LightSpeed Aviation's all-new lightweight (under 14 ounces) active noise-reduction aviation headset, called the Zulu, sells for around $850. It is clearly intended to grab a chunk of the high-end market from Bose's award-winning Aviation Headset X.
Like just about every conventional aviation headset, the Zulu is at heart a passive noise reduction product. That is, it cuts noise by blocking it from ever reaching your ears. Unlike LightSpeed's previous, somewhat bulky offerings, the Zulu ANR first cuts noise passively with new, much smaller earcups, made from magnesium (which cuts noise) and plastic (which dampens the magnesium's natural harmonics). The company says that the new headset isn't "measurably" quieter but "noticeably" quieter.
But how quiet is "quiet?" Good question. In our flyingmag.com giveaway promotion in the April issue, we mistakenly attributed specific noise cancellation specs to LightSpeed. It turned out that the specs we published were for a different LightSpeed model and that the company, like some other high-end headset makers, has decided not to make specific noise reduction claims but to let customers decide.
I flew with the Zulu over the course of a few flights in my PlaneSmart SR22-G3 Turbo and had an excellent chance to compare it side by side against the Bose Aviation Headset X. The subject of quiet is a complicated one, but the Zulu seemed quieter.
And it was comfortable, though not quite as comfy as the Bose. After one four-hour flight with the Zulu, my head felt fine.
You can connect a cell phone to the Zulu in two ways, with a standard cell phone cord (provided) or with Bluetooth, an industry standard wireless connection. My Bluetooth-capable music player sounded great on the Zulu, thanks to its high-end components and the connection was reliable. There are other features, like bass boost, controllable by user-adjustable switches in the compact, nicely designed battery pack. And the auto-mute feature worked flawlessly, too.
With the Zulu, LightSpeed has taken a new path. And while I can't speak to the long term durability of this headset, its construction looks beefier than LightSpeed's blue plastic models. And with advanced features and performance, customers looking for a high-end headset have a new option.