Bose A20 Aviation Headset (2020) Review – An Essential for Pilots

If you are a pilot, you know that most of your contemporaries use the A20.

Are you going to follow the bandwagon blindly? If you want to learn why most of us love the A20, please continue reading.

I have listed the excellent features of the Bose A20 that you can consider when you buy an aviation headset.

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Build and Comfort

comfortable flight

The A20 has a different clamping angle so that it will compress the ear seals. I had other aviation headsets in the past, and all I can say it that they made me uncomfortable because the speakers were already pressing against my ears.

With this Bose headset, I did not feel that. I now have enjoyable flights because this headphone does not give me a headache.

The earcups are also deeper to give more space to my ears. The recessed volume knobs protect against accidental adjustment. The Bluetooth connectivity is for mobile and audio use. However, I find the Bluetooth switch too bulky. The good news is that I can connect to two devices at a time.

With the A20, I can choose between the 6-pin panel power and the standard GA 2-plug. I decided not to buy the other cable because it is very costly. Since I fly different planes, I got the 6-pin panel power connector.

Then, I purchased the 2-pin adapter. I only spent around a few dollars for it. The replacement cable costs at a higher price. The 2-pin adapter is a cost-effective decision.

The compact headset with enlarged earcup cavity gives more space for my ears than the other headsets. It has improved cushions to seal sound even if I am wearing my eyeglasses. I find this headset comfortable to use even on long flights. The headband is robust, yet lightweight because of magnesium. The sheepskin cushions do not make my earshot.

The smart power control systems allow for auto shutoff. It can shift between aircraft and battery powers intelligently. The headset works even if the batteries are dead. I can converse with ATC normally. However, the headset reverts to passive noise reduction without the battery power. Also, the Bluetooth does not work when there is no battery.

The headset runs on two AA batteries. Fresh batteries can run for 45 hours. You will know if you are running out of battery power through an indicator. It will alert you when there are only 8 hours and 2 hours remaining on the battery life.

One thing that I do not like with this headset is that I cannot remove the microphone when I want to use it for listening.

Control Module

Control ModuleThe redesign control module suits my needs. I can use the auxiliary audio input for traffic warning systems and dedicated GPS. Also, I can set the audio priority so that when there is an incoming intercom signal, the headset automatically mutes the auxiliary input or lowers the volume.

With Bluetooth technology, I can receive calls from my mobile phone. Bose enhanced the EMI protection so that I get minimal interference from my cellular phone. Also, the integrated sidetone gives a natural feel when I take calls through Bluetooth.

Sound Quality

With this headphone, I notice that the audio is more precise than the other models. This excellent feature allows for enhanced communications.

The electret microphone can capture sound. I also love that I can switch the microphone’s locations. The headset weighs only 12 ounces, yet it is packed with advanced technology for better performance.

Noise Reduction

I like the Bose A20 because it has better noise reduction capabilities than the other models. It is more comfortable to wear because it has 1/3 less clamping force than the others. Also, it provides more room for my ears. The noise reduction feature is about 30% better than the other headsets.

Bose’s proprietary technologies allow for better noise reduction across different human hearing levels. I can use the A20 in louder environments without fear of damaged ears. The headset has two microphones in each earcup to reduce ambient noise.

Moreover, the cushion materials block sound from entering the earcups. Thus, I get quieter headset experience than before.

Related Review: Lightspeed Zulu 3 VS Bose A20 – A Battle of the Best Flight Headset

Clamping Force

bose a2 aviation headset reviewClamping force is the degree of snugness of a headphone against your face. If you buy a headphone, a visual inspection will not be enough. If you want to know how it will feel against your face, you need to try it.

Clamping force will tell you where you will feel the pressure. Too much of it will hurt your ears, especially if you wear eyeglasses. However, if there is too little of it, your headphone will fall with just a turn or slightest nod.

