We recently got the chance to fly with David Clark’s new DC ONE-X headset, and it is at the very least a product that a lot of pilots will want to consider before making their next headset purchase.
The latest product from the legendary Worchester, Massachusetts, company, the DC ONE-X sells at online retail sites for right around $900. Like all of the company’s headsets, the latest model seeks to find a pilot niche that makes sense by providing a great product at a good price. If David Clark were to have a motto, it might be “different missions, different headsets.” Indeed, it’s hard to find a company with a broader range of headset products for pilots who fly different kinds of aircraft on different kinds of missions.
It will come as no surprise to any pilot that there’s a lot of competition among high-end headsets for the fixed-wing crowd, and the DC ONE-X doesn’t attempt to place itself at the head of the class, along with the pricier Bose A20 (around $1,100) and the Lightspeed Zulu PFX ($1,100), both of which, by the way, are headsets we love.
The DC ONE-X instead aims a bit lower than the leaders, with a price tag a couple of hundred dollars less, but while offering a value proposition completely different from the Bose or Lightspeed stars, or for that matter, from any headset we know of. The Lightspeed Zulu.2 ($800) and the AKG AV100 ($850) are closer in price point, but also are more full-bodied headsets than the ONE-X.
To start out with everybody’s first question, the DC ONE-X isn’t as quiet as the Bose A20 or the Lightspeed Zulu PFX, though it is quiet. It’s also not quite as luxurious feeling as either one. It does, to its credit, have a number of features, including Bluetooth connectivity, stereo sound and auto-off functions that we all want these days, but it isn’t the Cadillac of headsets.
But that’s okay, because clearly it’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be different, and it is. Here’s how.
In terms of convenience, the DC ONE-X is tough to beat. For starters, it’s really light, only 12¼ ounces by our measure, making it lighter than the competition while also having a light nylon carry case that looks too small for the headset to easily fit back inside. It’s not too small. It fits easily. The ONE-X is also really compact, folding up neatly in a package that’s as much as a third smaller than either the Bose or the Lightspeed product. For pilots who carry their headsets with them, a little smaller and lighter makes a big difference when trying to get it into an already too full pilot bag. Don’t say you haven’t been there.
In terms of comfort, the ONE-X makes a strong case for itself. The earcups aren’t as cushy and the noise reduction (both passive and active) isn’t as powerful as the A20 or the Zulu PFX. But the fit of the ONE-X is very nice (at least to my noggin), with its light weight making it infinitely forgettable (a very good thing when it comes to headsets) and its beautifully designed headband providing precious little clamping force topside while keeping the seals of the earcups tight to the naked head. As with any headset, eye- or sunglasses temple pieces provide a challenge to that seal, seemingly a little more on the ONE-X than on its competitors.
As far as durability is concerned, it’s hard to give high marks to a brand-new product in this category, but I’m sorely tempted to do just that. The way the cups connect with a clever two-way joint makes it virtually impossible to bend it into a position it won’t like, not to mention that dropping it from waist level (yes, we did) seems a non-event. (Still, don’t try it at home.)
With the DC ONE-X, David Clark has created what seems to be an instant classic, a headset that pilots will love for its comfort, quality, durability, value, and, yes, even features. Not that this makes any buyer’s choice easier, as the competition is a couple of established classics, now with another strong competitor, at least.
Learn more at the David Clark Company.