Image showing one of the top and most popular aviation headsets

Best Aviation Headsets (For All Budgets – 2019 Reviews)

Do you want an over-ear, on-ear or in-ear aviation headset? How about ANR or PNR? Bluetooth or no Bluetooth? What’s your budget? What about…?

Arrgh. With so many options on the market, and so many features to consider, choosing the best aviation headset can seem like a daunting task. This is why he have tried to simplify the process as much as possible.

We have included 3 tables, covering ANR (Active Noise Reduction), PNR (Passive Noise Reduction), and in-ear (both ANR and PNR) headsets. The most important specs and features like Bluetooth, battery life, noise reduction rating , ear seal material, TSO status, audio input, and volume controls are listed so you can easily compare headsets against each other, view their pros and cons, and see what type of pilot a headset is best suited for, at just a glance.

A bit further down we go more in-depth and talk about each listed model and why it is best.  We have also included some frequently asked questions pilots have, as well as important factors to consider when buying a headset.

Best Aviation Headsets

  • Best Overall: Bose A20, “Best noise-canceling performance from any headset. Bluetooth, excellent battery life, comfort…the A20 has it all.”
  • Runner-Up: Lightspeed Zulu 3, “Lightspeed’s premium model that is comparable to the A20.”
  • Best Value: Lightspeed Sierra, “All the same features as the more expensive Zulu 3 but at a lower price point with little compromise. Excellent value.”
  • Best Battery Life: David Clark DC ONE-X, “Excellent passive noise reduction from an ANR headset. The best battery life of any headset at 50 hours.”
  • Best for Student Pilots (ANR): Faro G2, “The best ANR option for student pilots with little compromise.”
  • Best for Student Pilots (PNR): Kore Aviation KA-1, “An aviation headset with gel ear seals and a carrying case at this price point can’t be beat.”
  • Best PNR (and under $500): David Clark H10-13.4 / H20-10 / H10 -30, “You really can’t go wrong with any of these PNR headsets. They come highly recommended by anyone who has used them for their noise reduction and comfort. They are, of course, all TSO approved.”
  • Best Wireless: Lightspeed Tango, “If you’re sold on the idea a wireless aviation headset, look no further than the Tango.”
  • Best On-Ear: David Clark DC PRO-X2, “Leave it to David Clark to design an on-ear headset with very little compromise compared to over-ear options.”
  • Best Budget: Rugged Air RA200, “Any student pilot on a very tight budget will struggle to do better than the RA200.”
  • Best Warranty: ASA HS-1A, “You are given a lifetime warranty, which is hugely surprising considering its price point.”
  • Best In-Ear Headset: Bose ProFlight, “Similar to the A20 in a smaller (arguably) more comfortable package.”
  • Runner-Up (In-Ear): UFQ L-2, “Much cheaper than the ProFlight but with comparable battery life.”
  • Also Great (In-Ear): Faro Air, “A remarkably light in-ear headset with impressive comfort.”

 

Aviation Headset Comparison Tables

ANR Headsets

  Bose A20 Lightspeed Sierra Review Lightspeed Zulu 3 Review David Clark DC PRO-X2 David Clark DC ONE-X Lightspeed Tango Wireless Faro G2 ANR Headset Review
Bose Aviation A20 Lightspeed Sierra Lightspeed Zulu 3 David Clark DC PRO-X2 David Clark DC ONE-X Lightspeed Tango Wireless Headset Faro G2
Price Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price
Ranking Premium Pick Best Value Also Great Best On-Ear Best PNR from an ANR headset Best Wireless Best for Student Pilots
Pros Best in-class noise cancelling, sound quality Excellent balance of price and quality Comfort, better ANR and clarity than Sierra Battery life, build quality Battery life, build quality, best PNR Wireless, rechargeable batteries Low price, dependable
Cons High price Slight clamping PNR not as good No audio input 12-hour battery life No bluetooth, no carrying case
Bottom Line The best there is Best value A step-up from the Sierra Best on-ear ANR headset Comparable to A20 with better PNR Look no further for a wireless headset Best for student pilots/on a budget
Design Over-Ear Over-Ear Over-Ear On-Ear Over-Ear Over-Ear Over-Ear
Battery Length 45 hrs 40 hrs 40 hrs 50 hrs 50 hrs 12 hrs (Rechargeable) 30 hrs
Ear Seals Protein Leather Plush Plush Leatherette Leatherette Plush Leatherette
Bluetooth Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Audio Input Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Volume Control Dual Dual Dual Dual Dual Dual Dual
Wireless No No No No No Yes No
Noise Reduction Rating N/A N/A N/A 30 dB 30 dB N/A 26 dB
Warranty 5 yrs 5 yrs 7 yrs 5 yrs 5 yrs 5 yrs 3 yrs
Carrying Case Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
TSO Approved Yes No No Yes Yes No No
Weight 12 oz 16 oz 14.6 oz 7.5 oz 12.3 oz 18 oz 13 oz
Frequency Response 15 Hz – 15kHz 20 Hz – 20 kHz 20Hz – 20kHz 12 Hz – 15kHz 12 Hz – 15kHz 20Hz – 20kHz 50 Hz – 20 kHz
Frequency Response (Microphone) N/A 200 Hz – 6 kHz 200 Hz – 6kHz 150 Hz – 8 kHz 150 Hz – 8 kHz 200 Hz – 6 kHz 100 Hz – 5 kHz

