ANR Headsets

ANR Headset Evaluation

David Clark DC ONE-X head-to-head with LightSpeed Zulu 3

Holy Cow! What a difference a decade makes!!

It’s been too long since we conducted in-depth tests of active noise reduction (ANR) headsets. Members might remember our long-term tests conducted during our Air Safaris of 2005 / 2006 where we evaluated noise-canceling headsets by the industry’s leading manufacturers over the two-week duration of each Air Safari. The overall winner of the “Historic Lodges” air safari was the LightSpeed 30-3G while the David Clark X-11 took top honors the following year during “Lobsterfest / Autumn Leaves”. So impressed were we with each, that Teri has used the 30-3G every flight since and she presented me with an X-11. Both headsets were so good we naively assumed that they were still state of the art. We’ve just been educated!!


We recently completed long trips with family and friends in the Bonanza from our new Texas home to Minnesota, Montana & Washington and short trips from Waco to San Antonio. These comprised 11 flights over 30 hours with 7 passengers & crew (both veteran airmen & novices) thru IFR and VFR conditions in weather ranging from hot, sunny Texas to cold, rainy Seattle during which the new David Clark DC ONE-X and LightSpeed Zulu 3 were evaluated and compared to the previous winners. Note, these were actual flights – not 5-minute, in-store tests.


Veteran aircrew were simply amazed with the incredible comfort and performance improvements provided by the Zulu 3 and DC ONE-X. If we had not experienced the improvements for ourselves, we would not have thought such quantum leaps possible. I encourage you to read the detailed test results, below but will give you the ‘Cliff Notes’ version here;

Both the DC ONE-X and Zulu 3 are so good, you’ll end up throwing rocks at your current headsets. The performance of the Zulu 3 and DC ONE-X is so very exceptional that selecting between the two comes down to personal preference rather than performance.

After using these for many hours, we think at least one of these should be on the Christmas List of every pilot and co-pilot. Don’t take our word for it, try them for yourselves but be forewarned – you’ll be hooked!


Both LightSpeed and David Clark have agreed to extend their participation over the next three years, so we will be updating you annually on the long-term reliability and performance of both.

We hope the following data helps you with your next ANR headset purchase.

Headset Performance Comparison Headset Comfort Comparison
Headset Adjustment Comparison Headset Size Comparison
Headset Weight Comparison Headset Appearance Comparison
Headset Quality Comparison Headset ANR Comparison
Headset PNR Comparison Headset Audio Comparison
Headset Mic Comparison