Bose QC35

Bluetooth Quiet Comfort 35
World's Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

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Bose QC35

Bose Quiet Comfort 35 Active Noise-Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones (also come in silver, built-in rechargeable 20-hour battery, 8.3 oz./235g, about $349). bigger. I love these so much I've bought two pairs from Adorama; I'd also get them at Amazon, at B&H or at Crutchfield.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to my personally-approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Get yours only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.

 

August 2016    Bose reviews    Audio reviews   Headphone reviews   All reviews

 

Introduction

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These Bose QC35 headphones are so good that I've bought two pairs, one set for my wife and another for myself. I already had the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9, which work well and cost less, but are much bigger and bulkier. The main reason for noise-cancelling headphones is airline travel, so size is everything. The poor man always pays twice; you always wind up getting the best, and these QC35 are the world's best because of their superior sound, superior isolation, superior ergonomics, small size and light weight.

These Bose QC35 headphones are a rechargeable Bluetooth version of the older corded QC25. The QC25 use throw-away AAA cells, while these new QC35 have an internal 20-hour rechargeable battery that charges via USB.

They have a microphone for phone calls.

These QC-35 also work with their included removable cord. If you only want to work with a cord, you may as well save money with the QC25 instead, although the QC35 claim a 40-hour battery life while corded.

The QC35 sound fantastic for all kinds of music and movies and almost completely eliminate all outside sound and noise. Use these on airplanes or while mowing your lawn, but don't go jogging on railroad tracks with them because you won't hear much of anything other than your music. Use these in a busy home, office or lobby and you're in your own quiet world. It's instant peace and tranquility.

Active Noise-Cancelation (ANC) was invented by Bose. These have tiny microphones to listen to the surrounding noise and then use special circuitry to subtract that noise precisely from the sound. They cancel the noise, which is much more effective than simply trying to muffle it.

They're small, light and comfortable for hours, and they don't fall off your head if you move around.

They can pair to eight devices, and can connect to two devices simultaneously so you can play from either one right after the other. Connect to your iPhone and your iPad and it just works; you never have to select one or the other.

They're compatible with anything Bluetooth; I tried them with my old iPhone 4 running iOS 4.2.8 and with my 2009 MacBook Pro running OS 10.6, and all was swell. Otherwise I'm using them with my iPhone 6S Plus and iPad Pro on iOS 9.

 

Cures Jet Lag

These are extraordinary for airline flights because they completely eliminate all engine rumble which leads to a complete lack of fatigue after long flights.

I get off an intercontinental flight, and I'm relaxed and ready to go out and win, not ready for a nap as I used to be before active-noise-cancelling (ANC) headphones.

Our bodies don't like being exposed to loud rumble for extended periods. Our bodies interpret noise and rumble as a threat, like a volcano ready to blow or an earthquake, and put our bodies on high alert to address the threat. I don't waste the rest of the day looking forward to getting to sleep; I have an extra half a day or more of full productivity or vacation. I get off my flights and I'm raring to go.

I wear these the entire time the engines are lit on an airplane, and it saves me from all the noise. I arrive refreshed and relaxed. I wear them for the entire flight, even if I'm not listening to anything. I also use them to sleep in silence on an airplane.

These a must-have for airline travel. These don't eliminate time change, but they do eliminate fatigue. If you travel, these pay for themselves after your first trip by giving you back those hours usually lost to after-fllght fatigue.

 

New

● Two simultaneous Bluetooth connections.

● Rechargeable 20-hour battery.

 

Good

● Fantastic sound.

● Extraordinary bass performance.

● Complete isolation from rumble.

● Compact and easy to carry.

● Comfortable.

● Light weight.

● Great battery life, mine run over 24 hours on a charge.

● Easy, intuitive operation.

● Comes with hard case, cords and adapters.

 

Bad

● Can't play wirelessly while charging, but can play with a dead battery or while charging with the included audio cord.

 

Missing

● No USB wall charger, as if we all don't already have a slew of these. Does come with a USB charging cord and will charge from any USB port or charger.

 

Technology

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Performance   Usage   Recommendations

Bose introduced active noise-canceling headphones in 1989, the same year Taylor Swift was born, and has been improving the state-of-the-art ever since.

Active noise cancellation means there are two microphones on and in each earpiece that listen to the outside noise, and then subtract (cancel) it from the sound you want to hear. This makes the noise go away.

