Fans of Bose’s noise-canceling headsets might want to stop by the company’s NBAA booth (No. 6068) to try out the A20. Introduced at the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh in July, the $1,095 (retail) headset incorporates some significant improvements from the original Bose Aviation Headset X, which pioneered noise-canceling for aviation headsets when it hit the market 12 years ago.
The major improvements on the A20 are not just built-in Bluetooth and auxiliary input but greatly enhanced noise reduction. Where the Headset X has one internal microphone inside each ear cup to supply the anti-noise signal that cancels sound waves, the A20 has microphones inside and outside the ear cup. These cancel noise in a wider range of frequencies and also help cancel ambient noise that the Headset X couldn’t sense.
Bose engineers redesigned the center torsion spring and reduced the A20’s clamping pressure by one third (compared to most headsets, according to the company). New cushions made from a memory-type foam have leatherette covering that dries out quickly. The ear cups are smaller overall but have a larger interior volume to accommodate people with bigger ears. The microphone can be attached to either ear cup.
The aux audio input is handy for connecting GPS units and audio devices like MP3 players directly to the headset (standard 3.5-mm adapter). The Bluetooth is only for cell phones, however, and won’t work with wireless MP3 players. For safety, the multifunction/audio priority switch allows pilots to select from three choices: intercom prioritized over aux input; intercom mixed with aux; or intercom only.
The A20 headset control module is battery powered, but the A20 can also run on aircraft power using a six-pin connector. A welcome feature is the smart shutoff, which turns off the battery automatically when it isn’t being used.