The Pros and Cons of ANR Headsets

In the world of flying, there are two basic types of pilot headsets. There are passive noise reduction headsets and active noise reduction (ANR) headsets. This article will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of ANR aviator headsets.

The Advantages of ANR Headsets

The most obvious advantage of ANR headphones is their uncanny ability to almost completely eliminate engine, propeller, and air noise found in most airplane cockpits. This allows the pilot to clearly hear and understand communications sent from control tower personnel and other controllers.

Another benefit of using active noise reduction headsets is protection from hearing loss. Continuous exposure to the high decibel sounds found in aircraft cockpits can cause permanent hearing loss in pilots. Even though passive noise reduction headsets will also prevent ear drum damage, the ANR headsets do a better job.

Active noise cancelling headsets are lighter and have less clamping pressure than passive noise reduction headsets. Passive noise reduction headsets rely solely on the seal around the ear to reduce noise. This means the ear cups must press firmly against the head, which requires pressure. This constant pressure on the sides of the head can cause fatigue and headaches for the pilot.

One other advantage found on ANR headsets is the ability to connect a cell phone or MP3 player to the headset wirelessly. These connections are made using Bluetooth technology. The pilot doesn’t need to remove his headset to make a quick call before takeoff or after landing. And it’s also nice to listen to some music during the less busy times of the flight.

The Disadvantages of ANR Headsets

ANR headsets are more expensive than passive headsets with most costing over $1000. This can be a strong deterrent for people with a limited budget.

What makes them so expensive is the advanced technology necessary to eliminate cockpit noise. Basically, it has to do with creating sound waves the direct opposite to the sounds being picked up by the headset, and send those sound waves back to the pilot, thus cancelling out the background noise.

Just like other electronic products, production costs are coming down, but they’re still expensive enough to cause a pilot to think twice before buying one.

Another disadvantage of ANR headsets can sometimes, due to their highly technological nature, have a tendency to malfunction. And you’ve got to keep fresh replacement batteries with you at all times.

In conclusion, every product has good points as well as bad ones, so it’s up to the individual to weigh the pros against the cons and make buying decisions based on that.

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