Radio Dispatch & Aviation Solutions - Telex
Selecting an Aviation Headset

Selecting an Aviation Headset

Four Critical Factors to Consider

Sound is a critical part of the flying experience.

That’s why choosing a headset is so important. You want one that provides protection and, at the same time, lets you enjoy the ambient sounds that come with the territory.

An aviation headset is a surprisingly complex piece of equipment; far more complex than a headset produced for consumer or land-based communication. While a headset may sound good on the showroom floor tuned to a CD, will it provide the same quality in the air? You don’t want to wait until an emergency situation to find out.

When choosing an aviation headset, there are four important factors to consider:

  • Hearing Protection
  • Earphone Speaker Quality
  • Microphone Quality
  • Comfort

Hearing Protection

Hearing Protection

Noise reduction rating is measured in decibels (dB), or sound intensity. Most general aviation headsets provide from 10 dB to 30 dB of hearing protection. Minor differences in decibel ratings between headsets shouldn’t effect sound quality, since most people don’t notice a change in volume of less than 6 dB.

Choosing a Noise Reduction Technology

Low-frequency noises — such as engine and blade noise at around 90 Hz — cause the most long-term hearing damage, but not all headset technologies protect against those frequencies. These charts show the increasing noise protection provided by each type of technology.

Passive Noise Reduction

Passive Noise Reduction

Good

Reduces primarily high-frequency noise. Protection comes from thick ear pads made of gel or foam that create a seal around the ear.

Analog Active Noise Reduction (ANR)

Analog Active Noise Reduction (ANR)

Better

Adds another layer of protection via an electonic system inside the ear cup. It picks up low-frequency noise not blocked by the pad and creates an equal and opposite signal. The two signals collide and cancel each other out.

Earphone Speaker Quality

Frequency Range

Frequency Range

Speaker tuning greatly affects communication clarity. Some headset manufacturers tune their speakers to make music CDs sound good on the showroom floor, which means they are tuning flat across all frequencies to pick up voice and the full range of musical frequencies. However, the FAA recommends aviation acoustics be tuned only to the frequency range of the human voice — from 350 to 3,000 Hz — to minimize distracting frequencies. When you listen to music on a speaker tuned to the FAA guidelines, it will sound tinny, since many of the bass musical frequencies are not coming through.

Volume Adjustment

Volume Adjustment

Headsets that let you adjust volume on each ear cup independently are helpful if you have a hearing imbalance or there is a louder noise on one side of the plane.

Microphone Quality

Microphone Quality
Some pilots are initially attracted to headsets with in-the-ear speakers because they are lightweight. But the drawback is that the microphone is connected to the earpiece, so when you move the microphone, the ear plug moves and breaks the protective sound seal.

Microphone Placement

Transmission quality is affected by where the microphone is in relation to your mouth during transmission. It should be close and slightly to the corner to avoid extra hiss on sibilants like “c” and “s.” Hinged microphone booms typically bend in just one or two places. A fully adjustable boom allows you to place the microphone with great precision, on either the left or right side, and keeps the microphone firmly in place.

Dynamic

Dynamic

Good

A diaphragm is attached to a coil suspended in a large magnetic field. Sound waves move the diaphragm, generating an electrical signal. While these are inexpensive and durable, their magnetic field makes them susceptible to electromagnetic interference, which can garble transmissions.

Electret

Electret

Better

A charged, flexible diaphragm is placed a given distance from a fixed plate. Sound waves move the diaphragm, changing the distance between the plate. The changes are translated into electrical signals.

Noise Canceling

Noise Canceling

Best

Some microphones have an added feature, in which carefully designed openings channel noise to both sides of the diaphragm at the same time. The equal pressure keeps the diaphragm from moving — to cancel ambient noise, yet allow voice sound waves to be transmitted.

Comfort

Comfort
The Telex ComfortCam technology offers quick and easy tension control for clamp-free flying.

Headband Adjustment

There’s a misconception that lighter headsets are more comfortable, but weight plays a minor role in comfort. The key factor is adjustability. Over time, the clamping force of the headset can become uncomfortable and create hot spots. Look for a headset that lets you easily adjust each ear cup independently, since most heads aren’t symmetrical.

Setting the Standards in Aviation Sound

Setting the Standards in Aviation Sound

Telex invented the first noise-canceling microphone for U.S. Armed Forces during World War II combat. Later, Telex microphones were used on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space missions, making them the first microphones on the moon. Today, Telex continues to pioneer mission critical sound technology. We design and manufacture high-performance commercial aviation headsets for optimum comfort, reliable performance and value.

Telex headsets are engineered for pilots who share our passion for sound clarity. Our headsets set the standard for clear, reliable and consistent communications.

From pilots to designers to operators, Telex is the headset of choice for 70 percent of commercial aviation professionals. In fact, Telex is standard equipment on all prominent commercial aviation aircraft.