The Zulu 3 is the most expensive and highly regarded aviation headset that Lightspeed offer, beating out the Sierra and Tango Wireless. While it has almost the exact same specs as the Sierra there are a few good reasons why a pilot should choose the Zulu over it. Compared to the Bose A20 it can compete in several aspects, and is a great choice if you’re not willing to spend as much.
The Zulu 3 has a battery life of 40 hours. This is the same as the more inexpensive Sierra. Out of the premium headsets, the Bose A20, David Clark DC PRO-X2 and David Clark DC ONE-X both beat it. The A20 has a battery life of 45 hours, and the two David Clark headsets have a battery life of 50 hours. Still, I would imagine 40 hours until you have to replace the batteries will satisfy almost all pilots.
One common complaint of the A20 is that there are too many plastic parts. This is not the case with the Zulu 3 despite its lower price point. I get why Bose did this – to reduce weight and improve comfort – but some pilots like to be safe in the knowledge that their expensive headset has an all-metal construction, which the Zulu 3 does. The cables are also Kevlar-braided.
The excellent construction quality is probably why Lightspeed are confident in offering such a generous warranty.
The Zulu 3 can’t quite compete with the A20 when it comes to ANR, but then again nothing really can. No complaints with the ANR, though. It will significantly reduce noise while still allowing you to hear what you need to hear and communicate just fine. It is more comparable to one of the David Clark ANR headsets.
Considering the Zulu 3 has almost the same exact specs as the more inexpensive Sierra, you may be wondering what makes it worth spending the extra cash. Well, the difference is largely the comfort factor.
The Sierra suffers from some clamping and tightness that you would expect from a mid-range headset, but the Zulu 3 does its very best to nearly completely eliminate this.
The slight difference in weight (Zulu 3 at 14 oz. and Sierra at 16 oz.) may not sound like a lot, but is enough to be noticeable, particularly when it comes to weight distribution. As with all Lightspeed Aviation headsets, the Zulu 3 has earpads made of a plush material.
As you might expect, both Bluetooth and an audio input are included so you can make calls, listen to music and eliminate cables. The ComPriority feature is a nice touch that allows you to reduce auxiliary audio to boost the clarity of ATC audio. Everything comes across clear and crisp.
FlightLink, which is compatible with all Lightspeed headsets, is a terrific feature that has provided a good enough reason for pilots to have chosen one of the company’s headsets over competitors. All pilots can benefit from the ability to capture and retrieve incoming and outgoing communications. It is perhaps student pilots who like this feature the most, though, as it enables them to review and improve their communication skills after each flight.
FlightLink also enables you to draw or erase notes or diagrams on the scratchpad, fine tune audio response, and boost voice clarity.
The Zulu 3 is backed by a 7-year warranty. This is actually the best in-class for an ANR headset. David Clark headsets, the Bose A20, and the Sierra are all backed by 5-year warranties. Perhaps more importantly, Lightspeed’s customer service is said to be excellent, and there are no qualms when there is an issue within the warranty period.
All in all, if you’re looking for a mid-premium headset but don’t want to spend Bose A20 money, or are looking for a step-up from the Sierra, the Zulu 3 is the logical choice. Compared to the Sierra the comfort, ANR and clarity on offer is large enough to make it a worthwhile upgrade.
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