Bose A20 vs A30 – Which Is Best & Why

Imagine soaring through the skies with crystal-clear communication, unparalleled noise cancellation, and comfort that lasts for hours on end. The choice between the Bose A20 and the newer A30 aviation headsets could be the difference between a good flight and an extraordinary one. As a pilot, your headset is your lifeline in the cockpit. Let’s dive into this high-stakes comparison to help you make the best decision for your flying career or passion.

Bose A20 vs A30

Side by Side Comparison of Bose A20 vs A30

Feature/SpecificationBose A20Bose A30
Noise ReductionDigital Active Noise ReductionDigital Active Noise Reduction with enhanced low-frequency performance
Bluetooth ConnectivityOptionalStandard
Battery LifeUp to 45 hoursUp to 45 hours
Weight12 oz (340 g)12.3 oz (349 g)
Ear Cushion MaterialSheepskin leatherProtein leather
Mic TypeElectretDynamic
FAA TSO CertificationC139aC139a
EASA CertificationYesYes
Custom Audio PrioritizationNoYes
Tap Control for Talk-Through CommunicationNoYes
Adjustable SidetoneNoYes
Auto-On (for aircraft-powered version)NoYes
Replaceable Ear CushionsYesYes
Replaceable Headband CushionYesYes
Auxiliary Audio InputYesYes
Carrying CaseYesYes
Warranty5 years5 years
PriceCheck A20 Price at AmazonCheck A30 Price at Amazon

Why I Recommend the Bose A30

While both the Bose A20 and A30 are exceptional aviation headsets, I generally recommend the A30 for most pilots. Here’s why:

  • Enhanced Noise Reduction: The A30 features improved low-frequency noise cancellation, providing even better protection against the deep rumble of aircraft engines.
  • Standard Bluetooth Connectivity: Unlike the A20, where Bluetooth is optional, the A30 comes with Bluetooth as a standard feature, allowing seamless connection to your devices.
  • Advanced Mic Technology: The A30’s dynamic microphone offers improved voice pickup and clarity, ensuring your communications are always crystal clear.
  • Custom Audio Prioritization: This new feature allows you to customize how you hear overlapping audio sources, enhancing situational awareness.
  • Tap Control for Talk-Through Communication: The A30 introduces a convenient tap feature that allows for quick, clear communication with those around you without removing the headset.
  • Adjustable Sidetone: This feature lets you hear your own voice more naturally during radio transmissions, reducing voice fatigue on long flights.
  • Auto-On Feature: For the aircraft-powered version, the A30 automatically turns on when you plug it in, streamlining your pre-flight routine.
  • Improved Comfort: While both headsets are comfortable, the A30’s protein leather ear cushions offer enhanced durability and comfort for long flights.
  • Future-Proof Design: As the newer model, the A30 is likely to remain current for longer, potentially offering better long-term value.
  • Enhanced User Interface: The A30 features more intuitive controls and a smarter overall design, making it easier to use in the cockpit.

Common Strengths of Bose A20 and A30

  • Bose’s Renowned Noise Cancellation: Both utilize Bose’s industry-leading active noise reduction technology.
  • Comfort-Focused Design: Both headsets are designed for long-wearing comfort, crucial for extended flights.
  • Exceptional Sound Quality: Both deliver clear, high-fidelity audio for both communications and music.
  • Durable Construction: Both are built to withstand the demands of frequent use in various flying conditions.
  • Long Battery Life: The 45-hour battery life on both models ensures reliability on long flights or multiple shorter ones.
  • FAA and EASA Certified: Both meet stringent aviation safety standards.
  • Bluetooth Connectivity: Available on both (optional on A20, standard on A30) for wireless music and calls.
  • Customizable Fit: Both offer adjustable headbands and mic booms for a personalized fit.
  • Auxiliary Audio Input: Both allow for wired connections to external audio devices.
  • Trusted Brand: Bose’s reputation for quality and customer support backs both models.

What Both Headsets Can Do

Despite their differences, both the Bose A20 and A30 share several impressive capabilities:

  • Exceptional Noise Reduction: Both headsets utilize Bose’s renowned active noise reduction technology to minimize cockpit noise.
  • Long Battery Life: Both offer up to 45 hours of battery life, ensuring reliability on long flights.
  • FAA TSO and EASA Certification: Both headsets meet or exceed stringent aviation standards.
  • Comfortable Design: Both feature ergonomic designs for long-wearing comfort.
  • Auxiliary Audio Input: Both allow connection to external audio sources.
  • Replaceable Parts: Both headsets have replaceable ear cushions and headband cushions for long-term durability.
  • Clear Communication: Both ensure clear, intelligible communication in noisy cockpit environments.
  • Bluetooth Capability: While standard on the A30, it’s available as an option on the A20.
  • Stereo/Mono Selection: Both headsets can switch between stereo and mono audio.
  • Carrying Case Included: Both come with a rugged carrying case for protection during transport.
  • Reversible Mic Boom: Both allow the microphone to be worn on either side.
  • Robust Build Quality: Both are built to withstand the rigors of frequent use in aviation environments.
  • Compatible with Most Aircraft: Both work with a wide range of general aviation and commercial aircraft.

