View Full Version : Passive and ANR headsets

28th Apr 2009, 18:44
Hi there,

Besides the price difference, what is the difference between passive and ANR headsets? Does the ANR cancel out sound as opposed to not completly canceling out sound? What is recommended for light, piston engine aircraft, passive or ANR?

Thanks much appriciated

28th Apr 2009, 20:36
I fly ATRs and I use ordinary DCs, I think the same you have mentioned.

They are fine.

A colleague, wearing a noise-cancelling set, completely missed an audible caution because his headset cancelled it out.

Perhaps you need something a bit more beefy in a twin-otter, tri-lander or a helicopter, but I can vouch for the performance of ordinary DC headsets in a turbo-prop.

So perhaps you should state what you are flying and go from there.

28th Apr 2009, 21:42
I found HS748s were painfully noisy! A guaranteed headache on a 6 sector day! ANR headsets were a lifesaver! They try and cancel out the ambient noise passing through the headset. In practice, they reduce ambient noise reaching the wearer's ears by a large proportion. The effect is noticeable when you look at the volume setting you have with and without an ANT headset. Without, it can be nearly full volume, with- less than half.

29th Apr 2009, 12:14
It can be amazing the sounds that you hear with a good set of ANR headsets that you otherwise wouldn't hear. One of the most consistent examples is in a caravan (single turboprop) where you can hear what the punters are saying a couple of rows back that you wouldn't hear when you are wearing a pair of passive DCs. In a DeHavilland Beaver (single, piston radial) I end up closing the pilots window completely and pointing the vent away from me because the wind noise becomes far more significant than the engine noise.

I also find that you can turn the radio volume control down and understand radio communications much more clearly.

ANR headsets are most effective at low frequencies. This means they are great for piston aircraft (including radials). They are rather less effective for high frequencies such as wind noise.

The biggest caution with ANR headsets is that if you are using them in a nosier environment than they can cope with they are crap. I regularly fly Beavers which are extremely noisy in the cockpit. Telex Stratus D50's are great providing the ear seals are in good condition (I'm told the D30's are great too). I couldn't tell the difference between a set of DC X-11's and a set of passive DC's in a Beaver. The Bose I tried I might as well have not had on for the good they did in the Beaver. On the other hand in the Caravan the DCs work very well and I'm told the Bose do too.

Personally, I find it easier to hear warning sounds and unusual sounds with the ANR on. ANR doesn't stop the noise - it just reduces it to a comfortable level.

29th Apr 2009, 16:20
Thanks for your replies guys. By the way I fly a C152, so any advice on the headset?

Thanks once again

29th Apr 2009, 20:37
If you want someone to pick you up and take you to the shops I think you'll be waiting a long time.

If you want to know the answer you have it.

For early training a ho-hum set is fine and can carry you on to professional flying. Alternatively, these other chaps have had better experiences with ANR headsets that imply they are worth the extra money.

29th Apr 2009, 21:13
Look young man, just get the cheapest one you can find. You're young and your ears can take it! Better to spend money on flying than fancy gear. Leave us to spend money on stuff to look after our ears as we do it for a living all the time.

Can I suggest you read the definition of Questions at the top? Nobody doubts your enthusiasm, but private and light aviation questions should be in Spectators.

29th Apr 2009, 23:46
Hey, ignore the old guys with attitudes and buy a set of David Clark ANRs (whatever the most recent iterations are) Whenever I fly something with pistons, I use the set my mother bought me for Christmas in 1980 something. They eat AA batteries, but they make it seem like I shut off the engines when I flip the little switch.

30th Apr 2009, 00:12
I have have a BOSE headset and swear by it. As soon as you flip that little switch it's so quiet.

When I was flying with instructors I would be turning the radios down as the ATC transmissions were so clear and to me loud, only to find the damned instructors with their cheap headsets couldn't hear the ATC transmissions and would keep cranking the radio's up again.

I love taking pax with me and lending them my headset for a few minutes so they can hear the difference.

IMHO you should buy yourself a decent set of ANR headsets and protect your hearing now.

BTW I fly TB10's, C172's, DA40's and the Duchess and I wouldn't be without it!

30th Apr 2009, 00:12
Telex Stratus 50D

Excellent passive and the best ANR out there.

30th Apr 2009, 00:25
I think he's 17 years old and trying to fly a Cessna. Be real everybody- paying for flying is bad enough without suggesting Bose fer goodness sake! Unless he experiences bad ones, he'll never appreciate the good ones eventually. Right now at 17- buy cheap second hand and spend the money you save on paying for lessons, and don't listen to these 'experts'! ANR is alright when it is not stopping you flying several hours in flying time!

Money to spare? Go AN Air, (sorry about that!)
Money a bit tight? Spend it on flight!

