Back in 2014 Bose released the over-ear QuietComfort 25 headphones to near universal praise. Two years later they followed them up with the QuietComfort 35 (CA/UK) – a wireless take on their popular noise cancelling headphones.
You may worry that dropping the wire and moving to Bluetooth would be more of a headache than a convenience. As it turns out though, Bose has delivered an excellent wireless successor to the QC25s in the QuietComfort 35s.
The QC35s are light at only 240g, but still feel like a premium product. Bose opted for glass-filled nylon for the headband and ear cups over plastic to make them more comfortable to wear. The joints of the ear cups are made of stainless steel to increase durability.
There is no avoiding that they aren’t visually exciting though. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the black or silver matte exterior, but unlike other fashion headphones, they do tend to blend into the background.
The headphones come with a case although I have to admit here, I didn’t actually use it. It just wasn’t very convenient. Despite this, the headphones fared very well. I threw them loose into my bag, used in light rain, and at the gym. The only wound they sustained through all that use was a few small scratches on the headband.
The right headphone has a three mode power switch on the exterior, allowing you to switch between “Off”, “On”, and “Pairing Mode”. The bottom of the headphone has three buttons, volume up, volume down, and a play/pause button in the middle. In place of a dedicated skip button, you double tap the Play/Pause button for next track, and triple tap for previous track.
I found the QC35s had a well balanced sound – there was bass in all the right places and trebles were able to breathe. The audio sounded exactly as I expected across a variety of genres and spoken word. I didn’t find that the bass overwhelmed the music but gave enough of a punch when it was needed. While using the QC35s all my music sounded exactly as I thought it should. In many ways the more intimate setting actually made the experience better than my desktop audio setup.
Unlike some headphones, Bose doesn’t allow you to adjust the EQ on the fly using the companion app. They claim the headphones are “EQ Optimized” but it’s shame that a premium pair of headphones comes without such a standard feature.
If you are going to be wearing any type of headphones – either in-ear or over-ear – comfort is essential. Using a poorly designed set of headphones can cause tension headaches. Fortunately, the QC35s don’t suffer from this problem. I wore these headphones for upwards of 5 hours per day and only once did my head ever hurt after use, and that’s only because I fell asleep with them on.
Part of the reason is that the padded ear cups on the headphones are really comfortable. There is just enough padding to allow freedom from the tension of the headphone, but not too much to allow the headphones to lose the seal that they create around your ear to optimize the noise cancellation.
Bose’s noise cancellation prowess is one of the primary reasons you see them adorning so many frequent fliers. The QC35s have an external microphone on them which is able to pick up ambient noise in your surroundings. The electronics create an anti-phase signal to cancel out the off-putting noise around you. Despite their elite reputation, I was still blown away by just how little was able to disturb your audio solitude.
Noise cancellation works best on consistent noises like an air conditioning unit rather than unexpected or infrequent ones. Despite this even in busy places like coffee shops or while walking around in central London, I still found I was able to drift into my own secluded space.
The built-in microphone lets the QC35s double up as a hands-free headset. Everyone I spoke to using the QC35s said that the sound quality of the call was a dramatic improvement over my previous headphones. Interestingly the noise cancellation is so good, that you can’t actually hear your own voice when on a call.
The Bluetooth 4.0 connection was lightning fast, which meant that I often used the headphones as my go-to for all calls. I could power them up and connect in just a few seconds so I could pick up the call.
I found that the specified up to 20 hours of battery life wasn’t correct. Instead, they far exceeded that. Typically I charged them around once a week after I used them for around six hours per day. I didn’t use them lightly either: listening to music, taking calls, and even forgetting to turn them off on occasion. Bose says that the recharge time is 2.25 hours but they are underselling themselves on this front too. I found that it would typically only take between 30 and 45 minutes to go from depleted to full charge.
It is slightly disappointing that Bose doesn’t supply a charging dock, especially since the provided micro-USB cable is only 30cm long.
Throughout my testing I didn’t have a single connection problem. There was no interference, connection loss, or any noticeable degradation of audio quality between the QC35s and my wired headphones. This is even more impressive as Bose hasn’t implement the superior AptX compression, which is incompatible with Apple devices.
You can connect up to two devices simultaneously to the QC35s. You might imagine that it would be a harsh transition between the two sources, but it is seamless. I had mine connected to my phone and PC and I could easily jump between both devices almost instantaneously. The Bose Connect companion app (Android/iOS) allows you to control which devices the headphones are connected to, but little else.
If you need to switch to a wired connection, the QC35s also have a 2.5mm jack on the left headphone. You can even use the headphones in passive mode without power, but you do lose the noise cancellation.
Should You Buy Them?
Bose promises great sound quality and excellent noise cancellation and they deliver on both fronts. The battery life on the QC35s easily surpassed expectations, and even Bose’s own specifications. They aren’t cheap but they do offer everything that you would expect for a $350 set of headphones. The design may be a little bland, but it doesn’t matter when the performance is so good.
Bose’s best headphones have gone wireless and been made even better for it. Although they aren’t cheap, the astonishing battery life, powerful noise cancellation and great audio performance make them ideal companions.