The best headsets for pilots reduce the plane’s noise and make communication easy. It’s essential that they are comfortable to wear for hours at a time, too. Let’s examine two popular headsets from Bose and Lightspeed to see which one best suits you.
Bose A20 Aviation Headset with Bluetooth Dual Plug Cable
Bose already has a reputation for high-quality audio equipment, but how does their A20 Aviation Headset measure up? Owners report that the A20 dramatically reduces engine noise so that communication with the control tower is clear and easy to understand. Bose says the A20 actively cuts down ambient sounds by 30% more than other brands of conventional headsets. This feature will protect your hearing over the long run.
The next critical point is comfort. Owners that review the A20 comment that the headset is very comfortable even on long flights. It doesn’t clamp hard, but it stays put. Bose advertises the A20 as having a third less clamping force than regular headsets. They only weigh 12 ounces, so they feel lightweight.
Third, the A20 operate on two AA batteries that should last up to 40 hours of use. The fact that the headset uses a common power source is important because you won’t have to stop and recharge at a crucial moment.
Fourth, the version of the A20 we reviewed comes with the Bluetooth dual plug cable that’s over 5 feet long. The plug on the cable is compatible with most private and commercial aircraft. With the Bluetooth module, you can listen to music while you fly and not miss a single communication or phone call.
The module lets you prioritize how your headset responds when you happen to listen to music and need to communicate at the same time. You can set it to mute the music entirely or choose only to lower the volume instead. Then each time you talk to the ATC, it will automatically perform that action. And the built-in active equalizer keeps all the sound you hear clear and crisp.
Finally, you can connect the microphone to either the right or the left ear cup. It’s an electret mic with a built-in pop filter that reduces wind noise and plosive sounds, so your voice is clear and distinct when you speak.
More features of the Bose A20 Aviation Headset:
- Covered by a 5-year warranty
- Certified to FAA TSO-C139 and EASA ETSO-C139 standards
- Come with in-line clothing clip, control module, two AA batteries, aux-in cable adapter, and carrying case
Lightspeed Zulu 3 Aviation Headset Panel Power (LEMO)
The Lightspeed Zulu 3 goes head to head with its competitor, the A20 from Bose. It has an upgraded design from the prior model, the Zulu 2. For example, the ear cups are titanium with larger, angled ear pads for a better fit on your ears. One owner who has experience with both the Zulu 2 and now the 3 reported that the 3 feels snug but very comfortable. It’s easy to forget you’re wearing them.
Next, the cable has a woven cover now, similar to Lightspeed’s Tango headset. This Kevlar coating and the secure turret mounts ensure that you’re unlikely to break the cable or cause a short-circuit. And with regards to the wire, you can order either the one for LEMO panel power or regular GA audio plugs.
The Zulu 3 comes with Bluetooth audio, a handy addition that lets you use your cell phone to make calls or listen to music. If you use Lightspeed’s free Flightlink app on your phone or tablet, the app can record communication activity and play it back. On iOS devices, you can set the app to operate in the background while you open and use other apps, too.
More features of the Lightspeed Zulu 3 Aviation Headset:
- Comes with a 7-year warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee
- Lightspeed offers a discount if you are upgrading from a Zulu 2
- Comes with storage case and two AA batteries
- Lightspeed recommends replacing the microphone cover, the ear seals, and the head pads after 18 months
It’s a tough call between the Bose A20 and the Lightspeed Zulu 3 aviation headsets. Both are comfortable for long flights, both have Bluetooth, and both have clear audio. But you may prefer the Bose A20 if you prefer a higher level of customization with regards to microphone placement, or if you want your music to mute or drop in volume automatically while you communicate.