PNR Headsets

  David Clark H10-13.4 David Clark H10-30 Kore Aviation KA-1 ASA HS-1A Headset Review Rugged Air RA200 Headset Review Kore Aviation P1
David Clark H10-13.4 David Clark H10-30 David Clark H20-10 Kore Aviation KA-1 ASA HS-1A Rugged Air RA200 Kore Aviation P1
Price Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price
Ranking Top Pick Also Great Also Great Best for Student Pilots Also Great for Student Pilots Best Budget Also Great on a Budget
Pros Excellent PNR, build quality, comfort Excellent PNR, build quality, comfort Excellent PNR, build quality, comfort Low price, carrying case, gel ear pads Low price, Lifetime warranty Very low price, 7-year warranty, audio input Very low price, audio input
Cons No audio input No audio input, sensitive microphone No audio input Not very adjustable No audio input Comfort 1-year warranty, comfort
Bottom Line The best there is Ticks all the right boxes except for its microphone Heaviest model on list, although comfort doesn’t suffer Gel ear pads at this price point, even comes with a carrying case Unrivaled warranty at any price point. Great for student pilots Excellent starter headset with surprisingly generous warranty Excellent starter headset, only its warranty lets it down
Design Over-Ear Over-Ear Over-Ear Over-Ear Over-Ear Over-Ear Over-Ear
Noise Reduction Rating 23 dB 24 dB 22 dB 24 dB 23 dB 24 dB 24 dB
Ear Seals Gel Gel Gel Gel Foam Foam Foam
Audio Input No No No Yes No Yes Yes
Volume Control Single Single Single Dual Dual Single Single
Warranty 5 yrs 5 yrs 5 yrs 5 yrs Lifetime 7 yrs 1 yrs
Carrying Case No No No Yes No No No
TSO Approved Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Weight 16.5 oz 20 oz 19 oz N/A 12 oz 13.4 oz N/A
Frequnecy Response 200 – 5.5 kHz 200 – 5.5 kHz 200 – 5500Hz N/A Fo – 5kHz 100 Hz – 17 kHz N/A
Frequency Response (Microphone) 300 Hz – 3.5kHz 300 Hz – 3.5kHz 300 Hz – 3.5kHz N/A 80 Hz – 10kHz 300 Hz – 8kHz N/A

In-Ear Headsets

  Bose ProFlight UFQ L-2 Faro Air In-Ear
Bose ProFlight UFQ L-2 Faro Air in-Ear
Price Check Price Check Price Check Price
Ranking Premium Pick Best for Student Pilots Best Value
Pros Best in-class noise cancelling, comfort, Bluetooth Low price, comparable battery life to ProFlight, carrying case Remarkably light, comfort
Cons High price, heavy cord No Bluetooth Mic needs adjustment, no Bluetooth
Bottom Line Best in-ear but expensive and audio quality not as good as A20 Inexpensive for an ANR in-ear with excellent battery life Very light PNR headset with good comfort
Noise Reduction Method ANR ANR Passive
Battery Length 45 hrs 48 hrs N/A
Bluetooth Yes No No
Audio Input Yes Yes Yes
Volume Control Single Dual Dual
Warranty 3 yrs 3 yrs 3 yrs
Carrying Case Yes Yes No
TSO Approved Yes No No
Weight 4.9 oz 6.2 oz 1 oz
Frequency Response 40 Hz – 15 kHz N/A 50 Hz – 20 kHz
Frequency Response (Microphone) N/A N/A 100 Hz – 5 kHz

16 Top-Rated Aviation Headsets

Top Pick: Bose A20

Top Pick Best noise-canceling performance from any headset. Bluetooth, excellent battery life, comfort...the A20 has it all.

$1,095.95 USD
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Let’s play a quick game of word association. When I say Bose, what immediately comes to mind? The term noise-canceling probably popped into your head straight away. Ever since Bose introduced the first commercially Active Noise Cancellation aviation headset specifically designed for pilots in 1989, any pilot with the cash looking for an aviation headset first and usually last port of call is Bose.

