The Bose A20 Aviation Headset: Is It For You?

November 10, 2023

Aviation personnel demand precision, focus, and, above all, exceptional communication. In the cockpit, the right equipment can make all the difference, especially when it comes to headsets. For pilots, air traffic controllers, and aviation enthusiasts, the choice of an aviation headset can significantly impact the flying experience. 

Among the many options available, the Bose A20 Aviation Headset stands as an excellent product. Known for its cutting-edge technology, unparalleled noise reduction, and comfort features, the Bose A20 has become a trusted companion for aviators across the globe.

Our Top Choice
Bose A20 Aviation Headset with Bluetooth Dual Plug Cable, Black

Verdict: Bose does not disappoint, this aviation headset is just amazing, the Bluetooth audio and communications interface allows for connectivity with your communications and navigation devices.

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We'll explore the technical specifications, special features, and perspectives from pilots and flight schools to help you determine whether the Bose A20 Aviation Headset is the ideal match for your aviation needs. We will also compare it to other options on the market, and help you determine if it is the right choice for your cockpit.

What is the Bose A20 Aviation Headset

Let's dive into what the Bose A20 Aviation Headset is all about.

The Bose A20 Aviation Headset is a high-quality, noise-canceling aviation headset designed for pilots and aviation professionals. It is produced by Bose Corporation, a well-known and respected brand in the audio industry. The Bose A20 headset is specifically engineered to meet the demands of the aviation environment, providing exceptional comfort, noise reduction, and audio clarity for pilots.

It’s considered to be one of the best and lightest active noise-cancelling aviation headsets out there. Bose believes that no other aviation headset in the market provides a unique combination of features and benefits.

Technical Specifications About the Bose A20 Aviation Headset

Examining the specifications of the Bose A20 Aviation Headset, you'll discover a range of features designed to enhance comfort and reduce noise during your flights.

Weight: 320 g
Dimensions: 21.4 × 16.1 × 8 cm
Headphone impedance: Monaural mode: 160 Ohm ON and OFF /  Stereo mode: 320 Ohm ON and OFF
Frequency response: 15 Hz to 15 kHz
Sensitivity: 92 dB SPL typical, measured at 1 mw, 1 kHz, full volume on a KEMAR ear simulator.
Microphone (Electret) Bias Required: 8 to 16 VDC through 220 to 2200 Ohm.
Microphone (Electret) Sensitivity: Varies depending on bias and AC radio input impedance. The typical output is 600 mV at 114 dB SPL.
Microphone (Dynamic) Impedance: 5 Ohm or 150 Ohm
Microphone (Dynamic) Sensitivity: Equivalent to M-87/M-101
Maximum ambient noise level: 115 dBC SPL for full active noise reduction performance
Power source (Battery): Two (2) AA alkaline
Power source (Aircraft): 10 to 32 VDC
Battery life: At least 45 hours in typical general aviation aircraft noise.
Operating current: 25 mA in typical aircraft noise
Fuse/breaker recommended: 1/4 amp, fast-blow fuse (AGC 1/4 amp fuse) or 1/2 amp circuit breaker
Temperature: Operating at -15 to 55°C (5 to 131°F) / Storage at -55 to 70°C (-67 to 158°F)
Altitude: 15,000 feet maximum pressure altitude for full cancellation
Bluetooth wireless technology: 3.1

Features of the Bose A20 Aviation Headset

The Bose A20 Aviation Headset is more than just a tool - it's your trusted companion during your flying adventures.

