With its place on the prime of the Bose line supplanted by the sleeker Bose Noise Cancelling 700, and more and more aggressive rivals nipping at its heels, Bose has been chopping away on the retail value of its QC 35 II, the bread-and-butter entry in its over-the-ear noise-cancelling headphone lineup.
I noticed a pre-Black Friday sale on the Bose web site that knocks the value of those cans down from $350 to $200 for those who by order Sunday, November 8 (they’re at the moment $199 on Amazon). Drop one other $50 and you’ll customise a number of parts—together with the outside of the ear cups and the within of the scarf—with numerous finishes. This provides a little bit of wait time to your order, as you may count on, however I discovered it to be nice enjoyable. Extra on that later. Late studying this? The identical sale value can be in impact from November 22-to December 1. Bose additionally gives a gamer-oriented variant—the Quiet Consolation 35 II Gaming Headset—that comes with a growth mic and a PC desktop controller.
This evaluation is a part of TechHive’s protection of the very best headphones, the place you’ll discover opinions of competing merchandise, plus a purchaser’s information to the options it is best to think about when looking for such a product.
It’s bargain-hunting season
Cut price searching involves me naturally. As I child, I keep in mind my father would solely ever purchase a automobile on the finish of the mannequin 12 months, when the seller was anxious to filter out the “leftover” stock. When it got here to sound gear, dad would counsel me to both search for a final 12 months’s mannequin or else “the second from the highest” in a line of receivers, turntables, or audio system, arguing that the primary “step down” piece shared nearly all the identical options and performance-tuning parts as the road’s standard-bearer—minus solely an additional enter, possibly fitted in a smaller enclosure, or missing the phrases “Elite Sequence” on the cupboard.
With the QC 35 II, a case will be made that these headphones are simply nearly as good if not higher than the NC 700 additionally in my evaluation assortment. Sure, these newer, pricier headphones boast cleaner styling, they’ve extra “sensing” microphones to shush undesirable noise and make clear your voice when making cellphone calls in a public setting, and the NC 700s additionally provide extra finite gradations of noise cancelling: 10 ranges versus simply two (plus “off”) on the QC 35 II.
Sound presentation is impartial, pure, and fairly high-quality on each fashions, though increased frequencies are prolonged a tad extra on the NC 700. Neither Bose mannequin will bust your ear drums with bombastic bass, however that’s an excellent factor, so far as I’m involved. I used to be thrilled nearly to tears by the QC 35 II’s candy sonorities, even-tempered steadiness, and depth of presentation on my favourite Keith Jarrett (+ Euro group) originals album My Tune beaming in Qobuz “CD-quality” decision (after which AAC) from an iPhone 12 Professional. So unhappy to be taught this wonderful pianist/composer/improvisor has suffered two incapacitating strokes.
Later, I earned a surprisingly big-screen impression of the Netflix collection The Queen’s Gambit even watching on an 11-inch iPad. The Bluetooth-connected QC 35 IIs whipped up a 3D-ish sound subject in my head, marked with crystal-clear dialogue, weirdly efficient directional audio cues, typically thunderous orchestral scoring, and snappy throwback hits from the Sixties (assume Kinks, George Fame, Surprising Blue). Who knew a narrative a couple of sensible (and troubled) younger feminine chess wiz may present such rousing and riveting enjoyable?
The brand new Tom Petty Wildflowers & The Relaxation assortment digging deeper into his darkish, twang-rock divorce classes likewise held my consideration for a number of hours with no fatigue. With windy string charts and balmy bossa nova rhythms, fragile chanteuse Melody Gardot’s new Sundown within the Blue album buffeted my mind like a billowy cloud. C’est Magnifique! And whereas I ain’t the largest hip-hop fan, I may respect the readability of expression, musical invention, and bubbly bass depths plumed on a Tidal mixture of hip-hop hits from the likes of Jeezy and Yo Gotti (Vroom, Vroom) and Anderson.Paak (a sparkle-plenty Jewelz).
Each Bose headphones assist the usual SBC and higher AAC Bluetooth codecs, the latter the highest act on iOS merchandise. Neither mannequin can deal with the higher-res LDAC, LDHC, aptX, or aptX HD cell codecs, which could disappoint Android customers and people who personal some fashions of high-end digital audio gamers. That stated, I detected negligible sonic variations throughout A/B listening assessments with the aforementioned Keith Jarrett set wirelessly after which wired with a 3.5mm cable to a Sony CD moveable.
The QC 35 II present their age with Bluetooth 4.1 assist, versus the NC 700’s assist for Bluetooth 5.0, however the elder mannequin nonetheless managed to choose up a secure sign from my new iPhone one flooring (and no less than 30 toes) away. Each units of Bose headphones swiftly cost in 2.5 hours for 20 hours most Bluetooth playback (40 hours on the QC 35 II if ANC is switched off). With simply quarter-hour of quick charging, you possibly can pump up the QC 35 II’s battery for two.5 hours of play (you’ll get an extra hour on the NC 700).