30th Apr 2009, 14:46
Hi there,

OK i've been looking tat the answers and see a lot of them contridict the others. I looked on the internet and found that the David Clark 10-13.4 (Passive) and only slightly cheaper Stratus 30 (ANR). Any advice?


PS: I'm 15 :ok:

30th Apr 2009, 20:52
I certainly agree with trying to save money and getting a second hand headset. However hearing is important. I have protected my hearing my whole life and it has paid off. Get a good headset that works well. If you can't afford the best brand new, at least get something that is comfortable and protects your hearing. It may be better to spend the money on a headset rather than on more flying time if you spend that time distracted by headaches and comm problems.

30th Apr 2009, 23:27
Rainboe - I am not professing to be an 'expert' ;) He asked for an opinion and I simply gave mine.

For the record I bought my BOSE headset off eBay second hand. The set of DC before that I bought from another student at the local aero club again second hand.

IMHO you only get your hearing once, therefore you should try to protect it at all costs.

1st May 2009, 19:40
Come on everybody, have you forgotten when you started flying? Was the luxury of a high quality noise attenuating heasdset more important than many flying hours? He´s starting flying. If he carries on, he can treat himself when he can afford it, but to suggest to a beginner who may be financially strapped for every flying hour that he goes gets himself a Bose? Shame on you! A bog-standard cheapo headset is fine, and filling him with horror tales of protecting ears is nonsense. Most of us have done hundreds of hours in pistons and our hearing is still fine.
Captain, DON´T waste mney on an ANR until you decide you are going to fly for a long time and you have lots of experience! Enjoy your flying with an ordinary headsetö it will not do you ANY harm! Spend the money on lessons. One day, you will decide you will treat yourself. But it would be criminal if you blew money on one now and didn´t go flying for a few hours to pay for it. Pilots survived right up to 25 years ago without them, quite happily.

1st May 2009, 22:04
Gees, I used my old DC (sans ANR) for years and flew noisy singles and Islanders etc with them. If the radios are any good, just cut an ear plug in half and voila, peace and quiet for the fraction of the cost of ANR. (That is, stick the half ear plug thingy in your ear + the trusty DCs)

Plus! Hearing protection when wandering around the ramp without your mega flash (read exy) head sets on.

Ah ha! You say, he might get run over cos he can't hear the evil fuel trucks or baggage carts bearing down on him. He'll have his trusty Hi Viz on so he'll be safe. :E

Lots of people are dismissive of DCs. However, if you're operating far away from a comfy city with lots of support, DCs are your head set. They work plus the back up *should* any thing go wrong is good. Also, they are field repairable.

3rd May 2009, 19:06
My DCs are still going strong after 25 years with me - and I bought them 2nd hand from my instructor. They're H10-40s and were made prior to headset mounted volume controls becoming the norm. I had them refurbished at the DC factory (a whole US$70) in the early '90s but apart from that they keep on chugging along.

They've been used & abused during the heat & humidity of the monsoon in Australia's Northern Territory, the dusty heat of the Oz desert in summer & winter, below freezing in several winters in the Shetland Islands, and any number of hours in a salty maritime environment around Shetland & the Bahamas. Aircraft have ranged from most Cessna/Piper/Beech singles to most of the common twins including that bastion of noise over elegance, the Islander, and a couple of turboprops.

I like that there is little to go wrong with them. Operating in remote areas means that I could make repairs myself on the rare occasion it was necessary (old style plugs prior to the factory renovation, replace a speaker & a mic.). Lots of standardised parts so even non-DC parts could be used. Also no electronics to go tits up or need a power source (ANC), no variable resistor to break or limit maximum volume due to residual resistance in the varister (headset volume control). Like Reddo says: Use an earplug if you want a bit more attenuation. I sometimes used my music player's earbuds (walkman originally then digital). You need the very small type of earbud with little or no bits sticking out if you want to use earbuds.

Chesty Morgan
3rd May 2009, 21:04
Gotta agree with Rainboe on this. I used my bog standard DC head set all the way through flying training, flying the 146 (not known for it's quiet flight deck) and on the Q400.

I did try a set of ANR sennheisers on the Q400 and the difference between those and the DC's was negligible.

In my opinion spending a few hundred quid on a 'lifestyle accesory' is daft when that money could buy you a couple more hours of flying or a months worth of beer.

Oh yes, the results of my audiograms haven't changed over the last 15 years so damaging your hearing by wearing a 'normal' headset is probably a load of old nonsense:E

6th May 2009, 07:57
Anyone had any experience with the new Telex Airman 850 ANR? Will use them in a CRJ. Not the nosiest flight deck but the avionics cooling fans and wind can be tiring on a long day.

6th May 2009, 09:07
Yes, I'm on my second. There is a thread elsewhere on Telex v Sennheiser. Incredibly fragile at the earpiece pivot. The pivot structure is simply a solid plastic-type base. Put a bit of pressure on the ear piece at the wrong angle, as if you are pushing them upside down into your briefcase, and you will hear a little plastic snapping sound that costs £370 as the earpiece breaks loose. I cannot believe it was made so light and weak.

