About the Author – Chris Oquist is a private pilot and web developer at Banyan Pilot Shop in South Florida. He is an avid blogger and article writer whose expertise includes aviation headsets and other aviation gear. As an aviation enthusiast, Chris is passionate about sharing his knowledge on all-things-aviation. Learn more about the Bose A20 at http://www.banyanpilotshop.net/.
Designed in 1938, the Douglas A-20 Havoc was the most widely produced attack plane during the Second World War. Not only was it used against the Japanese over the Pacific and against Nazi Germany over Europe, but the British, Australians, and Soviets heavily utilized the heavy fighter plane as well. The Havoc surely lived up to its namesake and was a key instrument for winning WWII, much like the Bose A20 Aviation headset. With a name like A20, this headset should live up to its lofty name. Like the A-20 Havoc the A20 headset is the top of the line, and the best aviation headset for serious pilots.
The Bose A20 improved over its predecessor, the Bose X, in a number of ways. The most notable of these changes is improved noise cancellation. The A20 cancels noise passively by creating a physical barrier to block high frequency sound waves. On the other hand active noise canceling refers to emitting sound waves that resemble the incoming sound waves, thus neutralizing the incoming sound. The A20s are created with a deeper layer of high density foam and overall more comfortable design. While the ear cups on the Bose X were not necessarily a problem, throw on the A20s and you can feel the difference. The ear cups are a tad larger and seem to fit just a bit better.
Even when flying the loudest of commercial jets or helicopters, the A20 neutralizes engine noise. The A20s boast about 30% greater noise reduction than the Bose X offered. Users who have not experienced the A20 will probably hold that statement in disbelief until they actually throw some A20s on to see for themselves.
Perhaps the biggest addition to the A20 over the Bose X is the addition of Bluetooth compatibility. It is a little more expensive ($100 or so) than the headphones without Bluetooth, but it is certainly worth it. You can easily stream music from your cell phone (assuming it has Bluetooth as well) to your headset or take hands-free calls without having to remove the headset. iPods or other Bluetooth enabled music devices are compatible with the A20 as well.
Now I have to say I was quite skeptical of the A20 when I first heard about it. I was in love with my X (which I guess can be said more often than not), but after breaking out of my shell and trying out the A20s I can say I’m a changed pilot. Do a simple test for yourself. The main thing for me is the comfort level and the ability to listen to music wirelessly over Bluetooth. Three years down the road, I can say the A20 is still my headset of choice and I never take off without it. While my opinion may sound like an advertisement, I can’t help but offer only my best statements of the A20. Like the A-20 Havoc, this headset is versatile, reliable, and performs very well under pressure.