• Garmin GMA340 Audio Panel

    Last month I got my SuperMouse back with a new GTX327 transponder, used (but new new for me) GMA340 audio panel/interncom, and a factory refurbished GNC 300XL TSO GPS/COM. This review is for the GMA340 Audio Panel. When I got my A23-24 last year it came with a "4-place intercom" that was a Softcomm portable unit wired in semi-permanently. It hung down below the panel on the co-pilots side making quite a knee banger with a 2nd sort of hokey pilot's intercom/failsafe plugs on an extra panel on the pilots side. Rear passengers needed extra long cables back to the back seat from the front that of couse interfered with the flap level and trim pedestal. The audio panel was an ancient toggle switch thingy (KMA-20?) that introduced a lot of static and interference. Given I had decided to add a GPS/COM and would be into the panel anyway a "real" 4-place install was a requirement. I originally started out looking at the PS Engineering 6000 or 7000 series but got quoted a good price on a used 340 panel - and several of my quotes had recommended the 340 over the PS6000. This is actually a six place intercom, so it can be used in the 4/6 configured Mice as well. Some people might think that there are too many inputs but they go fast especially if creative. I had a music input jack added (the GMA340 has two, one auto-muted, one unmuted - the unmuted input is intended for a voice alerter input). My avionics guy also added a jack for the COM3 input that I can use for a cell phone interface (only slight oddity is the GMA340 is still half duplex on the mic circuits so you have to push the PTT to talk on the cell phone). So in my setup only the DME and NAV1 inputs are unused. I'm not going to rewrite the manual - but there are a couple key features I like. The split COM is very nice - I can talk to ATC while the right seater copies ATIS or to FSS for FlightWatch. The pilot/crew isolation modes are nice as well. The wife can ask about the funny noise without sharing with the rear seaters. "Pilot" (Isolation) has become her favorite button - we like to do flight following as much as possible but she likes to sleep - so when the frequency gets too chatty she just hits pilot and leaves me by myself while she nods off. It's not apparent from the pictures but there are 3 intercom volume adjustments - pilot, co-pilot, and pax. The VOX circuits are per-channel (all 6) so one person talking doesn't open any other mics, keeps the noise down a lot (some intercoms have a shared VOX circuit for the pax positions). It's not heavily popularized but the unit does have two noise reduction features. One filters the audio inputs from the avionics to reduce ambient noise and whine from them - that works great. The other does some noise reduction on ambient cabin noise, that works well too. Audio is definitely clearer and easier to hear. A somewhat overlooked item on many panels is the marker beacon receiver. This works well too with a high and low senstivity level and the blinking lights seem brigher and more visable than the panels I'm used to (particularly the Kings). It auto-activates and hit the button to toggle the mute one and off. A nice feature that it auto re-arms if left muted (useful if practicing repeated approaches or if you really go missed and are a bit busy). Overall I'm quite happy. A clearance recorder would have been nice but given the deal I got I couldn't justify the $1000 extra given portable or standalone recorders are available for $500 or less. If I was paying new prices I'd look at the GMA347 as well, but the 340 has been around long just long enough that there are a few used ones lurking out there as good deals. The PS Engineering 8000 is comparable and has a few bells and whistles of it's own but I've used both and I find the readability and usability for a fat fingered guy like myself to be better on the Garmin panels with the projecting rounded buttons.

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