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Bose Wireless Headphones

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Review: Bose QuietComfort 25 noise-cancelling headphones
By Nick Lavars – May 18, 2015
12 Pictures
Bose’s QuietComfort 25s headphones boast fantastic noise-cancelling and high quality audio

Bose’s QuietComfort 25s headphones boast fantastic noise-cancelling and high quality audio (Credit: Nick Lavars/Gizmag)
Image Gallery (12 images)

When it comes to trusted audio equipment names, few match the reputation of industry stalwart Bose. Since the company first dipped its toes into the tranquil waters of noise-cancelling gear in 2000, it’s over-ear QuietComfort headphone line has evolved to become recognized as some of the best in the business. So how well will its latest offering, the QuietComfort 25’s, live up to this legacy? Read on, as we try Bose’s newest cans on for size.

When slipping the QuietComfort 25s on and pressing play for the first time it’s hard to describe the noise cancelling as anything other than excellent A single battery will provide 35 hours of noise-cancelling audio A single battery will provide 35 hours of noise cancelling audio, enough for a couple of lengthy plane trips The 56 in (142 cm) cable also features an in-line three-button remote for pausing or skipping tracks, along with a mic for taking calls with both Android and iOS devices that captures your voice quite clearly.

The good

The QuietComfort 25’s replace the QuietComfort 15’s (released in 2009) as Bose’s chief noise-cancelling headphones. A five-year break has seen its engineers return with a product claimed to cancel more noise than any Bose headphones before it. The company puts this down to microphones built into both the inside and outside of the earcup, a technique it says can more effectively pick up and block out undesired ambient sounds.

When slipping them on and pressing play for the first time it is hard to describe the noise-cancelling as anything other than excellent. Even without music on, we found the QuietComfort 25’s to be able to dull voices, outside traffic, air conditioners and the click clack of loud keyboards. It’s not enough to lull you to sleep on a crowded Mumbai bus, but observed in this way you do get a feel for just how effective the noise-cancelling is.

With music playing, somebody will basically need to scream to break into your sweet-sounding bubble of solidarity. We found this to hold up pretty well across different genres of music. I was able to drown out co-workers’ conversations with everything from the soft guitar of The Velvet Underground, to Marvin Gaye’s soothing tones and the bass-heavy beats of Notorious BIG.

As great as these headphones are at cancelling out noise, it’s possible they are just as good at creating it. Bose has built a new active equalizer for the QuietComfort 25’s, and the result is a remarkably crisp sound right up and down the frequency range. Music of all genres comes through rich and clear, even when pushed right to the limit. We played bass-heavy songs at maximum volume and heard no signs of strain or distortion.

Another big win for the QuietComfort 25’s is how well they live up to the second part their name. The cushioned leather earpieces sit ever-so snugly around the ears, with the padded headband stiff enough to apply just the right amount of pressure to keep them in place. Put simply, the headphones are extremely comfortable and we had no complaints wrapping around our heads in them for the better part of a working day.
The not so good

The above comments describe the QuietComfort 25’s in powered mode. Users can flick a tiny button on the outside of the right earpiece to activate the noise-cancelling and active equalizer, and the difference is noticeable, but not drastically so. To describe the sound when unpowered as poor would be harsh, but it is not as sharp and the bass does come through slightly muffled. With that said, some will consider the ability to continue listening at all when the battery runs out to be plus.

Bose’s decision to go with a AA battery rather than a rechargeable variant is a little puzzling, but a single battery will provide 35 hours of noise-cancelling audio, which is enough for a couple of lengthy plane trips. This does seem like a lot, but if you’re somebody that uses them for more than a few hours each day, then you’ll be swapping in another battery pretty regularly. In our view, the ability to simply plug them in and charge via USB would be more than handy.
The rest

The QuietComfort 25’s fold up to fit in a compact carrying case that measures 5.75 x 8.25 x 2 in (14.6 x 21 x 5.1 cm). This case stores an included two-prong adapter for plugging into in-flight entertainment on an airplane and a slot for a spare AA battery, which is a nice touch. The 56 in (142 cm) cable also features an in-line three-button remote for pausing or skipping tracks and a mic for taking calls with both Android and iOS devices.

It’s also worth noting that there’s no in-line volume control. Further to needing to pull out your device to adjust the volume, this can be problematic when flying with some airlines, whose startling announcements could override the volume that you’ve set just as you start to drift off to sleep.

Should you buy them?

At US$300, the decision to shell out for some QuietComfort 25’s is probably not one you’re going to take lightly. It all depends on what you value in your audio gear. If you’re regularly enduring commutes on crowded vehicles and looking for some respite, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better way to check out from reality than sliding these headphones on and firing up your favorite tracks.

Furthermore, these things are really solidly built. If you invest in these headphones and take a bit of care with them, you’re going to be enjoying them for years. Bose has done a really good job of making a sturdy product that’s not overly heavy or so rigid that they’re uncomfortable to wear.

In short, the noise-cancelling is supreme, the audio quality is less so but still excellent, and they are built to last. Package these attributes together and you’ve got some great headphones that are pretty hard to beat for their price.

