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Music Adapter for Aviation Headsets

Posted By:
Brady Lane
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
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103
#1 Posted: 8/19/2009 12:30:21

I'm starting to plan my first long cross-country (Oshkosh - Arkansas) and a friend encouraged me to consider investing in a music adapter for my headset.  He said it will help keep me sane on those long legs.

After a little online research it seems important to get an adapter that amplifies the music or else it is too quiet in the headset.  It's also important to me that it automatically mutes or dims the music for ATC transmissions.

I'll be using it with my iPhone, which apparently has a 3.5 mm headphone jack.

Here are two options I've found - both around $100.  Does anybody have any experience with these or heard good/bad reviews?  

PSA0017C
http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/avpages/headsetAdapter.php 

Pilot PA-86A Amplified Cell Phone/Music Adapter
http://www.marvgolden.com/headsets/pilot86aadapter.htm 

Even if you're not using one of these, I'd be interested in hearing what you're using and what you like/don't like about it.  I'm all ears.  Thanks for your help.



EAA 808095 Multimedia Journalist
Brian Vasseur
Homebuilder or Craftsman
9
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#2 Posted: 8/21/2009 14:10:06

I just rebuilt my panel with new radios and I used a neat device from VX Aviation which has both a cellphone and MP3 interface. Works extremely well and fairly inexpensive. Not easily adapted into a portable solution as you need 12v input from somewhere.

http://www.vx-aviation.com/documents/ASX-2B_install.pdf

What I liked about this is that the music automute can be enabled/disabled and the cellphone interface has an answer button you can locate on the dash so you're not fumbling for the phone. If you're on a phonecall the people on the other end don't hear the aircraft radios or MP3. In conversations I've had communications have been clear for me and the people I've been talking to.

I've done lots of trips this summer that were up to 7 hours per day of flying so I really enjoyed having this.



Jim Hann
Vintage Aircraft Association MemberHomebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
125
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#3 Posted: 8/22/2009 17:41:52

Brady,

I'm using a Clarity Aloft headset.  It has a built in audio input but no muting.  I find that my old MP3 player (which just went to electronics heaven) had enough power to make the music too loud, I just needed to adjust the volumes to coordinate the two.  I haven't had a chance to try my brand new iPod Touch yet, but I don't think it will be a problem.  If you are flying into/out of a tower, you just turn it off.

YMMV.

Jim



http://sites.google.com/site/jimscavaliersa1025/ http://picasaweb.google.com/CozyCanard http://sites.google.com/site/cavalieraircraft/
Mike Huffman
Homebuilder or Craftsman
11
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4
#4 Posted: 8/23/2009 10:00:33

Brady,

Just a small note: the jack on your iPhone is not a standard 3.5-mm headphone jack.  It has another ring connection for the microphone in a typical iPhone headset.  However, there are adaptors available on the Internet that allow using headphones that use a standard 3.5-mm headset plug--I ordered one recently through HDAccessory.com.  You could use that to plug into the music adaptor.

Hope this helps!



G. Michael Huffman SportAviationSpecialties dot com 904-206-0522
Brady Lane
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
109
Posts
103
#5 Posted: 8/23/2009 10:55:08

Brian, Jim, Mike,

Thanks for your input.  I noticed the iphone has a 3.5 mm plug and didn't know if that would give me any woes with a music adapter.  The first model I linked to above said it's compatible with 3.5 mm plugs, so I'm hoping I won't need an additional adapter.  I just ordered one and will let you know how it works.

http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/avpages/headsetAdapter.php 

I am a little nervous though because I can't find any reviews on it. 


 

 



EAA 808095 Multimedia Journalist
Thomas Muller
Homebuilder or Craftsman
5
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#6 Posted: 8/23/2009 16:03:36

Brady:

 

I have an iPhone and Lightspeed ANR headsets.  I also have music input jacks to my PS Engineering PM3000 intercom.  I found the system works best when the iPhone is plugged directly into the ANR control box on the Lightspeed.  This only gives music in one headset, but also allows you to have different music in each headset.  The correct cables are included with the headsets.

For some reason plugging directly into the intercom does not generate enough volume with this or with my old music maker, a Palm Pilot.  If I wanted good volume through the intercom, I would need some sort of pre-amp.

However, if you are flying IFR or under Flight Following, the chatter on the radio will drown out most of the music in a properly configured system anyway.  I use the IPhone connection mostly to listen to Dwayne O'Brien's Song Pilot Album when I'm going low and slow off the grid or to talk on the phone when I need to read someone on the ground.

 

Tom Muller



Steve Fabiszak
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#7 Posted: 8/23/2009 22:21:32

The problem with plugging your music device directly into the headset instead of into the intercom is the fact that the music WILL NOT be muted by the intercom when a radio transmission is received. "Say again, Center. I was rocking out to ........" You get the message.

