Jim Peace

ANR headsets harmful?

Recommended Posts

I use Bose A20 and LightSpeed recent generation headsets in my GA flying.

I fly cargo 757/767 at work for a company that thought it was funny to remove the sound suppression insulation.  I am talking loud, 757's that can be every bit as loud as a Mooney, mostly from the packs.  At that job I only wear ear plugs and use a company provided Telex Airmen 750.  At the end of a long day with someimtes every bit of 8 hours of flying my hearing is fine afterwards.  Ear plugs are in the whole time even while on breaks.  

When I use my 1000 dollar headsets in the Mooney or the Grumman yankee I just flew today my hearing is wrecked even after a short flight.  I tried to use ear plugs with the ANR on and for some reason it does not work.  The controllers are difficult to hear and get lots of strange interference noise using earplugs with the ANR.

Is it just me or does ANR technology just not cutting it?  I know the headset itself is more comfortable, no more vice grips on your head but is it healthy for your hearing?  

I am only 49 and still a long way from retirement and quitting GA....I want to get this under control. I am going to fly with just older passive protection headsets next GA flight with earplugs.  See how it goes.  I know the controllers may be more difficult to hear but I am hoping that my hearing is better protected in the long run.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

*Members that donate $10 or more do not see advertisements*

I use A Zulu ANR headset and I was unhappy with it alone. It protects low frequency but not so much on the higher frequencies. Those are the ones to worry about. I started using foam ear plugs with the headset and all seemed fine. I could even understand conversations through the headset better. Ears seem to be ok now after I land and remove all the protection. With just the headset my ears would ring all day. Really worried me.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My A20s actually work quite well. A little better ANR than my Zulu 3’s but not as comfortable over several hours. The Bose just clamp more than the Zulus and they get uncomfortable after 2.5 hours. That being said, they do pretty well at cutting down the noise. Some folks here swear by the Halos ad Clarity Aloft. Both PNR, in-your-ear plugs. Way more comfortable than regular headsets and if you get a good fit (you can have custom ear pieces made that match your ears exactly) they offer very good noise reduction. I don’t own one of these and I’m just repeating the comments I read from those that own them. I read somewhere that Clarity Aloft will let you try them for 30 days if you call them so maybe an option you can try.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The noise in a GA recip propeller airplane is going to have a completely different character than a de-insulated 757 with a bunch of packs running.   Comparing the two is not necessarily productive.

If whatever you're doing in the GA stuff isn't cutting it, it might be worth consulting some hearing experts (e.g., an audiologist) to see if there's something you could do specifically for that environment.    ANR only addresses part of the spectrum, since the idea is to let some of the energy through for communication and useful external cues (e.g., mechanical noises, warning horns and beeps).   So there's only so much that can be expected.   It sounds like you definitely need to make some adjustments, but what those might need to be may depend on your own hearing characteristics and sensitivities.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went to the Halo QT in ear style with custom fit plugs for exactly this reason. I was using my A20s doing some multi engine work this week and my ears were ringing more after than 2 hours in the Mooney with the Halos. The ANR makes it sound quieter, but it still seems to take a toll on me.

 

iain

Edited by milotron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, milotron said:

The ANR makes it sound quieter, but it still seems to take a toll on me.

Thank you for the replies.  

There is definelty something not right with ANR...it is not the godsend it makes itself out to be.  Will look at the Halo QT.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had the same suspicion about ANR but no evidence just going off gut instinct. Anyone know the passive noise attenuation in dB for the Bose, Lightspeed, etc?  Even if you can magically hear the controller easier and it seems quieter what is actually reaching your ears still?  I was actually looking at Clarity Aloft and QTs tonight myself. Both have a money back guarantee...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a convert from Zulu 2's to the QT Halo's. I've been wearing the Halo's exclusively for almost 5 years now. My brother uses the Bose A20's in the left seat of a 737. He recently took my Halos on a four day turn and declared them to be much better than the A20's after a full day of flying. He's ordered his own set.

