Bose A20 vs. Lightspeed Zulu Headset Review
This review gives a comparison of 2 of the “highest-functioning” aviation headsets available on the market – Bose A20 vs. Lightspeed Zulu.
Bose products were of course first to market with this technology since they pretty much developed it, but sometimes is better in some aspects than the original. Depending on what you really want to get out of the headset, either could be the best one for you.
Aside from a few points off for not being first, with virtually the same features, the
Bose headset is simply quieter and less fatiguing.
Lightspeed Zulu is $800 and Bose A20 is $1095
Comfort: (Clamping force and fit of the ear cup)
In –Depth Review:
Bose is clearly the leader in Active Noise Reduction (ANR) technology. They have a wide variety of products that employ the science that they push the limits of in their Massachusetts labs and they pretty much own this area of acoustic science.
The inventor was an electrical engineering professor at MIT who had a side interest in acoustics.
There are 3 factors that manufacturers consider when designing that contribute to fatigue:
1. Clamping force on the head – this is a very big one, because it doesn’t take long for a headset to get uncomfortable.
2. Weight – along with clamping force, a headset’s weight can really make you fatigued.
3. ANR – this means the technology is designed to quiet the cockpit environment.
1. Clamping force – All of us have flown with cheaper products that feel like clamps. That’s because the only way most NON-ANR headsets keep sound out is by forming a tighter seal with our heads. Most comments by users of both headsets are in agreement, the Bose A20 has a lot less clamping force.
2. Weight is a factor that makes virtually no difference when you put a headset on, but after hours in the air with your neck muscles having to support the weight in different twisting and turning angles, an ounce or two makes A LOT of difference. The A20 is super-lightweight – 12 ounces. The Zulu weighs 13.5 ounces.
3. ANR allows for a more comfortable fit because the manufacturer doesn’t need to rely only on the seal to keep sound out. This technology “whites-out” ambient sounds. The way this is done is via small microphones that first pick up on ambient sound and then attempts to match it. Bose and Lightspeed products both do this, but the Bose version is clearly more comfortable.
What do actual users of the two headsets say?
- Lightspeed – out of 215 comments I found from pilots who fly this headset, only 15 had a bad experience (93% positive)
- Bose – fewer comments positive or negatives…out of 33 comments, only 3 were negative (91% positive)
• Short flights – If your flights are mostly under 1 hour, save yourself $300 and get the Zulu.
• Long flights – If your flights are mostly over 1 hour, the A20 really shines in comfort and reduced fatigue. And, worth every penny of the added costs.