Bargain ANR Headsets
Thank you for the informative article in the December 2012 issue on mid-priced ANR headsets. My Lightspeed 3G has developed a mechanical problem. Your article was well-timed as I need to repair or replace my headset.
Unfortunately, Lightspeed does not offer an upgrade path from the 3G headset I have to the Sierra, but rather only to the higher priced Zulu 2 model. How much better is the Zulu 2 than the Sierra? I must either repair the headset I have, purchase a Sierra as a replacement or trade in my 3G on the pricier Zulu 2.
Based on the testing we carried out, we feel the Sierra represents a solid value. The Zulu 2 is flagship, with a higher price, so we would qualify your buying decision based on the amount of flying you expect to do. For long trips made on a regular basis and if Bluetooth music is your plan, the Zulu 2 may be worth it. For casual flying and training, the Sierra should serve you well. With the money you save, you might fix the 3G as a backseat or spare set.
I bought my first headset based on my CFI’s recommendation. It was a middle-of-the-road, passive model and it got me through my private certificate, but it wasn’t very comfortable. A year or so later I bought another one after seeing it at Oshkosh. Again, it did the job, but as I flew more and more I realized I needed something better.
I looked again at Oshkosh, trying every headset at the show. I wanted ANR but worried about the price. I wanted comfort but didn’t want to spend more than my annuals cost.
I settled on the Lightspeed Sierra. I found that I couldn’t sense any difference in noise level between it and the top of the line sets and it was the most comfortable. And while $600 isn’t small change, it was affordable.
I’ve now used it for about 35 hours and have flown for as long as three hours on one trip and am as happy as the day I got it. It’s nice to see that someone is thinking about what the average flyer needs and can afford instead of just reviewing the top of the line, “latest and greatest.”
I was happy to see that you included the passive Clarity Aloft in-ear headset in your review of budget ANR headsets. I wasn’t surprised to learn that it was a star. I’ve put several hundred hours on Quiet Technology’s in-ear passive, the Halo, and just love it. I prefer the Halo to the Clarity Aloft, mostly because of the lower price, but would be happy to fly with either.
You couldn’t pay me to go back to the old head clamps, Bose or otherwise. For those who are comfortable wearing foam inserts, I think the passive, in-ear headset is simply a better mousetrap.
My Bose headset is collecting dust because of the Clarity in-ear headsets. The Clarity seems just as quiet, is not hot to wear and glasses are easier to wear and comfortable. No over-the-top headband gives more headroom under a tight canopy.
I have no complaints with the Bose headset, but with both available, I’ve been choosing the Clarity for the last couple of years.
How Much Automation?
I have to take issue with the January 2013 editorial about automation in the cockpit. Having a great, big “HELP” button to fix a situation would be handy at times, however, there are times when the autopilot needs to be in the “off” position.
I had the autopilot roll my Cessna 310 inverted at night. Hanging from my belt, I disengaged the autopilot and rolled the airplane upright. Having had quite a bit of aerobatic experienced helped. I had the autopilot fixed, but I never turned it on again.
Another issue with automation is that pilots who use it seem to lose their “edge.” I worry about pilots relying on all the new gadgets and getting into places they can’t get out of without good and current skills. It’s kind of like having full-time four-wheel drive—it’s nice until you get stuck, and then you’re really stuck.
I agree 100 percent with the December editorial on renting. After years of renting airplanes in various locations when I had time while traveling, I have stopped doing so. Too many FBOs have gone from a reasonable checkout to confirm you are safe in the airplane to a very expensive, several hour process of a written test and a full-blown flight review.
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida