Clash of the Titans: Bose A30 Versus David Clark DC ONE-X Aviation Headsets - Image

Clash of the Titans: Bose A30 Versus David Clark DC ONE-X Aviation Headsets

Every Pilot Seeks to Select the Best Aviation Headset Available – More Often Than Not It’s Aviation Headsets from Bose or David Clark

Headsets are critical because of their importance for proper and clear intercom and radio communication. In addition, pilots and their passengers wear them for long periods of time and want them to be lightweight and comfortable too. Nowadays, a state-of-the-art aviation headset needs to have Bluetooth functionality to connect to your devices and to listen to your or your passengers’ favourite music, podcasts, and audiobooks.

There is a wide variety of aviation headsets available, and several companies offer aviation headsets:

  • Bose
  • David Clark
  • Lightspeed
  • Sennheiser
  • SL, Telex, Tomcat, …

Obviously, not all provide the same level of quality and functionality. Although companies like Lightspeed and Sennheiser may offer quality aviation products, we are only interested in top-notch aviation products. Therefore, we will focus on the Bose A30 and David Clark DC ONE-X aviation headsets.

Before we dive deep into the details of both headsets, I’d like to quickly discuss some general features and specifications.

Understanding Passive and Active Aviation Headsets

When selecting an aviation headset, it’s important to understand the difference between passive and active noise reduction technologies, as these play a crucial role in communication clarity and overall flight experience.

Passive Noise Reduction (PNR) Headsets

  • Mechanism: Passive noise reduction headsets rely on the physical design of the ear cups to block out ambient noise. They use thick, cushioned ear seals and sound-absorbing materials to provide noise isolation.
  • Noise Reduction: PNR headsets are effective at reducing low to mid-frequency noise, such as the hum of engines and general cockpit noise. However, their effectiveness diminishes with higher frequency sounds.

Active Noise Reduction (ANR) Headsets

  • Mechanism: Active noise reduction headsets use electronic circuitry to cancel out noise. They incorporate microphones inside and outside the ear cups to detect ambient noise and generate sound waves that are the exact opposite (anti-noise) to cancel out the unwanted noise.
  • Noise Reduction: ANR headsets are particularly effective at reducing low-frequency noise, such as engine and rotor noise, providing a quieter environment for communication.


  • Passive Noise Reduction Headsets: Rely on physical materials to block noise, are simpler and more durable, but can be heavier and less effective at higher frequencies.
  • Active Noise Reduction Headsets: Use electronic technology to cancel noise, offer superior noise reduction and comfort, but are more expensive and dependent on batteries when not equipped with LEMO plugs (see below).

Bluetooth Functionality in Aviation Headsets

Bluetooth functionality in aviation headsets offers a range of benefits that enhance the pilot’s and passenger’s experience by providing wireless connectivity to various devices. Here’s a brief explanation of how Bluetooth is integrated into aviation headsets and its practical uses:

Key Features and Uses of Bluetooth in Aviation Headsets

Wireless Connectivity
  • Mobile Devices: Bluetooth allows pilots to connect their headsets to smartphones and tablets. This connection can be used for hands-free phone calls, enabling pilots to communicate without needing to remove their headsets.
  • Audio Streaming: Pilots can stream audio content, such as music or podcasts, from their personal devices directly to the headset. This feature can help reduce fatigue during long flights by allowing pilots to listen to their preferred audio content.
Integration with Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) like iPads with ForeFlight App

EFBs are tablet devices that contain important flight information, charts, and navigation tools. Bluetooth-enabled headsets can connect to EFBs, allowing pilots to receive audio alerts and updates directly through their headsets.

Intercom and Radio Communication

Advanced Bluetooth aviation headsets can be configured to mix audio from intercom and radio communications with Bluetooth audio. This ensures that pilots can hear important flight communications while still enjoying the benefits of Bluetooth connectivity.

Enhanced Safety and Convenience

Hands-free communication provided by Bluetooth can enhance safety by allowing pilots to keep their hands on the controls while making calls or accessing information. This reduces the need for physical interaction with devices, thereby minimising distractions.