Product page: Bose QuietComfort 25

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About the Author
Nick Lavars

Nick was born outside of Melbourne, Australia, with a general curiosity that has drawn him to some distant (and very cold) places. Somewhere between enduring a winter in the Canadian Rockies and trekking through Chilean Patagonia, he graduated from university and pursued a career in journalism. Having worked for publications such as The Santiago Times and The Conversation, he now writes for Gizmag from Melbourne, excited by tech and all forms of innovation, the city’s bizarre weather and curried egg sandwiches.
All articles by Nick Lavars

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11 Comments

I’m a massive fan of my Bose QuietComfort3 headphones, which I’ve had for over 10 years. They’ve been on countless flights. One limitation I’d point out is that ANY noise-canceling technology is unsuited to blocking out the sound of snoring. This short article explains why: http://www.snoreraser.com/noise-cancelling-headphones-or-earphones-dont-stop-snoring/
benhunt

I’m really happy that they upgraded the QC 15, though great audio and noise cancellation, the new QC25 really lives up to it’s price tag and Bose’s quality standards in design!
NathanHorn

I have the QC15 version of these headphones that I bought in late 2012. The sound quality and noise cancellation is as great as this article outlines. I’m a woman with a small head though, so even on the smallest fitting, they’re uncomfortable after an hour’s use.

Despite the great sound, I won’t be buying another Bose product ever again though. For the high price, you expect high quality, and yet Bose fail to deliver the end product.

The leather on my earpads started to disintegrate after about a year of light use, even though I took very good care of them (e.g. letting them dry off properly if they’d absorbed any moisture, always keeping them in their case, keeping the silica gel in the case to absorb any residual moisture). And I live in the Uk, where it’s not even humid.

Once the cushions start to break down, it just wouldn’t stop. The leather peels off in very small pieces that get stuck to your face, or fall on your clothes, so you can’t really wear the headphones in public once they begin to breakdown.

The customer services team absolve all responsibility as the cushion pads are made of “a ‘potentially’ perishable” material and also highlight that as the cushions are a removable part, they aren’t covered by the 2 year warranty anyway. They just want to sell you replacement cushions – but as DelaneyShanmugam explains, the new cushions don’t last either. You end up throwing good money after bad.

So whilst Bose got the sound right, they failed on basic quality. And there is no after care service once you’ve paid for your item, they are just a sales team.

Only buy them if you have money to burn
ss_2015

I’ve had the QC25’s for the past 6+ months now and I can guarantee you the battery’s AAA. :) I use Eneloops though and they last a fairly long time per charge. The ability to carry a spare in the case is an absolute must, because when it stops working, it does so without any warning whatsoever. (Wakes me up when I use them unplugged for noise cancelling alone at night to sleep.)
EyeMars

from the description it sounds like they didn’t much improve the sound quality of them at least when unpowered. in my experience, closed-back cans all have a “canned” coloration to the sound, a closed-in sound, like the headphone equivalent of “boxy.” the best of all worlds would be if they let you select active equalizer sans noise reduction, and if they let you install a good rechargeable alkaline that lets you recharge it with the usb input. I also would like the option of cloth earpads, and the leather ones usually get slippery with my sweat in hot weather.
Abby Normal

I have these, and I have 3 of the previous version, they all work very well. I have so many because my whole family wears them on flights.
guzmanchinky

I must have an earlier version of these (but they look the same) because they don’t work without a battery.

I love them! I’ve had a lot of top end headphones including Sennheiser (several), AKG, Sony professional, and others but these are my favourite by a long shot.

Immensely comfortable, incredible sound and with the amount I use them a battery lasts for months.
warren52nz

If you don’t need noise canceling Audio-Technica ATH-M50 offer pretty solid sound quality for about $150 and a lot of people recomend them.
Daishi

Just use rechargeable AA batteries. I have the Bose 15s and I’ve been using rechargeable NiMH AAA for years. As a programmer, I use them for about 5 hrs a day, and on the plane for on any vacations. I think I’ve had them for 4 yrs now and just did the cushion replacement – much less $$ for non-Bose. No issues at all. Love them. At least then you aren’t stuck with a device whose internal rechargeable non-user-serviceable battery gets old. And in a pinch, you can always use a plain AA. Keeps it standard and gives you options! AmazonBasics NiMH are a good deal, and I’m sure there are plenty of others.
Firehawk70

I have the older version of this and I like them. I only get about 8 hours out of the rechargeable battery. I’d much prefer the option of using a disposable aaa or aa battery that these use. However, if you are going to go through the trouble of making sure you have a battery in your headset, you might as well make it bluetooth as well. I won’t be buying another headset until I can get both.
wquant

Early 2010 I purchased the QuietComfort 15 and despite the good noise reduction and lovely sound, for 350 euro’s you’d expect it to last. In reality, the thing is falling apart. I did purchase some new ear-cushions ($44 a set) and realise I could have done this annually as they don’t last at all. Just like the rest of it: one of the speakers stopped working. In sum: Love the sound. Hate the weak design. Would be very hesitant to purchase another set.
DelaneyShanmugam

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Review: Bose QuietComfort 25 noise-cancelling headphones

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