Bose A30 Review - What has changed?

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With nearly 8 years of flying with the A20s, and very few complaints, when Bose launched the new A30s I along with many others questioned - can they be that much better?

When the DNA for the A30s stems from the A20s it’s hard to imagine anything other than a quality product coming from the leaders in aviation headsets. It’s clear that the development of the A30 appears to be more of a refinement of the A20, keeping all its class leading positives while correcting many of the limited drawbacks - it is not a reinvention of the wheel.

The A30 feels more refined straight out of the box. Whilst what matters is a headset’s performance in the cockpit, it’s also important how the headset gets there. The A30’s travel case is a step in the direction of a hard case like the Proflight Series 2 but still has flexibility to fit nicely in most flight bags. It’s slightly bulkier than the A20s but this makes stowing the headset easier and gives the whole travel case a more protective feel, the silk like interior lining completes the upgrades here.

Bose are renowned for their build quality and on initial impressions the A30s maintain this, although there has been a step away from the aluminium elements of the headband, which gave the A20s their undeniable durability and strength. The change in material has brought both a reduction in weight and a tidying up of the packaging, with no exposed wires on the headband anymore, the A30s really do look clean and modern.


Another area that’s seen both refinement and weight saving is the headset control box and cables. The slim wires and more slender control box (as seen already on the Pro Flight Series 2) reduce the pull force from the cable connected side of the headset and now provide controls for 3 strengths of noise cancellation, individual ear volume controls and the various Bluetooth functionality.

You will not be surprised to learn that just like their predecessors the A30s are ‘plug in and play’ and come with all the required certification for commercial operations worldwide - whilst also being able to be purchased configured for any of the standard aircraft connectors, including powered and the common dual pin.

I fly as a First Officer on the Boeing 737-800/8200, which is recognised as one of the louder flight decks in the industry. Noise cancelling has always been important on aviation headsets and the A30s continue to deliver the Bose premium quality noise cancelling. On the ‘High’ setting it feels like the A30s offer slightly more active noise cancellation than the A20s - on ‘Medium’ and ‘Low’ the A20s single setting offers more. When it comes to passive noise cancellation the A30s certainly offer less than the A20s however that is as a result of the thing I noticed the most when using the A30s - comfort.

Long flights and long days with the A30s are a major step forward from the A20s. Gone is the tight clamp which does mean the headset can feel a little less stable on your head but you notice the benefits by the end of the day. The reduced weight also generally reduces the fatigue and stress on your head.

The A30s come with the full toolbox of features including dual audio inputs from a Bluetooth and physical ‘line in’ source which can be mixed into the standard intercom/act audio feed, and new to the A30 is the ‘unplug and switch’ feature for the microphone. It also features a neat ‘passthrough’ function which allows you to keep the headset on and simply double tap an ear cup to hear cockpit sounds clearer, handy when crew are in the cockpit but not on a headset.

Bose A30 promotion

Gone are the days of needing a screwdriver, just slightly smaller than the one you have to hand, to swap the microphone from left to right. The new simple clip is clicked open and then allows you to make the change, it is both simple and very effective. With the headsets internals being digital, it makes you wonder what sort of extra modules and features we may see introduced in the future through these simple connectors.

In summary the A30 is a revision, refinement and improvement on the A20s - and with the A20s no longer directly available from Bose and the A30s being comparable in price, it is a no brainer if in the market for a new headset. For those already lucky enough to be flying with A20s it’s a more complicated decision.

Whichever you chose, A30s, A20s or Pro Flight Series 2 - Bose continue to lead the way for aviation headsets.

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