Tuesday, April 1, 2008
So comfortable and quiet, you’ll want to experience it beyond the airplane
I first learned about the Lightspeed Zulu from a friend at the Reno Air Races last September. He was as pleased as he could be, enough so that he seemed like a walking advertisement for the product. I was a little skeptical about the durability of a Lightspeed headset in my aerobatic Edge 540, but he insisted it was truly great and described a change that had occurred within the company. Lightspeed has always focused on providing a good value headset with great comfort and outstanding customer service, but now they have such a high-quality piece of equipment that there’s little need to use their world-class service department. The active noise-reduction (ANR) headset includes features such as Bluetooth wireless capability, an audio-in jack for MP3 players and leather ear seals.
At the Relentless hangar, Lightspeed President Allan Schrader gave me a demo of the Zulu. I was immediately impressed. The sleek magnesium alloy headset looks strong and classy—the same way that a Ferrari looks like it’s going fast even when it’s parked. I enjoyed the audiophile-quality sound of the music he had playing, especially when the Front Row Center (FRC) circuitry was active. I was very pleased with the headset’s lightweight (13.9 ounces) and comfort (a flexible spring steel inside the headband lessens side pressure).
My first flying experience with the Zulu, during formation aerobatics, was even more amazing. The Edge 540 is the best unlimited aerobatic monoplane built, but it also acts as a carbon-fiber megaphone that amplifies every bit of noise that it can right into the back of my head. The noise just increases and gets more and more deafening with each mile per hour until redline.
DIP switches in the battery box allow users additional control in matching the Zulu’s performance to their airplane. I set mine to mono-mode to work with the inside of my utilitarian aerobatic flying machine. On the radio check-in for the Collaborators flight, I jumped because I had forgotten that the radio was turned all the way up for the old headset. I soon got the excessive volume situation under control, and I was lovin’ my Zulu even more. Communication is imperative to flying formation aerobatics, and I can’t overstate how excellent it was to be able to hear all of our radio calls with perfect clarity. I found myself in a relatively peaceful environment where I was communicating easily with my team. There was no pain, and I didn’t have to worry that I was doing permanent damage to my hearing.
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