Aviation headsets are significant in a pilot’s career. If you want to buy a new headphone, but cannot choose between the Lightspeed Zulu 3 or Bose A20, you will learn which is best in this review.
Here is the Comparison Table between Zulu 3 VS Bose A20
Lightspeed Zulu 3
The Zulu 3 is an improvement from Zulu 2. It is all metal with earcups that offer more comfort, especially for people who wear eyeglasses. Zulu 2 was an excellent high-end active noise reduction model that was comfortable, stylish, simple, and affordable. I bought the discontinued Zulu 2, but I was offered a reasonable upgrade with its third generation model.
Design and Comfort
I was impressed with Zulu 3 because it had the smart hardware of Lightspeed’s PFX model such as the performance ear seals and the Kevlar braided audio cable. These features make Zulu 3 durable and a quality aviation headphone. I also think that Zulu 3 has a better high-end feel than the 2nd generation.
The Kevlar-wrapped cable protects the audio wires from wear and tear. The all-metal build provides the superior feel while the cabling offers the rugged simplicity.
I like the Zulu 3 because of its snug fit. Whenever I wear it, I do not feel fatigue because it does not apply pressure on my head. Unlike its competitors, it covers 20% more surface area. It means that it can accommodate my eyeglasses without adding side pressure. Also, the earcup’s full cavity encapsulates the whole ear; thus, I do not feel any painful pressure.
I can adjust the fit of the headset for outstanding comfort through the unique expansion mechanism at the top of my head. I bought Zulu 3 with the standard audio plugs.
However, you can also choose the package with the Lemo power cable.
I can pair the headphone with my smartphone easily through Bluetooth technology. It uses two AA batteries that can last for 40 hours. However, I noticed that the batteries do not last long if the Bluetooth is on.
The simple control module has sliding control for volume. I find it surprising that it has a separate volume control for Bluetooth audio.
Stereo music is excellent because Lightspeed reworked the speakers and the earpads fit perfectly. The headphone’s cross-feed stereo enhancement makes it possible for me to feel a theater-like effect whenever I use it.
I also like the automatic ComPriority feature, which reduces auxiliary audio for better ATC communication. The microphone gain adjustment boosts side time by removing windscreen. However, the microphone boom is not reversible.
The Dual Aperture Disc mic offers better noise cancellation with crisp and rich audio communications. It can balance soft and loud voices.
The Flightlink app comes with the Zulu 3 package. I use it in toggling other Apple apps. Also, the app’s wireless audio playback and recorder is excellent for intercom and communication activities.
This feature works best for student pilots because they can listen to their audio recordings to improve their communication skills. Also, if you are using an action camera, the recordings capture cockpit audio perfectly. I can record flight footage without any glitch.
Active Noise Reduction
The Zule 3 offers effective noise reduction through its Microport Vent technology. Its improved ANR performance and consistency can cover a broad and deep low-frequency noise range. Furthermore, the magnesium ear cup can block out high-frequency noise.
However, when I compare it with the other high-quality headphones I used in the past, it is not at par with them. What do I mean by it? When I put it on without playing any audio, I do not get the same ultra-quiet experience that I get with the Bose A20.
I suggest that you replace the microphone muffs, headbands, and ear seals every 18 months for total performance.
Warranty and Money Back Guarantee
Lightspeed is offering a 7-year warranty on new purchases and a 2-year warranty for a Zulu 2 upgrade. Also, it provides a one-month money-back guarantee.
Bose is famous because of its high-quality audio equipment. Some A20 users say that it reduces engine noise dramatically, so they can communicate and understand the ATC with ease. The best headset for aviation can mitigate ambient sounds, so it protects the ears entirely.
Design and Comfort
The comfort level is superior with the A20 headset. I get my money’s worth because of its robust construction. Unlike the passive noise reduction headsets, this headphone does not clamp my head. I feel like I am not wearing anything on my head because it is ultra-lightweight.
Since its lightweight design does not clamp my head, I can enjoy the headphones without the fatigue that comes with other bulky headsets. Compared to other Bose models, the earcups are more substantial, so my ears are comfortable inside it.
This headset provides different plugs. The standard dual plugs work in most planes. However, if you often rent planes, I suggest that you get the Fixed Wing Portable alternative. For helicopter pilots, you can avail of the traditional single U-174/U plug.
The earcups have sheepskin cushions to make the ears comfortable. Also, the torsion spring inside the headset lessens the force of clamping.
My problem with the A20 is that I do not like the plastic in some of its parts. Plastic makes it fragile. I know Bose needs to keep this one light, but I am afraid that it will eventually break. The company should have used titanium, aluminum, or magnesium if it wants a lightweight headset.
Bose offers Bluetooth and wired versions for this headset. If I choose not to connect to the Bluetooth because it uses a lot of power, I plug the headset to my smartphone through a wire instead.
Concerning battery life, the two AA batteries run for 40 hours. However, if you connect through Bluetooth often, you can expect less than that. I also need not worry about the batteries dying on me. I can detect if I need to replace the batteries through the battery indicator.
What I like about this headphone is that I can still use it even if the batteries fail. However, it will only work as a conventional PNR headset. Also, I cannot connect to my devices through Bluetooth.
I can choose the type of audio I want to hear through the switch on the control box. I can also set it to mute the auxiliary audio automatically when communicating through the intercom.
Like the Zulu 3, this headphone can tone down the audio when communicating with ATC. I can hear the tower people. Unlike the Lightspeed headset I reviewed, I can use the microphone on both sides, which enhances its performance.
Its Active Equalizer makes it possible for me to hear audio. I can communicate with ATC with ease. Also, I enjoy listening to my favorite music when I use it on my flights.
Active Noise Reduction
A20 can reduce noise coming from the engine and the environment. It does not mute the sound, but you can hear it at a much lower level. Moreover, it can eliminate unnecessary noise so that you can only hear the signature sound.
Bose is the pioneer in active noise reduction technology for headsets. For this model, it can provide 30% more noise reduction than the other aviation headphones.
Bose offers a 5-year warranty on its headphones. Also, I checked the price for out-of-warranty repairs; I believe it is reasonable. If your headphone is still under warranty, you can avail of the 2-day return shipping.
- Editor Rating
- Rated 5 stars
- Lightspeed Zulu 3 VS Bose A20 - A Battle of the Best Flight Headset (2018)
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Are you shopping for a new aviation headgear? Do you find it difficult to decide between a Lightspeed Zulu 3 and a Bose A20? Click here for the review.