If you’re looking for the best noise canceling aviation headset, you’ve found it in the Bose A20. It is outstanding in this regard. Some might even find the A20 cancels too much noise, but you won’t get any complaints from us. Some aviation headsets come close to the A20 with their noise-canceling ability, but what really sets it apart is its consistency. You’re probably all too aware that when using some headsets, if you move around or even just turn your head, the level of noise suddenly increases. This isn’t the case with the A20.

2x AA batteries last for 45 hours, which is only bettered by two premium David Clark headsets: DC PRO-X2 and DC ONE-X.

The ear seals are made from protein leather. Don’t be confused – this isn’t actually real leather. You wouldn’t be the first to have made this mistake. Nevertheless, comfort doesn’t suffer, and you can wear the A20 for long flights with very little discomfort setting in. Not surprising considering it is one of the lightest, weighing just 12 ounces and imparting very little clamping pressure to your head. The way in which weight is evenly distributed helps too.

There are arguably a few too many plastic parts at this price point. Then again, this inevitably contributes to better comfort due to the headset’s lighter weight. There is nothing flimsy about the A20.

It’s worth noting that if you like to listen to music when you’re in the air, you won’t be disappointed, with the A20 managing to top every other aviation headset in this regard. Bose are well-known in the personal audio world after all.

Other features include Bluetooth (a non-Bluetooth model is also available at a lower price), an audio input, and dual volume controls. A carrying case comes with the A20, and the headset is backed by a 5-year warranty. It is also TSO approved.

There is no doubt that the A20 is expensive – in fact it is the most expensive options out there, but if you take your flying seriously and want the best –  a Bose aviation headset it must be.

Bose A20 Key Features:

  • Best in-class noise-canceling
  • 45-hour battery life
  • Bluetooth
  • Audio input
  • Dual volume controls
  • TSO approved
  • Weighs 12 oz.

Price/User Reviews: Bose A20 Price and User Reviews

Read More: Bose A20

 

Runner-Up: Lightspeed Zulu 3

Runner-Up Lightspeed's premium model that is comparable to the A20.

$850.00 USD
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Lightspeed’s most expensive offering, the Zulu 3, is a step-up from the Sierra, although the difference isn’t huge. It has the same specs as its less expensive little brother, so you may ask what makes it worthwhile over the Sierra. Even the battery life at 40 hours is the same.

Well, for one thing the warranty stands at 7 years instead of 5. Given that both of Lightspeed’s models are well-constructed, this is unlikely to make much difference, although the Zulu is the better constructed of the two. The difference is largely in what you can’t see or read.

The comfort is improved upon, so while you might feel some clamping and tightness with the Sierra, this completely disappears when the Zulu 3 is on your head. There is a slight difference in weight, but it’s just enough to be noticeable. The Sierra weighs 16 oz, compared to  the 14 oz the Zulu 3 weighs. When you’re flying day in day out for hours at a time, these things add up to make a meaningful difference.

There is also difference in the ANR and overall clarity of sound too, enough to make a pilot want to upgrade while stopping short of paying as much as the A20. Considering that the Zulu 3 is not that much more expensive than the Sierra it gets the nod over it.

For a couple of hundred more dollars you’re getting a better constructed, more comfortable aviation headset with ANR and clarity improved upon.

Lightspeed 3 Aviation Headset Key Features:

  • 40-hour battery life
  • Bluetooth
  • Audio input
  • Dual volume controls
  • Weighs 14.6 oz.

Price/User Reviews: Lightspeed Zulu 3 Price and User Reviews

Read More: Lightspeed Zulu 3 Headset

Best Value: Lightspeed Sierra

Best Value All the same features as the more expensive Zulu 3 but at a lower price point with little compromise. Excellent value.

$650.00 USD
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The Lighspeed Sierra is Lightspeed’s most inexpensive current offering, costing less than the Tango Wireless and Zulu 3. It arguably offers the best value, striking the right balance between price and quality. It is the best value aviation headset.

It isn’t able to match the A20 in ANR or sound quality. If the Bose is a 9.5, the Sierra is an 7.5-8. But it will certainly get the job done and won’t disappoint.

Comfort is very impressive, even more so when you consider comfort is one of the main things that sets apart less expensive aviation headsets to ones that cost close to $1,000 and beyond. The cushions are nice and soft, and any clamping is kept to a minimum, although not quite as effectively as a premium headsets.

If features everything you would expect to find at this price point, including Bluetooth, an audio input, dual volume controls, and a carrying case. It is backed by a 5-year warranty. Batteries will give 40 hours of operation.

Lightspeed Sierra ANR Key Features

  • 40-hour battery life
  • Bluetooth
  • Audio input
  • Dual volume controls
  • Weighs 16 oz.

Price/User Reviews: Lightspeed Sierra Price and User Reviews

Read More: Lightspeed Sierra

 

Best Battery Life: David Clark DC ONE-X

Best Battery Life Excellent passive noise reduction from an ANR headset. The best battery life of any headset at 50 hours.

