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What the PLUG! A Guide to Aviation Headset Plugs

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At PilotMall.com we understand that at first, plugs can seem a bit overwhelming. If you are just getting started in aviation, considering a career/plane change, looking for an adapter or simply curious… We have the information for you!

GA Plug

General Aviation Dual Plugs

The GA Plug is the plug most of us recognize. It is also known as a General Aviation Plug, Twin Plug or a Dual Plug. Most general aviation/fixed-wing aircraft (Cessna’s, Beechcraft’s, Cirrus’, Piper's) use a GA Plug. You may find in some newer aircraft, like Cirrus or Mooney, that you have the option of a GA Plug OR Panel Power… We’ll get into Panel Power in a moment.

While these are the most universal of plugs, it is important to know that the plugs themselves will not provide power for ANR (Active Noise Reduction) or Bluetooth. When using a GA Plug headset, 1 plug will provide the audio to your ear cups and the other will provide the power to your microphone. Batteries will power your ANR, Bluetooth and Amplification.

U174 Plug

U174 Helicopter Plug

The U174 Plug is a helicopter plug. This is a single plug and looks similar to a GA Plug. Upon closer inspection, you will notice it is shorter and fatter than a GA Plug. This single plug will help supply power for your ear cup audio and your microphone.

Like GA Plugs, a headset with a U174 Plug will not power your ANR or Bluetooth if you headset provides these options.

Panel Power Plug

LEMO Panel Power Plug

Panel Power Plugs can go by several names. You may hear them referred to as Aircraft Power Plugs, Redel Plugs, LEMO Plugs, or even 6 Pin. If your aircraft has a panel power kit installed, this is the type of plug you will be looking for. If you hold up the plug and look into it, you will notice 6 little pins inside. Panel Power is becoming more common in newer aircraft AND the option is now available if you wish to update your plane! If you are considering making your aircraft panel powered, take a look at the Bose Panel Power Install Kit available here at PilotMall.com!

A major benefit of a Panel Power Plug is that your aircraft will provide power to ALL aspects of your headset for you. ANR, Bluetooth, audio to your ear cups and microphone will ALL be powered by your aircraft!

XLR Plug

XLR 5-Pin Airbus Plug

An XLR Plug is also referred to as an Airbus Plug or occasionally a 5 Pin. They are generally used in commercial aircraft. At first glance, they look very similar to the Panel Power Plug. The main difference though is when you look inside, you will only see 5 pins. This plug will provide power to your microphone and audio to your ear cups.

Plugs Aside… Will My Headset Need Batteries?

It is important to note that with most headsets, you will need batteries to activate your ANR (Active Noise Reduction) or Bluetooth if you have a Bluetooth capable headset. Please read the headset descriptions on our website if you have questions about whether or not you will need to pack batteries for your next flight!

Now that we discussed plugs… What headset can/should you get?!

PilotMall.com proudly carries the following headsets. See if your plug is included!

ASA AirClassics HS-1A Headset – GA Plug

Bose A20’s –GA Plug, 6 pin and U174

Clarity Aloft – GA Plug

David Clark – GA Plug and U174

Lightspeed – GA Plug, 6 Pin and U174; Depending on Model

PilotMall.com – GA Plug

Pilot USA – GA Plug and U174; Depending on Model

Telex – GA Plug and XLR

Wicom – GA Plug

Wait! I already have a great headset, but it isn’t compatible with the new plane I’ll be flying. What are my options?

Fear not. Welcome to the world of adapters! While there are always a few exceptions (normally concerning older headset models), several headsets will work with a simple adapter.

At PilotMall.com, we can help you go from a GA to XLR, from U174 to GA, from Panel Power to GA… And back again!  See all Headset Adapters.

Don’t let plug questions keep you on the ground.

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  • Bethany Piccarreto