23 November 2021
From £379.75 and £199.75 | www.aerotion.com
Before I get into this review, I’d better fess up. I’ve been flying with Bose A20s for many years. They’re super comfortable, do a great job of noise reduction and plug into the Cessna 182 for both power and audio, which means that I don’t even have to worry about batteries. They suit my flying, my head and my ears.
They are also the most expensive headsets out there, and I understand some will not want to invest a large part of their annual aviation budget in top-of-the-line headsets.
And that’s where companies like Aerotion come in with a lower cost range of headsets. We were recently sent two of its carbon fibre headsets to evaluate. The AS2 Active Noise Reduction headset sells for £379.75 and the PS2 Passive headset for £199.75. Electronics and a couple of small details aside, the two headsets are pretty much identical, and very much part of the school of classic headset design.
The company says that they’re ‘Designed in the UK – Assembled in China’, which initially struck me as a bit strange given that you can bulk buy what looks like identical headsets from Alibaba.com. I asked Aerotion about this, and MD Joe Fogel replied, “We made various design changes such as the mic boom design and housing, upgrades to the main structure of the headset to create a more comfortable fit and upgrades to the audio components, which often fail on the cheaper, Chinese-made headsets.”
Both headsets sport the carbon fibre look, with Aerotion’s website referring to them as ‘featuring ultra lightweight carbon fibre technology’. I’m not entirely sure what that means, or if the carbon fibre goes deeper than the look, but I don’t think it really matters. Nobody needs structural headsets, and weight-wise these are pretty light, weighing in at 380gm for the PS2 and 492gm for the AS2 (including two AA batteries). A pair of Bose A20s weighs in at 576gm (including the same two batteries).
Both headsets feature a microphone boom that can fully swivel, meaning you can wear them with the cable/mic boom on the left or right. The AS2 has volume control on the ear cups, while the PS2 has the volume control on a control box. The control box on the PS2 features a screw that adjusts resistance, meaning they should play well with other brands in the cockpit, particularly those that might be green in colour.
Without any ANR circuitry, the PS2 cuts external noise by clamping the ear cups to your head, and given that the two headsets look identical, the AS2 exerts the same amount of force. I did a crude measurement for comparison, so while a Bose A20 applies 756gm of clamping force, the Aerotion headsets apply 1,162gm.
I plugged in the AS2, turned on the ANR and taxied out. You can certainly feel the pressure on your head, and while I imagine it would be OK for an hour or so at a time, I’m not sure that I’d like to be wearing them for a long day of flying. Switching the ANR on and off (a rocker switch on the battery box) shows just what the ANR does, and it certainly makes it considerably quieter, but to be honest I found the sound tinny. It didn’t get in the way of understanding RT but if you happen to be flying a James Brown tribute singer, he’s not going to be impressed!
I switched over to the passive headsets and, blimey, I wasn’t expecting that. I was both impressed and confused. Confused because although I cannot understand why, I thought the sound quality was better and while perhaps not technically as good, it reduced external noise well.
The bottom line is that if I wanted an ANR headset I’d save hard for a top of the range model, but if I wanted a passive headset or two, I’d be more than happy paying out just under £200 for the PS2.