$895.00 USD
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David Clark is a company that has a rich and varied history in aviation, with the company’s designs even having been used by NASA and the U.S. Air Force. The David Clark DC ONE-X and PRO-X2 are the pick of the bunch when it comes to the company’s ANR offerings.

It has everything you would expect from a headset with such a stellar reputation. David Clark is one of the very few companies that publish the NRR for their models. The ONE-X has an NRR of 30 dB. Battery life is superb and best in-class. You can expect 50 hours of operation from 2x AA batteries.

David Clark are known for their passive pilot headsets, so it comes as no surprise that the ONE-X beats all other ANR aviation headsets in its passive noise reduction. It has the best passive noise reduction from any ANR headset.

There are times you will forget to switch the noise cancellation on and only notice some time later. Run out of battery life and the ONE-X will be perfectly useable thanks to this.

Comfort is excellent. You will find very few complaints from any pilot who uses the ONE-X, which is rarely the case with other models. Construction is also superb and everything you would expect from the company: rugged and can take some abuse without issue.

One downside to the ONE-X is that there is no audio input. Some of you won’t care about this in the slightest while for others it might be a deal breaker. You can of course still listen to music through Bluetooth, but it’s something worth noting. In fact, it is the only model on this list of best ANR aviation headsets that doesn’t come with this input.

David Clark ONE-X Key Features:

  • 50-hour battery life
  • Bluetooth
  • 30 dB NRR
  • Dual volume controls
  • TSO approved
  • Weighs 12.3 oz.

Price/Reviews: David Clark ONE-X Price and User Reviews

Read More: David Clark ONE-X

 

Best Aviation Headset for Student Pilots (ANR): Faro G2

Best ANR Headset for Student Pilots The best ANR option for student pilots with little compromise.

$349.99 USD
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The Faro G2 is the most inexpensive headset on this list. It is the best aviation headset for student pilots. The biggest compliment that can be given to the G2 is that it just works. This may sound like faint praise, but it isn’t. At this price point all you can really hope for is an aviation headset to work as described and be depended upon. The G2 gets full marks in this regard.

The ANR works well and effectively reduces noise when flying. It can’t be compared to an A20 but it gets the job done. The same can be said about the comms. The battery life stands at 30 hours.

The G2 is also one of the lighter models on this list, weighing 13 oz. You may be pleasantly surprised with the comfort, given its price point. There is very little to complain about. Everything is easily adjustable, clamping force is minimal, and the leatherette ear pads sit nicely over the ear.

It’s also nice to see an NRR rating provided, considering the only other company providing this information is David Clark. The NRR stands at 26 dB.

There is no Bluetooth, but you do get an audio input that allows you to listen to music in that way. There are dual volume controls, though, and no carrying case is provided. The G2 is backed by a 3-year warranty.

The G2 may not excite you like the thrill of finally owning a Bose aviation headset, a David Clark headset, or a model with a cool technological feature like the Tango Wireless, but if you’re a student pilot it doesn’t have to. This is why it’s a great option for anyone learning to fly and needs to stick to a tight budget. If you’re looking for an ANR model for passengers, you can’t go wrong with this either.

Faro G2 ANR Aviation Headset Key Features:

  • 30-hour battery life
  • 26 dB NRR
  • Audio input
  • Dual volume controls
  • Weighs 13 oz.

Price/Reviews: Faro G2 Price and User Reviews

Read More: Faro G2 ANR Headset

 

Best for Student Pilots (PNR): Kore Aviation KA-1

Best PNR Headset for Student Pilots An aviation headset with gel ear seals and a carrying case at this price point can't be beat.

$159.99 USD
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The Kore Aviation KA-1 is priced similarly to the RA900 but many will agree it is the better deal. Kore don’t release specs apart from the NRR (24 db), so it is hard to know how much the KA-1 weighs or the frequency response – the latter probably isn’t important to many anyway. The warranty is 5 years compared to the 7 years the RA900 is backed by.

However, the KA-1 has two important features that the RA900 lacks. First are the gel ear pads. Anyone who has used an aviation headset with gel ear pads know just how much they contribute to better comfort. The only other PNR models that feature gel pads come from David Clark, which are at least double the price. It’s probably a good idea to get a pair of cloth ear covers too.

It’s also good to see the KA-1 coming with a carrying case. Even David Clark do not provide a case when buying one of their PNR headsets. Other features include dual volume controls and an audio input.

Kore Aviation KA-1 Key Features:

  • 24 dB NRR
  • Gel ear seals
  • Dual volume controls
  • Carrying case

View Price and Reviews

 

Best PNR (and Under $500): David Clark H10-30/H10-13.4/H20-10

Best PNR Aviation Headsets David Clark make terrific PNR headsets - the H10-13.4 is the best of the lot.