The answer to the low music volume is a matter of matching the output impedance of the ipod to the aircraft intercom's impedance. I'll hunt down and post one solution I came across a while back.

Steve

 



Steve Fabiszak
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#8 Posted: 8/23/2009 22:33:58

Found it. About $20 in parts from Radio Shack gets you the parts to build this impedance matching device.

http://www.vansairforce.com/community/showthread.php?p=196367#post196367

Other pilots have purchased or built a preamp. And of course other pilots report plenty of ipod volume in their aircraft without having to use preamps and such.

 



Jim Hann
Vintage Aircraft Association MemberHomebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
125
Posts
41
#9 Posted: 8/24/2009 09:10:00

Mike Huffman wrote:

 

Brady,

Just a small note: the jack on your iPhone is not a standard 3.5-mm headphone jack.  It has another ring connection for the microphone in a typical iPhone headset.  However, there are adaptors available on the Internet that allow using headphones that use a standard 3.5-mm headset plug--I ordered one recently through HDAccessory.com.  You could use that to plug into the music adaptor.

Hope this helps!

 

Mike,

I just got a Touch 2nd generation and I'm still getting up to speed, but I believe it has the same jack.  I've been using both regular headphones and an iPhone headset with it without problems.  If you wonder why, it is because I have Skype on the Touch so I can make calls using WiFi when I'm out of cell service (a lot of international travel).  I guess maybe the Touch 2nd gen handles the jack differently since it is normally just an output device, but would the iPhone be bothered by a standard jack if you have the phone off?  Which is the way we are supposed to have our cell phones in flight, right ? wink



http://sites.google.com/site/jimscavaliersa1025/ http://picasaweb.google.com/CozyCanard http://sites.google.com/site/cavalieraircraft/
Russel Green
9
Posts
0
#10 Posted: 8/24/2009 23:25:58

I'm an audio professional, so you can take this to the bank:  When I was looking for new headset/intercom gear for a homebuilt, I did some browsing. I didn't browse ALL intercoms or "black-box" adaptor/interfaces, but several. None of them had frequency responce below 200-300 Hz. That's not even the bottom of the vocal range, let  alone the bass range. If you care to have real sound, you need range from 60 Hz to about 8-10 kilohertz. Yes, home hi-fi goes higher (20 kHz), but 8-10 will do in an aircraft cabin.  A big problem here is that very few manufactures of these aircraft products are publishing their frquency range. I went to the trouble of calling the back-room techs at some of these and learned that what's true elsewhere in the audio industry is true here: If they haven't printed the specs it's because their specs suck.  Also, some of these replies mention low-volume problems when going thru the intercom. This is a common problem. There may be a couple of boxes out there that get to business, and the impedance-matching problem is also true SOMETIMES.  Before going to that trouble (preamp or imp. match), find out if your end result will have full frequency range. And auto-muting.  Now to the bottom line from my experince: I bought Lightspeed ANR's (Twenty 3G, and they have other models) and I'm extremely pleased. Not only full bass, but plenty of volume, active noise rediction, auto muting (really auto-ducking-- the music or cell phone volume ducks under an incoming/outgoing transmission), and bass-boost, treble-boost, or both to customize the tone. Comes with cables for iPod/CD and cell phone. The only drawback is as mentioned elsewhere, the music is only in your headset, not passenger. Depending on their taste in music, could be a blessing.  Half the cost of Bose X.



David Cooper
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0
#11 Posted: 8/26/2009 06:35:08

Brady:

 

I know you've already ordered an adapter, but FWIW here's another option for others interested in this thread: the BluLink Cell Phone Adapter GA. http://www.pilotmall.com/product/BluLink-Cell-Phone-Adapter-GA/pilotusa-headsets

 

At $249, it's very spendy, but it leverages the Bluetooth functionality of my Blackberry Curve phone, which eliminates the need for a physical connection between the phone and the headset. I tried the phone functionality on a cross-country flight this past weekend, and the devicie worked very well -- wherever I could get a strong signal. I haven't tried listening to music in the plane, but I have tested it in quiet comfort of my kitchen, and the device works well. My headset is a non-stereo David Clark, so I can't attest to sound quality, but the volume is more than adequate.

 

As noted on the web page linked above, the unit is powered and has auto mute for incoming radio traffic and phone calls. So far, I'm very pleased with the unit. Although, when I win the lottery, I'll just go with the Lightspeed Zulu which has Bluetooth functionality built in.

