What Is An Anr Headset

Have you ever wondered how pilots with hearing loss manage to communicate in the cockpit? The answer lies in ANR (Active Noise Reduction) headsets. These sophisticated devices not only provide hearing protection but also offer an enhanced flying experience.

Understanding the Two Types of Noise Reduction

To fully appreciate the advantages of ANR headsets, it’s important to understand the difference between active and passive noise reduction.

Passive Headsets

Passive noise reduction is a basic feature found in all headsets. By creating a seal around the ear, these headsets block sound waves and minimize noise from the surrounding environment. Think of it like closing a door to reduce the noise from noisy kids down the hall.

Active Noise Reduction

ANR headsets take passive noise reduction a step further by incorporating additional technology. These headsets use microphones to detect ambient noise and produce an opposite sound wave to cancel it out. By combining active and passive noise reduction, ANR headsets significantly reduce noise levels, providing a quieter and more enjoyable flying experience.

Now that we understand how both types of headsets work, let’s compare them in terms of features, studies, and personal experiences.

Advantages of Active Noise Reduction Headsets

Sound and Hearing Loss Prevention

The primary benefit of ANR headsets is their ability to reduce harmful decibel levels and protect your hearing. Hearing loss is a serious issue, especially for professional pilots who accumulate many flight hours. According to a 2015 medical study*, pilots with extensive flight experience had higher rates of hearing loss. ANR headsets effectively reduce noise levels, ensuring that even helicopter pilots, who are most at risk, can operate in a safe auditory environment.

Comfort and Usage

ANR headsets offer more than just hearing protection. With their comfortable seal and lightweight design, these headsets eliminate fatigue during long flights. As a professional pilot, I can attest to the difference it makes when flying for extended periods. ANR technology reduces overall fatigue, making your flying experience more enjoyable. Trust me, it makes a big difference when you come home from a long trip feeling refreshed and energized.

High-Quality Build and Durability

ANR headsets are built to last. Take the Bose A20, for example. Not only does it offer exceptional noise reduction, but it also comes with a fantastic customer service experience. When I encountered an issue with my headset during a flight, Bose promptly repaired it, even replacing worn-out parts. This level of service and attention to detail is unmatched. Additionally, most ANR headsets come with solid warranties and are made using high-quality materials, ensuring years of use before needing a replacement.

Cons of Active Noise Reduction Headsets

The Cost

It’s true that ANR headsets are more expensive compared to their passive counterparts. The Bose A20, for instance, costs around $1,000, while entry-level passive headsets can be purchased for around $320. As aspiring pilots face significant expenses such as flight training and equipment, the price of ANR headsets may be a barrier. However, keep in mind that Bose offers discounts for flight instructors, making ANR headsets more accessible to those pursuing a professional career in aviation.

Pros of Passive Headsets

The Cost

The biggest advantage of passive headsets is their affordability. For around $300, you can find a high-quality headset that provides adequate noise reduction and protects your hearing. Some models even cost less, making them an excellent choice for occasional or budget-conscious flyers.

High-Quality and Durability

Passive headsets, particularly those from trusted brands like David Clark, are known for their durability. These headsets are built to withstand the test of time, with some lasting up to 30 years. Investing in a well-built passive headset ensures you have a reliable companion throughout your flying career.

Cons of Passive Headsets


While passive headsets offer effective noise reduction, they may not be as comfortable as their ANR counterparts. ANR headsets are designed with premium materials, lightweight construction, and additional padding, providing a more comfortable fit. For professional pilots spending long hours in the cockpit, comfort plays a significant role in reducing fatigue and enhancing overall well-being.

Noise Levels

Passive headsets, although effective at reducing noise, do not match the noise cancellation capabilities of ANR headsets. If you want to minimize high decibel noises and enjoy clearer conversations, ANR headsets are the way to go.

The Winner: Active Noise Reduction Headsets

For professional pilots or those aspiring to become professionals, investing in an ANR headset is highly recommended. Despite the higher cost, the benefits are well worth it. Flying hundreds of hours each year demands optimal comfort and hearing protection. ANR headsets, such as the Bose A20, provide exceptional noise reduction, comfort, and durability. When purchasing a headset, make sure it is FAA-approved for use in professional cockpits.

For Casual Flyers: Active or Passive Headsets

Even for casual flyers, ANR headsets are still the preferred choice. However, if you only fly occasionally, a passive headset will suffice. Entry-level headsets from reputable brands like David Clark provide adequate noise reduction and protection for infrequent flying. Remember, proper hearing protection is crucial regardless of your flying frequency.

Conclusion: Protect Your Hearing and Enjoy a Better Flying Experience

Investing in a high-quality headset is essential for every pilot. The aviation industry has recognized the importance of hearing protection, and ANR headsets have become the standard for professional pilots. Don’t underestimate the consequences of hearing loss—it’s a permanent and life-changing condition.

By choosing an ANR headset, you prioritize your long-term hearing health while enhancing your flying enjoyment. As a professional pilot, I can confidently vouch for the benefits of ANR technology. It has truly transformed my flying experience, making it safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable.

Remember, always use proper hearing protection and use it correctly. To learn more about ANR headsets and explore the top options available, visit NokiaMA Headset Design.

Reference: The correlation between professional pilots, flight hours, and hearing loss: our experience

Our Top 3 Active Noise Reduction (ANR) Aviation Headsets

Bose A20

Lightspeed Zulu 3

David Clark ONE-X ANR Headset

Our Top 3 Passive Aviation Headsets

Model H10-13.4

Telex Echelon 20 Headset

AV COMM AC900HD Headset

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