A headset is one of the most important investments a pilot can make. I strongly urge students to purchase the best headset they can afford. Low cost headsets quickly become uncomfortable and provide minimal hearing protection. High end headsets provide active noise cancelation, bluetooth connectivity, light weight, and more comfort. Headsets may have traditional “Dual GA Plugs” or a 6-pin “Lemo” panel powered plugs. A few might offer 5 pin XLR plugs. If you are not sure which to buy, generally the Dual GA plug is a good choice as most airplanes offer this type of headset connector. Used headsets are often available on ebay or Barnstormers for a cost savings. Be careful to check what type of connector a used headset has.
David Clark H10-30
David Clark headsets are well known. The H10-30 is a basic option with passive noise reduction and a noise canceling electret microphone. This is one of the budget David Clark options at approximately $300.
David Clark One-X
The David Clark One-X is one of the top of their top of the line headsets, with active noise cancellation, bluetooth connectivity, comfortable, and is TSOed. It is a more expensive option at approximately $895.
The Lightspeed Delta Zulu is the newest offering from Lightspeed. is a top-notch active noise-canceling headset that is very lightweight with the added safety of an integrated carbon monoxide detector. It offers Bluetooth connectivity and a mobile app for recording audio. They cost around $1099 new.
Lightspeed Zulu 3
The Lightspeed Zulu 3 is a top notch active noise canceling headset that is very lightweight. It offers bluetooth connectivity and a mobile app for recording audio. Older Zulu 2s can be upgraded to Zulu 3 at a low cost by returning them to Lightspeed. I own both a Dual GA Plug and two Lemo style Lightspeed Zulu 3s. They are an excellent option for open cockpit or semi-open cockpit aircraft, providing better noise cancelation than similarly priced competitors. They cost around $850 new.
The Lightspeed Sierra is a less expensive alternative to the Zulu. It provides active noise cancellation and bluetooth connectivity, but is slightly heavier. It is around $650 new.
Many consider the Bose A20 to be the Cadillac of TSOed headsets, and the price reflect this at around $995. It has active noise cancellation, very lightweight, bluetooth connectivity, and offers one of the most comfortable fits. However, it is not the best choice for open cockpit or semi-open cockpit aircraft. The Zulu 3 is a better choice (for example Seareys, biplanes, etc.)
Rugged Air RA200
One of the least expensive option available is the Rugged Air RA200. It comes with lightweight nylon carrying bag (not a hard case, so it offers minimal protection). I own two of these that I purchased for use with my flight simulators. They are very heavy, offer minimal adjustment for head size, and I find them very uncomfortable after only 15 to 30 minutes of wear. I’d encourage students to look for a used headset such as a David Clark on ebay before purchasing a Rugged Air. They very cheap at approximately $84.