I've been using custom ear molds with my Halos for about two years now. I can't imagine going back.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Love my Halos! I use the silicone Christmas tree plugsthat come with them. Been using them since 2010, including working on / around the runway while plugged into my handheld radio. Simple, lightweight and much sturdier than you think looking at it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jim, one thing that will make a big difference in ANR performance is glasses or sun-glasses...and the type of glasses.  Especially those with thick frames allow the ANR to leak.  I even notice a difference when wearing thin frame sunglasses.  The ANR assumes an acoustic enclosure and generally cancels sounds based on an external mic...at least that’s how some of the Bose work.  I think some ANRs had a mic in the earcup which would sense the increase.  However, even then I have wondered if in some cases the ANR trying to cancel the excess noise actually produces more noise that is not quite in phase with the noise it is cancelling.

i have also found some cases where my Bose X will respond to takeoff power in my Mooney and produce more noise.  It is for a few seconds on takeoff and I think it is a resonance due to distance to the side window.   Make sure your headset is not responding to something like that.

Are you wearing glasses when you experience this?  What kind of frames?  If so, try to experiment with the seal to see if performance changes.  I have been using ANR for years, and have only experienced what you describe when wearing glasses.  

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All evidence is anecdotal. When did the first Telex ANR come out? Early ‘90’s? Earlier? Anyway, I have been a constant ANR user since. Thousands of hours in pistons and Boeings. Lightweight Telex in the B744, a noisy cockpit. At age 74 my hearing is amazingly unaffected. I tried a Halo but couldn’t tolerate the alien in my ear. A20 and  Lightspeed for me.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, takair said:

i have also found some cases where my Bose X will respond to takeoff power in my Mooney and produce more noise.  

This happens on every takeoff for me, especially with the A20

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I imagine each person's situation is unique.  I have found that the Lightspeed ANRs (I'm on my third iteration, now Zulu3s) are great and provide noticeable protection. I don't have any feeling of hearing loss after even long flights, and to me they are the cat's meow.  So to the OP, I suggest that rather than there being "something wrong with ANR," there is simply something in your specific situation which may lend itself to a different solution.  Perhaps the PNR with an in-ear plug, or the in-ear type with or without ANR, will work better for you.

Good luck figuring it out and keep us posted!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, gsxrpilot said:

 

I've been using custom ear molds with my Halos for about two years now. I can't imagine going back.

Paul,

Where did you get custom ear molds? Was there much of a difference?

My wife has Halos for years now and loves them but I still haven't tried them myself. Seems custom molds would be a way to go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, Igor_U said:

Where did you get custom ear molds? Was there much of a difference?

My wife has Halos for years now and loves them but I still haven't tried them myself. Seems custom molds would be a way to go.

It wasn't as smooth as it could have been. I first went to my local audiologist. They made the molds for me but they were what they called skeleton molds which were good for piping sound into your ear but no good for blocking any sound. So I had them remake them. They were much better. But then at Oshkosh, there was a guy there with a booth that would make them for you. I got him to make a set for me and they have worked great. They offer much better protection than any ANR and are so comfortable I've forgotten I was wearing them and have tried to climb out of the plane only to be yanked back in by the cord.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm 76 and have been wearing fancy hearing aids for a year. I'm missing higher frequency sound... e.g. wife's voice. I use and recommend David Clark ONE-X. Seals very well even with glasses.

Sent from my XT1710-02 using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have opposite tastes.  I am a convert from the QT in ear system to my A20.  I just fell out of love with the in the ear thing - I used it for like 2 years and then less and less and more and more my A20 until a few years ago I sold the QT.

I found them annoying in my ears in a way that never really went away.  A pain to put on - especially in the cold.  I mean - have you ever tried sticking a piece of frozen -10F HARD foam in your ear?  Yikes!  And on those days it takes forever for your ear to warm the foam sufficiently to shape it.

