While I generally use very lightweight in-the-ear headsets these days (because they allow me to wear floppy hats in my bubble-canopy airplanes) there is no doubt that there is still a place for the traditional over-the-ear units that have been around forever. Modern over-the-ear headsets are generally equipped with active noise reduction and do a great job of facilitating communications both in the cockpit and over the radio. And one of the big advantages of over the ear headsets is that they work well in a shared environment – for airplanes used by multiple pilots and carrying many different passengers. Lightweights that require foam ear tips are problematic when shared – you have to change the buds or put up with someone else’s ear wax. That's why we always keep a couple of the larger sets on hand for passengers.
Recently, we have been giving the new One-X from David Clark a try. I’ll be honest – we have a couple of DCs in the family, both of which date back about 30 years. One just came back from the factory after a full refurbishment, and while it is as good as new, it just doesn’t compare with the new One-X ANR unit. First off, the One-X is much more compact and weighs significantly less. It folds up into itself for easy storage, and unlike the headsets of old, it really doesn’t feel like it adds any weight to our head. The clamping forces are light, but it seals well – a must for active noise reduction to work. The ear seals seem to accommodate eyeglass bows just fine, and if you hear some rumble, it is easy to eliminate it by shifting the seals on your head.
The ANR works great, as would be expected from any high-end headset. It’s fun to put on the unit, then turn the ANR on, and feel the sound almost get sucked out of your ear. We haven’t tried the Bluetooth feature (yet) because all of our audio panels have that built in, but we’ll get to it. The quality of the unit is good, and so far, we have shifted the headset between three different planes and two pilots without feeling like it had to be treated delicately. I personally have always found over-the-ear headsets to pinch my ears after a period of time – and I haven’t had that yet with the DC. But my flights have been short, and I’ll let you know after I fly with it all day. Fortunately, the low weight should make it much more tolerable on the head.
As with any personal pilot accessory, different brands and models will fit people differently, and some will work better than others for every individual. You should try them all if this is the direction you’re going for a purchase. The good news is that the One-X does what it claims, is well built, and is worth considering if you are in the market for this type of ANR set.