$320.85 USD
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Rather than talk about these 3 aviation headsets individually, it is best to group them together.

All David Clark pilot headsets on this list are similarly price with as little as $50-100 separating the three. It is the H10-30, however, that is the least expensive. Despite this it has the best NRR rating at 24 dB, although there is only a 1-2 dB difference compared to the H10-13.4 (23 dB) and H20-10 (22 dB). The PNR from all models are comparable and top all others on this list. All feature a single volume control.

The H10-30 is the heaviest out of three, weighing 20 oz, followed by the H20-10 at 19 oz, and the H10-13.4 at 16.5 oz. This all makes little difference when it comes to comfort, though, which is still great thanks to all three coming with ear gel pads and soft head pads. The H10-13.4 head pad has double padding for even better comfort.

All three models are superbly constructed and maintain the quality David Clark has become known for over the years. These really will last a lifetime. In any case, the company offer their standard 5-year warranty.

If there is one thing that lets with H10-30 down slightly, it is its microphone. It tends to pick up some background noise. This doesn’t appear to be an issue with the H10-13.4 or H20-10.

You really can’t go wrong with any of these PNR headsets. They come highly recommended by anyone who has used them for their noise reduction and comfort. They are, of course, all TSO approved.

David Clark H10-13.4/H20-10/H10-30 Key Features:

  • Gel ear seals
  • 22-24 dB NRR
  • TSO approved

David Clark H10-13.4: View Price and Reviews

David Clark H20-10: View Price and Reviews

David Clark H10-30: View Price and Reviews

Read More: David Clark H10-13.4/H20-10/H10-30

 

Best Wireless Headset: Lightspeed Tango Wireless

Best Wireless Headset If you hate cables getting in the way, look no further than the Tango Wireless for a wireless headset.

$800.00 USD
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If you’re looking for the best wireless aviation headset you’re not exactly spoilt for choice. The Lightspeed Tango is your only viable option.

The headset’s biggest strength is undoubtedly the lack of cords to deal with. However, there are other aspects that will either be a pro or con, depending on the pilot.

The batteries are rechargeable, which some pilots will love. But you can only get 12 hours of operation out of them compared to 4x the lifespan from the other models on this list. Of course, this will save you from having to spend money on new batteries but remembering to charge them after every few flights can become annoying.

However, it’s good to see that the batteries can be charged while the headset is in use, so not all is lost if you forget. A backup cable for wired operation is also provided, although the ANR won’t work without the batteries having a charge. The ANR is a touch better than the Sierra but not as good as the Zulu 3.

Despite being wireless and not having any cords to deal with, the Tango is actually the heaviest aviation headest on this list, weighing 18 oz. This is largely down to the built-in battery. Comfort does not suffer though, with the headset sitting in between the Sierra and Zulu 3. Plush ear pads are also used.

Other features include Bluetooth, an audio input, dual volume controls, and a carrying case. Like all Lightspeed models the Tango is not TSO approved, and backed by a 5-year warranty.

If you’re sold on the idea a wireless aviation headset, look no further than the Tango.

Lightspeed Tango Wireless Headset Key Features:

  • Wireless
  • 12-hour rechargeable batteries
  • Bluetooth
  • Audio input
  • Dual volume controls
  • Weighs 18 oz.

Price/User Reviews: Lightspeed Tango Wireless Price and User Reviews

Read More: Lightspeed Tango Wireless

 

Best On-Ear Headset: David Clark DC PRO-X2

Best On-Ear Headset Leave it to David Clark to design an on-ear headset with very little compromise compared to over-ear options.

$745.00 USD
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The David Clark DC PRO-X2 is similar to the One-X is many ways, including the same excellent 50-hour battery life, NRR of 30 dB, 5-year warranty, dual volume controls, TSO approved, and comes with a carrying case. However, there is one major difference between the two. You’ve probably already noticed it: the design.

The PRO-X2 is an on-ear instead of over-ear model. This contributes significantly to each respective weight. The X2 weighs just 7.5 oz while the ONE-X weighs 12.3 oz. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will find one more comfortable than the over though. Some pilots prefer the comfort that an on-ear model can provide while others can’t get along with how the ear pads sit on the ears rather than cover them.

What this also means is that, while David Clark are known for their passive headsets, this model isn’t great in this regard. Inevitably, when a company designs an in-ear model its passive noise reduction is going to suffer.

The other big difference is that the PRO-X2 comes with an audio input. If you want to listen to music but not be stuck with Bluetooth as your only option, you won’t have to with this aviation headset.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for the best on-ear ANR headset there is nothing better than the PRO-X2.

