This review should be your first stop when considering purchasing a Sennheiser S1 Digital Aviation Headset. Check out SPJ’s Sennheiser S1 Review now!
When deciding on an aviation headset, for me, there are three main points of concern: Price, comfort and usability. Considering that you are looking at reviews on S1’s, A20’s or Zulu’s, it’s probably safe to assume you have made your peace with losing $1000+ from your wallet. So lets move right on to number two; Comfort: When first donning the Sennheiser S1, you immediately notice the size of the ear cups. They feel, well, large. I’m not saying their not comfortable, because they are, though, initially the swimming feeling of the ear cups to your head makes you start to doubt the noise cancelling abilities with such a loose fit. Ingeniously, Sennheiser have given the S1 three options of tightness, by way of a switch on the inner side of the headband. For my somewhat average, i.e. boarder line small head, the three options were loose, looser, and fall off my head. Funnily enough though, the absence of that snug gentle clamping touch provided by other headsets, doesn’t upset the ANR qualities at all and one soon realises that the ‘loose’ fit is intended for comfort. Even when wearing the Ray bans, no clamping pressure is present, which provides for a very comfortable flight without compromising the active noise reduction qualities. The one downside of a sloppy (for want of a better word) fit is that the microphone moves a little during flight. The boom is fairly rigid, though, as the headset moves around your ears, the mic moves up and down your lips. I don’t know about you, but I have a very specific place setting for my mic and the somewhat constant movement started to annoy me.
This being said, the mic in it’s self is some piece of work. The placement against your lips is perfect. I’m not into mics that sit three quarters of the way across your face. The boom of the S1 places the mic nicely in front of, if a little to the side of your lips. No transmission goes unheard and there is no need to sit the mic literally on your lips. Even with the squelch set low, the mic keeps transmission constant and uninterrupted. The S1 experience is reminiscent of having a conversation in a library. The ear cup pads have a leather feel initially, though once on your head feel soft and somewhat luxurious. Even in a hot cockpit, you don’t get that sweaty squishy feel of the David Clark’s as the ventilation is very good.
Purpose, student pilots require a largely different headset to that of a professional pilot. Having said that though, what price do you put on your hearing? David Clarks or any other low budget passive noise attenuating headset are the standard choice for pilots starting out. This is certainly how it played out for me. Until Sennheiser Australia lent me an S1 Digital. That engine noise that once plagued your ATC comms no longer exist and that ringing in your ear after an hour of circuits is gone.
Over all, The Sennheiser S1 Digital is definitely a strong competitor in the ANR range. While it has a little more of an industrial feel than the Bose A20 or Lightspeed Zulu, the sound quality is amazing. With crystal clear comms and excellent noise cancelling abilities the S1 is certainly a crowd pleaser. If you are looking for a headset to completely remove the whine of the toddler 3 sets back, while providing trademark quality sound, then the Bose A20 is for you. If, however you are looking for a headset that removes all high frequency responses whilst still allowing you to hear the rev range of the rotax up front, then look no further than the Sennheiser S1. I give this headset a 4 out of 5.
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Have you used this headset? Rate it!
1. Excellent clarity 2. Can still hear the engine enough to hear revs 3. Bluetooth for music as well as communications 4. Easy to use control unit with switches instead of buttons
1. Size, the ear cups are too large and feel like they are swimming on my head 2. Head band starts to hurt a little as it is made from foam not hair like the Bose 3. The smart update needs to be pressed every time the noise levels change, should do it automatically. 4. Mouth piece moves a little and needs constant repositioning