If I had to rank changes to aviation that have occurred over the last 10 years and then pick the top 3, there is no question what those top 3 would be. We are far better off as pilots today because of the GPS, the I-Pad, and noise canceling headsets (not necessarily in that order). Unquestionably, the noise canceling headset has made aviation not only better, but much safer. I’ve become a headset snob and almost won’t fly without a good headset. I like my hearing too much. A long flight under the old “David and Clark head-vice” was misery compared to today’s best headsets. Which one do I recommend? As much as I hate to enter the fray, here I go…
Lightspeed Zulu2: I’ve been wearing Lightspeed’s for about 10+ years, starting with the older black versions (which I still have) and now have migrated to a Zulu2. At $900, it is approaching “expensive”, but you do get a great headset that is light, ergonomically sound, and has super noise attenuation. As a taller pilot, I love the fact that the cushion on the top is thinner so I don’t hit my head against the roof as much. On a scale of 1-10, this one is a “9.5”. You won’t go wrong here…
Uflymike.com: I was introduced to the Uflymike headset arrangement on a long flight with a friend. He had discovered the headset arrangement and loved it. I flew with the setup for a good portion of the trip, and love it as well. Basically, you buy a microphone attachment, and then separately buy a microphone-less Bose Headset (QC-15). The arrangement is spelled out on their website www.uflymike.com so I won’t go into it here, but the combination is just super. The Bose headset is extremely light and the microphone works beautifully. For less than $550 for the complete setup, this is a great option. On a scale of 1-10, this one is a “9.4”. Another reason the Uflymike combo is really excellent is that the headset can be used without the cords for non-aviation use. I’ve gravitated to bringing the Bose QC-15 with me on the airliner when traveling to a ferry destination, simply to deaden the noise on the airline. It works wonderfully, especially if you listen to lots of music or watch movies while traveling. With the ANR the overall volume can be kept lower, and lower volume translates into less wearisome travel. Its small carrying size makes it really easy to fit into carry-on luggage. For those considering buying a headset for the passengers in the back of your airplane, the uflymike is the obvious choice. Your passengers can unplug the headset and still have great noise attenuation, and not have to listen to the cockpit chatter.
Bose: There is no doubt that Bose has super headsets. They just work splendidly. The problem is that they are expensive. At $1,100 bucks, you’ve got to be really serious about your flying to get one of these. On a scale of 1-10, the Bose is a “9.5”
Final analysis: So, which one should you buy? If money does not drive your aviation decisions, you want to have the most recognizable name, and you don’t care about ceiling height, go for the Bose. You’ll get a great name and a great headset. If money does come into the discussion or you are tall, then go for the Lightspeed Zulu2 because it is just as good as the Bose. If $900 bucks sounds like a lot of money to you, then go for the Uflymike headset. Even consider getting a used Bose QC-15 headset to save money; you could probably get a used Bose QC-15 and buy a new Uflymike microphone and have a total package under $400. I think the difference between the quality of the Bose headset and the Lightspeed Zulu2 is slight (or even non-existent)…they are both excellent headsets. The Uflymike is probably slightly noisier, but I mean only slightly. To counter the slightly less attenuation, the Uflymike is lighter.
What would I do? I’d buy the uflymike and never look back. Small size, lower cost, tremendous utility, and high quality. I’ve got all three headsets, but I’ve been flying a lot more with the Uflymike headset lately. It is lighter and a super product.
One thing is for sure…I’d only get one of these 3 products. I don’t know of another headset on the market that rivals these 3 and I’ve tried a BUNCH of them. Your hearing is just too valuable to waste with a lesser headset.