50 hours in an R22 is probably not related to the helicopter or the headset. The eardrum can, however, be damaged from the high-pitched whine of a turbine engine. So, as a rule of thumb, whenever I am pre-flighting and I see a jet taxing close to me, I just stick my fingers in my ear till it passes.

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Everyone always blasts me for this, BUT.......

 

I wore a David Clark H10-13.4 for 10 years and 2300 hrs before I bought a helmet and it's a great headset!! I had a Telex ANR for a while, and tried multiple Bose & Lightspeed ANRs, but never found anything as comfortable and good as a DC with a pair of cheap earplugs.

 

With earplugs I could always hear the radio/intercom at lower volumes than my student, photographer, pax, whatever. When they need the radio, I have to turn it up and it blasts me. The earplugs kill the low freq bass and you can hear it much clearer. I still wear them under my Gallet.

 

Go to your local Grainger and pick up a box of 250 pair for about $20. I always 3 or 4 pair E.A.R. TaperFit2s in my flightsuit.

 

How a $300 headset + a 5 cent pair of ear plugs beats a $1000 Bose is beyond me, BUT I like it, ok?? And I'm the kind of guy that always buys the most expensive stuff (cuz it must be the best, right??).

 

Whatever you do, don't go and buy some cheap azz headset.....because it will feel like a vise on your head making you want to take it off or loosen the tension. That means more noise and hearing loss.

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I agree with everyone else, if you friend is experiencing hearing loss, it's not from 50 hours in an R22, especially while wearing a headset. Have him make an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat specialist and let the doc determine what is going on.

 

As for what Delorean said, if you are wearing non-ANR headsets, adding a set of EAR's underneath them is a good idea. The helmets the Air Force issued us were not ANR equipped and almost all of us wore earplugs under the helmet (I had a set of custom molded earplugs). I now also use a LightSpeed ANR headset as I find them the most comfortable for my head. I have a rather large skull and develop hotspots when wearing most other manufactuers headsets (including David Clark). To me, helmets and headsets are like underwear, most everyone wears them, but everyone has their own preference as to what they like to wear.

 

Doug

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I recently bought a lightweight headset from ANR-Headsets, and so far I'm really liking it. It uses foam earplugs, no domes. It comes standard with the yellow EAR models, with a channel through the center for the audio and connection to the speakers. I've been using Howard Leight Laser Light earplugs, which have a NRR of 32, far higher than any passive headset, and in fact higher than ANR headsets. In an S76, I usually hear only some wind noise at a cruise speed of 140 kts, and can barely hear the blade noise if I concentrate on it. I previously used a custom-made headset made from DC hearing protectors, the big, deep kind used on aircraft carriers, and this little thing is much quieter than that one. No clamping, no ear sweating, no problems with the button on top of my cap, and I can use any sunglasses I want. There are at least 3 manufacturers of lightweight in-the-ear headsets - Lightspeed, AuriComm, and Clarity Aloft. I tried the Lightspeed and didn't like it that well. I didn't see the Clarity Aloft model until after I had the Auricomm, which I like. I might prefer the Clarity Aloft, because it has a behind-the-head band like many lightweight earphones, which holds the mike, but I'm happy with the AuriComm.

 

ANR headsets work well for quieting low-frequency noise, but not well at all for high-frequency noise, such as turbine engine noise. Foam earplugs work for all the frequencies, and I think I'm done with heavy dome headsets. Better hearing protection, lighter weight, and no earseals to make gaps and hurt my head are all better ideas, IMO.

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