Key Features:

  • On-ear design
  • 50-hour battery life
  • Bluetooth
  • 30 dB NRR
  • Dual volume controls
  • TSO approved
  • Weighs 7.5 oz.

Price/User Reviews: David Clark PRO-X2 Price and User Reviews

Read More: David Clark Pro-X2

 

Best Budget Headset: Rugged Air RA200

Best Budget Headset Any student pilot on a very tight budget will struggle to do better than the RA200.

$84.99 USD
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Along with the Kore Aviation P1, the Rugged Air RA200 is the most inexpensive model on this list. It would make a great starter option for student pilots, passengers or even to have as a backup pair. These are really the only situations where headsets at this price point should be considered.

Comfort right out of the box isn’t the best, but after some wear-in time they are perfectly fine. Weighing just 13.4 oz the RA200 is the lightest model on the list.

The RA200 also comes with an audio input, single volume control, and the warranty is very generous at 7 years.

If you’re looking for step-up from the RA200, the logical choice would be the RA900. While specs and warranty are the same as its little brother, with the RA900 you get dual volume controls and a push-to-talk function. Not to mention that comfort is improved upon.

Rugged Air RA200 Key Features

  • 24 dB NRR
  • Foam ear seals
  • Audio input
  • Weighs 13.4 oz.

Price/Reviews: Rugged Air RA200 Price and User Reviews

Read More: Rugged Air RA200

With the Best Warranty: ASA HS-1A

With the Best Warranty A great PNR headset with an astoundingly good warranty.

$111.50 USD
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When it comes to headsets for student pilots, if you’re looking for ANR models you are limited in your choices with the Faro G2 being the best option. However, when it comes to PNR headsets there are a few to choose from. The ASA HS-1A is one of the best.

If I were to ask you which headset comes with the best warranty, you would instinctively name the Bose A20 or a couple of David Clark models. However, it is the HS-1A that has them all beat. You are given a lifetime warranty, which is hugely surprising considering its price point. To put this into perspective, a competing model like the Kore Aviation P1, while being a fantastic headset for the price (around half as expensive), especially for student pilots, is only backed by a 1-year warranty. Even the Bose A20 is only backed by a 5-year warranty.

Comfort is pretty good with these. They can start to become uncomfortable after a few hours of continuous use, but if you use them for a couple hours at a time there is no issue – it’s a bit much to expect gel instead of foam ear seals at this price point. The dual volume controls are a nice touch, though.

The ASA HS-1A has an NRR of 23 dB.

Key Features:

  • 23 dB NRR
  • Foam ear seals
  • Dual volume controls
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Weighs 12 oz.

Price/User Reviews: ASA HS-1A Price and User Reviews

Read More: ASA HS-1A Aviation Headset

 

Best In-Ear Aviation Headset: Bose ProFlight

Best In-Ear Headset Similar to the A20 in a smaller (arguably) more comfortable package.

$995.95 USD
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The Bose ProFlight is the best in-ear aviation headset but there are some genuine gripes.

First, the good stuff. The ANR is superb. Bose really know how to do noise-canceling . Whether it’s the A20, one of their popular consumer audio products, or the ProFlight, it doesn’t matter – Bose have figured it out.

The comfort level is high. The ProFlight weighs 4.9 oz, which is excellent considering that it takes batteries. The way in which any clamping is kept down to a minimum is also excellent. Operation from the batteries stand at an impressive 45 hours

Now the bad – or perhaps not so good.

If you’re coming from the A20 you might be a bit disappointed with the sound quality when listening to music. The ProFlight is an in-ear model compared to the bigger, over-ear A20, so to an extent this is to be expected. However, due to Bose being very popular in the personal audio world expectations are always going to be higher than other aviation headset manufacturers. Some may be disappointed with the sound quality, while others won’t. Your mileage may vary, depending on how much of an audiophile you are. No issue with the comms, though, which is arguably more important. The sound is crisp and clear.

A common complaint concerns the cord, and I can see where people are coming from. It is on the thick and heavy side and can move the headset’s position on your head. However, this is easy enough to remedy. Just attach the clip to your epaulette or shirt and it’s no longer an issue.

Other features include a single volume control, carrying case, audio input, and Bluetooth. A big plus to the ProFlight is how it is TSO approved. You certainly aren’t spoilt for choice when it comes to TSO approved in-ear headsets, so this alone is a big enough selling point for many.

Bose ProFlight Key Features:

  • 45-hour battery life
  • Bluetooth
  • Audio input
  • TSO approved
  • Weighs 4.9 oz.

Price/User Reviews: Bose ProFlight Price and User Reviews

Read More: Bose ProFlight

 

Runner-Up: UFQ L-2

Runner-Up Much cheaper than the ProFlight but with comparable battery life.

$329.99 USD
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UFQ isn’t the most well-known brand out there. They make some decent over-ear models, but none were good enough to replace any of the others listed in the section above.

