Bose A30 Aviation Headset Review; Are they the best? 

Are you tempted by the new Bose A30 aviation headset? Before you buy one, this review has done the homework and can be your decision-making reference tool!

Introduction

In my experience, there are two types of people … those who always want the latest and greatest with the associated bragging rights … and those who prefer the classic. When it comes to the Bose A30 aviation headset, what immediately comes to mind is the first type of person. The Bose company1 prides itself in pushing outside the conventional ‘lane’ seeking to remain innovative while affordable. Personally, I always saw Bose as an awesome audio speaker brand however with the shift into aviation and the Bose A30, it feels like it’s worth exploring whether the technological knowledge has transferred to the latest and greatest Bose A30.

The Bose company thinks it must be pretty good, as they are discontinuing the Bose A20. Perhaps a clue there. Read on if you want to make sure you are thinking clearly and not just jumping into a purchase!

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bose a30 headset, aviation headsets
The Bose company was clever enough to listen to the frontline pilots using the Bose A20 and the Bose A30 is an integration of the feedback.

When did the BoseA30 headset come out? 

The Bose A30 was released on March 28, 2023, after consultation with the industry. What better way to innovate a product than to ask the pilots that will be using it … and buying it. In some airlines, if pilots do not like the company-supplied headsets, then they seek to buy their own. If enough pilots spread the word on the quality of a headset, then there is scope for the pilot group to influence their company to shift their headset choice.

The Bose company was clever enough to listen to the frontline pilots using the Bose A20 (where there would be no shortage of opinions!) and the Bose A30 is an integration of the feedback. What a clever marketing move to be able to say, ‘Pilot designed and tested’. It is also interesting to note that the Bose A30 is the most heavily patented product ever created. That’s pretty confident if you ask me.

 Where is it manufactured? 

The US company Bose2 has its headquarters and some of its factories are in Framingham, Massachusetts. In 2016 Bose extended their partnership with Flex which manufactures some Bose products in a strategic partnership with locations in Mexico, China, and Malaysia. The Malaysian location also is the major distribution hub on behalf of Bose for the Asia Pacific region.

bose a30 headset, aviation headsets
Whilst communications are highly safety-critical, comfort and being able to wear your aviation headset for a long time without feeling like your head is being crushed is also important.

What are the features of the Bose A30 aviation headset? 

The Bose A30 brings together much of the wish list of pilots. The features are many, but the quality of the noise cancelling and ability to reduce background noise remains the top of the list. Whilst communications are highly safety-critical, comfort and being able to wear your aviation headset for a long time without feeling like your head is being crushed is also important.

A couple of other interesting facts are the center of gravity of the headset is lower which in theory means less neck strain and there is a L for left and a R for right printed within the ear cup. That seems funny but anything that makes a pilot’s life simpler must be a good thing! There’s also tap control and Auto Off and Auto On switches. 

Here’s a list of Bose marketing features and what it means for pilots.

Bose featuresWhat it means for the pilot
Lightweight and low clamping forceLess feeling of head crush discomfort and weight fatigue
Active equalisationAssists with keeping sense of balance
Three modes of digital active noise cancellation selectable via a user-friendly control panelTailor it for the type of noise environment you’re working in. Note: You do not want all the noises removed in case there is an important safety-related noise you need to know about. E.g. Engine rough running.
Noise cancelling microphoneDon’t have to worry about background noise and what your passengers are talking about!
Side-swappable cable and mikeMulti-crew or instructor position needs cord out of the way! The A30 has an easy clip out, clip in feature.
FAA and EASA approvedReduced chance of non-compatibility between different manufacturers
Unmatched Audio clarityGood communication makes flight safer – reduces the chance of confirmation bias. i.e. what you expected to hear versus what you actually hear.
Bluetooth connectivity and audio prioritization (connection to audio systems, mobile devices and electronic flight bags)Although this means you can call home without removing the headset and can listen to music, remember this is an airplane and you are the pilot. Are you sure you need this feature??

How is it superior to the BoseA20? 

The next gen of most products should improve on the last and in the case of the A30 upgrade on the A203, Bose has taken the opportunity to do so. It does not mean the A20 wasn’t good for its time, it is just that innovation must be continuous to keep up. The A30 is lighter and is reported to have 20% less clamping force on the head. If you consider one of the ICAO Communication competency behaviors4 is ‘reduce distraction’ then the reduced head clamping actually means better communication awareness which can translate to improved safety.

“The Bose A30 is the highest-performing, most comfortable around-ear aviation headset for pilots we have ever created. It dramatically elevates every flight with the best combination of comfort, audio clarity and active noise cancellation on the market.”

https://www.bose.com.au1

Additionally, the noise cancellation on the A30 is now digital, whereas the A20 was analog generated which basically means it is more advanced in the management of low tone frequencies for the pilot. We all like soft and fluffy and the cushions on top of your head were that on the A20, however, the A30 has a memory foam style rather which is more comfortable. The fluffy version can get a little sweaty for even the seasoned pilot! A good change.