The QuietComfort 35 have a built-in headphone amplifier with advanced digital signal processing (DSP) that not only cancels the noise, but also performs active equalization to make these headphones sound way better than conventional passive headphones. The bass performance is especially outstanding, since it's electronically optimized to perfection.

 

Specifications

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Connects via

Bluetooth, NFC or with included detachable 3.5mm cord.

 

Weight

8.290 oz. (235.0g) actual measured weight, headphones only.

15.890 oz. (450.5g) in case with all accessories, actual measured weight.

 

Power

Internal rechargeable battery.

Rated 20 hours of wireless use; mine runs for more than 24 hours on a charge.

Rated 40 hours of corded use.

Charges via USB, rated 2-1/4 hours for a full charge from dead which agrees with what I observed.

 

Warranty

1 year, but in my decades of Bose ownership I've never had any problem they didn't just fix by asking nicely regardless of age.

 

Included

Headphones.

Case.

1-foot (30cm) USB cable, but no USB wall-power adapter.

4-foot (1.2m) straight audio cable (2.5mm plug for headphones and 3.5mm plug for your player).

Airplane dual-plug adapter.

Two different multi language instruction sheets to cover many, many languages.

 

Case

Bose includes a hard zippered case so your nice, soft cushions won't get squashed.

This case is bigger than the case for Bose's regular passive headphones, but much smaller than the huge case for the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9.

 

Bose QC35

Bose QC35 case. bigger.

 

Bose QC35

Inside the Bose QC35 case. bigger.

It has storage for the dual-plug airline adapter, as well as the USB charge cord and the removable audio cable.

 

Price, USA

August 2016: $349.

Bose QC35

Bose QC-35 box. bigger.

 

Performance

Top   Introduction   Technology   Specs

Performance   Usage   Recommendations

 

Overall

These state-of-the-art noise-cancelling headphones sound great for all kinds of music, both popular and classical, play for over 24 hours on a charge, and eliminate all ambient rumble and most ambient noise to let you enjoy your music in supreme peace and quiet.

Their smooth sound without background noise transports me into my movie's environment, and their superior bass performance reproduces the deepest movie sounds in full stereo better than any single subwoofer.

They offer fantastic sound and ergonomics only available from a mature, intelligent design from the company that invented noise-cancelling headphones. Bose has done more to research and execute crazy, creative ideas for sound reproduction than any other company to make our music and movies sound better.

These headphones sound so good it may be like hearing what's actually in your favorite music for the very first time. You may want to listen to your entire music library again; these sound that good.

 

Sound

The sound is open, clean, smooth and detailed with superb bass response and a very slightly raised 8kHz region (maybe one or two dB) that contributes to clarity and airiness without making the sound harsh.

The QC35 let you hear everything from the deepest bass to every subtle weird edit or tape dropout in the master recording.

As with all active headphones there is a little bit of self-noise (hiss), but it's inaudible as soon as you play music and only audible in an already quiet environment. Its no bother even for home use, which is much better than other brands of headphones like the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 which have too much self-noise for home use.

Music sounds superior, with oodles of smooth detail and superior bass that few, if any, mass market headphones can duplicate.

Movies sound big, smooth and luscious, with superb bottomless bass.

 

Bass

Bass performance, aided by the active electronic optimization, is bottomless. It's perfect: smooth, deep and free from distortion or boominess.

Bass is big, fat, solid, clean and deep.

It uses the Rockwell curve, which I first proposed and implemented back in the 1970s, which boosts bass more as it goes deeper to replace the sensation lost at lower frequencies normally felt by our bodies. In this case, Bose also claims that it boosts the bass more at lower volume levels to compensate for our ears' own variations.

The bass boost peaks at 30 cycles, and it's solid to 18 cycles, which is superb. There is no midbass boost around 50 to 80 cycles as with lesser speakers and headphones; with the QC35 you can hear the deepest fundamentals because they are not hidden behind midbass boominess.

Bass often sounds an octave deeper because fundamentals in the 20-50 Hz range aren't hidden behind second harmonics in the 40-100Hz range that are artificially boosted in most other devices.

Also nice is that bass response doesn't vary much if you lift an earcup up and leave it half-propped up on an ear so you can hear what's going on around you. Most headphones lose bass when they lose the seal; the QC35 sound about the same.

Below 18 cycles there is increasing noise that sounds like rubbing, but I suspect are actually artifacts from the Bluetooth coding. The corded QC25 are better at subsonics, although I also suspect the QC35 are also better if I bothered to use the cord.