In the UFQ L-2, however, the company has produced a viable option for pilots looking for a budget ANR in-ear headset. It costs a third of the price of the Bose ProFlight and manages to match it in at least one aspect.

For one, the battery life is very similar. While the ProFlight gives you 50 hours of operation, the L-2 lasts for 48 hours. The weight of each is in the same ballpark, with the L-2 weighing a little over an ounce more.

Comfort is good and it’s unlikely you will have many complaints – at least until a few hours of continuous use have passed. The same applies to the noise-canceling implementation. Of course, it can’t compare to a ProFlight, but there isn’t much to choose between the L-2 and something like the Faro Air, even though one uses ANR and the other PNR.

Unsurprisingly, there is no built-in Bluetooth, but a Bluetooth adapter is included, which is a nice touch. A carrying case is even included, as is an audio input and dual volume controls.

The cheaper UFQ L-1 is also available.

Key Features:

  • 48-hour battery life
  • Dual volume controls
  • Weighs 6.2 oz.

View Price and Reviews

 

Also Great (In-Ear): Faro AIR

Also Great A remarkably light in-ear headset with impressive comfort.

$379.99 USD
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The first thing you’ll notice about the Faro Air is how remarkably light it is. It is the lightest in-ear pilot headset available, weighing – wait for it – just 1 oz. This is usually the part where we talk about clamping pressure. But with the Faro Air being so light there is nothing to add. Any discomfort would come from the ear tips themselves.

Made from composite foam, the ear tips are slightly longer than any others you may have used. This so they fit deeper into the ear canal to provide more noise isolation. No need to worry about fit either, as 3 pairs of standard and 3 pairs of large ear tips are included.

The only issue is the placement of the mic. It needs to be adjusted every now and again because it doesn’t always stay in its correct position, although this is easy enough to fix.

Key Features:

  • Dual volume controls
  • Weighs 1 oz.

View Price and Reviews

 

Should You Buy an Over-Ear, On-Ear or In-Ear Aviation Headset?

The most common are by far over-ear models. Over-ear pads are highly effective at passive noise reduction. So why might someone choose an on-ear or in-ear model?

Well, with the only on-ear headset being the PRO-X2 you’re not spoiled for choice. Someone might choose the PRO-X2 over others because they want a headset that doesn’t engulf the ear, which can be uncomfortable and result in sweaty ears. The PRO-X2 also weighs on average half as much as other options too, which can enhance comfort.

The real strength of an in-ear model is its low weight and small form factor. You will find these headsets weighing from as little as 1 oz to 6 ounces. This means that any clamping force will be kept to a minimum. They can either primarily use ANR, like the Bose ProFlight or UFQ L-2, or PNR, like the Faro Air.

Important Features to Consider When Buying an Aviation Headset

  • ANR or PNR

Deciding whether you want an ANR or PNR aviation headset is likely to be the most important factor to consider. They both work to reduce noise in different ways. Refer to the How Do ANR Headsets Work and What is a Passive Headset section below where we go into more detail.

  • Price

Unless you’re a student pilot, need a backup headset, or one for passengers it’s not a good idea to skimp on price. The biggest influence on price will be whether you opt for an ANR or PNR model. ANR models use noise-canceling technology so are inevitably more expensive – sometimes substantially so when it comes to the best ones.

Other things that can influence price include the quality of the noise reduction and comms; the comfort of the aviation headset, more specifically if the pads are foam or gel; as well as the build quality and a feature like Bluetooth is implemented. Whether the headset comes with a carrying case and is TSO certified can also make a difference.

  • Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)

Not all manufacturers provide an NRR (Noise Reduction Rating), but when specified by a manufacturer we have listed it. The higher the NRR the quieter the headset will be.

  • Comfort

Comfort is such an important factor that it really can’t be overstated. A headset may have terrific noise reduction capabilities, excellent audio quality, and come with all the features you want, yet if you can’t stand having it on your head it will be nothing more than an expensive paperweight.

You’ll want a model that doesn’t clamp too tightly on the top of your head and your ears. While a PNR headset must seal well (more than an ANR model) this doesn’t mean you should have to put up with any discomfort.

Ear pads are another consideration. Gel ear pads go a long way in enhancing comfort and helping to avoid sweaty ears.

Don’t forget padding either. The more padded and softer the headband the better the comfort will be.

The weight of the headset is another important consideration. A heavy model can result in strain on your neck and shoulders, though a heavier aviation headset with better weight distribution can be more comfortable than a lighter one.

  • Bluetooth

Buying a headset with Bluetooth is usually a good idea, as it allows you to connect and use many devices while eliminating cables.  You’ll usually have to pay a little more for this functionality, but many pilots won’t even consider a headset without it.