  1. Industry-Leading Noise Canceling: The Bose A20 is renowned for its superior noise-canceling capabilities. It uses proprietary technology to actively reduce ambient noise. It boasts of an average of 30% greater active noise reduction when compared to other noise-reducing aviation headsets.
  2. Clear Audio Quality With Active Equalization: The headset offers exceptional audio clarity, which is crucial for effective communication in the cockpit. The active equalization feature optimizes sound quality, allowing for clear and natural voice transmission.
  3. Bluetooth Connectivity: One of its standout features is Bluetooth connectivity. This allows pilots to connect the headset to their mobile devices, making it easy to take calls, listen to music, or access GPS and other applications without removing the headset.
  4. Dual Audio Inputs: The A20 comes with dual audio inputs, enabling pilots to connect to two different audio sources simultaneously. This is useful for listening to ATC communications on one channel and entertainment or music on the other. 
  5. Customizable Audio Prioritization: The headset allows users to customize the audio priority between the different connected sources. You can adjust the mix between intercom audio, auxiliary audio, and Bluetooth audio to suit your preferences.
  6. Control Module: The ergonomic control module has Bluetooth connectivity for taking calls or listening to music. It has a customizable audio prioritization control with “mute” and “mix” settings.
  7. Auto-On and Auto-Off: The Bose A20 features an auto-on/off feature that activates the headset when it's put on and powers it down when removed. This feature helps conserve battery life and ensures that the headset is ready for use when needed.
  8. Electret Microphone: The noise-canceling electret microphone is designed to minimize background noise and ensure clear voice transmission, even in noisy cockpit environments.
  9. Comfort and Durability: The A20 is designed for comfort during extended flights. It features plush ear cushions and a lightweight, well-balanced design. The headset is built with high-quality materials for durability and longevity. The result is a 30% reduction of clamping force than conventional noise-reducing headsets. There’s additional room for the ears.
  10. Flexible Cable Options: You can choose between straight or coiled cable options, depending on your cockpit setup and personal preferences.
  11. Multiple Connector Options: The Bose A20 is available with either a dual plug (GA) or a LEMO connector, making it compatible with a wide range of aircraft and avionics systems.
  12. FAA TSO-C139 and EASA E/TSO-C139 Certified: The headset meets the certification standards set by both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
  13. Complete Inclusions: When you purchase the A20 Aviation Headset, you will get the main headset, in-line clothing clip, control module, 2 AA batteries, Aux-in cable adapter, and carrying case

Bose A20 Aviation Headset Plug Cables

The Bose A20 Aviation Headset offers different plug and cable options to accommodate a variety of aircraft and avionics systems. These options help ensure compatibility and ease of use for different pilots and cockpit setups. Here are the main Bose A20 plug cable options:

  1. Dual Plug (General Aviation - GA): The dual plug option is designed for use in general aviation aircraft that typically have separate microphone and headphone jacks. The plugs are color-coded with one for the microphone and one for the headphones. This configuration is widely used in smaller private and general aviation aircraft.
  2. LEMO 6-Pin Connector: Bose offers an alternative cable option with a LEMO connector which combines both microphone and headphone connections. The LEMO connector is a more compact and secure connector commonly found in some commercial and military aircraft. The LEMO version of the Bose A20 is compatible with these aircraft and avionics systems. 
  3. Helicopter U-174/U Plug: For helicopter pilots, Bose offers a cable option with a U-174/U plug. This is a different connector than the typical dual plug used in general aviation, specifically designed for helicopter audio systems.
  4. XLR 5-Pin Connector: The XLR 5-Pin option is designed for specific aircraft or avionics systems that utilize a 5-pin XLR connector. XLR connectors are known for their robust and secure connection.
  5. Custom Adapter Cables: Bose also provides custom adapter cables that can be purchased separately to convert between different connector types or adapt the A20 for use in aircraft with non-standard audio setups.

Comparing the Bose A20 Headset with Conventional Aviation Headsets

The Bose A20 Aviation Headset stands out from conventional aviation headsets because of its superior noise reduction, audio quality, comfort, and modern features. While traditional headsets have their merits and are widely used, the Bose A20 offers an advanced and feature-rich alternative for pilots who want to improve their in-flight experience and communication.

1. Noise Reduction

  • Bose A20: The Bose A20 is known for its exceptional active noise-canceling technology, which significantly reduces ambient cockpit noise. This feature greatly enhances communication clarity and reduces noise fatigue during long flights.
  • Conventional Aviation Headsets: Traditional aviation headsets typically rely on passive noise reduction through earcup insulation and padding, which may not be as effective in reducing noise compared to active noise-canceling technology.

2. Audio Quality

  • Bose A20: The A20 provides outstanding audio quality, ensuring clear voice transmission and reception. Active equalization optimizes sound for a natural and crisp experience.
  • Conventional Aviation Headsets: Conventional headsets offer decent audio quality, but they may not match the clarity and precision of the A20's sound.

3. Comfort

  • Bose A20: The A20 is designed for extended comfort, featuring plush ear cushions and a lightweight, balanced design that reduces discomfort during long flights.
  • Conventional Aviation Headsets: While some traditional headsets offer comfort, the degree of comfort can vary, and not all models are designed for extended use.

4. Bluetooth Connectivity

  • Bose A20: The A20 is equipped with Bluetooth technology, allowing pilots to wirelessly connect to mobile devices for hands-free calls, music streaming, and access to GPS navigation or other apps.
  • Conventional Aviation Headsets: Most traditional headsets do not offer Bluetooth connectivity, meaning pilots would need to remove their headset to interact with mobile devices.

