Comfort Considerations for Choosing a Pilot Headset
Headphones are an invaluable asset for pilots and aircraft passengers. Not only do they protect against hearing loss, headphones also facilitate radio and navigation https://www.fallonpilotshop.com/ communications. While ear protection and communications clarity should be major considerations when choosing earphones, aviators should not overlook the importance of comfort in aviation headphones.
The multitude of headphone models on the market provides pilots with an abundance of options to consider. Several features contribute to the overall comfort a pilot headset offers. Aviators should consider the variety of features below to select the best model for their type of flying.
Weight: Though this seems like an obvious consideration, pilots often overlook a headset’s weight in favor of other factors. Sure, electronic noise cancellation (ENC) and Bluetooth connectivity are nice, but additional features usually mean increased weight. Consider the tradeoff between weight and optional features. How long is your average flight? How much additional protection does an ENC model provide? How often will you use the Bluetooth features? Be sure to consider the benefits of any amenities before accepting additional ounces.
Headband: A headset’s band should be carefully considered when determining overall comfort. The headband, particularly on longer flights, can be a source of great discomfort for aviators. To mitigate the soreness associated with headbands, look for bands designed for increased comfort. Many headbands incorporate a pillow-like cushion to dissipate pressure. Consider such headsets in favor of comparable models without added cushioning.
Ear Cups: The style of ear cups can have a profound effect on headphone comfort. In addition to blocking unwanted sound, ear cups exert pressure on, around, or in the user’s ears. The amount and location of pressure depends primarily on the style of cup selected. However, design features incorporated into each style can also affect the comfort level a user experiences.
The most common style of ear cup is the over-the-ear design. These cups encircle the user’s ears and generally have good passive noise reduction qualities. In addition to reducing fatigue from engine and propeller noise, over-the-ear cups are generally among the most comfortable style for users. A large part of the comfort is due to the larger surface area the cups contact. This larger surface area allows the cups to dissipate any pressure over a wider area, resulting in less direct pressure at any particular contact point.
Another type of ear cup is the on-the-ear design. These cups are smaller than the over-the-ear style and rest directly on the user’s ear. Aimed primarily at jet and corporate aircraft fliers, on-the-ear cups tend to block less passive noise than their over-the-ear counterparts do. In addition, discomfort can be greater than in over-the-ear models, as pressure is exerted directly on the user’s ear. However, on-the-ear models are significantly lighter than their over-the-ear brethren.