Any pilot who has outgrown their first aviation headset used when learning to fly typically considers a headset from Bose, David Clark or Lightspeed Aviation. This is for good reason, as each company is able to combine noise reduction, comfort, audio quality, and useful features into their headsets better than anyone else.
The answer to which company makes the better aviation headsets, though, isn’t as simple as you might think. They each have different strengths, and there are viable reasons why one pilot might choose one model over the other.
Bose currently have the most expensive offering on the market in the A20. It is considered by many to be the best ANR headset – and it should be considering its price. The Active Noise Reduction is better than all others, as is the audio quality with Bose putting their extensive experience in designing earphones and headphones for the consumer audio market to good use. The same applies to comfort and its intuitively designed features, like control box and ability to place the mic boom on either side.
Bose is also the only company of the three to make an in-ear model – the ProFlight. The ProFlight has best in-class ANR and features from an in-ear model.
Ask any pilot which company makes the best ANR headsets, and you will usually hear Bose, but might also hear David Clark or Lightspeed Aviation mentioned. When it comes to PNR headsets, however, this is a different story. The answer tends to be unanimous in David Clark.
For years, David Clark has been the go-to for pilots looking for the best PNR headsets to protect their ears. The H10-13.4, H10-30, and H20-10 are all superb models to name just a few. The most difficult thing to get right when designing a PNR headset is comfort due to the need of a tighter seal to provide protection. However, David Clark is undoubtedly the best at it, being able to design headsets that beat all others in Passive Noise Reduction while also being the most comfortable.
It’s only in recent years that David Clark have upped their game when it comes to ANR headsets with the DC PRO-X2 and DC ONE-X.
If you’re looking for an on-ear model, David Clark has you covered with the DC PRO-X2. If you’re looking for comparable performance to the Bose A20, the DC ONE-X is just the ticket. It provides better passive noise reduction from an ANR headset, and is also arguably better constructed.
There is also another brand worthy of consideration: Lightspeed Aviation. While Bose and David Clark don’t serve the budget or even mid-priced market, what makes Lightspeed so great is that they occupy the middle ground and have an ANR aviation headset for all tastes.
Student pilots who want to upgrade to something better can consider the Sierra. It gets the award for best value aviation headset on the market, rewarding those who spend a bit more with Bluetooth, better comfort and ANR.
The Tango Wireless is a great (and in fact only) wireless headset available. Pilots have long been crying out for a wireless headset which Lightspeed took note of. It isn’t perfect but is still a nice option to have for a pilot looking for something different.
It is the company’s Zulu 3 that is most worthy of consideration if you’re looking to spend Bose or David Clark sort of money. The Zulu 3 is priced a bit cheaper but is comparable to the A20 and David Clark’s best ANR headsets.
So, there you have it. Bose still hold the crown for the best ANR headset. David Clark have a couple of models that come close, and the Zulu 3 from Lightspeed is another great option for pilots looking for comparable performance at a slightly lower price point. When it comes to the best PNR headsets, David Clark is the winner.