5. Dual Audio Inputs

  • Bose A20: The A20 includes dual audio inputs, enabling pilots to connect to multiple audio sources simultaneously, such as radios, intercoms, and music players.
  • Conventional Aviation Headsets: Conventional headsets may not offer dual audio inputs, limiting their versatility.

6. Customizable Audio Mixing

  • Bose A20: Pilots can customize the audio mix to prioritize intercom, auxiliary audio, and Bluetooth audio, ensuring they hear what's most important to them at any given time.
  • Conventional Aviation Headsets: Traditional headsets generally do not provide customizable audio mixing.

7. Battery Life

  • Bose A20: The A20 is powered by two AA batteries, which typically provide up to 45 hours of use. It also has an auto-off feature to conserve battery life.
  • Conventional Aviation Headsets: Traditional headsets often rely on aircraft power sources and do not have a battery-powered option.

8. Multiple Cable and Connector Options:

  • Bose A20: The A20 offers cable and connector options, including straight or coiled cables and choices between dual plug (GA) or LEMO connectors, providing versatility for various aircraft and avionics systems.
  • Conventional Aviation Headsets: Conventional headsets may offer fewer cable and connector options, potentially limiting compatibility.

9. Certification

  • Bose A20: The A20 is FAA TSO-C139 and EASA E/TSO-C139 certified, meeting aviation industry standards for quality and safety.
  • Conventional Aviation Headsets: Traditional headsets may or may not have such certifications, and the quality can vary across brands and models.

Although the price may initially seem high, consider the durability and high resale value of the A20. It may require an investment upfront, but it pays off in terms of performance, comfort, and long-term hearing health.

In an industry where precision and focus are essential, isn't it worth it?

How Does the Bose A20 Aviation Headset Work

Curious about how the Bose A20 Aviation Headset works? Let's break it down.

Active Noise Reduction Technology

The Bose A20 Aviation Headset is equipped with advanced active noise reduction technology. It generates an 'anti-noise' that counteracts the ambient noise in your cockpit. By using sophisticated microphones, the headset detects and measures unwanted sounds. It then creates a mirror image of this noise in the opposite phase, effectively eliminating the undesirable sound through destructive interference.

This not only helps to drown out noise but also completely erases it. The active noise reduction technology of the Bose A20 is essential for pilots as it allows them to focus on flying and communication, reducing fatigue and increasing safety.

Bluetooth Connectivity

The Bose A20 Aviation Headset's Bluetooth connectivity makes it easy to connect devices for seamless communication and entertainment. This feature allows pilots to pair their smartphone or tablet, giving them access to calls, music, and aviation apps. Managing these connections is effortless with the control module.

Bluetooth in the A20 isn't just convenient, it also enhances safety. It enables clear and uninterrupted communication with ground control or flight crew. The headset supports audio multipoint, allowing the pilot to connect to two devices simultaneously without constantly switching connections.

Microphone and 6-Pin Plug

A brand-new Bose A20 aviation headset comes with a high-quality microphone and a 6-pin plug, both of which greatly enhance communication and voice transmission capabilities during the flight. The microphone is designed to reduce background noise, ensuring that voices can be heard clearly even in a noisy cockpit. 

The 6-pin LEMO connector provides a direct connection to the aircraft's power and intercom systems. This eliminates the need for batteries and ensures a consistent power supply. Note that professional installation may be required for this type of connection in the aircraft.

Compatibility with Helicopter Headsets

The Bose A20 is a versatile headset. With the appropriate adapter, it can easily connect to standard helicopter jacks. The headset is compatible with various aircraft systems, making it a reliable choice for those who frequently switch between planes and helicopters.

If you're flying helicopters, the Bose A20 headset is a dependable companion.

Is the Bose A20 Aviation Headset Worth the Price

With its superb features, the Bose A20 Aviation headset is on the expensive side of the spectrum. Are you considering investing in the Bose A20 Aviation Headset but wondering if it's worth the high price?

Comparing the Price with Other Aviation Headsets

The price of the Bose A20 Aviation Headset can vary based on the specific configuration and additional features you choose. To provide a general price comparison, let's compare the Bose A20 to a few other well-known aviation headsets:

1. Bose A20 Aviation Headset: The price for the Bose A20 Aviation Headset, depending on the configuration (e.g., dual plug, LEMO, helicopter, or custom adapters) and included accessories, typically ranged from approximately $995 to $1,095 or more.