  • Audio Input

For some pilots a headset without an audio input will be a big deal, and others won’t mind at all. Price doesn’t necessarily play a role in this.

It may be surprising to see a quality headset from a manufacturer like David Clark not feature an audio input while some budget models do. The reason for this is that some of those David Clark headsets have been around for years and years, so being able to connect a phone or music player wasn’t of concern.

  • Sound Quality

We’re not just talking about the quality of the comms so you can communicate clearly inside the cockpit through the intercom, and outside when talking to air traffic control, flight service, or other aircraft. This is of course a key concern. We also mean the sound quality if you like to listen to music. As you might expect the Bose A20 beats all others if you’re a music lover given their experience in personal audio, but this best in-class performance comes at a high price.

  • Build Quality

Aviation headsets aren’t cheap, so you’ll want one that will last a long time. There’s no reason why the one you buy shouldn’t last for years and years, even with daily use. Inevitably, cheaper models won’t be particularly well constructed, and are designed for those starting out or as backup. You will reach a point when you start to take flying more seriously that upgrading will be the next logical step. At this point, you have to be willing to spend more to achieve this. A David Clark headset is said to last a lifetime.

A good warranty can also go a long way. Take the ASA-HS1A, for example, it may be an inexpensive aviation headset, but you can be safe in the knowledge that it is backed by a lifetime warranty.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do ANR Headsets Work?

Aviation headsets will primarily reduce sound in either one of two ways: through ANR (active noise reduction) or PNR (passive noise reduction).

With ANR headsets a tiny microphone is placed inside the ear cup to pick up any sound. Also inside the ear cup is a speaker that produces a noise that is the exact “mirror image” of the original sound. This is able to cancel the noise of the original sound, resulting in silence. This is why the term is called “noise-canceling ” – it literally functions as it says.

ANR headsets aren’t designed to work on all frequencies, though. If they were then you wouldn’t be able to hear important things like speech and changes in the engine’s sound. They are designed to affect only certain low frequencies, like propeller noise.

ANR first headsets still offer some form of passive noise reduction, but this varies and reducing sound in this way isn’t the main goal of these headsets. The best headset that delivers both ANR and PNR is the David Clark DC ONE-X.

What is a Passive Headset?

Passive headsets use no electronics to block out sound. Instead the ear pads, typically very thick and made of gel or foam, are designed to engulf and create a tight seal around your ears. The noise reduction is all about the seal, so lose this and expect performance to decrease.

Due to the way in which a PNR headset blocks sound, you will never find an on-ear model. In fact, it is rare to find even an on-ear ANR headset because it is more difficult to design right and the PNR is reduced. The only model is the David Clark PRO-X2.

PNR (Passive Noise Reduction) aviation headsets work much more simply than ANR headsets and is why they are also much cheaper.

What Makes One Aviation Headset Much More Expensive than Another?

The most important factor that determines if one aviation headset is more expensive than the other is down to what kind of noise reduction technology is used. ANR headsets come be significantly more expensive than PNR headsets.

Looking more specifically at ANR models, it doesn’t necessarily come down to the effectiveness of the noise reduction, though this does play a role. Once you reach a certain price point the noise reduction from one headset to the other is comparable.

It is also doesn’t usually come down to the features. Any modern ANR headset, even the cheaper ones will at least feature an audio input. Bluetooth is usually too much to ask for, though.

So what is it then?

Well, build quality and comfort play large roles. When you’re wearing an aviation headset day in, day out, usually for several hours at a time, a high level of comfort soon becomes the most important thing you are looking for. You also need the headset to be able to withstand such frequent use too.

Due the way in which PNR models are designed, Bluetooth isn’t possible, so is of no concern, although an audio input might be. So the difference is usually also made up in build quality – and perhaps even more so comfort. PNR headsets rely on a tight seal, so comfort is even more important to get right than ANR models.

For both ANR and PNR models, the comms is also important. Clarity is a must.

What is a TSO Aviation Headset?

TSO stands for Technical Standard Order. This is the minimum performance standards an aviation headset must meet as determined by the FAA.

Do Pilots Need a TSO Approved Headset for Flying?

While many airlines allow their pilots to use non-TSO certified models, some don’t. It’s therefore a good idea to directly check with the airline so you know if you will or won’t be violating company policy.

Which Manufacturers of Aviation Headsets Are Worth Checking Out?

This varies depending on what you’re looking for. There isn’t necessarily one manufacturer that can be considered to be the best.

Manufacturers like Bose and David Clark are not interested in designing models for the budget market, so they are the go-to for the best premium headsets.

Lightspeed Aviation occupy the middle-ground, though the Zulu 3, which is the company’s most expensive offering, can also be considered a premium headset.

Other manufacturers like Faro, Rugged Air, Kore Aviation are all about affordable options for student pilots and passengers.

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