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The BOSE X Headset 

If I remember correctly, the first Bose we installed in an aircraft was during 1989; the panel-mounted Bose was placed in a Cessna T210.  ANR was all new to the aviation world and as the leader they are Bose was the forerunner; today there are dozens of headset companies manufacturing ANR (some use other names such as ENR) headsets.  I had never worn an ANR headset before the T210 installation and didn't really know what to expect.  Before starting the aircraft I placed the Bose on my head and fired up the Cessna; at that point nothing exciting seemed to happen and I figured the headset was just another expensive aviation product. The BOSE X Soon I got distracted and forgot about having the Bose on, then turned on the avionics master switch and the engine quit! Or at least I thought it did, my first thought was how could we possibly have wired the new installation so it would shut-off the engine when the avionics were turned on?  Instantly I turned off the master and sure enough the engine sounded normal, only issue was it didn't sound as if there ever were a problem.  Then it hit me, could the Bose ANR be "That" good?  Sure enough, I soon figured out that turning on the avionics master energized the avionics and Bose panel-mount, not shutting down the engine. 

One may think that it wouldn't be wise to block out all the background noise and that's true.  What the Bose does is greatly lower the background noise in the 60-100hz range; it doesn't completely remove it.  After flying with this headset for an hour or so, you"ll soon notice any difference in the engine or prop noise.  The purpose of any ANR headset is to remove unwanted noise with a certain frequency range and the Bose does a bang-up job of that.  Using an ANR headset will make the poorest intercom sound like the folks on the system are sitting in your quiet living room, ATC will be much clearer than you can imagine and pilot fatigue will be greatly reduced on cross country trips.  Why any pilot would use anything but an ANR headset (with the exception of open cockpits and some helicopters) is beyond me.  

Later the Series II Bose came out; it was much like the first generation Bose, the greatest improvement if I remember correctly was the small panel-mounted connector.  The first generation Bose connectors were about the diameter of a beer bottle and the Series II were about the size of your thumb; a big difference if it's to be installed in an instrument panel to where real estate is valuable.  

Some years later Bose announced the Bose X series ANR headset.  This lightweight headset only weighs 12 ounces; my friends that"s light for an ANR headset.  Bose was able to slash the weight by using an ultra-light magnesium headband.  The first generation Bose X employed an advanced torsion spring, contoured ear cups and soft padded ear cushions, making the Bose X the most comfortable headset built.  Early model X series had a foam material at the top of the headset where the two magnesium bands join via the torsion spring; later Bose changed this foam to sheepskin, thus enhancing the comfort of the headset.  The Bose X has about 50% less clamping action than most conventional headsets.  I've found my Bose X to be so comfortable that I've forgotten to remove if after a flight and almost rip it off my head getting out of the aircraft.  It's obvious to the most casual observer that the Bose X is a synonym to quality, every detail on this headset yells out quality and performance.Bose Headset Bag  In some cases the pilot is required to use a TSO'ed headset while flying the aircraft and the Bose X is one of the few ANR's that meets that high standard.  All Bose X headsets come with a nice headset bag and it should for what it cost.  

As good at the original Bose X was, it had some issues that needed to be dealt with.  The portable model of the "X" had a huge battery box that housed a 9Vdc battery.  The battery didn't last long nor was there an "auto shut-off" system that would kill the power when the headset was not in use, thus saving the battery.  I couldn't begin to count the number of times I left my Bose X in the aircraft, only to return the next day and find the battery dead.  Yes, the headset will operate without external power but the ANR doesn't function.  Now tell me, who wants a $1,000 passive headset? Another issue with the big battery box was setting the volume control; it was a funky set up at best.  During this time frame, many of the cheaper ANR headsets had an "auto shut-off" feature to save the battery when not in use but not the Bose.  The control panel for the early Bose X was kind of clunky too, both needed work.  