2. Lightspeed Zulu 3: The Lightspeed Zulu 3 is a popular aviation headset known for its noise reduction and comfort. It generally falls in a similar price range to the Bose A20, with prices ranging from around $850 to $1,050.

3. David Clark DC PRO-X2: The David Clark DC PRO-X2 is a lightweight and compact aviation headset. It's often priced lower than the Bose A20 and the Lightspeed Zulu 3 ranging from approximately $650 to $800.

4. Sennheiser S1 Passive Headset: The Sennheiser S1 is an example of a more budget-friendly option for pilots. The price for this aviation headset typically starts at around $300 to $350, making it more affordable than premium headsets.

5. David Clark H10-13.4: The David Clark H10-13.4 is a well-known, durable, and reliable aviation headset that has been a popular choice for many years. It is often considered an entry-level or budget-friendly option for pilots. The price of the David Clark H10-13.4 is generally around $300 to $350, making it one of the more affordable options in the aviation headset market.

Prices can vary based on the retailer, region, any ongoing promotions or discounts, and market conditions. Always check with authorized dealers or the manufacturers' websites for the most current pricing information and to compare the features and performance of these headsets.

Pilot's Perspective: Is it Worth the Investment

Many pilots consider the Bose A20 as a valuable tool that directly impacts safety, comfort, and overall flight performance.

Unparalleled Noise Reduction: From a pilot's standpoint, the Bose A20's noise reduction technology is often a decisive factor. The ability to significantly reduce ambient cockpit noise is not just a luxury but a critical safety feature. Pilots find that it greatly enhances communication clarity and minimizes noise fatigue during long flights. The Bose A20's noise reduction capabilities are often seen as a game-changer.

Crystal-Clear Audio Quality: Communication in the cockpit is of utmost importance. Pilots appreciate the Bose A20's exceptional audio quality, which ensures that they can hear and transmit voice communications with precision. The active equalization feature optimizes sound for clear and natural voice transmission, a feature highly valued by aviation professionals.

Comfort During Extended Flights: Aviation professionals often spend hours in the cockpit, and comfort becomes a top priority. From the pilot's perspective, the Bose A20 shines in this regard. The plush ear cushions and lightweight, well-balanced design contribute to reduced discomfort and fatigue during long flights. For pilots, comfort isn't just a matter of convenience but a factor that affects focus and overall well-being.

Versatility and Compatibility: The ability to customize the Bose A20 with different plug cable options (e.g., dual plug, LEMO, and more) makes it adaptable to various aircraft and avionics systems. This versatility ensures that the investment can be utilized across different flying scenarios and future-proofed for changes in cockpit equipment.

Modern Features and Connectivity: Pilots who value connectivity features appreciate the inclusion of Bluetooth technology in the Bose A20. Bluetooth connectivity allows for wireless interaction with mobile devices, enabling hands-free calls, music streaming, and access to critical apps or navigation tools. These features are seen as a means to stay connected and informed while in the cockpit.

Long-Term Reliability: The Bose A20 is designed with durability and reliability in mind. For pilots, the investment isn't just a one-time purchase; it's an expectation of consistent performance and comfort over an extended period. Many pilots see the Bose A20 as an investment in their long-term well-being and flight experience.

However, a few pilots feel that the noise cancellation is too powerful and may mask important engine sounds. Nonetheless, they appreciate the option to switch it off for specific sounds.

Despite the higher price, most pilots agree that the benefits far outweigh the cost.

Flight School's Perspective: Is it a Good Investment for Students

For students at a flight school, investing in the Bose A20 Aviation Headset can greatly benefit their education and future career.

Enhanced Learning and Communication: Flight schools place a strong emphasis on effective learning and communication between instructors and students. The Bose A20's advanced noise-canceling technology and exceptional audio quality contribute to better in-flight communication. It enables students to clearly hear instructions from their instructors and air traffic control, leading to more effective training and improved safety.

Reduced Noise Fatigue: Flight training involves prolonged exposure to cockpit noise, which can lead to noise-induced fatigue. The Bose A20's noise reduction features help reduce the impact of noise fatigue on students. This, in turn, can enhance their ability to focus on learning and make the training experience more comfortable and less taxing.

