Testing the Bose QC35 for a couple of weeks reminded me of the title from Kings of Convenience‘s debut album Quiet is the new loud.
I am an established user of noise cancelling headphones already. I bought the first generation headphones from Bose many years ago and I was kinda curious about how these new and wireless headphones would turn out. Had they improved the noise cancelling system? How was the overall sound quality? And are they still comfortable? Are they worth a premium?
Currently I can not even handle a short flight without my old Bose headphones. They are superb at cancelling out aircraft noise, the person next to me and the flight attendants trying to serve me coffee. There is only one problem. Slight pressure occurs inside the ear cups. And that can be a little uncomfortable at times.
Well, another drawback is that my wife totally banned the use of these after a situation on a flight to Malaysia when I fell asleep while my wife tended to our crying baby. The noise cancelling system was too good.
Bose sent me a pair of the new Bose QC35 to test for 14 days.
First of all the new ones look better than the old ones. Other than that the feel of quality and build is the same old Bose. They both feel sturdy and luxurious. On the new Bose QC35 the soft cushion on the ear cups and alcantara headband give that impression of luxury. There is no play in joints, and I guess the new ones are built as good as the old ones, so they’ll hold for years.
So where is the difference, and why would I spend another chunk of cash on the new ones?
Let me start with the most obvious improvement. They’re wireless. And they have battery life lasting a full day of use. They connect easily to my iPhone via Bluetooth. The Bose Connect App helps in pairing devices. Other than that the app brings no added value. It is simply put quite uninteresting and unneeded. I hope Bose will work on it some more or just drop the whole thing.
To connect to my computer I need the mini-jack cable that is in the box. An airline standard dual-jack prong is also in the box.
On the old headphones there are two sound settings where I can turn noise cancellation on or off. On the new ones noise cancelling is always on. That made me sceptical at first, but in fact the noise cancelling system have clearly improved over the years.
Sound quality is good, and better than before. But these are obviously not hifi headphones. They have another mission. Mid-tones are a bit too flat, and in general they are very conservative. On the positive side they sound really good in low volume situations with enough bass to enhance a good sound image.
To test the noise cancelling system I took my family to the local playground.
Noise cancellation is still really good. In fact also quieter in a way and with almost unnoticeable vacuum pressure inside the cups. The improvement is that the system block out all background noise but I can still hear what people are trying to tell me. As clear as without headphones. It is remarkable actually that kids shouting and playing is quiet, but what my wife tells me about me looking great with headphones on (no not really) is loud.
So quiet is actually the new loud.