Some will grouse in regards to the old-school micro-USB jack (and cable) used to cost the QC 35 II, as in comparison with USB-C on the NC 700s; the latter is simpler to plug in and is the favored connector on fashionable Android telephones. The provided cable in each instances is merely 12 inches foot lengthy, which is perhaps a restriction imposed by the restricted inside dimensions of the carrying instances supplied with every.
I really choose coping with the QC 35 II’s mechanical quantity and management buttons (situated on the correct ear cup) to swipe monitor, quantity and cellphone name operations than I do working the conductive contact panel on the NC 700 (ditto for the arch-rival Sony’s WH-1000XM4). A right-hand-cup-mounted energy/Bluetooth connection slider change on the QC 35 II is likewise simpler to find and use.
As with a few of Bose’s moveable wi-fi audio system, two pairs of Bose’s 35-series headphones can “audio share” one Bluetooth stream, a trick that’s not potential with NC 700. The QC 35 II may concurrently connect with and work together with two sensible units, which is helpful for pausing music or a video enjoying on one to then reply an incoming cellphone name on the opposite.
Then there’s the entire consolation factor. Whereas the sturdy, sculpted aluminum band on the Bose NC 700 would most likely bounce again higher for those who sat on it, the “impact-resistant supplies, glass-filled nylon and chrome steel” components within the QC 35 II make it lighter (by nearly an oz.), more proficient at cup swiveling and tilting, and—as I discussed earlier—splendidly customizable. I’ve additionally discovered the cushioning on the within prime of the QC 35 headband to be wider and plusher and its “artificial protein leather-based”-wrapped ear cups are a tad extra charming and gentle than the more durable clamping (and higher gripping, for those who’re energetic) cups on the NC 700.
In sum, this set of telephones nonetheless lives as much as its “Quiet Consolation” billing. Not solely does the noise cancelling (energetic and passive) assist create a personal cocoon of calm—even tamping down some main street-dig disturbances exterior my door—it does so with a bodily and sound-contouring consolation degree that lasts and lasts. Most headphones finally begin squeezing the arms of my studying glasses into my temples. Not these. Most headphones make my ears sweat. That occurs solely on actually sizzling days with these.
Most troubling is the best way different headphones with exaggerated bass and treble response finally make my interior ears itch. These don’t. The underside line is that Bose has finessed a pair of headphones which might be appropriate for carrying and listening (or simply background ambient-noise blocking) for big chunks of your day—4 or 5 hours straight no less than. That’s a particular present.
Make them your individual
There’s some fact to the so-called “Ikea impact,” the notion that you just’ll worth one thing extra in case you have a hand in its creation. I really feel an additional jolt of enjoyable very time I placed on my custom-built QC 35 II, as a result of these items are mine, simply mine.
Go onto Bose’s web site and you’ll select the person coloration you’d like for every of those element components: Ear cups, outer headband, interior headband, and spacers. As you make your picks, an on-screen picture of the assembled headphone shifts to indicate the way it comes collectively. Choices embrace an array of vibrant colours (royal blue, poppy purple, vibrant yellow, vibrant orange, mild inexperienced, pink pop gloss, purple, and plum), a bunch of impartial colours (jet black, star grey gloss, smokey white, aquatic teal, evening navy, spring sage, and darkish inexperienced), and a number of other matte metallic colours (asteroid, black, silver, gold, rose gold, and copper.) Bose calculates you possibly can put these collectively in additional than 5 million mixtures.
I went for a combo of copper caps (then finish items), spring sage cups (the encircling trim items), a star grey outer headband, spring sage interior headband, with asteroid metallic-gray spacers. ‘Twas a gleeful, pop-art coloration combo evoking a long-gone Sharp growth field I as soon as treasured, and daringly mod Euro-brand TVs I used to ogle on the IFA electronics honest in Berlin. Now festooning my noggin, these custom-made music makers are a press release that also jumps out of the gang and can by no means be mistaken for anyone else’s boring black headphones. Does that make the music sound higher? You wager!
A cautionary be aware: Don’t be shocked if the colours on the precise product show a tad hotter than they did in your pc display, popping particularly below halogen bulbs and direct daylight. I forgot that I’d turned down the brightness on my iMac display. Beneath some illumination, my copper-tone caps may go for rose gold. I nonetheless like ‘em, although.
Additionally, for those who’re enthusiastic about ordering a custom-made pair for a vacation present, don’t delay. In late August, I bought my order processed, assembled (in Mexico), and shipped to the east coast in simply 9 days—that’s fairly darned quick. As of this writing, supply time is 5 to seven weeks.
Different choices exist for those who’d prefer to spruce up the Bose QC 35 or QC 25 you already personal. Take a look at decal cover-ups out there from the likes of SlickWraps and Pores and skin Sticker, the latter of which had been promoting for a discount $9.14 as of this writing. I additionally discovered an organization referred to as ColorWare that sells custom-painted pairs of QC 35 II for $429, with a promised two-week supply. All attest to the recognition of Bose’s standard-setting noise cancelling headphones.