I'm on my second because I got one on eBay for £100, plus £50 for the Airbus plug/Boeing adapter.

6th May 2009, 13:01
Thanks Rainboe

I take it then that albeit for the weak design for the ear piece you like the headsets? Had a similar problem with a set of Airman 750's, thought they would have sorted that out by now! Finally found the other threads, thanks.

6th May 2009, 14:04
chesty are you a woman or do you need some benylin.
seriously i think bose make noise canceling head sets that will stand up to
hard use. or google arrse the british army rumour site.
you will find offers for new and second hand mil spec kit

Nearly There
6th May 2009, 21:02
I purchased a set of Flightcoms Classic ANR only 2 weeks ago, cost £240, similar price to some Passive DC models.

I had a DC10-30s prior to this and the difference is outstanding, Im plodding around in SEPs on the FI course, so for pure comfort whilst spending the day in a noisy environment I would not or could not go back to my old passive DCs.

10th May 2009, 12:44
I would get some cheapos from Ebay and get some earplugs to go with, et voila!

BTW I got an X-11 flying SE turbine. nice light headset (stops the compression on the temples) but the seal on my head isn't always up to scratch and can be painfully noisy. anyone else have that???...not to veer away from the topic or anything ;)

11th May 2009, 02:53
Yes. Common problem with the X11s.

11th May 2009, 13:03
Peltor still making headsets? Cheaper, lighter, less headcrushing than DCs.

12th May 2009, 08:46
I used a DC on turbo-props, and on the Twin Otter I used ear plugs under them, as described by Reddo. It worked a treat. On the 733 I used a non-cancelling Sennheiser, but found I was getting very hoarse from shouting, and very tired just from the high ambient noise coupled with the full volume required for the 'ear-off' technique of head set use that was championed by my earstwhile employers. I bought a Sennheiser noise cancelling headset, and I estimate that I was 20% less tired after a domestic rotation followed by a Med rotation (4 sectors). There was a sort of 'underground' movement at the airline that some people began to use the intercom, and 2 ears on which worked well, until the airline imposed a totalitarian ban on using the intercom. The noise cancelling headset was I believe a real contribution to reducing fatigue, and therefore a significant contribution to safety, and cockpit communication.

Capt W E Johns
2nd Jun 2009, 13:54
I've only flown with them once, and found they deadened the ambient noise level nicely, but I note that a poster reports they have been known to attenuate audio alerts to the point they are not audible to the pilot. Can anyone corroborate?

And is it possible they would reduce the chance of picking up a change in engine note or other spurious noises which might warn of impending trouble?

2nd Jun 2009, 14:02
DC Passive - C150 to Turbo Prop.
Had mine 4 years and were 2nd hand from ebay when I started my CPL/IR.
Bullet Proof and the best value for money.
The only thing that I have had to do is replace the gel seals - but I do wear that for 8hrs a day 4-6days a week. Not bad - and the sould is great.
Get some knickers though as sweaty ears are a drag.

2nd Jun 2009, 23:26
I've found the passive headsets are effective for all but the largest piston engine aircraft but not suffeciently effective (even with earplugs) in turbo-props. In light to medium piston engine passive DC, higher end Telex, Peltors etc. work pretty good but try them on in the shop for more than a few minutes and if possible try them in the aircraft.

I flew Beech1900d's and found the passive DC (10-30) were not effective. When earplugs were added the discomfort level went up tremendously but there was little change in attenuation. Then I tried the active DC and WOW what an improvement!!! Flew with several folks who had other headsets and found the BOSE was the best, my DC's were second, and everything else was a distant to very distant third.

Also flew D-328 and was amazed at how quiet they were except take-off and in reverse during landing. Kept using DC ANR headset but probably could have done just as well with a good passive headset but already had the DC's.

If you're just starting out buy a good quality passive headset then when you step up to turbo-props step up to an ANR headset. Unless you really just want to loose your hearing.

Best of luck to you,


3rd Jun 2009, 03:58
I generally find speaker audio alerts and headphone radio transmissions are easier to hear with ANR vs passive only. With the Telex D50's with the ANR on you hear different things far more readily - people talking behind you, wind noise and aircraft noises that you've never heard before.

I normally leaver the ANR off in the C208 (single turboprop) to save the batteries for the DHC-2 (single piston radial). With ANR headsets if you exceed their noise handling capability they are crap - the Telex work well in the DHC-2 where the Bose and DC ANR headsets aren't worth a pinch of s... The DCs do work very well in the C208 and are a lot lighter. It all comes down to the noise characteristics of the aircraft you are going to fly - and the ONLY way to find out what works best is to try a number of headsets.

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