The IntelliAudio technology, licensed from the U.S. Air Force, transmits Comm 1 to the 10 o’clock position of the left ear and Comm 2 to the 2 o’clock position of the right ear.
“Your brain can instantly ignore the comm that’s not important,” PS Engineering Founder and CEO Mark Scheuer told AOPA, explaining that a pilot listening to air traffic control and weather information at the same time can single out the most important communication—ATC when the aircraft’s N-number is heard or weather when controllers are talking to other aircraft. (Pilots can download a simulator and listen to transmissions with and without IntelliAudio to hear how multi-dimensional audio would sound through the panel. Stereo-capable headphones are required for it to work.)
The PMA8000BTi’s IntelliAudio does not break intercom transmissions into multi-dimensional audio like it does Comm 1 and 2 transmissions, Scheuer explained, because he believed that would make the audio inputs too confusing to process. Intercom and transmit side tones will be heard in both ears.
IntelliAudio can be turned on or off by pushing the Comm 1 and 2 buttons at the same time; it also can be turned off by deselecting one of the communications radios, Scheuer said.
The unit is designed to compete with Garmin’s GMA 350, which does include intercom transmissions in its 3-D Audio. The PMA8000BTi is a plug-and-play replacement for the PMA8000BT and the Garmin GMA 340, requiring owners who upgrade to the PS Engineering product only to make a logbook entry for swapping out the equipment.
The new offering replaces PS Engineering’s previous version, the PMA8000BT, but it is offered at the same price of $2,095. Scheuer said that its flagship product, the PMA8000BT, was discontinued Jan. 25 when the new unit started shipping; people who had ordered the older audio panel will instead get the PMA8000BTi at the same price.
Scheuer, a private pilot and small aircraft owner, said he didn’t raise the price of the more technologically advanced unit because “flying isn’t getting easier. It’s getting more expensive. Being an aircraft owner myself, I’m very sensitive to price.”
The PMA8000BTi retains all of the features of the PMA8000BT, including Bluetooth, digital aircraft radio recorder, split mode for the pilot and copilot, and more.