Bose has always been a renowned name when it comes to audio quality, but are their noise-cancelling headphones really worth their price tag? Will they block out the noisy streets of New York City or dull the engine of a plane? We put two models to the test.
Bose Headphones 700 ($329)
Straight A’s in…
Sound quality. Can you say crisp? We were immediately impressed with how clear music sounded. You can also boost or reduce bass and treble. Safe to say this makes for one incredible listening experience.
Noise cancellation. With the help of the compatible Bose phone app, you can adjust the level of noise cancellation, ranging from 0 to 10 (you can also do this via a button on the headphones). When it comes to bustling NYC streets and the roar of a plane engine, we can confirm that these headphones reduce unwanted background noise and help you focus on only what you're listening to.
Battery life. When you turn the headphones on, there’s a voice prompt that announces battery life, which helps you keep track of when to plug ’em in. At a full charge, the battery can last up to 20 hours, so more than enough for a long flight.
Touch controls. While there are physical buttons, we really loved the pair’s touch controls. A swipe of your finger on the right can lets you skip a song, or increase and decrease the volume. If you double tap twice, you can pause and restart your music.
Room for growth…
Price tag. They’re a premium pair of headphones, so yes, they’ve got a flashy price tag to match. These come in at $329.
Comfort. We’re not going to say that these cans are uncomfortable — they’re not. However, due to the narrow headband, we did find that after a few hours of use, we became very aware of them on our head. On the plus side, they’re pretty lightweight.
Bose QuietComfort 45 ($279)
Straight A’s in…
Comfort. We immediately noticed how comfortable these are while they sit on your head. With a thicker, padded headband, we never really found these uncomfy, even after all-day wear.
Sound quality. With the QuietComfort 45, you won’t have a noise-cancelling range as wide as the 700, but you can switch between “quiet” and “active.” You can also still adjust the bass and treble thanks to the app. Overall, we really loved the sound quality from these cans. If the noise cancellation is on, you won’t be able to hear someone sitting next to you.
Battery life. These headphones can run for up to 22 hours, depending on whether noise cancellation is on and how loud you’re listening.
Room for growth…
Price tag. While they’re not as expensive as the 700, we wouldn’t call them “budget”-priced at $279.
Bluetooth connectivity. Not a constant problem or something to deter you from purchasing, but at times we found connecting to our phone and laptop to be a bit clunky. If we were listening to music via our laptop and wanted to switch to our phone, there were instances where we had to reopen our laptop and completely disconnect from Bluetooth to then start playing tunes from our phone.
Sound leakage. We did notice that when someone was using the headphones next to us, we could hear the general beat of the music they were listening to. Was it terribly distracting? No, but something to note.
Plays well with…
Any music listener who wants a solid pair of headphones to use at work, while traveling, on walks, and more.
An audiophile who really appreciates high-quality sound and a premier brand name.
How we did our homework…
We had one editor test the two headphones side by side over the course of two months. She traveled with the headphones, wore them on planes, trains, and while working. She paid attention to their battery life, comfort level, and just how well the noise-cancellation functionality worked. Was sound from the outside world sneaking through? Could she still hear someone next to her on the subway? She also passed the headphones to family and friends for feedback, paying attention to sound leakage while others were listening. She downloaded the Bose phone app to test its performance and explore all features of both models.
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