Most pilots view aviation earphones as a long-term
Long-term investments are common realities in the lives of most consumers. Cars, homes, and land are all purchases buyers expect to own for an extended period. However, for a variety of reasons consumers trade autos, relocate to new abodes, and sell long-held real estate. The same is true for aviation headphones. Over time, veteran pilots will likely consider the need to invest in a new pilot headset.
Upgrading to Advanced Models
Reasons to consider a new headset vary. A popular reason is to upgrade to a higher-end model. As pilots gain experience, it's fairly common for them to transition to larger, faster, noisier, more complex aircraft. While a starter headset might have served them well in primary training, it may not provide adequate ear protection in the cockpits of high performance planes. For this reason, transitioning pilots often look to the additional noise protection available in premium headsets.
A chief consideration for additional ear protection is active noise reduction (ANR) technology. Through electronic circuitry, ANR headsets cancel a higher amount of engine noise than basic, passive earphones can block. The higher noise reduction rating (NRR) of ANR models offers significantly better hearing protection but comes at a considerably higher price. Due to the expense, pilots often wait to purchase ANR models until after they've acquired a fair amount of basic flight experience.
Another common reason aviators part ways with older earphones is to take advantage of newer technology. Modern headsets are equipped with amenities that provide benefits not offered by older earsets. Common features include mobile phone/audio connectivity, Bluetooth technology, and even wireless headsets. Pilots might also prefer stereo audio, gel ear seals, or a more comfortable headband. By gaining experience in the cockpit, veteran aviators learn which available technologies will make their flying safer and more enjoyable.
Wear and Tear
An inevitable result of use is the gradual effect of wear and tear. Over time, components wear out and require replacement/refurbishment to continue to function properly. While many aviation manufacturers offer incredible warranty service, periodic tune-ups can't address all use-related problems. In some instances, damage to a headset can render it beyond repair. At other times, depreciation can substantially diminish a headset's value, making it more practical to purchase a new model. Regardless of the exact circumstances, repeated use will eventually reduce the effectiveness of a pair of earphones.
So, what should you do with your old headset? You have many options for your vintage headphones. Many pilots keep the model to use as a loaner for the occasional copilot. Others resort to the internet and attempt to sell the used earset. Another option is to visit your local airport. If you're intent on selling your earphones, post a notice on a bulletin board or spread the word with your fellow fliers. Otherwise, consider giving the headphones to a new pilot or donating them to a flight school. With thoroughly worn models, recycle what you can and junk the rest.
While a quality pilot headset will serve you well for years, you'll more than likely purchase a new pair of earphones at some point in your flying pursuits. Whether due to aircraft transitions, new technologies, or normal wear & tear, be open to the possibility that you might need to seek out a new headset to best address your aviation needs. Though your first headset served you well, new technologies in modern headsets can make your flying safer and more enjoyable.