Whether you're a fan of Bose audio products or not, there's one thing that a lot of people agree with - Bose makes some of the best noise-cancelling headphones around. Although expensive, Bose represents top-quality when it comes to technology such as wireless and noise-cancellation, as is the case with the excellent SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless 2 headphones. Today, we're reviewing the new flagship product from the Bose headphone line-up, the QuietComfort 35, which is popularly called Bose QC35 and is priced at Rs. 29,363.
Bose has made one significant change with the QC35 - it's the company's first headset to feature both active noise-cancellation and wireless connectivity. But do all of these features justify the high price? Find out in our review.
Design, specifications and comfort
Not a lot has changed in design at Bose over the years, and the QC35 sticks to the same design language as the now two-year-old QC25 and last year's SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless 2. This includes big ear-cups, comfortable but thin padding, and a slim headband. Unlike the plastic SoundLink headphones though, the QC35 has metal ear casings and a look that is undeniably premium and befitting of the price.
The headband adjustment mechanism is easy but firm once in place, and the ear-cups swivel and flex a fair bit to allow for a comfortable around-ear fit. The right ear casing has the power switch, which can be pushed all the way to the right to enable pairing mode. Battery levels can be known through voice prompts when you turn the device on, and there's also a set of microphones for use with hands-free calls and for the active noise-cancelling feature.
Also on the right ear casing are the volume controls, play/ pause button, Micro-USB port for charging, indicator lights for Bluetooth and battery, and the NFC chip. Unfortunately, there are no dedicated buttons for next and previous, and these will have to be controlled either at the source or through the middle button. The left ear casing has a socket for a 2.5mm mini-jack, and the cable included in the sales package is a 2.5mm-to-3.5mm stereo cable which can be connected to most smartphones and audio players. There's also a hard carry-case, airline adapter and a Micro-USB-to-USB-A cable included for charging, but no wall-charger for the same, which is a bit of a disappointment at this price.
The headphones are light and extremely comfortable to wear over long periods, and the ability to use the headset wirelessly means that there are no wires to worry about. Noise-cancellation uses the active method, so the headset uses its set of microphones to pick up the dominant sound and creates a reverse frequency which is fed through the drivers. Of course, noise-cancelling headphones are not capable of blocking out all noise, but can mute most of the noise out, particularly constant sounds such as the hum of an airplane or machinery.
You can also download the Bose Connect app, which manages connections and controls in a more intuitive way. Battery life with the QC35 is absolutely fantastic, and runs for about 18 hours of continuous use. The only drawback is that there is no way to deactivate active noise-cancelling when connected wirelessly, forcing you to turn the headset off and switch to wired connectivity to do so.
We used the Bose QC35 with our OnePlus 3 (Review) and a Windows laptop, connected using both Bluetooth and the stereo cable. Testing environments for the noise-cancellation feature were an airplane and our office, and focus tracks for the review were Jamiroquai's Canned Heat and Dinka's Meaningful Story.
Our initial focus was on the active noise-cancellation, which is among the best implementations of the technology we've experienced in recent times. It succeeds in drowning out most typical drones, particularly the hum of an airplane and typical office chatter, making things much quieter and more peaceful.
In fact, we found the noise-cancellation to be a bit better than that of the Sony MDR-100ABN, which is the closest competitor to the Bose QC35 in terms of features and price. When noise cancellation is combined with music, the results are fantastic, making the music sound a lot better thanks to the blocking of outside noise. Additionally, the headphones are great for use as a hands-free device, thanks to clear sound and an excellent microphone that makes taking phone calls with the headset a pleasure.
Starting with Canned Heat, we found the sonic signature to be clean and incredibly open. This is helped along immensely by the fact that the active noise-cancelling feature is cleaning outside sound away, and detail is audibly better as a result. It also ensures a fantastic soundstage, which we aren't used to hearing on wireless headphones. Jamiroquai's unique voice resonates well, and the instrumentals sound detailed and pronounced despite the potential for elements to get lost in the clutter.
Moving on to the progressive techno track Meaningful Story, we found the performance across the frequency range to be fantastic, since the headphones make use of a digital equaliser that adjusts the sound as you're listening to ensure that it remains smooth and balanced. Bass is gentle and felt, but never gets excessive or overpowering, and the mid-range and highs get enough attention too. The low-end sounds clean and calculated as a result of the subtlety in the bass.
The Bose QC35 headphones are not affordable by any means, but offer the best active noise-cancelling we've experienced to date. The inclusion of wireless listening adds a lot to the value of the headphones, and leverages Bose's expertise in both active noise-cancellation and Bluetooth audio. To add to that, great battery life, good design, decent audio performance, and excellent hands-free capability makes the Bose QC35 a fantastic all-round offering.
Our only complaint with this headset is the price, with Bose putting a serious premium on its new flagship product. The Sony MDR-100ABN is nearly as good as the Bose QC35, but costs nearly Rs. 10,000 less, and may well be a better value purchase. But if you seek quality, the trust of one of the most established brands in audio and price is no bar, there's no better option than the QC35 for what it does.
Price (MRP): Rs. 29,363
Ratings (Out of 5)