We’ve completed a review already on the Bose A20 Aviation Headset, which has long been touted as the best in the industry for a private pilot. But are there alternatives that compete with the Bose A20? You bet there are! And several may be a better value too. There are a lot of cheaper aviation headsets, but let’s talk about the top 3 alternatives to the Bose A20. To make the cut, the headset must have ANR (active noise reduction) and have a Bluetooth option.
1. Lightspeed Zulu 3. Lightspeed has been releasing aviation headsets since 1996 and their latest product, the Lightspeed Zulu is an aviation headset they claim is superior to its competitors. Many happy Lightspeed Zulu 3 wearing pilots agree, and Lightspeed says that professional pilots that flew with the Zulu 3 and “the nearest competitor” prefer the Zulu 3 by 3-to-1. The Zulu 3 is also backed by a 7 year warranty, besting the Bose A20, which is covered by a 5 year limited warranty. Weight is only 14.6 oz, which is only slightly more heavy than the Bose A20, which is 12 oz.
2. David Clark DC One-X. The David Clark Company started in 1935 making textiles and ended up making aerospace and communications related products. The introduced their first noise-attenuating headset in 1975 and it seems now that their green headsets are a standard sight on the ramp. With the introduction of the DC One-X last year, David Clark claims that they now have best-in-class active noise reduction. The DC One-X comes with a 5 year warranty and a weight of only 12.3 oz, only 0.3 oz heavier than the Bose A20, which seems like a negligible amount. One thing pilots say they like most is that the DC One-X folds flat for storage, taking up about 35% less space than conventional headsets.
3. Lightspeed PFX. Though Lightspeed released the PFX before the Zulu 3 by about a year, the PFX still remains the top of their line of products, making it very worthy of a second Lightspeed entry on this list. Many pilots report that this is the quietest aviation headset they have every used. The PFX apparently uses something called “acoustic response mapping” to “measure your unique auditory landscape, which seems to be the second step (after turning on the ANR) in quieting the sounds that are allowed to enter your ear. The only knock on the Lightspeed PFX mentioned by users is the size of the control box, which is larger than other headsets, but which also seems to do more. Weighs 13.9 oz., 5 year warranty.
Though I started this article intending to name 4 alternatives the the Bose A20, it really seems clear that there are only 3 that approach (or exceed) the performance of the Bose A20 – the ones listed above.
Check out our list of the 4 best mid-priced aviation headsets.