Lightspeed Aviation is out with its latest headset, the Delta Zulu. It has a built-in carbon monoxide detector and can be customized to help pilots who have hearing loss. AVweb’s Paul Bertorelli took the headset for a test flight and prepared this video review.
Home Multimedia Flight Trial Lightspeed Delta Zulu Headset
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Direct Purchase headsets with Active Noise Cancelling [see back issues of Belvoir Media publications Aviation Consumer and, If memory serves, Aviation Safety magazines] are less than $500. A very good to excellent CO monitor is $120 (and can be Velcroed anywhere in or about the cabin/cockpit for chump change). Therefore the hearing assistance feature had better have Top Notch speech to noise differentiation for the street price of How Much Was That (I could not hear you over the 80-year-old ICE reciprocations and syne waves) ??
I love my new dz’s. The hearing test allowed me to build a custom profile to compensate for my HF hearing loss. ATC transmissions are much clearer.
The ANR is slightly superior to my A20’s.
Thanks for the in-depth review. I’ve been considering replacing my old Bose 10, long relegated to copilot duty. This is an interesting alternative.
I have a question about the built-in CO monitor. Is it life limited? The Honeywell standalone monitors I’ve been using have a hard limitation of (IIRC) three years after first use. They won’t even power up after expiration date.
I don’t know. I’ll ask.
10 year lifespan. It’s replaceable for a nominal fee.
Thanks, Paul. Seems reasonable.
And who is the guy sitting in the left seat (who seemed to be spending most of his time staring at something in his lap!). Who was flying the plane?
Good report, Paul. I have two questions, or maybe observations. First, like Coyle above, I am curious about the life limitation and calibration of the CO monitor, and can you select the level at which the alarms(s) is (are) set? Second, I am very happy to see the new design for the battery compartment. All of the previous Zulu series and the Sierra have a cover for the battery compartment that is a real pain. It’s hard enough to open sitting in a well lighted room at home, but fumbling with it in a dark cockpit in turbulence to swap batteries is, what I consider to be a safety hazard. It’s about time for that upgrade. One final observation: With the Delta Zulu, Lightspeed is now a direct competitor for the TSO’d Bose A-20. I feel they are making a mistake in not going through the TSO process. I know of a few pilots that like Lightspeed products, but have to use the A-20 because their work environment requires a TSO’d headset. In not doing so, I think they are missing out on a significant portion of the market.
Answered above. 10 years. And yes, the app allows you to set the alarm threshold.
CO detectors are only good for a few years at best… do you really want to pay $1000 every few years?
My David Clark’s from 30 years ago still work. I do have a set of Bose now. But the David Clark’s still could be used.
Lightspeed says you can send the headset back to them after the 10 years and they will refurbish the sensor. I know you can send any of their headsets back for refurbishment, so I don’t doubt them. I originally bought the Zulu.2 and was able to send it to them a few years ago to have it upgraded to a Zulu.3 for about 1/4 the cost of a new headset. They even replaced all of the soft wear items, so I suspect their CO refurbishment process would be similar. Or you can just live without the CO detection feature.
Good review, Paul. I’ve used my Delta Zulus for about 20 hours of flight so far. The ANR feature is definitely better than the Zulu 3 that I also have. The engine noise is quieter and I’m sure that it’s due to the additional microphones on the outside of the headset. I really like the integrated CO detector. I have a portable electronic CO detector but I’m always moving it around to be in my view since I might not be able to hear the audible alarm with all the cockpit noise. I also have had several occasions where I forgot to turn it off and the battery died. You can’t change the internal battery on one of those things in flight. With the Delta Zulu I charge the battery after each flight and I can plug it into my panel mounted 12 volt accessory jack if necessary so I never have to change the battery on the CO detector. I think that the manual for Delta Zulu says that you can send the headset back to Lightspeed to replace the CO detector when it doesn’t work anymore rather than buying a new headset. That should be at least 10 years. Like you, I really like the battery compartment change. It’s much easier to get the battery on and off. I can charge the headset with the included USB cable so I don’t need to take the rechargeable battery off unless I want to swap the included AA battery pack on. The only reason that I can think of to do that is if I forget to charge the rechargeable pack and it dies on me in flight. I also like the cables coming out of the same end on the control module. When I pack the headset in my flight bag, there less bending and folding of the wires. Even with a Kevlar jacket around the wires, frequent bending will eventually fray them inside the insulation with the other arrangement. The Delta Zulu is a bit heavier than my Zulu 3 but it’s not that noticeable. Comfort seems about the same. I like the larger, deeper, soft ear cups on the Lightspeed headsets better than the Bose A20. I wear advanced hearing aids with the Delta Zulu and although I set the HearingEQity up with the test tones, I’ve found that setting the headset equalizer to flat response works better because my Starkey Evolv AI hearing aids constantly adjust for the sound environment. If you’ve ever tried to run sound signals through two sets of equalizers, one of which is automatically adjusting, you’ll notice that clarity isn’t as good. There is also some signal degradation present in each equalizer so the fewer the better. For those with hearing loss who don’t wear hearing aids or those who wear older hearing aids that aren’t performing like they did originally, the HearingEQity could make a difference in the clarity of intercom and radio communications. Knocking down the engine noise improves clarity for me. It would be nice to have a trade-in program that accepts Zulu 2 headsets to lower the cost of the Delta Zulu. I started out with a Zulu 2 years ago and then upgraded to a Zulu 3. The Zulu 2 still works well but you can’t trade it in on the Delta Zulu. I gave my wife the Zulu 3 when I bought the Delta Zulu since the Zulu 3 ANR works better than the Zulu 2. I also noticed that Bluetooth has been improved with the Delta Zulu. After the initial pairing with my iPad Mini 5, it automatically connects with Foreflight. With the Zulu 3, I have to go to the Settings app on my iPad and a 2-step process to establish the connection. One safety feature that would be nice is to have the cockpit voice recorder built into the headset rather than the smart phone app. Then you could play back an ATC clearance by pressing a button on the control module rather than fumbling with your smart phone or tablet or using “Say again” several times while copying a clearance. That’s one less device to deal with while flying the aircraft. Another safety feature would be audible alerts from Bluetooth connected panel devices such as an engine analyzer or MFD. There’s a host of potential safety situations that could be provided by a Garmin GI 275 such as: altitude alerts, airspeed alerts, terrain alerts, traffic alerts, abnormal electrical system or engine alerts, etc.