The headset is a vital piece of equipment for any pilot, whether they have decades of experience or are just starting out.
The best aviation headsets available can cost upwards of $1000.
For new pilots, this cost, combined with other flying expenses, can seem excessive. Instead, you might prefer some cheaper options.
Aviation headsets reduce ambient noise and aid communication. Unfortunately, you really do pay for what you get.
An expensive model will likely deliver crisp audio and communication in a way a budget model can't. But that doesn't mean you can't get a good set while saving money.
In this guide, we've rounded up the best aviation headsets for under $200. These perform well, feel comfortable, and won't break the bank.
And when you can upgrade in a few years' time, these headsets will make an excellent back-up or passenger pair!
Best FOR Under $200
Best For Under $100
Best FOR Under $200
The KA-1 is a headset that has been designed by pilots for pilots, and it does not disappoint when it comes to comfort or sound quality.
Despite being a budget Headset, the KORE KA-1 outperforms its price point, with a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 26db.
This headset features an adjustable boom microphone for optimal placement, and a gold-plated cable connector to retain a superior connection.
A built-in Mono/Stereo switch, and a 3.5 mm input jack for MP3s, iPhones, and Androids make this a headset with versatility.
And the independent volume control on each ear, and a 5' tangle free shielded cord, aids the usability of a fantastic design.
Pilots will quickly find that this is a headset that is intuitive to use, and still performs at a high standard.
But perhaps the features student pilots will enjoy most are the ultra-comfortable ear cups and headband.
Gel ear seals and acoustic foam ear cups work to not only improve the comfort level, but to better the sound and noise reduction.
A custom fit headband stays comfortable on a long flight, with none of the pinch or rub that can be expected from some budget brands.
- Custom Fit Headset Bag - A useful carry case is included with the bargain price.
- Electret Noise Canceling Microphone - Make communication clearer with the superior microphone.
- 5 Year Manufacturer's Warranty - A longer warranty than many budget choices.
- Warm in summer - On hot days, the silicone can get uncomfortable.
Also available for purchase from KoreHeadset.com.
The Faro G2-PNR is the budget option from the Faro range, but it still delivers the performance you would expect from the brand.
Plus, this is one of the most comfortable budget headsets around.
Made by pilots for pilots, those who are just taking to the skies will love what the Faro G2 can do. And even experienced pilots will be impressed with the noise reduction and sound quality.
The Faro G2-PNR has a 26dB NRR, making it ideal for both students and seasoned aviators alike.
26db is one of the best NRRs you can expect from a headset under $200, and the silicone gel ear protection both blocks sound and sits comfortably on the head.
Even on long flights, the Faro G2 won't clamp, and at just 1.25 lbs, it won't weigh you down.
Engineered in the United States, the Faro G2 includes a 3.5 mm connector, so you can listen to music in the air.
A fully adjustable microphone beam makes communication better, with dual volume controls for excellent sound.
Not impressed? Faro has a 30-day trial period and a 3-year warranty.
- 26 dB Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) - The highest NRR you can get for a headset under $200.
- Silicone Gel Ear Protection - Noise blocking, and comfortable.
- 3-year warranty - A longer and comprehensive warranty provides you with superior cover.
- Microphone lacks some sensitivity.
Best For Under $100
The Rugged Air RA200 is a great choice for students looking for a durable aviation headset that fits well within a budget.
This low-cost headset has a 24db NRR, an EM56 Noise Reflective Cup Microphone, and foam ear seals for longer comfort.
If you're just starting out as a pilot, or frequently fly as a passenger, this headset ensures you still have access to a quality performance, without stretching a tight budget.
Foam padded ear seals and an adjustable stainless steel headband keeps the headband comfortable for longer flights, although it lacks the supreme comfort of a premium model.
But if you're training, the Rugged Air RA200 is easy to use, and comes with some handy features for when you're in the air.
The EM56 microphone is surrounded by foam, to block out winds and improve communication. And with a stay-put flex boom, new pilots can stay in contact easily.
The 3.5 mm input jack lets you listen to your favorite music, while the volume controls keep messages up and songs low. You'll never have to worry about missing information.
