Headsets are a lot like underwear…very personal yet very important. Some pilots like style, some look for quiet, and some lead with price, but all pilots look for comfort. And to make it difficult for the manufacturers, no headset fits two heads the same.
With Red Bull Air Race pilot Hannes Arch — an Austrian with great hair — at the press conference, AKG Aviation ran through the details of the headset.
One clever detail included in the design is built-in LED map lights.
But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
It wasn’t until my flight home from AirVenture, in a Cirrus SR22T, when I’d have a chance to try them out. So I swung by the AKG Aviation booth at AirVenture and asked National Sales Manager Heath Lawson if I could try a set on my eight-hour flight home to Seattle. “Sure thing,” said Lawson. “Swing by on Sunday and I’ll set you up.”
Lawson briefed me on the 12.2-ounce headset. Included is a dual (GA) plug adapter for those not able to plug in the 6-pin (LEMO) connector. For my ride home, the two double A batteries wouldn’t be used as the power would come from the plane. Nice.
The headset is designed to take full advantage of the new 3-D audio technology, as well as Bluetooth connectivity for the ubiquitous smartphone we all seem to be carrying. We didn’t test the 3-D audio but the Bluetooth worked as advertised… for one headset at a time. Operator error I am sure, but I’ll confirm.
First leg to western Wisconsin for fuel was a non-event, both for the flight and the headset. In both cases, that’s a good thing. A headset that you forget you’re wearing is a good headset, regardless of the wizz-bang features it includes.
On our second leg to Havre, Montana, Ivy McIver, Cirrus’ Pacific Northwest Sales Director and newest GAN columnist, swapped out with the set of Bose A20s she had on board.
“The AV100’s sound different from the A20’s,” said Ivy. “Yes they do but it’s hard to put a finger on the difference,” I concurred.
After some back-and-forth discussion, we agreed the AV100 is a very comfortable and quiet headset. However they fit my head better than they did Ivy’s. See, it gets back to that underwear/personal thing.
We agreed that on a 100-point scale the AV100, like the A20, would rate a 96 or 97. And if each of those points was a different metric, Ivy’s points would be different from mine.
Either way I was impressed.
Since pilots tend to hold on to headsets for several years, it would be great if there was a way pilots could try out a model or two (like I did for this review) for a longer period of time. Testing a headset for 10 minutes at a trade show display is no match for an multi-hour real world flight.
But if you don’t happen to publish a national aviation newspaper or website and are ready to change your brand of underwear, er headset, do yourself a favor and check out the AV100. It may become your new best friend.