Friday, September 23, 2011

Sennheiser S1 vs. Lightspeed Zulu 2

Yesterday I met my friend Steve at Brainard Airport [KHFD] for the AOPA conference. We took the bus to the Hartford convention center to see what is out there. For me it was a perfect opportunity to decide who gets my next thousand dollars for an aviation headset.

Lucky for us, we found both booths in the same aisle. In one corner: Sennheiser gang wearing black T-shirts. In the other corner, the Zulu gang wearing black T-shirts.

First we went to the Lightspeed booth. Found out that they have really good upgrade options. If you own older lightspeed headsets, they will pay you up to 250 for a trade in. To me this appeared as a marketing tactic and I decided not to consider it seriously. Anyway I tried the headset on. It was kind of OK but I could still hear some humming from the convention floor. Then I realized that the unit was OFF. I turned it on. All of a sudden, the silence was deafening.

 The best way to describe the Lightspeed headset is to say that it has invisible design. For some reason, you don't feel you are wearing the headset. The invisible-ness of its design is also obvious even when you are holding the unit in your hands. There is something about it and I just cant describe it.

 After we checked out the Zulu 2, and got a free business card from the nice lady giving the demo, we walked on over to the Sennheiser booth. Steve has been raving about the S1's new adaptive magic double piston artificial intelligence black box technology. There was a line of people who wanted to check out the new S1. This excited me even more about the magic I was about to experience.

 When we got to the front of the line and got our headsets, my first impression was underwhelming. The headset is ugly and I got an instant conviction that when I put it on, I would look uglier than I really am.

 I put it on anyway and turned the unit on. Yes it was silent allright. Actually the silence was as deafening as the Zulu silence. Then the nice lady at the booth told us about the features of the headset and one of them being that you can slip in reading glasses or sunglasses while wearing the headset. Steve tried putting on his reading glasses and it was pretty easy for him. I just turned my head left to right and noticed that outside sound slips in at various angles of head turn. That was not good and not comfortable to feel an expensive headset let outside noise leak in like this.

 The nice folks at the Sennheiser booth not only gave us a nice business card, but also sent us away with a dead sexy S1 hat. Comfy.

 It was time to put all doubts to rest. So I convinced Steve to walk back with me to the Lightspeed booth. We just had to try it one more time.

We asked the nice lady to turn on the aircraft noise speakers again. We put on the headsets and it was invisible magic again.

 In lieu of the dead sexy baseball hat, my loyalty remains with Sennheiser. But my money is going to Zulu. There is absolutely no doubt about that.

 If a headset looks ugly, it will sound ugly. That's just the nature of human beings who buy headsets.

1 comment:

Steven said...

In 2000, when the first Lightspeed headsets came out, they were ugly too, but in a beautiful way. I guess that is to say the ugliness was baked in, as opposed to the Sennheisers, which somehow seem unfinished. Of course, now with 10 years of development behind them, Lightspeed has baked beauty and elegance into their design as well. Hard to beat unless you are a true-blue Bose fan.