My brother recently decided to become a pilot. Becoming a pilot is a costly venture and since I work in the industry as a buyer, he contacted me for some advice on student pilot materials and headsets. The supplies were easily referred as there are four main publishers of student pilot material and Jeppesen seems to be the most popular. However, it was difficult to direct him to the best aviation headset to purchase.
In order to direct him to the most cost effective headset I needed to determine a couple of factors. The first is price. The most popular student headsets are made by David Clark, and the most popular headset for students is the H10-13.4, the cheapest price I found was about $299.95. Another popular brand would have to be AvComm. AvComm offers a PNR Headset AC-200PNR that is in the $100.00 price range. Finally, Aviation Supplies and Academics offers a headset called the Airclassic HS-1 that is in the same price range the AvComm PNR. Therefore, the cheaper headsets are made by AvComm and ASA.
However, cost is not the only aspect to look at when purchasing an aviation headset. What about reliability? David Clark and AvComm both offer 5 year manufacturer warranties, while the ASA HS-1 has a lifetime guarantee. Headsets often go defective as cords can acquire shorts, they can be sat on, or even crushed in a flight bag. Therefore, a lifetime warranty is definitely tempting. This aspect goes hand and hand with cost as I am sure that you will feel better replacing a $100.00 headset rather than a more expensive model. My flight department use to operate with 12 Bose Aviation X headsets, although the headsets worked great and were comfortable, they were always being broken by the replacement of a 9 volt battery that controls the electronic noise reduction. After paying for 10 or more $500.00 repairs to these headsets, our flight department decided to downgrade to a Telex commercial headset. The same thought that goes into purchasing headsets for commercial or corporate use will benefit student pilots as well. Less investment = less lost.
Finally, the last topic would be in regards to comfort. According to reviews all the people that purchase David Clark headsets are satisfied with the comfort while ASA and AvComm have mixed reviews. A chief pilot at my organization talked to me about the HS-1 Headset. He states, the headset works great and still works to this day, but the headband was quite uncomfortable for long trips. However, there is a solution to comfort issue on either the ASA or the Avcomm Headsets. Gel and foam ear seals along with replacement headbands can offer additional comfort to these units ultimately making them comparable to the David Clark Model. Total investment in upgrades would be in the 150-175 range.
Given this information, what headset are you going to buy?