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Bose A20 Review

This year I picked up the Bose A20 Aviation Headset as my early Christmas present.

I took a look at the A20 during AirVenture and thought it was really nice, but I still hadn’t made up my mind between it or the Lightspeed Zulu. I wore the  Zulu on my way out to Oshkosh and thought it was just awesome! The fit was perfect for me and my ipod sounded great. In the end, it came down to the Bose financing offer (0% for one year). So I made the decision to place my order. Soon after, I found that the expected ship date was in 10 to 12 weeks! I was not a happy camper. Then I heard about a recall (causing the delay). I started thinking that I had made a mistake. The next day I searched the internet for financing offers from Lightspeed, and found that if you call them they will offer the same financing plan as Bose.  I had made up my mind to cancel my Bose order. Just than I got a call from my wife, the headset had arrived! Yea, I guess, but would I like it?  

My first impressions:

The headset is of good quality and right away I liked it, but I felt as if it was overpriced. I gave the ANR a try in my living room. As soon as I turned it on it was like diving under water. All sounds in the room dropped way down. I have used ANR headsets before but this is ANR to a whole new level.


The Bluetooth functionality worked as advertised and it even worked well with a speech activated IVR system. So far so good on that front.

My first flight:

So here we are. Cleared for takeoff in N4757T our club owned Cessna 182RG equipped with a very loud O540 (that’s a 540 cubic inch 6 cylinder engine). Time to see how the new headset works compared to the Lightspeed 23G I was waring on my previous flights. Initially everything sounded pretty much like my other headsets. Once at my initial cruising altitude I brought the power back to 23″ set the prop to 2200 RPM, set the cowl flaps and leaned out. As the speed built up I started thinking that something was wrong. I found myself turning the com radios up louder and louder. A quick look at the control unit and I realized my mistake. I had turned the ANR feature off during the run-up and forgot to turn it back on. As soon as I pressed the button it was like getting into different aircraft. I could still hear the engine, but it sounded like an engine a quarter it’s size. I could also hear things I could never hear before, like the vent flap for the heat, little rattles along with just about everything else.


The best thing you can say about any headset is that you forget that you are wearing it. Well, that’s true with the Bose A20, at only 12 oz it’s so light that I really forgot about it during my IPC flight.

I will update this post with any future findings, but so far I am happy with the A20. That being said, the Lightspeed Zulu is an amazing product as well.

For now, I think I made the right call.

For more information on the A20 check out the Bose website here.

For more information on the Lightspeed Zulu check out the website here.

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  • Petret

    Wearing it.

  • Mike Bennett

    Congratulations, enjoy your headset. Thanks for the comment.

  • DComp

    Been using Bose X for over 7 years and bought Bose A20 for upgrade. Found the A20 disappointing compared to my Bose X with regard to sound quality and mic quality. In addition, the ANR quality was much better on my older Bose X. Bose had a recall when I ordered my A20 back in Nov 2010 and did not receive until late December 2010. I have been a pilot for over 21 years and fly for business in my Cardinal RG and have found my Bose A20 unsatisfactory. I have since shipped back the A20 to Aircraft Spruce for a full refund.

  • Mike Bennett

    I have used both and found the A20 to be much better. My headset is post recall so that might be the difference. But to each his own. Thanks for the comment.

  • Personally, I like my Zulu! I was wondering if I should buy the Bose and after considering price and feature (that was 2 years ago), the Zulu was much better. Plus the many stories that I have heard about the support from LightSpeed made me safe in my decision to go with them.
    I have 100+ hours with the Zulu and I can not imagine wearing anything else. I'm even thinking about getting a Sierra for my copilot!

  • Thanks for the comment Federick. I also agree about the light speed support. They are great! As far as the headsets I think the a20 was way overdue for Bose. As you stated, the light speed beat the bose X on features hands down in my book but the a20 is at least on par in the feature department. As far as price that round goes to light speed unless Bose gives us some compelling reason to pay more. As stated in my wright-up it was the financing offer that did it for me. All said. My a20 has been great!

  • Al B

    Buyer Beware – Bose Warranty

    I purchased my Bose A20 to replace my David Clark 13-XL and
    I’ve encountered failure of the headphone jack/cable twice keep reading if you
    want to know about their warranty changes. I’m a Commercial King Air Captain and
    fly 600 Hours a year and I BABY my Bose. It’s always kept in the case, never
    been dropped and never left in the aeroplane. I purchased my Bose on February
    2011, in June 2012 after 800 hours of use I began experiencing failure of the
    headset cable with a crinkling noise and it going mono-stereo. I brought my
    headset back to the Bose Store and they took my defective headset and gave me a
    Brand New One! I thought it was amazing service but since I paid $1,300 for it –
    they should have good warranty. Since this I’ve met 5 other pilots which their
    A20’s have gone defective on them. Now, February 2012, after 450 hours of usage
    on the replacement headset, I began to experience the audio dropping out and I
    traced it to the headset jack itself. During a flight, it failed completely and
    I couldn’t get it to work making me fly without it for the remainder of the
    flight. I brought it into the Bose store and they didn’t want to touch the
    headset at all! The gentlemen at the store told me that they’ve had so many
    brought in for the same thing that they changed their warranty policy. Now it’s
    an in-store replacement only within the first year of the purchase date
    (excluding the replacement date). After the 1-Year, the remainder of the
    headset is covered under warranty for the remainder of the 5 years but it’s “Quick-Repair”
    where they either send you a part or you mail in your headset for covered
    repairs which can take a couple weeks. Considering that my David Clark XL-13
    has 3,800 Hours of usage on it and it still works and I can’t get a Bose A20 to
    last past 600, if you’re looking for regular usage headset, you’re probably
    better looking elsewhere.

  • Wow. Lightspeed defiantly has them beet on service. Thanks for the info.
    Michael Bennett

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Amanda Michelle (Younkin) Franklin 3/14/1986 – 5/27/2011 Click for information on Amanda