And I use an oxyarm which has a button that is nice on a traditional headset.

And I do feel very relaxed after a few hours of A20 flying.

In principle I would think anti noise actually does cancel out all the energy of the sound trying to come into your ear.  But in practice, I am sure that yes, some sound frequencies may sneak through so I am not eschewing what you all are reporting.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A while back someone here posted an interesting perspective about ANR, that I personally don't have the expertise to refute or confirm.  To work properly, ANR puts a sound wave exactly opposite the ambient sound wave into the ear cups.  So in other words, to reduce sound it has to pump in more sound.

Personally, I'll keep my Halo headsets with the custom ear molds I got at OSH at the same booth as Paul.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For my day job, I fly with a HGU-55P helmet rated between 35-45 dB protection and use Westone's ACCES earplugs. I can hear everything and they give an additional 32 dB protection. Before then it was just the helmet and foamies (not near as good).

Standard David Clarks are good for 23 dB. Most ANR will give you up to 30dB, frequency depending.

Halos state 30-45 dB protection. I have never used Halos, but if their protection is what they say, I'll be switching from my Lightspeed Zulus.

For those using the Halos, do you have ear protection on top, or is in-ear good enough?

There is no such thing as too much hearing protection. Good subject to discuss.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, irishpilot said:

For those using the Halos, do you have ear protection on top, or is in-ear good enough?

I've only used the in-ear Halo's. Nothing over the top. 

I do have a nearly new set of Zulu 2's that have been factory upgraded to Zulu 3's knocking around in the back seat. Both my wife and I much prefer the Halos. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/20/2019 at 8:59 PM, gsxrpilot said:

My brother uses the Bose A20's in the left seat of a 737. He recently took my Halos on a four day turn and declared them to be much better than the A20's after a full day of flying. He's ordered his own set.

Halo headsets are NOT TSO certified for 121 or 135 ops

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, irishpilot said:

 

For my day job, I fly with a HGU-55P helmet rated between 35-45 dB protection and use Westone's ACCES earplugs.

 

I hate my ACCESS ear plugs... but mainly just because putting on the helmet with them in is uncomfortable.  They are OK when they work- but I’ve had one or the other get plugged up which is annoying.  And the way my helmet fits (tight), sometimes I hear really clearly through one ear plug, but poorly through the other.  

It wasn’t a big deal in the 18 or 15, because I ended up just wearing normal earplugs and cranking up the volume.  But in the 35- the max volume is much lower- if I wear regular earplugs (foamies ) under the helmet, I can’t hear the radios, even at 100% volume.  So it’s either don’t wear  earplugs at all, or wear ACCES.  First world problems... I know...

Edited by M016576

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites



I hate my ACCESS ear plugs... but mainly just because putting on the helmet with them in is uncomfortable.  


Bummer to hear. I've been flying with them for 12 years with zero problems or failures. I heard there is another option that's like the Halos, but I haven't been fitted for them yet.

Back to the OP, another thing to think about when comparing ANR, is what frequency it is targeting. Upper-mids is where jet-related hearing damage occurs. Not sure about GA piston, but I'd guess it's mid freq.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hearing loss is progressive.  I have zero issue or concern with Bose ANR headsets exposing me to high/mid/lower frequency noise.  Why?  Duration.  I don’t fly THAT much.  In the hours of a day exposure while flying is minimal.  It’s occupational exposure including driving at highway speeds with windows down for a lifetime that impact hearing attenuation with age.  Some is just “you are old”....and over time the body wears out.  Doing stuff like shooting shotguns/rifles/pistols/going to concerts without hearing protection definitely have an impact...As the impact noise is at a dangerous level.  I will continue to enjoy my Bose headset because music and voices are heard with clarity.  The clamping force is minimal compared to my David Clark passive unit.

In summary: Much ado about nothing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.