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Lightspeed Aviations Zulu Headsets


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Having recently purchased a pair of Lightspeeds Aviations new Zulu headsets a friend and fellow forum member asked if I could write a bit of a review on them.


Let me just say from the outset that I am in no way affiliated with Lightspeed Aviation or stand to gain from promoting their product. I am simply giving an owners opinion of their product for the benefit of others.


For those of you who are unaware Lightspeed Aviation has been a manufacturer of mid priced headsets for sometime, but not a dominant player. This may well be about to change with their new Zulu line.


It appears they have set their sights firmly on the two popular current top of the range headset manufacturers, David Clark with their X11 and Bose with their X series.


Lightspeed Aviation claim they have created the worlds quietest aviation headset, this may or may not be true but I would have no doubt they are of equal standing with the DC or Bose ANR systems. They also claim that through the extensive use of magnesium/plastic composites in the ear-cups they have excellent passive noise reduction, however I don't agree, I doubt their passive noise attenuation is as good as even an average dedicated passive system. Although it is much better than the passive ability of the Bose X headset. I suspect that many of the ANR systems have actually designed their ear-cups to work as as frequency modifying (lowering) echo chambers so as to give the ANR something to bite into, just a crude observation though. With the ANR turned off it does seem quite loud in the lower frequencies. Expect about 30 hours out of a pair of top quality AA batteries.


Like the Bose they use a large soft foam, thin skinned leather ear cup seal which I'm led to believe may start shedding its skin in about a year, replacements are available for a modest price I'm told. The beauty of these types of ear-seals in conjunction with the ANR is that your glasses frames appear to make no difference to noise attenuation, nor do they create a pressure point on the side of your head as the clamping forces are quite modest.


The head band pad is of the same material as the earpieces and they have thoughtfully left a gap in the centre, making it two piece if you will, which will accommodate those annoying studs on the top of your cap.


The adjustment for the ear-cups is by way of what appears to be a very well thought out and well engineered detent slide. The head band frame is made of magnesium also.


The ear cups will rotate approximately 10 degrees forward and 90 degrees back which allows them to be stacked flat in their semi hard carry case.


I wore them for about 8 hours in one day on a flight across Oz and found them very comfortable to wear, no complaints at all.


Audio quality from ATC/Centre was very good, but there are many variables which play a part in this. By the time the fat controllers voice has squeezed its way out of his antenna, across the ether then into my antenna, down a length of coax, and around and around the wizardry of an aging VHF comm it's surprising to me anything comes out intelligibly, but it does.


The side tone quality is good but I wouldn't say great, but then the variables above may be a consideration.


Gadgetry and trickery, the Zulu has more electronic switchery and sophistication than many RAAus aircraft, and this may in time be it's Achilles heal, depending on the build quality, which does appear excellent.


It is Blue tooth capable so it will smile at other device which also sport a Bluetooth, phone, MP3, electric toothbrushes etc.


It has a small knob on the mic with 180 degree rotation for mic gain adjustment.


On the hand controller there is left and right headset volume control for your VHF and a separate volume control for other audio devices. There is a button for selecting audio priority, ie. when selected, the moment you TX or RX the audio (your tunes) will mute until completion of the TX or RX, and it works well. There are two supplied auxiliary audio leads, but you can only use one at a time. By plugging your tunes into the hand piece instead of blue-toothing you conserve battery life and noticeably improve the audio quality.


The audio quality is excellent, and from the literature it appears Lightspeed Aviation have used the very best science and technology to create a first rate stereo sound. Although it is a somewhat of a mute (?) point if your trying to appreciate high fidelity in something trundeling along at about 120 db an hour. But it does have a FRC button on the hand piece, (Front Row Centre effect in a theatre), which is best left on all the time. Inside the hand piece are six small switches so small that you need a pen or toothpick to move them, and many with aging eyesight will need a magnifying glass to read them, but they are pretty much set and forget switches. They select such items as bass boost, treble boost, stereo/mono, which configures for aircraft stereo jacking (your tunes are always stereo regardless of switch position), cell mic bias which enables you to make phone calls through the headset when the headset is unplugged. But best of all is the switch labeled "leave off", you just can't have to many switches.


To sum up, I am very impressed with the Zulu's and would more than likely buy another pair if I lost them. They are bit cheaper than the competitors, but not significantly when your shelling out what are extortionist prices anyway.


But it is always nice to send a message to manufactures that seem to think because it is "aviation" we can build in higher margins.


On the down side, perhaps to much gadgetry which could lead to problems, but time will tell on this. The carry case whilst offering great protection with it's semi hard cover is a little fiddly when packing the headset in, or maybe it's just me fussing as I know how much they cost. Passive noise reduction isn't as great as they claim, and no external power supply ability, and I'm sure Mother Nature needs more discarded batteries like she needs more plastic bags. In contrast to their company title the speed stayed much the same.


For more info: www.lightspeedaviation.com







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