The $349 Bose QuietComfort Headphones change the $329 QuietComfort 45 within the firm’s lineup, bringing a revamped sound signature with richer bass and barely much less sculpted highs. In any other case, the QC Headphones provide the identical Bluetooth connectivity, slick companion app, and top-notch energetic noise cancellation (ANC) as their predecessors. Simply understand that they do not incorporate the immersive audio modes and higher-quality Bluetooth codecs of the upcoming QuietComfort Extremely Headphones ($429). They completely will not disappoint if you wish to save a bit of cash, however they fall simply wanting incomes our Editors’ Alternative award due to these characteristic limitations.
Comfy and Straightforward to Management
When it comes to design and luxury, the QC Headphones are the identical because the QC 45, although a limited-edition Cypress Inexperienced colour (the mannequin I examined, pictured on this overview) joins the Black and White Smoke choices. The headscarf and earpads characteristic a well-known mix of reminiscence foam cushioning with vegan leather-based lining. The interior 40mm dynamic drivers have not modified both, although they profit from new tuning. As normal, Bose does not share frequency vary specs.
The QuietComfort Headphones are suitable with the Bluetooth 5.1 normal and help simply the AAC and SBC codecs. Curiously, they do not use the Snapdragon Sound Platform just like the Extremely Headphones and Extremely Earbuds, which unlocks Bluetooth 5.3 and AptX Adaptive help. Sony’s $399.99 WH-1000XM5 headphones nonetheless get pleasure from a bonus on this regard because of their help for the hi-res-capable LDAC codec on suitable gadgets.
Bose SimpleSync is a connectivity characteristic that lets you simply pair the QuietComfort Headphones with particular Bose soundbars and audio system. When you do, you possibly can then play audio out of your headphones and the opposite supply concurrently, in addition to management their particular person quantity ranges (together with muting them). The headphones additionally help multipoint connectivity, although it’s a must to allow that characteristic within the app.
The tactile on-ear controls are sensibly organized and straightforward to function. The appropriate earcup’s aspect panel has an array of three buttons. Faucet the middle button as soon as to play or pause, twice to skip ahead a observe, and thrice to go to the earlier observe. This multifunction button additionally handles too many name actions to record right here, together with every part from establishing a convention name to muting your voice. The opposite two buttons on this earcup deal with quantity. On the left earcup, a single Motion button switches between Quiet (ANC) and Conscious (transparency) modes by default. You possibly can change which modes can be found on this cycle by way of the app. Alternatively, you possibly can press and maintain the Motion button to both hear the present battery stage or activate Spotify Faucet for fast entry to your playlists on that platform. I want extra choices had been assignable to the Motion button, however this management structure covers all of the requirements.
The headphones ship with the identical zip-up, hard-shell case because the QC 45 and collapse inward to suit inside. The case is far more manageable than the one for the non-folding Sony WH-1000XM5 and the barely-there carrying case for the Apple AirPods Max. An inner pocket shops the 2 included cables: a USB-C-to-USB-A charging cable that connects to the USB-C port on the correct earcup and an audio cable that connects to the three.5mm enter on the left earcup. The latter cable contains an inline mic that, for me, sits at roughly chin stage once I put on the headphones. With extra folks working from house, this accent appears extra helpful now than it did beforehand.
Bose estimates that the QuietComfort Headphones can final roughly 24 hours per cost, however your real-world outcomes will differ together with your quantity ranges. That is barely higher than the QC 45’s 22-hour battery life. Since you possibly can’t flip off the ANC or Conscious modes, this declare elements in no matter impact they’ve. The headphones take roughly 2.5 hours to totally cost from empty.
Bose QuietComfort Headphones App Expertise
The Bose Music app (out there for Android and iOS) appears to be like clear and gives simply sufficient options and controls to be helpful. Notably, it unlocks some mode customization choices that are not out there for the QC 45 headphones.
On the principle display screen, you see a picture of the headphones with their remaining battery life. A quantity slider seems beneath this, together with Modes, Supply, EQ, Shortcut, and Ideas tiles. On the backside of the display screen, a playback management bar reveals the observe and artist particulars for what you are listening to.
Within the Modes part, you begin with Quiet (most ANC) and Conscious (most transparency). Some other modes you add (there’s an inventory of presets you possibly can rename like Focus, House, and Out of doors) merely mix ANC and Conscious ranges. In different phrases, you possibly can’t totally disable one with out switching the opposite to its most setting. The one different choice right here is to allow the Wind Block characteristic, however doing so switches the ANC to its highest stage, so it does not add an excessive amount of in the best way of customization. In contrast to with both Extremely mannequin, there aren’t any immersive audio settings to configure for these modes, since you aren’t getting entry to Bose’s new spatial audio-like characteristic.
The Supply part reveals your paired gadgets and allows you to toggle multipoint connectivity. The EQ part options 4 customizable presets (Bass Increase, Bass Reducer, Treble Increase, and Treble Reducer) and provides you the choice to craft a customized profile by way of three bands (bass, mid, and treble). It is a pretty restricted implementation, however is best than nothing and works successfully.
