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David Clark X11 Reivew

Posted by on September 27, 2010 7 Comments Category : Flight Instructor Blog Tags :

Overview: At first glance the X11 has an impressive presence on paper but, in execution and practical use, the X11 falls short of its competitors.

Conclusion: Comfortable but fragile. Horrible Support

David Clark is a well-known aviation headset maker with their distinctive sage green colored headphones. I have owned the H10-20 and, my personal favorite David Clark headset, the H20-10 which is still my current choice for an over-ear passive headset.I’ve been using David Clarks the majority of my aviation careerand would be what you call a David Clark “fanboy”. Keep this in mind as you continue to read this review because my opinion changes quickly.

Late in my flight instructing career I had purchased the H20-10s and I fell in love (again) with David Clark.They were soft, light weight, and quiet. Flying times were good until someone broke into my car and stole my aviation flight bag. In a fit of irrational anger I splurged my money on the David Clark X11 headset. I logically told myself that this headset would be just as great as the H20-10 but with ENC.

I wanted the X11s as soon as I laid eyes on them. The classic green headset was so confortable when I tried it on in my flight school pilot shop. The ENC in addition to an AUX port and cell-phone jacks had me sold. The X11 website boasts additional features such as “intelligently engineered, low force, dual-hinge suspension assembly that provides optimum articulation and personalized fit” or “sleek, lightweight control unit powered by two AA batteries (average 30 hours)” .  The carbon fiber headband is very lightweight and strong, and looks amazing. The gel ear seals are fabric faced so they are soft and won’t stick to you in the Texas summers.The headset also has a well-engineered microphone that is noise canceling in addition to the ENC of the earphones.

I owned my X11s a week before I started regretting my purchase. My X11 headset was very lightweight and confortable, however this was a problem. The headset doesn’t create a strong enough seal around the ear for the ENC to be very effective. So what you gain in comfort you lose in noise reduction. Also the promised 30 hours of battery life was more like 6 hours. I would change the batteries every day, and pretty soon I just ignored the ENC feature altogether.Then disaster, after a month I started to take off my headset, when the “intelligent low force dual hinge suspension” broke. I wasn’t being rough with it, I was just taking it off and it snapped.  This led me to feelings of cheap shoddy craftsmanship. It broke right at the hinge with maybe a maximum of 3lbs of pressure while taking it off.

This leads me to my final complaint about the headset. The customer service is non-existent. I sent in my headset and a swiftfour to six months later I received a replacement. What, may you ask, did they replace it with? Another broken X11. This one worse than the first, I should have just duct taped the other one back together. This new one, when you turn on the ENC that I don’t use anyway because of the battery consumption (I do have a mortgage after all), a horrible ear piercing screech jolts you into a world of pain. So I contacted David Clark, previously favorite makers of headphones, and asked them what the deal was. Their reply was “It’s broke”.Really? No “We are sorry”? No RMA number? No support at all. They left me on my own to figure out how to even return their broken headset.

Overall the X11s feel cheap and fragile. If this headset was less than $500 it would make a decent entry level ENC headset. However the price of $800+ puts itself on the same shelf space with competitors such as Lightspeed or Boise. These headsets earned their high price tag because they actually deliver on quality and effective ENC technology. I feel betrayed by my old go-to makers of aviation headsets. If they ever manage to fix my X11 headset, It will be going to the trade up program Lightspeed offers for their Zulus.


This David Clark x11 Review was written by Stewart Stoll of PilotsJourney.com.  He can also be reached at cfistew.com


  1. Robert Hadow on May 14, 2011

    Gee, my experience is completely different. I find the X11 comfortable, with sufficient pressure to attenuate outside noise and let the noise cancellation work. I wear mine three hours a day. I use rechargeable batteries, so I don’t care how long the batteries last. Someon sat on mine once and I had a brand new pair within a week. I think the customer service is great.
    I will say that I have yet to see a pair on which the fail-safe feature worked properly. When the battery dies, they go silent. You need to turn the switch off to get them to work again.
    The Bose probably does have better accoustics. But for double the money, is it worth it? My primary interest is avoiding tinnitus when I get old.
    Robert http://www.bestinflight.net

  2. Thor on Oct 29, 2011

    I’ll call B.S. on the above comment! I have an X-11 headset and yes, I had a small problem with it. David Clark went “over the top” with their customer service. I sent the ‘defective’ headset to them and after checking it out they called me and informed me that a NEW headset was being sent to me via UPS RED!! David Clark? They are the BEST for customer service!!!

  3. ZK on Mar 12, 2013

    DC is the best in customer service. I took my 10 year old headset to them, they replaced the GEL pads, microphone, cable, and speaker cover for free.
    They even gave me free goodies like microphone cover.

    Have not used X11 though. X11 may have issues but their customer service is out of this world.

  4. Michael O on Aug 24, 2015

    Had the exact same issue. The hinge broke in normal use and DC would not replace or repair it despite being in service less than 100hours according to my log book. I was offered a new set at what seemed to be list price minus a few percent. Never again will I do business with this company!

  5. Michael O on Aug 31, 2015

    Just to add to my reply above; David Clark customer service has now decided to repair my set free of charge. That was I had hoped for in the first place. Thank you, DC!

  6. David M on Sep 14, 2015

    I have just sent my X-11 to DC Hinge point broke after only 60 hrs of use. Have not heard back so jury is still out. Im sure they will be fair. will follow up

  7. Stephen S on Jan 25, 2017

    I also have a broken hinge on my DC X11. I called them and they said to send them in but would not say that they would fix them and offer a reduced cost on new version.
    Any news on others with this problem and customer service?

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