Over the past twelve months, I’ve come to appreciate a good pair of headphones. It started with the jaw-dropping Sony WH-1000MX2’s that I reviewed earlier this year. That made me realise that not all headphones are created equal. Which got me thinking. Aren’t Bose supposed to be the market leader in noise-cancelling headphones? I got myself the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II noise-cancelling headphones to review and here’s what I think of them. Wee spoiler for you. I bought these myself and use them every day.
Alright. If you’ve gone an put “quiet” in the title I guess these better be damn good at blocking out noise. I was lucky enough to have picked up these bad boys in the US so I had a seven-ish hour-long flight from New York to Dublin to test out these Bose cans. In some ways, a flight is the perfect test for noise cancelling headphones. They excel at removing monotonous background noise – like jet engines, but they do struggle to knock out noises that vary, such as people talking.
I slept for large portions of the flight listening to music or briefly watching movies. You could argue that the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II are too good. When you’ve had them on a while and take them off it’s a little bit scary. You feel overcome by the noise that surrounds you. While that sounds all negative, it’s a testament to how much background crap gets blocked out by these headphones. Good job Bose.
The noise cancelling offers aural comfort and the design of the Bose flagship headphones doubles down on comfort. The earpads feel great and are the perfect size to sit over the ears. They also feel like they create a pressurised seal between you and the headphones which just adds to the feeling of being taken away to another world.
They’ve got a nice headband profile with some comfy padding too. I’m not entirely sure what comfort factors people would be looking for, but like I said – I slept for hours with these guys on and they felt great.
Sony really threw a cat amongst the pigeons when they launched the WH-1000MX2s. What blew me away, beyond the sound quality, is the battery life. Up to 30 hours on a single charge is fantastic. These Bose cans promise up to 20 hours of battery life. So while they’re not Sony levels, that’s plenty of battery life for most people. Also, if you do get caught short, 20 minutes of charging will give you another 2.5 hours.
I was mightily impressed with the Sony WH-1000MX2s. So much so, I didn’t think the Bose could stand up to them. I was wrong.
The sound quality coming from the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II is incredible. Crisp and crystal clear while offering crushing volume without loss of quality. As I admitted in my previous headphone reviews, I don’t claim to be an audiophile, but I do know what sounds good. Boy, oh boy, do these sound good.
And then we hit a snag. I love these headphones. They’re great. But the price of them is insane. You’ll fork out €325 for these Bose cans on Amazon.co.uk while the Sonys are now going for just €280. The thing is, Sony announced their WH-1000MX3 range at IFA. I’ve had a play and while they’re awesome with slightly improved noise cancellation, they go back up to full whack at €370. So really you’re left with a choice of the Sony WH-1000MX2 or the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II. So which is it?
I went for the Bose headphones, but there are extenuating circumstances. I was in the US at an outlet. Here I found a Bose store selling refurbished models of the QC 35 II. I effectively picked them up for €200 – an absolute steal. Unfortunately, there’s no sign of Bose starting to sell refurbished models in Ireland so that’s not really an option for you. I do feel that the Bose headphones pip the Sonys ever so slightly, but it’s so slight I’m not sure I can justify paying more for Bose over Sony. Like I’m very happy with my choice, but they’re all awesome.
So which should you buy? Well, you won’t be disappointed with either. They are both simply incredible headphones. Battery life in the Sony headphones is a touch better but the audio experience wins this for Bose on a points decision.