While the A30 offers some advanced features, both headsets share several strengths that make them top choices in the aviation headset market:

FAQs about Bose A20 vs A30

Is the noise cancellation on the A30 noticeably better than the A20?

While both offer excellent noise cancellation, the A30 has enhanced low-frequency performance. This improvement is most noticeable in aircraft with louder, deeper engine noise. For many pilots, especially those flying piston-engine aircraft, the difference is subtle but appreciated on longer flights.

How does the comfort level compare between the A20 and A30?

Both headsets are designed for long-wearing comfort, but the A30 features new protein leather ear cushions that some users find more comfortable and durable than the A20’s sheepskin leather. However, comfort is subjective, and both are highly regarded for their comfort during long flights.

Is the Bluetooth connectivity on the A30 better than the optional Bluetooth on the A20?

The Bluetooth functionality is similar on both models when equipped. However, the A30’s Bluetooth is standard and integrates more seamlessly with the headset’s other features, such as the custom audio prioritization.

Can the A20 be upgraded to have the new features of the A30?

Unfortunately, most of the A30’s new features are hardware-based and cannot be added to the A20 through upgrades or firmware updates. If these features are important to you, upgrading to the A30 would be necessary.

How significant is the weight difference between the A20 and A30?

The weight difference is minimal – the A30 is only about 0.3 oz (9 g) heavier than the A20. This small increase is unlikely to be noticeable in practical use and is offset by the A30’s improved features and potentially more comfortable ear cushions.

Does the A30’s dynamic microphone make a noticeable difference in communication quality?

Many users report that the A30’s dynamic microphone provides clearer voice transmission, especially in noisy environments. The improvement is most noticeable in challenging conditions or when precise communication is critical.

How does the auto-on feature of the A30 work, and is it available for battery-powered versions?

The auto-on feature is available only for the aircraft-powered version of the A30. It automatically turns on the headset when it’s plugged into the aircraft’s power, streamlining the pre-flight process. The battery-powered version still requires manual power-on.

Are the A20 and A30 compatible with the same aircraft interfaces?

Yes, both the A20 and A30 are designed to be compatible with a wide range of general aviation and commercial aircraft. They offer the same connector options, ensuring broad compatibility across different aircraft types.

How does the warranty compare between the A20 and A30?

Both the A20 and A30 come with Bose’s 5-year warranty, reflecting the company’s confidence in the durability and quality of both models.

Is the A20 still a good choice given the release of the A30?

Absolutely. While the A30 offers some advanced features, the A20 remains an excellent aviation headset. It still provides top-tier noise cancellation, comfort, and sound quality. For pilots on a budget or those who don’t need the latest features, the A20 continues to be a fantastic choice.

Key Point of the Bose A20 and A30

Both the Bose A20 and A30 are exceptional aviation headsets that stand at the pinnacle of the market. The A30, with its enhanced noise reduction, standard Bluetooth, advanced microphone, and innovative features like tap control and custom audio prioritization, represents the cutting edge of aviation headset technology. It’s an excellent choice for pilots who want the very best and latest features.

The A20 remains a formidable option. Its tried-and-true design, excellent noise cancellation, and slightly lower price point make it an attractive choice for many pilots. It continues to be one of the most popular aviation headsets for good reason.

Your choice between the A20 and A30 should depend on your specific needs, budget, and how much you value the latest features. If you’re looking for the most advanced technology and are willing to invest in it, the A30 is the way to go. If you’re satisfied with excellent performance without the very latest bells and whistles, the A20 will serve you extremely well.

Remember, both of these headsets are designed to enhance your flying experience, improve communication, and protect your hearing. Whichever you choose, you’re investing in a high-quality product that will serve you well in the cockpit for years to come. The best headset is the one that meets your needs and helps you fly safely and comfortably.

Ready to elevate your flying experience? Check out the prices and make your choice between the legendary Bose A20 and the cutting-edge A30. Your ears (and your passengers) will thank you.