You can read my review of the Bose A20 Headset HERE.

bose a30
If you are the type of pilot that wants bragging rights and you have the budget, then the Bose A30 is a fantastic option.

Are there any drawbacks to the Bose A30? 

The biggest drawback we have found is the price. If you compare the David Clark DC One X, the Bose A30 is more than 30% higher. In digging a bit deeper and perhaps a good business move for Bose is that you cannot interchange the control modules, parts, and accessories from the Bose A20. The other comment we have here is always being tempted to go for the next level Bose aviation headset which includes is the Proflight series 2. The A30 is ideal as an all-purpose headset but for jet and airliner-type operations, the A30 being an around-ear model may not suit.

The other question we get is about powering the noise-canceling feature. For both the Bose A20 and Bose A30, if you use the 2-pinned plug then you will need two AA batteries. If you use the Lemo plug, then power can come from the aircraft, but you will need to check your specific aircraft type.

You can check out my article on The Best Aviation Headsets HERE, and my review of the Lightspeed Zulu Headset HERE.

How much does it cost?

The Bose A30 aviation headset retails at USD $1249. We are guessing now you want to know if that extra cost compared to the Bose A20, or the David Clark DC One X is worth it. The Bose A20 is now superseded by the Bose A30 so that one is off the table in this comparison as you will soon only be able to buy one second hand. When it comes to comparing two good options, then it really depends on your own personality and your circumstances. If you are the type of pilot that wants bragging rights and you have the budget, then the Bose A30 is a fantastic option. However, for the other type of financially savvy pilot that needs to be realistic in budgeting, then you are still going to have high-class communications and comfort in the cheaper David Clark option.

If I needed to buy a new headset right now, with my motivation being comfort, then I would be leaning toward the Bose A30 however if my current one was doing the job then I would just be happy also.

bose a30 headset, aviation headsets
The A30 is lighter and is reported to have 20% less clamping force on the head.

How much does it weigh?

The Bose A30 aviation headset comes in at 14.2 ounces ‘on head weight’. Not the lightest option in the range but still slightly better on your neck.

What is the warranty on the Bose A30 headset?  

The Bose A30 when purchased direct from Bose comes with a 30-day risk-free trial. Otherwise, the unit has a 5-year warranty from the date of purchase and like most manufactured products this only includes defects in materials and workmanship with parts and labor. Remember that you need to have looked after your communication device well. Too many times I see pilots not honoring the role their headset plays and are rough with them. The parts are delicate so take care!

bose, a30, headsets for aviation

Where can you buy the Bose A30 headset? 

It is easy to get your pilot hands on a Bose A30 headset either directly from Bose1 or an authorised supplier, such as Flight Store5 or My Pilot Store6. Do your homework and ask good questions about the warranty and ask around at the airport. If you see a pilot walking around, then do not be afraid to ask them! Bose also sell at Target, Bestbuy and Amazon, but be sure to check out any online store reviews before purchasing. Many pilots will be tempted to get the A30 so as a consequence so you may also find second-hand sales online also. Worth keeping an eye out.

No products found.

Conclusion

When considering purchasing a new headset, there are several considerations including FOMO. If fear of missing out is a factor, then perhaps you have not done your homework and truly worked through your own need. If you already have a Bose A20 and need to upgrade to have a spare, then that sounds reasonable. If your old headset is cracked or needs repairs or parts regularly, then that also sounds like a reasonable excuse for a new Bose A30. If communication is good on what you have now, and it has the technology of noise canceling, then you are also looking ok to sit on your hands.

There is no doubt the Bose technology is good for aviation headsets, especially with features such as adjustable noise cancellation modes, enhanced clarity and intercom audio, however make sure the budget can withstand it and remember the proof is in your communication performance. Nothing beats good airmanship and focus.

Reference List

  1. https://www.bose.ca/en/home
  2. Bose Corporation, Wikipedia. Accessed online at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bose_Corporation#:~:text=mechanical%20engineering%20there.-,Production%20facilities,%2C%20Massachusetts%20and%20Stow%2C%20Massachusetts on July 14, 2023.
  3. BOSE A30: what exactly is different?, Stefan Drury, YouTube. Published: April 2023. Accessed on YouTube HERE on July 14, 2023.
  4. Procedures for Air Navigation Services Training, ICAO. Accessed online at https://www.icao.int/MID/Documents/2018/CBT%20ATCO%20and%20ATSEP%20Wksp/Doc%209868_EN.pdf on July 14, 2023.
  5. https://www.flightstore.com.au
  6. https://www.mypilotstore.com/
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