Examples of Bluetooth Functionality in Popular Aviation Headsets

Bose A30
  • Bluetooth Audio: The A30 supports Bluetooth connectivity, enabling wireless communication with mobile devices and EFBs. The headset can mix Bluetooth audio with intercom and radio communications, ensuring pilots don’t miss critical information while using Bluetooth features.
  • User Experience: The A30’s Bluetooth functionality is designed to be intuitive, providing easy pairing and reliable connections.
David Clark DC ONE-X
  • Bluetooth Integration: The DC ONE-X also features Bluetooth for wireless connectivity to devices such as phones, tablets, and EFBs. This functionality supports hands-free calls and audio streaming, contributing to a more convenient and safer flying experience.
  • Control Module: The DC ONE-X has an in-line control module that allows pilots to manage Bluetooth connections and adjust audio settings easily.


Bluetooth functionality in aviation headsets enhances the overall flying experience by providing wireless connectivity, which allows for hands-free communication, audio streaming, and integration with electronic flight tools. Both the Bose A30 and David Clark DC ONE-X exemplify how modern aviation headsets leverage Bluetooth technology to improve convenience, safety, and comfort for pilots.

Available Electrical Connectors (Plug Options)

In general aviation, there are primarily three types of connectors used for aviation headsets:

Standard Dual General Aviation (GA) Plugs

Names: Also known as Dual Plugs, PJ-Plugs, or Standard GA Plugs.

Types: PJ-055 (audio) and PJ-068 (microphone).

Usage: These are the most common connectors in fixed-wing general aviation aircraft. Almost every general aviation aircraft is equipped with dual plug connectors.

Characteristics: Each plug serves a different function—one for the audio and one for the microphone. These are widely recognized and supported across various aircraft models.

REDEL 6-pin Connector by LEMO

Names: Known as LEMO plugs.

Usage: These connectors are also widespread in general aviation.

Advantages: LEMO plugs have additional pins that are used to supply power to headsets, enabling features such as active noise reduction (ANR) and Bluetooth functionality without the need for internal batteries.

Convenience: The external power supply capability of LEMO plugs is particularly beneficial as it eliminates the need to monitor and replace headset batteries.

U-174/U Connector

Names: Also known as US NATO plugs.

Usage: Commonly used in military aircraft and civil helicopters.

Characteristics: This is a single plug that combines both audio and microphone functions. It is robust and designed for the demanding environments typical of military and helicopter operations.

Adapter Cables

  • Flexibility: Adapter cables are available to convert between these plug types when the “wrong” connectors are present. For instance, if an aircraft has only GA dual plugs but the headset uses a LEMO plug, an adapter can be used.
  • Limitations: While adapters allow for compatibility, using them with LEMO plugs means losing the external power supply feature, thus requiring the use of batteries.


LEMO Plugs Preferred: We recommend using LEMO plugs due to the convenience of external power supply. This setup reduces the need to check and replace headset batteries, streamlining the pre-flight preparation process.

Comparing the Bose A30 and David Clark DC ONE-X Aviation Headsets

When choosing an aviation headset, two prominent options in the market are the Bose A30 and the David Clark DC ONE-X. Here is a detailed comparison of their features and specifications, along with compelling arguments for and against choosing each headset.

Bose A30 Aviation Headset

  • Noise Cancellation: The A30 offers three selectable modes of active noise cancellation (high, medium, and low) to suit various flying environments. It also includes a talk-through communication feature, which allows pilots to tap the ear cups to reduce noise cancellation temporarily for easier communication with co-pilots.
  • Weight and Comfort: Weighing 14.2 ounces (403 g), the A30 is designed for long-term comfort with reduced clamping force and improved headband padding.
  • Audio Clarity: The A30 employs a new digital architecture for enhanced audio clarity and noise reduction, providing clear and intelligible communication.
  • Durability: Built to withstand harsh cockpit environments, the A30 has undergone extensive testing and meets FAA TSO and EASA E/TSO-C139a certifications.
  • Battery Life: Offers up to 45 hours of operation on two AA batteries.
  • Connectivity: Includes Bluetooth for wireless connectivity and a 1/8-inch connector stereo input cable to connect mobile devices and audio systems. It supports various plug configurations, including Dual G/A, 6-pin LEMO, and U-174.
  • Design: The lightweight design features a toolless, side-swappable microphone and cable for ergonomic flexibility in the cockpit.
  • Superior noise cancellation with three adjustable modes.
  • Enhanced comfort with low clamping force and lightweight design.
  • Excellent audio clarity with digital active noise reduction.
  • Flexible connectivity options, including Bluetooth.
  • Robust and durable design, meeting multiple aviation standards.
  • Higher price point compared to some competitors.
  • Not recommended for open-cockpit environments.