 

Lip Sync

Like all Bluetooth devices, there is a random audio delay in the Bluetooth encoding and decoding channel which can lead to a loss of lip sync, with the audio late. If this drives you nuts, use the included cord or corded headphones like the QC25.

 

Sensitivity

These go plenty loud, but they aren't unlimited.

I find I listen to music or movies at about a 3/4 volume setting on my iOS devices.

 

Noise Reduction

To hear how effective they are at eliminating noise, simply take them off and you'll be astounded at what a loud roar there is on an airplane — or even in what you thought was your own quiet home. Even at home there's always a pool pump, refrigerator, air conditioner, heater, hum, buzz, neighbor's TV or a car running someplace. These headphones eliminate it. In flight they eliminate almost all the noise, and at home they do a bang-up job of getting rid of air conditioning noise.

The QC-35 completely eliminate low-frequency noise, like airplane interior noise and car rumble. It sucks it all out so effectively that it can sound like your ears haven't equalized properly from a large change in altitude, but that's what they're supposed to do.

If you have rumble, motor, hums, drones or other low-frequency noise, these get rid of all of it. It's amazing, but take them off and you'll hear exactly what they're doing.

The noise subtraction process can't work as well with the shorter wavelengths of higher frequencies, so hisses, squeals and other high frequency noises won't be completely cancelled. You can still hear your wife telling you what to do if she yells, but she will sound much softer. Outside voices sound natural through these, but much softer.

Noise reduction at high frequencies is not that much better than ordinary passive closed headphones, like my favorite beyerdynamic t51i. What sets these Bose QC35 apart is how they completely cancel low and mid-low frequency noise, which is airplane, air conditioning and car noise rumble that fatigues us after long periods.

Since the noise is actively cancelled by the headphones playing an exact copy of the noise with inverted polarity, there will be some maximum noise level above which they can no longer cancel all the noise. I suspect they won't work for very high impulse noise levels like shooting, but that's a different application.

 

Leakage

There is very little leakage of sound to the outside world. I doubt anyone will hear anything unless you were in a very quiet environment in which case you wouldn't need these. No one else will hear these on the train, and I doubt anyone will hear anything in a quiet office

 

Bluetooth

It's easy to connect and manage via Bluetooth. The app lets you rename it as well.

Bluetooth audio quality is completely transparent; it sounds just like the cord.

I get about 50 feet (15 meters) line-of-sight range, or it reaches into the next room through a single wall.

In an airplane, it easily works with an iPhone in my pocket or an iPad up in the overhead bin.

On iOS 9 and even ancient iOS 4, the top icon bar shows the battery level via Bluetooth.

If you get out of range, it does not restart play when it reconnects.

 

Feel & Ergonomics

These are very lightweight, and with their around-the-ear pads, they are very comfortable for hours and hours.

They stick on my head when moving around.

The volume and play buttons feel great; they are easy to find and use by feel. This wouldn't be such a big deal except that so many other devices have controls that are so much worse.

These are almost entirely plastic. Bose calls it "glass filled nylon," which is a fancy name for plastic. Only the outer earpiece covers, pivots and harp spring seem to be metal.

Everything adjusts easily, and the headband had solid click stops that stay adjusted. You usually have to collapse them to fit into the case.

Pressing the on-headphone volume control mirrors whatever I do on my recent iOS devices; the iOS device matches whatever I do on the iOS device and vice-versa, and there are no annoying beeps as I change the volume. On old circa 2009 devices running old OS the volume settings can be separate and beep, but it all works swell.

When the headphones talk, you have to wait for the bored girl to shut up before you can play your audio.

Unlike cheaper headphones, there is just one optimum noise reduction mode. There is no need to fiddle with anything.

 

Bose's "Bose Connect" App

The free app is very simple and handy.

It shows battery percentage to the nearest 10% and lets you set the power-off timer

It also shows the headphone's serial number and date of manufacture.

It lets you see the firmware version and update if needed, easily.

Managing Bluetooth connections is easy. The app even lets you name your headphones as you see fit, which is especially handy when you have more than one pair in a family.

 

Phone Calls

If your phone rings, tap the center button to answer, or hold it to flush the call to voicemail and continue enjoying your music.

As soon as your call is done, your music restarts automatically.

