The Best Aviation Headsets for a New "Student" Pilot - High End or Economy?

An aviation headset is one of the first pieces of equipment proud new student pilots will purchase. Not only does a headset serve as a communications device, but it also provides noise reduction and noise canceling features. These functions reduce background noise and cabin noise as well as decrease the risk of hearing loss over time.

When considering their headset options, new students may wonder, "What pilot headset should I buy?" and "Should I choose a high-end headset or an economy model?" There are pros and cons to either approach, so the best aviation headset for a student pilot will depend on several factors.

Pros of Buying a High-End Aviation Headset

A high-end aviation headset is a good choice for someone who may just be starting flight school but who already envisions a long-term career or continued active involvement in aviation. For committed student pilots, it may save money in the long run to simply opt for a high-quality headset right away rather than spending money on an entry-level model when they start flying only to have to upgrade it again in the future. High end aviation headsets are durable and built to last for many years. A pilot could buy one of these headsets when they start flight school and still be using the same headset throughout much if not all of their career.

The sound quality and hearing protection of a premium set are also superior. Student pilots who will be logging many flight hours can benefit from the advanced noise reduction technology and clear audio quality offered by the best headset brands.

Cons of Buying a High-End Aviation Headset

It comes as no surprise that high end aviation headsets are more costly than their economy counterparts. A budget headset allows a student pilot the opportunity to try out a new headset and learn what style, options, and features they like or dislike without a significant financial commitment. If you have a set amount to spend and need to factor in flight school plus other necessary gear costs, choosing one of the best budget headsets that offers good value for money may be a solid option.

The high-end aviation headset, while providing excellent quality and functionality, may also be more advanced than a new student truly needs. If the student pilot is simply dabbling with aviation and is not certain if a piloting career or long-term aviation hobby is right for them, the best headset may be one that does the job but at a lower price point than other high-end products. Pilots can always upgrade in the future once they are confident in their investment and have had a chance to learn what features they want as well as which they can do without in their next headset.

Aviation Headset Comparison

There are many headsets to choose from in all price ranges from budget to premium. Headsets are can be grouped into three broad categories: high-end headsets (over $650), mid-range headsets (under $650), and value headsets (under $350). Below, for your comparison, are our top choices in each of these three categories.

Bose A20

The Bose A20 aviation headset offers superb audio quality with maximum noise reduction, noise cancellation, and ultimate clarity. One of the most advanced high-end headsets on the market, the Bose A20 is an on-ear headset that is loaded with features to optimize your productivity and comfort. Easily speak with air traffic control over the flex-boom noise canceling electret mic and use Priority Switching to shuffle between intercom and music. Enjoy the comfort of plus ear seals and head cushion.

There is a version of the A20 for every pilot, with plug options for 6-pin, twin plug, and U174 helicopter as well as with and without Bluetooth functionality. The pair of aa batteries that powers the A20 has excellent battery life, lasting up to 40 hours.

David Clark H10

David Clark is a well-known producer of headsets for pilots. David Clark headsets have been in use for decades, and one of their most reliable and popular models is the mid-to entry-level range H10. It is available in either the David Clark H10-13.4 mono version or the David Clark H10-13S stereo version and with or without a carrying case bundle.  Both the mono and stereo variants have a soft double foam head pad and trademark undercut gel ear seals for maximum long-term wear comfort. Backed by a legendary 5-year warranty, the H10 comes with excellent customer service to support a quality product.

Pilot Mall Sound Silencer

Pilot Mall's exclusive Sound Silencer pilot headsets bring you the comfort, function, protection, and quality that you have come to expect from the name brands, but at a price that even new student pilots can enjoy. Choose from either the active noise reduction Sound Silencer ANR headset or the passive noise reduction Sound Silencer Passive headset. The passive headset delivers 25 dB of noise reduction, while the ANR model has 24 dB passive noise reduction plus an additional 16-19 dB of active noise reduction to protect your hearing throughout the flight.

The Sound Silencer includes features like dual volume controls, auxiliary inputs for external audio devices, a flex boom noise-canceling electret mic, plus comfortable leatherette ear seals and pillow head pad. It also comes backed by a 3-year warranty.

Which aviation headset is best for student pilots?

When deciding which headset to choose, there are arguments to be made for both the starter and the high-end models. Ultimately, the best choice for a headset is one that works for your needs and your budget. Whichever route you choose to take, compare the pros and cons as well as the features of different models. Make sure the headset you choose meets your criteria and that you are comfortable wearing and using it.

Pro Tip: If you decide on an entry level headset today, remember you can always use that as a backup or for passengers down the road should you opt to upgrade your own headset.

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