Both Lightspeed and Bose offer some of the most popular and high-quality active noise reduction aviation headsets. The question frequently arises, which one is better? Should you go for the Lightspeed Zulu 3 or the somewhat more expensive Bose A20? We help you decide!
We will start with an overview of the specifications of both headsets in a convenient table. Next, we will dive deeper into some of the important differences that could influence your buying decision.
|Weight||12 ounces||14.6 ounces|
|Other features||Side-swappable mic, Audio equalization||Lightspeed FlightLink compatibility
(in-flight cockpit recordings through iPhone)
|Battery life||45+ hours||40 hours|
|Accessories||Clothing clip, case, AUX-cable, batteries||Clothing clip, case, AUX-cable, batteries|
|Warranty||5-year manufacturer warranty||7-Year limited warranty|
Let's look at some of the main differences in a little more detail.
First of all, there's the price. Retail prices for each model are quite different: on average, the Zulu 3 retails around $850, while the Bose A20 is currently available for around $1095.95.
Side note: the A20 is available as a Bluetooth and non-Bluetooth version. The non-Bluetooth version costs a little less, around $999.00, but as the Zulu 3 offers Bluetooth functionality too, it's only fair to not compare apples and oranges and only consider the Bluetooth version here.
When it comes to other features, both models are very much alike. Both the Zulu 3 and A20 offer superior noise reduction, Bluetooth, audio input, auto shut-off to save battery life, audio priority to mute music when receiving or sending radio transmissions and more.
Both headsets utilize standard AA-type batteries, making it easy to quickly change batteries before or during a flight when they run low. The Bose A20 has a little extra (theoretical) battery life compared to the Zulu 3, but this depends on many factors of course, such as whether you are listening to music through Bluetooth, for example.
Another difference is the Zulu 3 offers compatibility with Lightspeed's FlightLink system, which allows pilots to record their conversations via an iPad or iPhone with the free Lightspeed app. Bose doesn't offer anything comparable.
On the other hand, the A20 offers the very convenient feature of a side-swappable microphone, allowing you to mount the mic on your preferred side of the headset. This could be convenient as this is the same side the headset cord is attached, which you might want to adjust.
The Bose A20 vs Lightspeed Zulu question is one that gets asked a lot in some of the pilot/aviation Facebook groups I'm in. Here are a few of the popular opinions people have in favor of Bose and/or Lightspeed. To protect people's privacy, I have anonymized any names and pictures.
Both the Lightspeed Zulu 3 and the Bose A20 are great headsets. Altough we strongly believe a quality aviation headset is an investment, in your comfort, safety and health, we also understand not everyone's budget allows for the same gear. Fuel is already expensive enough, right?
I personally fly with and love my Bose A20, but I've equally come across Zulu 3 owners who love theirs and wouldn't trade them for anything else. In the end, it will probably come down to how much you are willing to spend. If you're in the market for a quality aviation headset that offers all the features you want but is still somewhat affordable, we recommend purchasing the Zulu 3. If your budget allows for it, there's really no better options, in our honest opinion, than the Bose A20.
For the cost of these headsets, you expect the best. They both do an amazing job delivering just that.
Have any questions, suggestions or remarks about this guide? Let us know!
Last updated on March 14, 2020 by Senne Vandenputte