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Upgrading Your Aging Audio Panel

19 August 2015 @ 3:00 PM  / Aviation Blog / Lucy's Logbook /

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If you’re like many aircraft owners out there this time of year, you may be considering an upgrade to your aircraft as soon as the lull of wintertime weather rolls around (there are only 128 days until Christmas, you know… :) But the thought of a panel upgrade can send any aircraft owner into a frenzy – where do I start? Perhaps I need to consider an ADS-B upgrade?  What do I need? What do I really want? What can I afford…?

(Ok, I know I’m not making this thought process any easier...)

There are a lot of considerations, but what if I told you there is an easy path to upgrade, that is affordable, adds a lot of functionality to your cockpit that you more than likely do not currently have and delivers a solid return on your investment?

Audio panels are not always at the top of everyone’s list to consider, in fact they may be an afterthought but these feature-packed products add an enormous amount of capability. Garmin’s latest audio panel does just that and more! Announced just ahead of Oshkosh 2015 last month, the GMA 350c Bluetooth audio panel comes loaded with more features than you could ever ask of an audio panel. Plus, installation is quick and easy!

Let’s take a look at a few features built-in to the GMA 350c:

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  • Bluetooth: Wireless connectivity provided by the GMA 350c gives pilots more capabilities, including the option to distribute music or telephone audio through the audio panel. Need to open a flight plan by calling Flight Service at an uncontrolled field? That’s easy with the GMA 350c – connect your phone to the GMA 350c and you’re ready to take-off!
    • Connectivity is further expanded to include VIRB XE. Integration with Garmin’s HD action camera allows the GMA 350c to connect wirelessly to VIRB XE in place of a headset audio cable to conveniently overlay intercom audio and air traffic control communications while capturing rich, high definition video.
  • 3D Audio: This unique feature tailors audio in the headset to mimic how the human ear naturally hears and processes sound. 3D Audio distributes audio based on the source it is coming from. For example, COMM 1 audio will seem like it’s coming from the left, while COMM 2 audio will seem like it’s coming from the right. Grab some stereo headphones, plug them into your computer and listen to a demonstration of 3D audio. 
  • Telligence: Decrease pilot workload with Telligence, which allows you to operate your audio panel without taking your hands off of the controls. To switch between COMMs just press a button and say, “MIC 1” or “MIC 2”
  • Automatic voice recorder: Missed a clearance? No problem! The GMA 350c incorporates a digital voice recorder, which continuously captures the last 2.5 minutes of audio for playback
  • Auto Squelch: An internal microphone within the GMA 350c senses ambient noise and adjusts cockpit speaker volume level to ensure important audio transmissions are heard throughout all phases of flight. For example, speaker volume is adjusted accordingly to ensure alerts are quieter on the ground and louder in-flight

With all of these features in mind, there are a lot of reasons to upgrade. It may not be all that flashy but come next Spring when you’re flying around with a new audio panel (and perhaps more avionics than the year prior), you’ll realize just how much more capability an upgraded audio panel can add to your flying! 

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