The best value in aviation headsets may not be an aviation headset at all. The Nflight Nomad Pro is an aviation-grade microphone that clips onto a mass-market consumer headset to create a low-cost, lightweight, noise-cancelling headset that works well in a wide variety of aircraft.
I attached an Nflight Nomad Pro ($350) to a Bose QuietComfort ($329) and tested the combination in several piston airplanes, a turboprop, and two jets, and I was astonished by its comfort and versatility.
The Nflight Nomad shines on long flights in the relatively quiet cockpits of turboprops and jets. It’s lighter (13.6 ounces) than even the lightest new aviation headsets (a Bose A30 is 14.2 ounces). There’s less clamping force, and the sound quality is excellent.
The noise-cancelling system in the Nflight/Bose Qc35 gets overmatched by the enveloping, concussive sound during full-power takeoffs in some piston airplanes such as the Cessna 185, Piper PA–18 Super Cub, and Van’s Aircraft RV–4 and that creates a crackling sound in earphones. But in fairness, that sometimes happens with aviation ANR headsets, too.
The noise-cancelling in the Nflight/Bose Qc35 operates normally during cruise and descent, and the sound and transmission quality is indistinguishable from other high-end aviation headsets in those phases of flight. The Bose Qc35 internal battery lasts up to 20 hours when connected wirelessly via Bluetooth and up to 40 hours when music is piped in via an audio jack.
The Nflight/Bose headset still works when the battery runs out, but without noise cancelling it’s severely compromised. For professional pilots whose work requires an FAA-approved, TSOed headset, add $100 for the Nflight Aviation Pro technical standard order version and you’re legal.
My gripes with the Nflight/Bose are the mic attachment doesn’t pivot up or down so it takes some doing to move it away from your mouth when you want to eat a snack or sip a drink in flight; you’ve got to detach the mic to put the headset into its slim carrying case, and you must remember to recharge it from time to time (via USB port).
Its positives are the Nflight/Bose costs less than high-end aviation headsets that typically top $1,000; it’s lighter and more comfortable than any over-ear headset I’ve ever worn, and it comes with a 30-day trial period as well as a lifetime warranty. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the Nflight/Bose is that when you’re not in the cockpit, you can remove the mic and use the Bose Qc35 as it was originally intended–to simply relax and listen to music or podcasts. (Beethoven’s Ode to Joy is playing in my ears right now.)