David Clark DC ONE-X Aviation Headset

  • Noise Cancellation: The DC ONE-X provides Hybrid Electronic Noise Cancelling (ENC) technology, which offers effective noise reduction in various cockpit environments. It is designed to allow pilots to hear critical external sounds such as engine noise and crew communications.
  • Weight and Comfort: Weighing 12.3 ounces (349g), the DC ONE-X is lighter than the Bose A30 and features memory foam ear seals and a Outlast® head pad for maximum comfort during extended flights.
  • Audio Clarity: It includes advanced M-55 electret microphones for clear communication.
  • Durability: Built to withstand rigorous use with a durable alloy headband and flexible boom microphone and meets FAA TSO-C139a certification.
  • Battery Life: Provides up to 50 hours of use on two AA batteries.
  • Connectivity: Includes Bluetooth for wireless device connectivity, supporting both phone and stereo audio. It also features a detachable cord design for easy replacement.
  • Design: The headset features a foldable design for compact storage and transport.
  • Advanced hybrid noise cancellation technology.
  • Lightweight and comfortable, with memory foam and ergonomic design.
  • Clear communication with advanced microphone technology.
  • Longer battery life compared to the Bose A30.
  • Foldable design for ease of storage.
  • Slightly less robust noise cancellation compared to the Bose A30’s three-mode system.

Compelling Arguments for Each Headset

Choosing the Bose A30

If your priority is superior noise cancellation with adjustable modes and advanced digital noise reduction technology, the A30 is an excellent choice. Its design ensures long-term comfort and durability, making it ideal for pilots who spend many hours in the cockpit. The added flexibility of Bluetooth connectivity and multiple plug configurations also make it versatile for different aircraft types.

Choosing the David Clark DC ONE-X

For pilots looking for a lighter and more compact option with effective noise cancellation, the DC ONE-X is a great alternative. It offers excellent comfort with its memory foam ear seals and head pad, making it suitable for extended use. The longer battery life and foldable design add to its practicality, especially for pilots who need to store their headsets frequently.

Situational Awareness

The David Clark DC ONE-X is designed to allow pilots to hear critical external sounds such as engine noise and crew communications. This capability is due to its advanced Hybrid Electronic Noise Cancelling (ENC) technology. The ENC in the DC ONE-X uses feed-forward and feed-back technology to reduce unwanted noise while still allowing essential sounds like engine noise to be heard clearly. This design consideration helps pilots maintain situational awareness, which can be crucial for safety, particularly in recognising changes in engine sounds or hearing alarms and warnings.

On the other hand, the Bose A30 also provides excellent noise cancellation but focuses more on offering adjustable noise reduction modes (high, medium, and low) to suit different flying environments. The A30’s three selectable modes can optimise communication clarity and noise reduction based on the cockpit’s noise level. In addition, it includes a talk-through communication feature, which allows pilots to tap the ear cups to reduce noise cancellation temporarily for easier communication with co-pilots. However, it does not offer a feature aimed at ensuring external sounds, such as engine noise, are heard as clearly as the DC ONE-X does.

Therefore, while both headsets excel in noise reduction, the DC ONE-X might be more suited for pilots who prioritise maintaining a level of ambient sound awareness, such as engine noise and external communication. The Bose A30, with its superior comfort and advanced digital noise reduction technology, may be ideal for those who prioritise customisable noise cancellation and enhanced audio clarity for communication.

