In September of 2022, Lightspeed launched the next generation of aviation headsets with the Delta Zulu. The following March at Sun N Fun, Bose announced the next ANR headset in its lineup – the A30, replacing the A20. Since then, pilots are asking, “How does the Delta Zulu compare to the A30?” Well, the real question, for parity’s sake is “How does Zulu 3 compare to the Bose A30?”.
There are many similarities between these top tier premium ANR aviation headsets. Of course, there are key differences between the two as well to help you better decide which is the right fit for you. When comparing the Lightspeed Zulu 3 and the Bose A30, take these Top 7 features, benefits, and qualities under consideration to help you make the right choice:
In no particular order, let’s start off with the feature that most pilots care much about – how quiet is it going to be?
The Lightspeed Zulu 3 and the Bose A30 have comparable quieting. For the noise levels from most aircraft flown by general and business aviation pilots, the noise cancellation is excellent for both of these headsets. Both headsets are very quiet and very clear. The Bose A30 also allows for three levels of noise cancelling—low, medium, and high. Feedback from pilots we have heard from is that in general aviation aircraft, their preference would be to always leave it in the quietest setting. With Zulu 3, it is always (and only) in the quietest setting.
The microphone noise cancellation is excellent in both headsets, employing electret noise canceling capability. The fidelity of the communications is excellent in both headsets for ATC, and both provide very high music fidelity.
Comfort is actually a very important function of any aviation headset. If the headset does not fit you well, and provides any discomfort, that can be an annoying distraction to you and jeopardizes your safety and that of your passengers. There are specific design details that allow the Zulu to deliver greater comfort.
With the Zulu, the ear seals have 30% more surface area padding which provides a better seal and distributes side pressure more evenly. The Lightspeed performance ear seals are designed to fit around your ear, not on or over your ear. The ear opening has 50% more room in the cup for your ear. Having your entire ear within the ear cup makes for a level of comfort that is unparalleled. The narrower ear seals on the Bose A30 fit over, or on your ear, which can provide pressure on your ears during longer flights.
The stainless-steel headband shape and head pad system on the Zulu 3 are very different than the A30. The Zulu has a very low profile, designed to naturally contour to your head. The Bose A30 however, has a spring-enabled headband design to secure the headset to the individual via a clamping force, with claims of reducing the clamping force by 20% from its predecessor the A20.
3. Craftsmanship and features
The controls and features are very similar between the two headsets. Whether it’s Bluetooth connectivity for voice or audio, auto shut off, or comm priority, they’re virtually identical – these are table stakes features. They both utilize 2 AA batteries with a useful life of 40+ hours. Both headsets offer a panel powered, “LEMO” single audio and power connection for planes equipped with a ship’s power jack system. The A30 has the capability to reconfigure the cable to the control box from the left to the right ear cup.
The Zulu has an elegant design with an all-metal construction with magnesium cups and slides, and a stainless-steel head band. It also has the Kevlar reinforced cable – a braided and woven cable construction that reduces kinking, lies more naturally, and has a pull strength that’s easily three times higher than the conventional cable.
The Zulu 3 comes standard with FlightLink integration. FlightLink is the free, proprietary app that adds enhanced functionality to the Zulu 3 and Sierra headsets and works seamlessly to record and playback incoming and outgoing communications. This is a great added feature for recording training flights, souvenir and sentimental flights, and for instant playback of ATC calls in real time.
4. The Company – innovation and giving back
Lightspeed’s vision is to create products that protect and save lives. We create products that are designed by pilots for pilots and focus solely on general aviation. Because of that, we know more about what pilots need today and how to anticipate what pilots will need in the future.
Lightspeed’s agility allows us to drive innovation and introduce features and upgrades long before competitors. Examples of these include auto-shutoff, com priority, conformal foam ear seals, AA batteries, rechargeable battery power, integrated apps and more. Many of these are commonplace in aviation headsets today but pioneered by Lightspeed guided by the company’s understanding of the flight environment. This can best be seen in the new Delta Zulu. Delta Zulu not only has the best ANR Lightspeed has ever made, but it layers on life saving and life changing features never before imagined in an aviation headset. For more information about Delta Zulu click here.
Lightspeed is dedicated to growing the aviation community and is privileged to pay it forward through numerous philanthropic efforts. Donations have included hundreds of Zulu 3 headsets through the Ray Scholars program with EAA, years of donations to the EAA Young Eagles, AOPA’s You Can Fly programs, and countless schools, flying clubs and other charitable organizations in general aviation.
The Bose A30 headset is TSO certified. The Lightspeed Zulu 3 is not. But is that important? What does it say about the headset? In plain terms, TSO (Technical Standard Orders) is not a feature or quality that reflects product quality, but rather a measure of required certification in certain FAA approved aircraft. It’s not required at all in general aviation. A percentage of pilots may find having a TSO-certified headset might be required if you are flying in a career job for certain airlines in a commercial jet. We go into much more depth in our post Does TSO Really Matter for Headsets?
With any technology-driven product in a market economy, prices may fluctuate or increase over time. But at the time of this publication (in May of 2023) the Zulu 3 ANR headsets can be purchased for $899 USD vs $1,299 for the Bose A30. That creates a $400 difference for similar performance and features of these ANR headsets. As discussed above, both are quiet, comfortable aviation headsets with very similar attributes. Some key distinctions were given above as well.
Finally, we come to the number 7 factor to think about when comparing the Zulu 3 to the Bose A30. It’s the warranty. Because of our long history and reputation in the aviation market, we have upped the ante in our confidence in the products we build. Customers have come to expect excellence in Lightspeed products and Lightspeed service, and for that reason we stand behind Zulu 3 (and Delta Zulu) with an industry leading 7-year warranty. All other competitors (including Bose) offer five years or less.
In general, Zulu 3 and the Bose A30 are both great headsets that you can expect to get many years of use and enjoyment from.
If what you have read here makes you want to give Zulu 3 a try, click here.
If you are still not sure which is right for you, we encourage you to take advantage of our 30-day money-back guarantee. Try one of our headsets in your own planes and see if it is right for you. Change your mind – return it – no problem, no questions.