Headsets are probably the most important gear in your bag, without it you are not going anywhere. If you spend a lot of hours in the air only a fool would not invest in a high quality headset.
Have you noticed how those old-time pilots lean in when you talk to them? They sure wish that they had the options we have today and I’m sure they would tell you buy the best you can.
Headsets come in two groups, passive noise reduction and active noise reduction (ANR) sets. The only reason you will buy a passive set is a bleak bank account (or you love your brain to be squeezed into your ear cup).
Lightspeed specializes in aviation headsets and the Zulu is their flagship. The Lightspeed Zulu
is an ANR headset and is the second generation. The 3rd generation(Zulu PFX) is coming out in the near future but I don’t know how they are going to improve on an already fantastic product.
The cups are made of some magnesium alloy which is supposed to dampen noise when it’s in passive mode, who care’s you are always going to have on active mode. The foam and leather ear cushion is super soft and even after a 7 hour flying day they are still comfortable. The cushions however you need to replace after 12 to 18 months but its a simple task and cost around $40 for all the replacements.
Once you switch it on it still amazes me how effective it is. It reduces loud external noises to a low hum but can still make out conversation. The batteries
last for about 15-20 hours, but put a spare set in your bag and keep the cycling through them.
The bluetooth function is a deal maker. Switch it on, connect to your iPod or phone and have high quality music playing at any volume you like. Not good enough?, connect to your phone and make inflight calls with the other party not even knowing you are flying and all while you are talking in a normal voice.
The Lightspeed Zulu in my personal headset and I would say it is the flagship of the headsets.
Pros: Noise reduction, Bluetooth functions, Comfort
The Bose A20 headset
is Bose’s flagship headset. It is the next generation from the Bose X and basically is the catch-up for the Lightspeed Zulu. There is no doubt that is a very good headset and a lot of pilots would only have a Bose in their flight bag.
Noise cancellation is very good and so is the comfort. The Bose A20 headset also have bluetooth enabled plus an aux jack to plug-in a iPhone or iPod. The battery life seems to be about 10 hours which is a bit less than the Zulu but is certainly no deal breaker. A 5 year guarantee is standard for these headsets.
To compare the Bose to the Zulu is very hard and both are superior to anything else on the market. I personally have a Zulu in my bag but ask 2 different pilots and you will end up with 3 opinions.
The Bose A20 headset is about $200-$300 more expensive and I do not see any advantage in paying that. However when the new Zulu comes out the price will be the same again and we will end up with a photo finish.