At the 2013 EAA Oshkosh fly-in, Lightspeed unveiled the Zulu PFX headset, their new flagship model. After a year-long delay in development, the headset is now shipping, so it’s a good time to review some of its unique features. Of particular interest for iPad pilots, the PFX may be the most app-integrated headset yet produced.
The new Zulu has all the features you would expect on a premium headset, including Active Noise Reduction (ANR) and deluxe Bluetooth wireless options. These Bluetooth options are great for listening to music, using your cell phone or receiving audio alerts from popular apps like ForeFlight (we love the Runway Advisor feature in particular). More notable is the PFX’s new approach to noise canceling – what Lightspeed calls Streaming Quiet Dynamic ANR. In short, the headset listens to the noise in your airplane and maps your ear shape and size to produce the maximum noise reduction. It also constantly updates these settings as the noise changes, so you can customize the ANR for each phase of flight or each airplane.
Because of all these sophisticated settings and options, the PFX is deeply integrated with Lightspeed’s free FlightLink app. This app has been available for some time now for use with the Zulu.2 and the Sierra headsets, allowing pilots to record cockpit audio and play it back. This is handy for flight training or IFR pilots, but the app does much more when connected to a PFX.
Pilots can adjust a number of settings via FlightLink, and we’ve found it easier than pressing buttons on the headset’s control box: adjust bass and treble, select auto shut-off preferences, modify audio priority settings and more. The app also offers the option to save three noise cancelation profiles, so you can tune the ANR to different airplanes and quickly choose the right one. Finally, FlightLink is also a quick way to check the battery life.
The PFX offers one final feature that could be interesting over time. The headset is firmware-upgradeable, meaning new features or enhanced performance could be added in the future, but instead of buying a new headset pilots would simply download new firmware (probably via the app). This is something to watch – we’ve never seen it in another headset, and it just shows how advanced some of the latest headsets are becoming.
The Lightspeed Zulu PFX is available for $1100 at Sporty’s.
The FlightLink app is available free for download in the App Store.