For new pilots, or as a back-up headset, the Rugged Air delivers exceptional performance for the price.
- 24db Noise Reduction Rating - Keeps your ears safe from unwanted background noise.
- Stay-Put Flex Boom Mic - Easily adjust the mic position for better voice clarity.
- EM56 Noise Reflective Microphone - Block out wind and improve communication.
- Lacks the sound quality of a premium design.
Best For Durability
If you're looking for a good entry into the world of headsets, the ASA HS-1 is a solid option. It offers a great value, with all the features you need to start flying.
With a 23dB NRR rating, and high fidelity speakers that provide an exceptional sound, student pilots will be impressed with the ASA HS-1.
High-density acoustic foam delivers exceptional passive noise reduction, with an electret flex boom providing clear voice transmission.
Gold-plated microphone and headphone plugs provide a consistent strong connection, and reduce the risk of corrosion.
Communication is exceptional with the ASA HS-1, which is always reassuring for new pilots.
The biggest problem with the ASA HS-1 Aviation Headset is that it provides quality performance, while neglecting comfort.
For short flights, the ASA HS-1 is fantastic. But after a while in the air, the heavy weight and tighter headband can start to pinch.
However, the ASA headset is durable. Once you've upgraded to a better set, keep this around as your passenger or back up headset.
You'll be surprised by how much quality sound they deliver, even years down the line.
- Durable build - A long-lasting headset that will continuously perform.
- Electret Flex Boom Microphone - Clearer voice transmission thanks to a reduced background noise level.
- Gold-Plated Plug Connections - Corrosion resistant, and consistently delivering quality sound.
- Heavy weight - Starts to clamp during longer flights.
Best For Back-Up
Student pilots need a headset that will get them through those early flights with a decent performance at a lower price.
The aviation headset from Spider Wireless will do just that. This is a headset you can rely on, while saving money.
It's also a fantastic back-up for pilots who need a spare, but find they rarely have a use for them.
Gel ear seals block out background sound effectively, with a passive noise reduction level that's good for the price.
The proprietary AirPunch+ technology delivers crisp audio from both the intercom, and whatever music you enjoy listening to through the aux input on the left ear cup.
A flexible boom keeps the microphone in place, while the electret mic assists clear communication.
An included carry case is also a nice feature, and offers some protection.
The biggest issue with the Spider headset is the build quality. It's what you would expect for the price, which means there is some lack of durability.
Pilots might find they're in need of a replacement sooner than they hoped for. However, if you're looking for a budget headset, you should be happy with the performance.
Be aware that despite what the name might imply, these aren't a wireless headset.
- Gel Ear Seals - Comfortable fit, with better ambient noise reduction.
- Color choice - Decide between gray and black.
- Low-Profile Volume Control - Adjust sound level quickly, with a knob control that doesn't add bulk.
- Lower quality build - This headset feels budget compared to others.
Best Aviation Headset Under $200 Buying Guide
When choosing an aviation headset, you want one that is easy to fly with, comfortable, has great sound, and assists communication.
Realistically, if you're paying less than $200, you're only going to have access to a limited range of features.
Aviation headsets regularly cost more than $600, with premium picks costing $1000 and above.
This doesn't mean you should accept a poor level of performance from your headsets, even if they are a budget choice.
In this buyer's guide, we cover the features to look out for, and what you might expect from a lower priced headset.
Aircraft headsets are often worn for hours at a time, so comfort is always important. You'll want something that fits well, and doesn't clamp on your head.
An adjustable headband is considered fairly standard, and padded ear cups are also common.
Check the materials used in both these features. If you don't have a chance to try before buying, make sure to read reviews from those who have actual experience wearing the headset for a longer period of time.
Many headsets sell ear padding separately. If you find the ear cups don't fit quite right, it might be worth investing in a set.
You may not think about how much noise you hear when flying, but it can be distracting.
Noise reduction helps reduce external sounds, and keep the cockpit quieter. More importantly, it helps to protect a pilot's hearing.
The Noise Reduction Rating, or NRR, determines how effective a headset is at blocking out noise. This is measured in decibels.
There are several types of noise reduction available: PNR, ANR, and DNR. Each has a varying level of effectiveness.