You possibly can allow or disable the Shortcuts part. If it is energetic, you possibly can select between the battery stage and Spotify Faucet features for the Motion button. The Ideas part is basically a person information with sections for Controls, Telephone Calls, Modes, and Voice Assistant.
Press the settings icon within the high proper nook of the principle display screen to obtain firmware updates, set the headphones to recollect the present audio mode, management how a lot of your voice you hear on calls, and toggle voice prompts.
High-Tier Noise Cancellation
The QuietComfort Headphones ship the identical best-in-class noise cancellation because the QC 45. The one benefit the previous has on this regard is entry to the customizable modes within the app.
In testing, the headphones dialed again highly effective, low-frequency rumble to a really low stage and reduce a large swath of sound from a loud white noise recording. The highs and a few mids remained audible from the latter, however this can be a difficult job for all noise-cancelling circuitry. The headphones additionally dramatically tamped down the highs and mids from a recording of a busy restaurant whereas dampening the lows. I famous a barely audible high-frequency hiss throughout some exams, however this can be a frequent expertise with noise-cancelling headphones.
For comparability, the QuietComfort Headphones are higher at cancelling mids and highs than the Sony WH-1000XM5, however they’re about even towards low-frequency rumble. Each outperform Apple’s $549 AirPods Max.
Bose’s Conscious mode helps you to precisely hear your environment with out requiring you to take away the headphones. Nonetheless, within the app, you possibly can’t regulate the Conscious mode stage with out partaking ANC, not to mention prioritize conversations. The headphones additionally do not provide the Energetic Sense Conscious mode for concurrently tamping down loud environmental sounds, one thing you get with the Bose QuietComfort Extremely.
Extra Pure Audio
Ostensibly, this ought to be the largest space of enchancment over the QC 45. Bose reps defined that it adjusted the digital sign processing (DSP) of the previous with a concentrate on creating “a smoother, extra pure excessive finish” and including extra deep low-frequency response to deliver “extra punch with out [things] sounding muddy.”
To uncover these modifications, I A-B examined the QC 45 and the QC Headphones with the identical set of tracks. Certainly, there’s a notable distinction. What stood out most plainly was the older mannequin’s extra outstanding sculpting within the highs. Cymbals and higher-register strings sound brighter, although not essentially extra detailed. In contrast, the QuietComfort Headphones sound extra full-bodied and wealthy. Additionally they have a crisp, high-frequency supply however sound extra pure general. That stated, in case you favor a brighter audio signature, you possibly can simply get near the QC 45’s sound by boosting the treble by way of the in-app EQ.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content material, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the QuietComfort Headphones ship a deep low-frequency response. Bass lovers ought to benefit from the rumble the drivers can create. Importantly, the dialed-up bass does not upset the essential stability of the combination, although some would possibly nonetheless favor a barely brighter strategy.
The QuietComfort Headphones simply reproduce the sub-bass starting on the 34-second mark of Kendrick Lamar’s “Loyalty.” Each single side of this development comes throughout with gusto and the lows sound highly effective proper right down to the deepest observe, a feat not all headphones can handle. The assorted vocal performances on the observe sound clear and current despite the fact that it generally appears like there is a subwoofer inside these earcups.
Invoice Callahan’s “Drover,” a observe with far much less deep bass within the combine, provides us a greater sense of the sound signature. The drums on this observe sound comparatively pure, which signifies that Bose just isn’t extensively boosting the complete low-frequency vary. These drums fall into the woofer vary, quite than in subwoofer territory, for reference. In any other case, Callahan’s baritone vocals are equally wealthy and crisp. The upper-register percussion particulars are vibrant and detailed, although not fairly as a lot as by the QC 45.
On orchestral tracks, just like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel In accordance with the Different Mary, the QuietComfort Headphones focus extra on the lows and midrange than the QC 45. Each headphones sound vibrant, however the QC Headphones pack a bit extra lower-frequency presence. Total, I favor the presentation of the brand new mannequin right here, although neither sounds correct by any means.
The voice mic array works effectively and I did not have any hassle understanding each phrase from a check recording to my iPhone. The sign generally sounds a little bit fainter and fewer clear than what I’m used to on true wi-fi earphones, nevertheless.
Even Higher, However No Longer Unbeatable
A tweaked sound signature, a brand new colour alternative, and the power to create customized ANC modes make the Bose QuietComfort Headphones subtly higher than their predecessors. That stated, they value extra and you aren’t getting the immersive audio options or up to date Bluetooth specs of the corporate’s upcoming QuietComfort Extremely Headphones. You also needs to take into account the Sony WH-1000XM5, notably in case you’re utilizing an Android telephone that may profit from the LDAC codec help. And Apple followers will nonetheless discover a lot to love concerning the AirPods Max due to their seamless iOS integration. However in case you’re merely in search of class-leading noise cancellation and do not want high-end codec help, it is easy to suggest the Bose QuietComfort Headphones.