I choose the Bose A20 because it evens out the clamping force. I do not feel pressure on my temples. Typically, if you feel pressure at your temples, they feel fatigue faster than the other head parts. If you are wearing earrings, you experience high sensitivity to stress. You will feel discomfort after a few minutes.

It also pays that this headset has an over-the-ear design because it is more comfortable to wear than the other kinds of headphones. It is especially true if you wear eyeglasses. The ear paddings cover the ears’ circumference and do not press against your ears. You experience lee pressure on your ear cartilage and temporal bone.

On-ear headphones have a stronger clamping force than their over-the-ear counterparts. Thankfully, the A20 is an over-the-ear headset.

Also, this headset has cushions underneath the headband. Thus, you will not feel it pressing against the top of your skull. Added pressure caused by the headband can cause headaches. You will also experience fatigue faster because of the force. The A20 does not cause fatigue on top the head because of its cushions.

The magnesium headband has a center torsion spring that offers a comfortable and consistent fit with minimal clamping force.

For all types of aircraft

Active Equalization

Passive equalization can only reduce the amount of input signal to tune the frequency response. What I love about the A20 is that it has dynamic equalization. It means that it can boost and cut frequencies where needed to produce an outstanding audio performance. It shapes and equalizes input signals automatically to enhance intelligibility and clarity.

Customizable Audio Prioritization

With this aviation headset, I have a choice between “mute” and “mix.” I can select “mute” if I want to stifle the auxiliary audio signal when there is incoming communication. I can also choose “mix” when I want to combine my plugged-in or Bluetooth audio signal with the incoming communication.

What I like about this feature is that I do not need to scramble when there is inbound communication. By setting the audio to “mute,” it automatically suppresses any music so that I can receive and communicate with ATC.

Bluetooth Connectivity

If you want to make or receive phone calls while using the Bose A20 on the ground or in areas with cellular service, you can opt for the Bluetooth version of this headset. You can also listen to your favorite music from your mp3 player or smartphone if your headset has Bluetooth connectivity.

If you do not like to connect wirelessly, you can opt for the non-Bluetooth model. But, you can still connect your headset to your mp3 player or smartphone through the 3.5mm jack that comes with the A20.

Compliant with FAA Requirements

If you are a professional pilot flying in the USA, you need a headset that meets FAA requirements. Fortunately, Bose A20 meets or even exceeds such requirements. All US airlines approve its use on their planes.

Bose Corporation received a Technical Standard Order, which is the minimum standard for performance of materials, appliances, and parts used on aircraft. Its A20 meets the minimum design and production standards. Thus, if you have this headset, you have an assurance that you can use it whenever you fly civil aircraft in the US.

People love bosea20

Related Review: Difference Between Bose QC35 and QC35 II

Works With Different Kinds of Aircraft

If you are flying fixed wing civilian aircraft, you can use the standard dual plugs that come with your A20 purchase. It is your best bet if you rent your planes. However, if you fly helicopters frequently, you must opt for the Helicopter Portable model with the U-174/U plug.

Moreover, you can choose the panel powered option, which offers a 6-pin Redel or LEMO plug. Most people call it the “Bose style jack.” It uses the electrical system of the aircraft to power the ANR technology of the headset.

But, if you rent your planes, this option is not the best choice for you. Most rental planes do not have the Redel style jack where you can plug your headset. However, you can avail of both fixed wing adapter and panel power options.

If you have your aircraft, you can buy the panel-power connector kit from Bose to install your own Redel jack. You can take it to your local avionics shop to install the jack for you. You can even choose to change the plug later because the A20 is a modular system. You can replace the replace the cable assembly or use adapters to use your headset with different kinds of planes.


Bose offers a 5-year warranty on this headset.


The Bose A20 is your perfect headset for flying. Most, if not all, pilots trust the brand and the model because of its robust features that are above par compared to the other aviation headphones. Even though it is expensive, you get your money’s worth.



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