Versatility for Different Aircraft: Flight schools often operate a variety of training aircraft. The Bose A20's adaptability with different plug and cable configurations (e.g., dual plug, LEMO) ensures compatibility with a range of aircraft. This versatility simplifies the management of equipment within the school and accommodates different training scenarios.

Long-Term Durability: Flight schools seek durable and reliable equipment that can withstand the rigors of continuous use. The Bose A20's reputation for longevity and build quality is appealing as it minimizes the need for frequent replacements or repairs. This, in turn, reduces operating costs.

Investment in Student Experience: Flight schools understand that investing in high-quality equipment is an investment in the overall student experience. Providing students with advanced headsets like the Bose A20 can be a selling point for the school, attracting aspiring pilots who are looking for top-tier training facilities.

Attracting and Retaining Students: Flight schools must compete in a competitive market. Investing in quality equipment like the Bose A20 can help attract and retain students who are looking for the best training experience. It can be a factor that sets the school apart from others.

The Bose A20 can be a good investment for flight schools aiming to provide a high-quality learning experience for their students. However, flight schools must balance the benefits of premium equipment with budget constraints. While the Bose A20 is recognized for its quality, schools must assess whether the investment aligns with their financial capacity and long-term goals.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Approval

When considering the Bose A20 aviation headset, it's important to take into account its Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval. This certification guarantees that the headset meets all safety and performance requirements set by the FAA. 

The Bose A20 has been certified by the FAA to meet the technical standard order (TSO) requirements established by the agency. TSO authorization signifies that the headset meets the FAA's rigorous standards for safety, performance, and quality in the aviation industry.

This approval and TSO certification indicate that the Bose A20 Aviation Headset is suitable for use in civil aviation operations in the United States and is compliant with the FAA's safety and technical standards. This certification provides assurance to pilots and aviation professionals that the headset meets the necessary requirements and is safe and reliable for use in the cockpit.

Whether you're a professional pilot or an avid aviation enthusiast, you can fly with confidence knowing that your headset meets the highest standards. 

Where Can You Purchase the Bose A20 Aviation Headset?

If you're in the market for the Bose A20 Aviation Headset, you have several options for purchasing it. You can find this FAA-approved headset at various online and physical stores. 

  1. Official Bose Website: Bose sells the A20 Aviation Headset directly on its official website. This is a reliable source to ensure you are getting genuine Bose products.
  2. Authorized Bose Retailers: The A20 headset is available through a network of authorized dealers and retailers. You can check the Bose website for a list of authorized retailers in your area.
  3. Aviation Specialty Retailers: Many aviation specialty stores and pilot supply shops carry the Bose A20 Aviation Headset. These stores often have knowledgeable staff who can assist you in selecting the right configuration for your needs.
  4. Online Retailers: Online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and aviation-specific websites often have the Bose A20 available for purchase. Be sure to purchase from reputable sellers to ensure product authenticity.
  5. Flight Schools and Aviation Institutions: Some flight schools and aviation training institutions purchase headsets in bulk for their students. If you are a student or pilot-in-training, your school may offer the Bose A20 for purchase or rental.
  6. Used Headsets: You may find used or pre-owned Bose A20 headsets available for sale through online marketplaces or aviation forums. Be cautious when buying used equipment and ensure it is in good condition.


Our Top Choice
Bose A20 Aviation Headset with Bluetooth Dual Plug Cable, Black

Verdict: Bose does not disappoint, this aviation headset is just amazing, the Bluetooth audio and communications interface allows for connectivity with your communications and navigation devices.

  • Bulky
  • Price Point
  • Durability
  • Communication
  • Sound Quality
  • Comfort
Check Latest Price

So, captain! Is the Bose A20 Aviation Headset right for you? If you prioritize excellent noise reduction, clear audio, and unmatched comfort, then it's a definite yes. While it does require a significant investment, it's important to remember that your hearing, comfort, and communication are crucial during flights.

When compared to other headsets, the Bose A20 stands out. It's FAA-approved, which guarantees you of its reliability and safety. If you're ready to make a purchase, you can find authorized dealers or visit the Bose website.

Prepare for an exceptional flying experience with the Bose A20 Aviation Headset.

Chris Greiner, a Mechanical Keyboard specialist, boasts a solid educational background with dual bachelor's degrees in Computer Science and Business Management from Lewis University. His additional certification in Mechanical Keyboard Design showcases his dedication to staying on the forefront of keyboard technology. Chris primarily writes for keyboard enthusiasts and has been featured on platforms like Jestik, solidifying his reputation as a thought leader in the mechanical keyboard community.
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