PNR Vs ANR Vs DNR
PNR is Passive Noise Reduction. It works by using foam pads inside the ear cups to absorb ambient sound. This is usually the most affordable option, although the addition of foam does add extra weight to the headsets.
Fit is vitally important with a PNR headset, as it needs a tight seal to effectively stop noise. Nearly all headsets under $200 use PNR technology.
ANR is Active Noise Reduction. ANR uses electronics within the headset to pick up on noise outside the headset.
It can then separate unwanted noise from wanted noise, and invert the signal to cancel unwelcome sounds out.
Active Noise Reduction Headsets need to be charged. These headsets can be expensive and are rarely sold for under $200 (unless you're buying second hand).
DNR is Dynamic Noise Reduction. DNR works by monitoring the environment around the aircraft and removing noise it recognizes as repetitive and unwanted.
DNR is generally more effective than other forms of noise reduction, and lighter. However, they're also the most expensive models.
The microphone is another critical feature of an aviation headset. Microphones ensure the pilot can communicate with ATC and other aircraft.
Even on budget headsets, it's important to look for microphones that include some form of noise suppressing foam, and shielding.
This will mean the microphone picks up less of the background noise, for better sound clarity. Another feature to look for is a flexible arm, to keep the microphone in place.
Even a budget headset needs a good quality microphone with some form of noise shielding. Don't overlook this feature when making a choice.
In-Ear Vs On-Ear
On-ear headsets are designed to sit over your ears.
They provide a secure seal, which means there's less risk of them slipping off during flight. However, they can be less comfortable, and heavier.
On-ear headsets are the most common and come in a large price range.
In-ears are smaller, lighter, and low-profile. They sit in the ear, so finding the correct fit is imperative.
They're popular for longer flights. However, in-ear headsets are less common overall, and tend to be expensive (especially as they need ANR).
In-ear headsets are not currently available for less than $200.
Plugs And Cables
Not all aircraft use the same time of plug connections, which can be frustrating for new fliers.
The most common plug is the dual plug, sometimes known as PJs, or GA plugs. Expect to see these most often.
However, there are also Helicopter Plugs (U174), the 6-pin LEMO plug, and the Airbus Plug (XLR), among others.
When purchasing a headset, it's better to buy a set that comes with the plug you're going to need most often.
You can buy adaptors separately, but they're sometimes included with the headset. However, expect headsets under $200 to come with no adaptors.
Headsets can start to get pretty heavy, particularly if packed with noise reducing foam.
However, ANR headsets include a battery and more complex electronics, which can also pack on weight.
Lighter headsets do provide greater comfort on longer flights, but the weight should only be a small factor of your decision.
When purchasing a headset for less than $200, expect a limited weight range.
Best Aviation Headset Under $200 - FAQ's
Why Buy An Aviation Headset Under $200?
New pilots who want to avoid splashing out on a premium set will often buy budget headsets. That way, they can get through their training, and save up to buy a better set.
Budget headsets are also useful as a backup, when you might be experiencing issues with your other headset (or left them behind). Budget headsets are also popular for passengers.
Can You Get A Good Aviation Headset For Under $200?
Yes, you can get a good headset for under $200. The KORE KA-1 and the Faro G2 both provide impressive performance at a lower cost.
The Rugged Air RA200, ASA HR-1, and the Spider Aviation Headset also have their merits.
These budget sets do come with limited features, and will typically need to be upgraded within a few years. But if you're just starting out, they provide enough quality to meet your needs.
Do Airline Pilots Buy Their Own Headsets?
Generally, yes, although they will often have the option to use the headsets provided by the airline.
If a pilot does choose to use their own headset, it has to be FAA approved (or approved by another aviation safety body, such as the EASA).
Why Do Pilots Need Headsets?
The primary reason pilots need headsets is because of the high levels of noise found in an aircraft.
Noise reduction technology in headsets helps to reduce this noise, and make it easier to communicate with air traffic control and other aircraft.
This is the other reason headsets are vital: for communication.
An aviation headset is an exciting purchase for any new pilot, but also an expensive one.
Our five choices are the best aviation headsets available on a tight budget, providing you with a quality performance that won't break the bank.