Aviation Headset Volume Control Setting
Ever wondered how to correctly set your volume controls to get the clearest possible communications?
I once had an instructor who said, “set the radio volume to maximum then adjust the headset to a comfy level”. This aircraft had a hot mic (not voice activated) intercom built into the radio. I thought about this for a while and as an electronics technician, and it never made sense.
Adjusting your headset volume is pretty easy if your alone in the aircraft. Set the volumes on your headset to maximum, usually this will be rolling the knob on one or both ear cups forward. On some headsets the volume control will be located on an in-line module, integrated into the main headset cord.
Secondy, increase or decrease the intercom volume as required while talking into the microphone. For dual volume headsets, sometimes you may need to lower the volume on one side of your headset to balance the audio due to speaker variations and/or hearing deficiencies. As the noise levels increase at takeoff, you may want to tweak the master volume up a touch.
Lastly, adjust any other devices such as your radio volumes during a radio check , listening to other traffic or when receiving other radio calls.
The main reason for adjusting each headset to the maximum volume is to reduce any unnecessary load on the audio output from the intercom & radios. As you turn the volume down on your headset the load resistance/impedance increases, making it harder for the audio amplifier and consequently, more noise and/or distortion will be heard.
When you have 2 or more people in an aircraft with one master volume, each headset may respond a little or alot differently due to the impedance or speaker performance of each headset. Ensure each user initially has their volume control set at maximum. In general, most headsets respond closely in terms of volume, which means once the pilots headset is correctly adjusted, all other occupants can reduce their volumes to a comfy level if required. If one headset has poor volume, ensure their headset volume is set to maximum then increase the master volume until that user has a comfortable listening level. All other occupants can then reduce their volumes as necessary.