The Quest for MAXIMUM quiet!
by the technical staff of Lightspeed Aviation
Since ANR 101 was first published over 4 years ago, we’ve learned a lot about the personal preferences of pilots. The intention of that five part series was to provide education and technical data that would assist pilots in learning about ANR technology; how it works and why it works so well in the typical GA airplane environment. Hopefully it was of some use to you in providing a ‘layman’s view’ of this important technology. Tens of thousands of pilots have been exposed to the ANR benefits of enhanced communications clarity and reduced fatigue. Many of you have provided feedback about how much more you enjoy your flying because of exposure to this technology.
Since 1997 at least 20 new models of ANR headsets have been introduced, providing a broader set of choices relating to fit, performance, and other features. With those new models have come a multitude of claims about battery life, ease of use, weight/comfort, design innovations, and performance specifications for passive and active attenuation. Some features, like automatic shutoff, provide clear user benefits. Others have inherent tradeoffs associated with them…providing a benefit and potentially an adverse effect depending on the users particular habits and application needs.
The proliferation of ANR offerings has done little to change the pricing of products (starting under $300 to almost $1,000), but has made the selection process more difficult. The best way to compare these various models is to fly them ‘side-by-side’, but how can you accomplish that with so many models to try? It has gotten harder, not easier, to make an informed selection based on your noise environment and your personal preference profile for comfort, performance, and value. During that time, Lightspeed Aviation has provided comparative demonstration services at tradeshows to over 10,000 pilots.
The goal at the shows is always the same…allow pilots to try on any/all competitive headsets and compare them in acoustically accurate environment to answer two basic questions:
- How does this technology work in an airplane environment?
- Which headset works the ‘best’ for me?
In the process of these demonstrations, we’ve answered hundreds of questions related to the technology and the relative claims of performance. While we can provide some technical insights, our answer is routinely “just sit down and make your own comparisons”. There are, however, some persistent questions relating to aspects of headset performance that have been asked more regularly and for which the answers are neither simple nor obvious. In an attempt to address these, ANR 201 has been written.
Section 1: What factors make a headset the quietest? — A review of the different components that influence ‘quietness’.
Section 2: Passive vs. Active — Defining the terms and discussing their comparisons.
Section 3: Acoustic Design Tradeoffs — This section discusses the tradeoffs compared to different manufacturers design and specifically to ear cavity volume and ear seal design/comfort.
Section 4: Conclusion — The emergence of two basic ‘classes’ of active products.
This is a two-way medium, so please be sure to send us your feedback.