 

PropFan



Erik Winter
2
Posts
2
#12 Posted: 1/22/2010 01:27:31 Modified: 1/22/2010 01:28:31

Hey Brady,

Was wondering how you liked the adapter you purchesed was thinking about buying the same one.  Would appriciate the feedback thanks.  Erik

 



Brady Lane
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
109
Posts
103
#13 Posted: 1/22/2010 15:54:59
Erik Winter wrote:

 

Hey Brady,

Was wondering how you liked the adapter you purchesed was thinking about buying the same one.  Would appriciate the feedback thanks.  Erik

 

Erik,

I ordered it a little over a week before my trip and sadly it was on backorder from aircraft spruce.  I didn't learn this until a day or so before my flight, so it was too late to order it elsewhere.  I ended up canceling the order and used the earbuds under the headset method.  It wasn't too comfortable and the audio doesn't dim that way, so I didn't do it very long.  I haven't had a long flight since then to justify the purchase, but it's still on my wishlist.

Has anyone else used this model and can give us some feedback on it?

http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/avpages/headsetAdapter.php  

 



EAA 808095 Multimedia Journalist
Erik Winter
2
Posts
2
#14 Posted: 1/23/2010 22:52:51

Brady,

Thanks for the quick reply, ya Im doing the same thing right now with the ear buds under the headset.  Def need a change flying several hours 5 days a week with those in gets old.  I think I will just break down and buy it and just hope for the best.  Take care and safe flying.  Erik 



Brian Hartwick
27
Posts
3
#15 Posted: 1/25/2010 14:14:32

I've been using a Bose Quiet Two headset for years with great success.  As you know, it is primarily used for quiet time and for playing music.  A company, www.uflymike.com  makes a mike adaptor that slides into the mp3 connector for the headset.  Your music source connects through the mike adaptor.  The end result is a Bose headset, half the price, that provides great audio quality at an affordable price.  If u need a TSO'ed model, they make that too.  You might want to check it out.



Vern Little
1
Post
0
#16 Posted: 6/21/2010 11:24:32
Russel Green wrote:

 

I'm an audio professional, so you can take this to the bank:  When I was looking for new headset/intercom gear for a homebuilt, I did some browsing. I didn't browse ALL intercoms or "black-box" adaptor/interfaces, but several. None of them had frequency responce below 200-300 Hz. That's not even the bottom of the vocal range, let  alone the bass range. If you care to have real sound, you need range from 60 Hz to about 8-10 kilohertz. Yes, home hi-fi goes higher (20 kHz), but 8-10 will do in an aircraft cabin.  A big problem here is that very few manufactures of these aircraft products are publishing their frquency range. I went to the trouble of calling the back-room techs at some of these and learned that what's true elsewhere in the audio industry is true here: If they haven't printed the specs it's because their specs suck.  Also, some of these replies mention low-volume problems when going thru the intercom. This is a common problem. There may be a couple of boxes out there that get to business, and the impedance-matching problem is also true SOMETIMES.  Before going to that trouble (preamp or imp. match), find out if your end result will have full frequency range. And auto-muting.  Now to the bottom line from my experince: I bought Lightspeed ANR's (Twenty 3G, and they have other models) and I'm extremely pleased. Not only full bass, but plenty of volume, active noise rediction, auto muting (really auto-ducking-- the music or cell phone volume ducks under an incoming/outgoing transmission), and bass-boost, treble-boost, or both to customize the tone. Comes with cables for iPod/CD and cell phone. The only drawback is as mentioned elsewhere, the music is only in your headset, not passenger. Depending on their taste in music, could be a blessing.  Half the cost of Bose X.

 

Hi Russell.  I run Vx Aviation, manufacturer of the ASX-2A/2B music adaptor/cell phone adapter cited previously.  I call your attention to the specifications of these devices (for example http://vx-aviation.com/documents/ASX-2A_install.pdf).  They are specified as 40Hz to 15KHz (-3db equivalent to + or - 1.5 dB) into 300 ohms.  The music gain is nominally 14 dBV and the comms gain is 6 dBV allowing for a lot of installation flexibility, including driving multiple headsets.  Output impedance is 75 ohms, so a load of 4 stereo headsets would be easily handled.

These units were designed for audiophiles who appreciate quality music and should be used with good quality headphones to get the full enjoyment.  Automute is provided (selectable).

The only downside is that these devices are designed for permanent installation.  It is possible to wire up cables to provide inline headphone jacks, 12V power and a 3.5mm audio cable, but we do not provide this.  In addition, the ASX-2B version provides a cell phone interface that requires microphone cables, custom wired jacks and an ``answer switch`if required.  Due to the vast variability in cell-phone jack pinouts and the ability of many cellphones to provide music as well, this wiring must be determined at installation.

For students of industrial design, the entire device is encapsulated in a 25pin D-Sub backshell and takes no panel space.  It can even be tie wrapped to a wiring harness or other hardpoint, thus no physical modifications are required to the airframe (other than any switches required).

Please note that in some jurisdictions, the operation of a cell phone in flight is prohibited.  Even when not, most cell phone towers do not direct energy more than a few hundred feet above ground level, so communications is unreliable.   The use of a cell phone in an aircraft is best reserved for preflight or postflight communications.

Thanks!

 

Vern Little

Vx Aviation

www.vx-aviation.com