There is too little feedthrough of your own voice into your headphones, so it's a little weird on a call since you can't hear yourself well. This is the one thing Bose has forgotten which the phone company does better; regular phones feedback your voice into your receiver so you sound natural to yourself. In this case you'll probably be tricked into speaking too loud to make up for the too-little voice feedback in your ears.

 

Power

My first pair arrived with the power switch ON and the battery dead. My second set arrived with a 60% charge.

They charge over USB, and draw about 300mA when dead and less as they charge.

The charge gauge, either by voice synthesizer or the app, reads in 10% intervals.

If the battery is dead they still work, without noise reduction, if you plug in the audio cord.

You can't use them in noise-reduction while charging, so be sure to start your trip with a full charge.

Time Used
Battery Reads
2.5 hours
100%
2.5 hours used and 13 days idle
90%
4.9 hours
90%
5.1 hours
80%
8.5 hours
70%
11 hours
60%
11.8 hours
50%
14.5 hours
40%
16, 17 and 18 hours
30%
19, 20 and 21 hours
20%
21.5 to 24.4 hours
10% w/amber LED
24.5 hours to 24.6 hours
still playing, reads 10% w/ blinking red LED and ":charge now" voice prompt.

 

Corded Use

It works with noise reduction when turned on, and passively without noise reduction when turned off or with a dead battery.

It will play passively with the audio cord while charging.

Amazingly the sound quality is similar with or without noise reduction, of course without noise reduction and without self-noise with NR turned OFF.

With NR off the bass is less refined, since the electronic optimization isn't working. It's slightly boomier and less deep, just like ordinary headphones.

 

Usage

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Performance   Usage   Recommendations

The sliding power switch is on the right side. Slide it forward to turn on. Push it further against spring tension to connect or change the connected device, or check the battery level. Slide it backwards to turn off.

These headphones talk. They'll tell you to what they're connected and the battery level. The voice is a very bored-sounding girl; they need a better, classier voice.

Get the Bose Connect app, which lets you set a time-out to save batteries. This seems like a great idea, except if you're using these to sleep on a plane, in which case you won't want them turning off automatically.

The app also makes it easy to select connected devices and check power level.

There are subtle black-on-black L and R markings inside each earcup. I find it easier to remember that the controls are on the right.

There are two little LEDs visible on the bottom right rear. One shows the battery state and the other shows the connection. Usually you'll see green and white, or just green if they're on but not connected to anything.

 

Charging & Battery LED

GREEN: OK or charged.

AMBER: Low battery (20% or less).

Blinking AMBER: Charging.

Blinking RED: Please charge now (but still plays).

 

Connection LED

Blinking BLUE: Ready to pair.

Blinking WHITE: Connecting.

WHITE: Connected.

 

Remote Control

Bose QC35 controls

Bose QC-35 controls. bigger.

There are three buttons on the lower rear right: the UP and DOWN volume buttons, with the PLAY/PAUSE button in the middle.

The PLAY/PAUSE button also answers or ends phone calls.

Two clicks of the PLAY/PAUSE button goes to the next track, and three goes back.

Hold the button to flush an incoming call to voicemail.

 

Recommendations

Top   Introduction   Technology   Specs

Performance   Usage   Recommendations

These Bose QuietComfort 35 are the world's best headphones for travel: small, light, wonderful sound and eliminate noise and fatigue.

These are also great as your only headphones because they also sound fantastic for use at home. The bass is half of the music, and regardless of price no other headphones have better bass. I own the state-of-the-art STAX SR-009 and dedicated amplifiers as well, and these Bose are more enjoyable because they isolate and have much more entertaining bass response. The SR-009 are more for forensics and music production than for enjoying music.

The QC35 are superb when you want to hear your music and nothing else in any environment, or if you just want silence for sleep, concentration or relaxation.

These are a bad choice if you need to remain part of your environment and hear things around you, like your kids, other people or potential traffic hazards. These put you in your own quiet world a thousand miles away, so if you need to hear your kids or things around you, use regular headphones like my favorite conventional beyerdynamic t51i.. I wouldn't wear the QC35 in public; they pull you away and you won't be able to interact with anything. Wear them where you want to be alone.

Bose is a first-class company that actually values its customers. Regardless of any formal warranty, any time I've ever had a problem with anything over the decades I've just called them at 800-379-2073 and they've made the problem go away.

I love these so much that I've bought two pairs from Adorama. I'd also get them at Amazon, at B&H or at Crutchfield.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to my personally-approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Get yours only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.

Thanks for helping me help you!

Ken, Mrs. Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

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11 August 2016