Section 1: What factors make a headset the quietest?
The most frequently asked unanswerable question remains:
Which headset is quietest?
This is a very subjective question that only partially depends on the characteristics of the headset itself. Much of what the user calls ‘quietness’ is related to individual characteristics of hearing and ergonomics…factors that cannot be predicted for you but must be experienced.
Certainly the most dominant factor effecting quietness is the acoustic properties of the headset …how well it attenuates noise passively and actively. Other factors that can affect this are:
- How an individual headset fits your head
- Your hearing ‘acuity’…the efficiency and capability of your ears!
- The Noise environment you are in…is it a ‘typical’ GA noise spectrum or different due to engine size, aircraft design, or other issues.
Beyond just the technical parameters of quiet, each of you has personal preferences relating to weight, side pressure, and user interface issues (like battery size/usage and auto shutoff). So even if you have the ‘quietest’ headset, you may not like wearing or using it!! Often the differences in these factors have an equal or greater affect on what you’ll find most satisfying.
Despite all these variables, there is considerable research data that can be applied to broaden our knowledge of how we get a quieter listening environment. Headsets DO have specific attenuation in both passive and active mode. Passive and active attenuation ARE ‘traded off’ to provide a balance of low and high frequency attenuation. Attenuation claims ARE made that can be quite misleading in making sound judgments about overall quieting. These are measurable, quantifiable results that can be discussed, understood, and factored into an analysis of what makes a headset quiet. Let’s look at the building blocks for that.