BOSE A20 Review of the active noise cancelling Aviation Headset

Bose A20 review- we test the BOSE A20 aviation headset
I’m a big admirer of BOSE sound. Their R&D department have developed the most stunningly small yet powerful music systems over the years and their work with car manufacturers is legendary. It’s a few years ago now since they debuted in aviation circles with their active noise cancelling headsets which were an instant hit. I’d heard good things about them but never used a pair. The chance for a BOSE A20 review was something I was curious about for some time.

Simon George buys a couple of pair of the new BOSE A20 for the front seats of his Jetranger BIII, I’m keen to find out just what makes a headset worth £1,000. Helicopter interior noise can be insidious, it’s often only at the end of a flight, after shutting down and removing your headset, that you realise what a noisy environment it can be. Traditional headsets tend to solve noise issues by clamping tightly onto your head and I often find myself lifting the cups off and wiggling my jaw after a while. But the BOSE A20 is a revelation.

The lightweight headset sits nicely on your head and adjusts quickly and easily. Even before you power up the noise cancelling circuitry, it’s a nice place to be. Squeeze the power button on the control module, though, and the environment is further transformed. Noise is cut dramatically, but the remarkable thing is that you can still actually hear the engine noise. It’s just no longer intrusive. I’d never tried active noise cancelling heasets before and my main concern would be whether they would isolate you too much from the helicopter, but that doesn’t happen.

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The latest A20 also features Bluetooth connectivity for telephone or media player or a heatset jack to hard wire into the system. I’ve yet to try out making calls in flight, but plan on that next time we’re flying. So is a headset worth £1,000? Yes, without a doubt. After two one hour flights, I was still totally fresh, voice clarity was at a level I’ve never experienced before and most of the flight had the volume controls turn right down, such is the clarity of the system.

For sure, you’ll wince when they hit your credit card, but as a certain Mr Royce used to say, ‘The quality will remain, long after the price is forgotten’

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Author: Neill Watson

If you love the sound of the Cosworth V8 as much as the V12 Merlin, the smell of Jet A1 as much as Castrol R and admire the late Ray Hanna as much as Sir Stirling, you’ll find you’re both on the same page. Neill's love of art deco buildings means that his ideal home would be a brilliant white, 1930′s control tower in Southern France, with crisply mown grass, biplane parked on the driveway and a Ferrari 288GTO in the garage. This is something that those around him tolerate, though it does concern them from time to time.

Leave a Reply

  • Hi Kevin,

    Bear in mind I’m not a fully qualified pilot yet, but I have a lot of seat time shooting a camera through the open door of a helicopter.

    Yes, you can still hear engine noise etc. Pilots I fly with always tend to start up with headset off and door cracked open anyway. For sure in R44 and Jetranger, engine noise is still there. The noise cancelling seems to be able to remove the tiresome noises that make you glad to get out sometimes but retain the important sounds a pilot needs to fly. Speech is crystal clear, both internally and on radio.

    The other big thing for me is that they don’t make you feel like your head is in a vice like a David Clark or a budget headset.

    I know of someone that may have some A20’s for sale, quite new, should you be interested.

    Hope this helps

    Neill W