Gnarly Noise Negators

Light-1Our first day at Air Venture someone urged us to check out Lightspeed's "new" headsets with the ANR microphone on the outside of the ear cup. They went on about how quiet they were supposed to be and yep, yep, yep, we've heard that before…

Dutifully, we did enter the Lightspeed booth and took the briefing on the Zulu PFX. Turns out these are not new, but were brought to market almost exactly a year ago, but would you like to try on a pair?

Amazing. Of course you have to try them yourselves, but the rave reviews are correct—these are one quiet set of muffs. And more. Naturally they're not heavy, have sofa-soft ear seals and look as good as a set of Mickey Mouse ears can. But the interesting technology is invisible until you start looking with your head flaps instead of your eyes.

The ANR microphones really are on the outside of the ear cup and apparently more faithfully model the local environment for better ANR function. Another mic inside the ear cup plays policeman on ANR function for even more powerful attenuation. All mics feed a tiny microprocessor which drives ANR function, so clearly some thought went into all this signal processing.

[sc:ad180]Another set of sound waves are used to map your ear shape as the ear cup aurally sees it for better ANR accuracy… and to think dad stuck cotton in our ears at the pistol range when we were kids.

Following the trick, flexible, silver-coated copper and Kevlar reinforced cables down to the control paddle/battery pack and you’ll find a mini-port for e-upgrades from the Lightspeed mothership. There’s also Bluetooth phone connectivity and streaming music so your phone or tablet can wirelessly send alerts to your ears.

But the big feature you don't get is noise, maybe 10 percent of the simulated engine rumble Lightspeed used in their booth demonstration got through. Good in an open cockpit? “Umm, some customers say yes,” so better give them a trial first as there are so many variables when sitting outside.

Inexpensive? Of course not at $1,175 retail, but worth a try.

Tom Wilson

Tom Wilson is a professional magazine writer and nurtures an ongoing affair with all things internal combustion. His writing is most often found in automotive magazines, but aviation is his first love. Working as a line boy, he learned to fly while in high school, but still hasn't mastered the art of keeping a paper chart in an open cockpit.

2 Replies to “Gnarly Noise Negators”

  1. I use Clarity Aloft headsets. They are 1/2 the price they work just as well and they fit in your ears not on your head, I can wear them all day.

  2. The Lightspeed headsets are awesome, they are super comfortable and work great. I've tried other brands out when I fly with friends and use their non-Lightspeed headsets. In the past few years, I've put nearly 900 hours on my Zulu's with nothing but great performance in my Vans RV-8 and RV-4. The only thing I need is an adapter so I can take the headset home to listen to music with it.

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