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aviation headsets
active noise reduction
full spectrum
In The Ear Aviation Headsets
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Any pilot who has flown for more than an hour on a cross country flight can relate to that annoying vice-like grip feeling that many aviation headsets inflict on the pilot’s head, otherwise known as head clamp. Passive noise reduction aviation headsets actually rely on this force and their ear cup design to achieve reasonable noise reduction without the aid of sophisticated active noise reduction. Fortunately, some innovators have designed in-the-ear, or in-ear aviation headsets so pilots can avoid the uncomfortable grip of traditional aviation headsets and enjoy longer flights, comfortably.

How they work

In the ear aviation headsets such as those by Clarity Aloft use a technology called viscoelastic passive noise reduction (VPNR) which claims to superior to active noise reduction (ANR), especially inthe speech frequencies. The foam tips provide full spectrum noise reduction of 35-45 dB of attenuation. The foam tips form to the ear canal, providing a seal to keep engine noise out while conducting speech through small speakers.

A noise cancelling electret condensing microphone and a lightweight low profile headband usually complete the setup.

Some models are TSO certified for professional use. Other features include stereo, music input, and panel power cabability. The foam earpieces are replaceable.

Some of the advantages of the in the ear aviation headsets have over traditional headclamp headsets include:

  • Lightweight
  • Clarity of sound
  • TSO certified (required for some professional operations) and military standard options
  • Better noise reduction than ANR in the speech frequencies
  • Replaceable, compliant, foam tips form to each individual ear
  • No batteries needed

Some of the disadvantages of the in-the-ear headsets include:

  • Setup may be more involved and take more time
  • Stowing may also take more time
  • Wiring and mic boom awkward if flying right seat; “left seat only”
  • Earpiece intolerance and ear canal irritation
  • May have to replace earpieces
  • Expensive

Acitve Noise Reduction (ANR) TSO vs. In the Ear Headset (VPNR) TSO-Certified for the Pro Pilot?

Per a 2007 "Information to Operators", there is a word of caution regarding active noise reduction (ANR) technology in that there can be electronic attenuation of important environmental sounds, including alarms. Theoretically ANR may prevent lower frequency stall warning horns or gear up warnings. Certain in-the-ear aviation headsets such as the Clarity Aloft Aviation Headsets do not selectively reduce these warning sounds.

So, depending on your needs, the in the ear aviation headset may be worthwhile option especially if you are irritated with the headclamp-induced headaches, fatigue and overall discomfort associated with traditional aviation headsets. Professional pilots may be especially interested in this style of headset not only for the comfort and quality of sound, but the fact that there are TSO-certified options such as the Clarity Aloft PRO.


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