By A Customer
from Boston, MA USA
on Sunday, June 07, 2015
Pros: Works well, good sound, allows power from aircraft with XLR 5-pin jacks
Cons: Very expensive, must swap entire mic/control unit assembly just to change connectors
So this is the review for the Bose A20 Cable Assembly WITH Bluetooth and the XLR 5-Pin connector. (It says "For Airbus," but it also works on the Embraer 190, which is a lot noisier than an Airbus cockpit, and therefore would cause one to want a Bose A20 headset).
This component is for people like me who already own a Bose A20 headset, but want to change its connector to the XLR 5-pin connector (as opposed to the Bose 6-pin connector, or the 2-jack standard headset connectors.) That is to say, if you don't already own a Bose A20 headset, this component is useless to you.
Also, this model has the Bluetooth functionality built in, as opposed to the cheaper version of the same unit, which does not. The Bluetooth is helpful for making phone calls to Dispatch, or to the hotel when you've arrived at your destination and want to arrange pickup. Sound quality is ok, without being great. It works well and is easy to set up.
The Bose A20 is a fantastic, super-quiet, very comfortable headset. It can be worn for many hours without fatigue or crushing one's ears or head. The downsides are 1) it is very expensive, and Bose products NEVER go on sale, and 2) it is very bulky. Some guys I fly with use the U-fly Mic adapter with a Bose QC headset, and I envy how small and light it is by comparison.
The Cable Assembly I am reviewing here can be swapped out with the existing cable/control/mic assembly on your Bose A20 headset in about 5 minutes using a Philips-head jeweler's screwdriver. It can be fitted to either side of the A20, so you can have your boom mic on the side that you prefer (I usually go outboard on whichever seat I'm in), and the blanking plate can be swapped to protect the pins on the other side.
The Bose A20 is so quiet with its active noise cancellation on, it is eerie. The advantage of buying this module with the XLR 5-pin connector is that you can power it off of your aircraft's electrical system, rather than burning through 2 AA batteries every 50 hours or so. Also, it is quick and easy to plug the single-point XLR in and out, compared with fumbling the two separate plugs for mic and phones on a standard connection.
Also, the unit comes with a stereo, male-male, standard-sized mini audio cable, so you can pipe in your iPod or other MP3 audio player. The controls can be set to either mix the music audio with your aircraft radios, or have it cut out every time ATC or whomever talks on the radio. Sound quality is very good.
The cable length on the XLR side is markedly shorter than the length of the Bose 6-pin cable; it works in the cockpit of the E190, but there is not a lot of slack.
My main gripe is that Bose should have made this swap-able at the control unit, NOT the headset itself. Now I have a useless control unit and mic with the 2-jack adapter, and no headset to put it on. I had to pay twice for the Bluetooth technology (once on the 2-jack, and once on the XLR). If they made it easy to change cables upstream of the control box, you could switch connectors for $50, rather than $350. I see this as 1) bad engineering, and 2) a shameful grab for more money. However, it does what it's supposed to do, and does it well, so I'm giving it 4 stars.
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