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Bose A30 review

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Forums Chief Pilot
Staff member
Oct 31, 1996
Type aircraft owned
Carbon Cub FX-3
Base airport
I have one Bose A20 and I had my other Bose A20 used in converting my Air Force helmet for flying in my Carbon Cub. I wanted to have a second headset on hand when taking a passenger along so I jumped right on that Bose A30 announcement from Bose and got the A30 with 6 pin panel power (LEMO) plug. I considered going to a coiled cord as my straight cord can be annoying at times getting wrapped around the rear throttle or with the brain holder on the upper panel it's not long enough to go under my arm, however, the Bose A30, at least with initial release only offered the straight cord so that's what I got.

Once I ordered I started seeing reviews and the main concern with the 20% less clamping and in a piston single such as my Carbon Cub FX-3 which is loud in the cockpit, I want all the clamping I can get for noise attenuation (ANR capability). I tried my Bose A20's in the past and preferred my helmet, not only for safety, but it's simply quieter probably due to the better clamping as I have the ear cups padded out to apply pressure against my head but also the later of helmet insulating as well.

Some of the reviews have been mixed but here is my take. A week ago I flew but air aborted due to high crosswinds, I should have kept flying for practice but decided after takeoff to return to land so not much time with the headset. Yesterday evening I got a 1.7 cross country in with 20 squared on the power, beautiful evening and got a good test of the Bose A30.

They are comfortable first and foremost but I did not have my A20's along nor did I care to be swapping them to compare. The A30's had good noise attenuation, if I press the cups against my head it's even better so the clamping pressure which is less on the A30's is something, I'm not sure an issue, but it's something to be aware of. I think the comfort and fit being better than my A20's I didn't have issues like my A20's when turning my head and pressure being relieved from the cups causing things to get louder. As I made a turn back west into the sun near sunset I put glasses on and that immediately raised the noise level. That slight break in the seal from glass frames was noticeable.

I believe the mic is better and more sensitive, I think it's also smaller than the one on the Bose A20 if you squish the foam. While I don't know the specs my guess is the bluetooth technology is going to be newer as the Bose A20's are a pretty old model. The headset ships with the stereo/mono dip switch in mono, as I have a nice intercom with stereo and 3D sound functionality I put my headset in stereo mode and the sound effects from the headset were great, ForeFlight input was great (via bluetooth) and SiriusXM audio was great as well which I did listen to last night droning for so long. So bluetooth, audio quality, and stereo handling was nice.

I will go back to my helmet use again as it is simply quieter and safer for cub flying and I also have the visor was with last night seeing flocks of birds sure concerned me and not having my clear visor layer of protection.

One thing we did in the Air Force flying jets from trainers to fighter/attack is we all wore ear plugs under our helmets. Not only flight line sound protection but it just made radios easier to hear, etc. I believe the same would apply and in a loud piston this is something I need to try both with my helmet and also the Bose A20 or A30 headsets. I believe foam ear plugs will reduce the sound level but also improve the ability to hear audio in the headset. I will try this soon.

So yeah, I'm on the fence as to if I really need this Bose A30 headset but at this time I plan to keep it. One thing nice with Bose headsets is you can get near what you paid for if maintained in excellent condition so even if I keep them and sell them later I don't think I'd take much of a hit.

One thing I forgot to mention, the controller is different on the A30 so if you used a brain holder on the A20 it probably won't be long for someone to model one for 3D printing, I thought of doing one myself. However, the Bose A30 comes with an elastic band that goes around the controller that has a hook at the upper side which you can feed the LEMO plug through or any panel plug and it can hang from the panel plug or a headset hook, etc. so there really is no need for a brain holder with the A30. Nice job Bose for that addition.

Summary - thumbs up for the Bose A30.