When it comes to communication, all headsets allow you to talk via radio and within the cabin. But when it comes to hearing protection, not all headsets are created equal.
If your cockpit is not especially noisy, you might be able to get by with an affordable headset that depends on old-fashioned passive noise reduction technology, or PNR. PNR is a headset that relies on an ear cup with sound-proof insulation to block noise from the propeller blade, the engine, and airflow. PNR headsets can reduce cabin noise by 15-20 decibels.
If you need more protection, though, active noise reduction (ANR) is the way to go. While it costs a bit more, you can’t put a price on your hearing. And ANR uses modern technology that cancels ambient noise in the cabin with an opposing soundwave. ANR headsets can reduce cabin noise by up to 30 decibels.
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Aviation headsets are worn by pilots to reduce ambient noise levels in an aircraft. This can include engine, airflow and blade noise. If hearing protection isn't used in a non-pressurized aircraft, a pilot and his or her passengers may experience hearing loss. In addition, aviation headsets are designed to enhance communication between different people in an aircraft. All aviation headsets allow radio and intra-cabin communication.
Traditional aviation headsets use passive noise reduction (PNR) to prevent hearing loss. PNR headsets work by mechanically blocking sound waves from entering the ear. Most PNR headsets consist of a specialized ear cup with a noise-proof insulation. This ear cup forms a tight seal around a pilot's ears. While PNR headsets are an affordable choice for pilots, many aviators prefer headsets that offer digital hearing protection.
Active noise reduction (ANR) headsets have the same basic design as PNR headsets. However, ANR headsets contain a specialized microphone outside of each ear cup. These microphones listen for ambient noise in an aircraft cabin and cancel them out with an opposing sound wave.
When looking for the best aviation headset, many pilots prefer ANR systems. ANR headsets can reduce ambient cabin noise up to 30 decibels. PNR headsets can reduce cabin noise by 15 to 20 decibels.