Now, the "Improved Bose X" ANR Headset.  There is a little difference in the new Bose headset itself (none externally). What I discovered was the following:  A new Bose X headset and cord operates around 40 hours off of two AA batteries.  My original Bose X headset lasted about 15 hours when using the 9Vdc battery.  If I took the new-style cord off of the brand new Bose and placed it on my older Bose X, then battery life went to 30 hours before the two AA's packed it in; in other words the new cable doubled the battery life of the older Bose X headset.   Most of the changes are in the cable and control boxes.  First, lets talk about the "portable" Bose X.  The new cable assembly can be attached to either side of the headset.  This can be handy for use in the copilots seat if the jacks are located in the far, right side of the panel. Bose Portable Control If the cord is attached to the right earpiece, the cable will not drape over the copilots lap, one less cable dangling in the way.  The new ergonomic designed portable control module uses 2 AA batteries for power. Bose claims the 2 AA's will last up to 40 hours.  The new module is about 30% smaller than the early model; smaller but yet does more and does it better.  As mentioned earlier, if it gets quiet for a period of time, the Bose X will shut-off (ANR wise) to save battery power.  

Battery life status indicator. Located on the module is a Battery Life Status Indicator.  The single LED provides three status indications.  Green means the batteries are in fine shape, yellow means you have about 8 hours of use left and red means it"s fixing to roll over on you.  I'd recommend always carrying a couple of AA's in the pilot's bag just in case you need them.  Oh, don't use rechargeable batteries; the status indicator doesn't work properly with them and they only last a few hours.  If you can afford a Bose, then you should be able to afford a couple of AA's? There's a button on the module that turns on/off the headset controls the brightness of the LED.  

As prior, the new cable assembly has dual volume controls but now they operate like controls should; just roll the volume level up or down.  User configuration switches located inside the control module allow the pilot to configure the headset to work with any type of audio system installed in the aircraft.  The Bose X user can easily be switched from "Mono to Stereo" depending on the aircraft you're flying that day.  

The Installed system is somewhat different.  Because a connector is installed somewhere in the instrument panel, battery power is not required.  The installed Bose headset just plugs into the panel connector, which supplies power for the ANR and is wired for stereo or mono, depending on the aircraft audio systemTop View.  The control module attached to the headset is new, sleek and well designed. The headset cord can be attached to either side of the headset.  The control module houses dual volume controls and the on/off switch.  Installing the connector in the panel depends on the location you want it placed and difficulty in getting to the audio wiring behind the radio stack.  On an average I'd say it takes about 2-3 hours to install the panel connector but again, each aircraft is different.  If you presently have a Bose X connector OR older Series II connector installed in your panel the new Bose X panel-mount headset will plug right in; no wiring changes are required.  

I"ve flown with the Bose X for years and my complaints were the short battery life, no auto shut-off and the funky, huge battery box.  Well, the "Improved Bose" conquered all those issues and then some.  To date, Bose hasn't raised the price of their aviation headset in years (even this Improved model); I give them a big salute for that.    


One may wonder how I was able to get the Improved Bose for evaluation; after all, they've been on back order for months.  Bose made an error and shipped me four Improved models, only to call and ask for them back once I received them.  You can imagine my answer to was to returning them.  Anyway, I kept two (panel and portable) for evaluation and sold the others within seconds.  

Is the "Improved Bose" worth the $995.00 price?Panel-Mount Control  After all, some other ANR headsets are as much or in some cases, more noise canceling.  When you look at this American Built headset the first thing that jumps out at you will be the quality of the unit.  This headset isn't assembled, it's built and with the finest workmanship and quality materials available.  While this may not be the headset for the masses, it certainly will be the choice of the pilot who insists on having the highest quality known to exist in an aviation headset.  Try this; stop by our shop and plug any ANR headset into our PS-Engineering CD player and listen to the tunes. Next, plug in the Bose X and listen to the same CD; most headsets sound OK but once you placed the Bose X on your head, you're taken aback by the concert hall sound.  Factory support from this company has been excellent.  



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