Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sennheiser S1 Noisegard

Sennheiser adds a more affordable ANR headset to their S1 line

Sennheiser took a different approach with the design of the entire S1 line. They differ significantly from the established "HME" line of headsets in many ways. One of the most notable is the size and shape of the S1's ear cups. Larger than the competitors', the S1 features deep and wide oval ear cups. The comfort they offer is obvious the minute you put them on. The larger ear cups also provide a better seal, which is useful if your ANR batteries die and you're left with passive-only attenuation. In fact, the S1 Noisegard, like most modern headsets, automatically switches to passive mode when the AA batteries wear out (which Sennheiser says is about 40 hours).

The S1 Noisegard is cosmetically similar to others in the S1 line, this time sporting glossy, metallic-gray ear cups instead of black. The cord has the same sturdy feel and connectors as the rest of the S1 line. One of the best features of the S1 family is adjustment of clamping pressure, and the Noisegard model has this, as well. Three intensities of clamping can be selected on each ear cup, which is especially useful on long flights.
Sennheiser is...known in the professional sound community for excellence. their headsets are used in the best recording studios in the world.
Having flown with several of the S1 headsets during long flights over the past few years, one area I'd suggest Sennheiser engineers look at, is the two individual head pads on the headpiece of the headset. While they feel comfortable on initial wearing, after about two hours, the individual pads create pressure points. Although it's not a showstopper, a one-piece, consistent-pressure head pad would help match the considerable comfort
of the ear cups. The S1 Noisegard has these same head pads, and although it's a small complaint, it can be significant on long cross-countries.

In aviation, the number-one priority in a headset is protection from noise. Between the engine and exhaust noise, the slipstream and the bleat of the propeller, our ears are pummeled with a good 110 dB (decibels—a measure of sound intensity) of noise, mostly concentrated in the lower frequencies. Studies by the FAA, several universities and industrial firms have determined that exposure to any sound greater than 85 dB will cause permanent hearing damage. Other than being comfortable, our headsets need to protect our ears from the sound intensity and frequencies that cause the most damage. Here, the S1 Noisegard excels.

Sennheiser is already known in the professional sound community for excellence. Their headsets are used in the best recording studios in the world. The S1 Noisegard continues that legacy by offering the same ANR protection as their flagship S1 Digital. However, the Noisegard achieves this with a fixed frequency response instead of the "adaptive" frequency response that reacts to a user's environment. That's okay because Sennheiser engineers chose the most common low frequency areas for the most attenuation. What you get is an almost "airy," quiet response in your headsets.

Sporting considerable comfort, excellent noise reduction, cable connectivity to MP3 players and cell phones, and an appealing, modern design, the S1 Noisegard looks to be another home run for Sennheiser. And with a street price of just less than $800, the S1 Noisegard will appeal to those who want legendary German engineering and quality at a price they can better afford. Visit


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