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When deciding on aviation headphones, pilots have several options to consider. While ear cup style, microphone type, and cell phone connectivity are all worthwhile considerations, pilots shouldn’t overlook the importance of quality in their prospective investment. Like any major purchase, quality should be a prime factor when choosing cockpit headphones.
Many factors determine the overall quality of an aircraft headset. All relevant factors should be examined, but some carry more weight than others. Below is a list of factors pilots should look into when choosing a headset model.
Price: The price of earphones should always be considered, but true cost goes well beyond a number on the price tag. Everyone enjoys a good bargain, but an extremely low price could very well reflect the durability of the model in question. In contrast, the most expensive model is not necessarily the best. Regardless of the cost, buyers should aim to compare prospective models with similar headphones for a better reflection of an appropriate price. As always, buyer beware.
Noise Reduction Rating: The noise reduction rating (NRR) is okamoto hk the number of decibels a headset is estimated to keep from reaching the wearer’s ears. Regardless of additional features, a headset’s number one job is to protect the user’s hearing. A sleek design and extreme comfort mean little if the pilot’s ears are poorly protected. Headset shoppers should regard NRR as an important factor in any model’s quality.
Technical Standard Order: A Technical Standard Order (TSO) is a type of design approval issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Generally speaking, a TSO signifies that a device, component, or material meets the FAA’s minimum performance standard for use on US-registered civil aircraft. As optional, secondary equipment, pilot headphones are not required to receive TSO authorization. However, some headset manufacturers choose to submit their products for TSO approval. Though lack of a TSO endorsement doesn’t necessarily indicate an inferior product, a TSO authorization is evidence of a government-approved level of quality.
Warranty: Headset shoppers should view warranty information as a manufacturer’s assurance of their products’ value. For quality models, warranties of 3-5 years are common. The best manufacturers will even service normal wear and tear beyond the warranty period. Short-term warranties might suggest an earset won’t fare well against the rigors of the cockpit. Treat short-term warranties and no-return policies with suspicion. Ask plenty of questions if a seller seems hesitant to back it’s product. When in doubt, pass on a questionable model in favor of a reputable offering.
Customer Reviews: Take advantage of the internet to access the unbiased opinions of headset owners. Look for common trends in model reviews. Is a particular model plagued with reports of design flaws? Does a certain manufacturer consistently earn top marks for value and durability? Manufacturers and marketing professionals can make the poorest design sound like a top-notch product. Trust the impartial opinions of your fellow aviators for a more accurate reflection of a headset’s quality.
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