Brand Preference and Market Perception

When it comes to choosing aviation headsets, pilot preferences can vary significantly based on personal experiences, specific needs, and brand loyalty. Both Bose and David Clark have strong reputations in the aviation industry, but they appeal to slightly different segments of the market.


Known for innovation and comfort, Bose has a strong reputation for advanced noise-canceling technology. Pilots often favour Bose for its premium features and superior audio quality, making it a top choice for those who prioritise comfort and cutting-edge technology.

David Clark

David Clark is synonymous with reliability and durability, especially in high-noise environments. Its long-standing history and proven track record make it a preferred choice for pilots who need robust and reliable equipment. The ability to hear engine noise and external communications clearly is a key advantage that sets the DC ONE-X apart.

Company Background


Founded in 1964 by Dr. Amar Bose, the company has been a leader in sound technology innovation. Bose introduced the first commercially available active noise reduction headset in 1989, revolutionising the flying experience for pilots with continuous advancements in noise-canceling technology.

David Clark

Established in 1935, David Clark has a rich history of producing communication headsets for aviation and other high-noise environments. Their commitment to durability and performance has built a loyal customer base, particularly among pilots who value reliability and situational awareness.


Choosing between the Bose A30 and David Clark DC ONE-X ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you prioritize advanced noise cancellation, superb audio quality, and maximum comfort, the Bose A30 is an excellent choice. However, if maintaining situational awareness and robust durability are more important, the David Clark DC ONE-X might be the better option. Both headsets offer exceptional features and have strong reputations, ensuring that you will have reliable and effective communication in the cockpit.


We believe that both the Bose A30 and the David Clark DC ONE-X are excellent aviation headsets. Both use advanced technologies and are lightweight and comfortable to wear. That said, the Bose A30 aviation headset might be preferable for pilots and passengers who value audio quality and modern style. The David Clark DC ONE-X is a great choice for pilots who focus on situational awareness and appreciate the legacy style.

Regardless of which headset you choose, opting for Bluetooth functionality is highly recommended. If you operate aircraft equipped with LEMO connectors, selecting the LEMO plug option is beneficial as it provides external power to the headset, reducing the need to monitor battery levels. Additionally, purchasing an adapter cable for Standard Dual General Aviation (GA) Plugs and/or the U-174/U Connector ensures compatibility with different aircraft types.

Product Variants

Bose A30: Available with or without Bluetooth functionality and with various connector options under the same product name.

David Clark DC ONE-X: Offers Bluetooth functionality as a standard feature. Different product names indicate the type of connector:

  • DC ONE-X: Standard Dual General Aviation (GA) Plugs.
  • DC ONE-XP: REDEL 6-pin Connector by LEMO.
  • DC ONE-XH: U-174/U Connector.

Both headsets are designed to meet the diverse needs of pilots, whether you prefer the modern innovation of Bose or the reliable durability of David Clark. By choosing a headset that best matches your flying environment and personal preferences, you can enhance your flying experience with clear communication, comfort, and advanced technology.

About Quest Aeronautics

Quest Aeronautics is a state-certified engineering office for aviation, dedicated to shaping the future of general aviation by providing innovative and cost-effective solutions to enhance aircraft performance and operations. With a focus on CS/FAR-23 and experimental/amateur-built (E/A-B) aircraft, Quest Aeronautics provides a range of services including flight testing, aircraft operations and maintenance consulting, high-quality aviation products, and tailored support for E/A-B projects. Collaborating with industry-leading partners, Quest Aeronautics is committed to delivering unparalleled support and expertise to individuals and organisations in the general aviation market.

About Author

Sebastian, the founder of Quest Aeronautics, is a driven and enthusiastic individual with a passion for aviation. Before delving into aviation, he gained valuable experience as a chemical process engineer and laboratory technician. Sebastian holds a Master of Science in Engineering and a commercial pilot licence, with several fixed-wing aircraft ratings under his belt. He has also completed an introduction course for fixed-wing performance and flying qualities flight testing at the National Test Pilot School in Mojave, CA and is compliance verification engineer for flight.