“Do you have a headset?” Ivy McIver asked after I said “Yes,” to the offer to fly home with her from AirVenture in a Cirrus SR22T. “Uh, no, but I’ll get one.”
As luck would have it, my wanderings around AirVenture took me into Hangar C, where I found beyerdynamic. I explained the opportunity of flying 8-plus hours in a Cirrus, to New York-based beyerdynamic sales manager Peter Carini, and he kindly offered the company’s flagship HS 800 to sample. “The pilot will be using a Bose A20, so this will give me a chance to compare the two fairly easily,” I mentioned.
The cups on the HS 800 are larger, and for me, slightly more comfortable, than the A20. But that may be similar to comparing the leather seats in a Mercedes to those in a Lexus. Both are plush, so it comes down to personal preference. Incidentally, Ivy preferred the A20 ear cups for the exact same reason. Being smaller, the smaller ear cup were more comfortable to her.
The HS 800 is a digitally controlled active noise reduction (or in beyerdynamic marketing speak Digital Adaptive Noise Reduction) headset. The audio box allows the wearer to control left and right ear volume separately, as well as connect an iPhone, iPod, etc. When the Auto Mute feature is active, music will automatically mute when either conversation or ATC comes online. A nice feature.
I couldn’t tell much of a difference in the noise level between the HS 800 and the A20. Both were pretty quiet and made the ride more comfortable and less fatiguing. We broke up the flight home into two days. Oshkosh to Fargo, N.D., for an overnight, then Fargo to Bozeman, Mont., to Seattle. At the conclusion of both days (the first being much shorter) I can tell you I didn’t have any lasting effects of wearing the HS 800. We shut down the plane, secured our gear and left. I felt no abnormal ear ringing or phantom headset feeling. I can’t speak to the comfort of the headset when wearing glasses, but I can’t imagine it would be vastly different from the A20 or any other quality headset.
Forgetting you are wearing a headset has to be close to the ultimate compliment you can pay a manufacturer. The headset should be quiet, light, comfortable and…well, just work. Weighing just three-quarters of a pound (not including cable and audio box), the HS 800 comes as close to a “forgettable” headset as I’ve worn.
beyerdynamics HS 800 can be outfitted with standard two jack plugs (microphone and headphone), digital rotor for helicopters, or a 6pin LEMO connector. The HS 800 is priced at $899, not including tax or shipping. For a few extra dollars, you can personalize a headset with different colors on the various components and even label the yoke with your name or N-number. If you are in the market for a new headset, beyerdynamic should be on your short list.
For more information: North-America.beyerdynamic.com