Review: Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones

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I’ve been using Bose headphones for over a decade. Are they the best value headphones out there? Perhaps not, as they’re expensive. But they’re also extremely high quality, long lasting, and have incredible audio quality.

In early June I wrote about Bose’s newest set of travel headphones, the Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones. Over the years Bose has introduced several new versions of their headphones, though I’ve found the differences to be marginal. The new Bose QC35 headphones represent quite a change, as they’re Bose’s first wireless headphones.

I decided to pick up a pair of Bose QC35 headphones shortly after they were released, and figured I’d share my thoughts.

The Bose headphones I used before

For a bit of context, prior to the QC35 headphones I used the Bose QuietComfort 25 headphones, in addition to the Bose QuietComfort 20 in-ear headphones. Why do I have both sets of headphones?

When I’m on planes and/or watching TV shows while sitting around, I’ll always use the QC25 headphones, as I love how comfortable the over-ear headphones are.

Bose-Headphones-2

However, I find the in-ear QC20s to be great for the gym, when walking around a city, etc., since they’re much more portable. You can easily fit them in a pocket, and they won’t wear if they get some sweat on them.

Bose-Headphones

It works out perfectly, since I can easily fit the pouch with the QC20 headphones into my QC25 case, so it doesn’t take up much extra space.

Are the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones worth it?

The QC35 headphones look very similar to the QC25 headphones. They come in the same case.

Bose-QuietComfort35-Headphones-2

The only difference in their appearance are the wires.

Bose-Wireless-Headphones-4

In addition to the actual headphones and case, the QuietComfort 35 headphones also come with a USB charger, as well as a cord in case you want to turn them into wired headphones. These can easily be stored in the pouch of the headphone case when not in use.

Bose-Wireless-Headphones-3

The headphones themselves are gorgeous, though that was also true of the QuietComfort 25 headphones.

As you can see below, you can charge the headphones using a small charger in one of the earbuds, which is also where you can plug a cord in if you want to turn them into wired headphones.

Bose-Wireless-Headphones-5

No disposable batteries are required for the headphones, and you need to charge them after about 20 hours of wireless use, or 40 hours of wired used. I’d say that’s excellent battery life for wireless headphones.

Advantages of the Bose wireless headphones

The audio quality on these headphones is spectacular, though I’ve found that to be the case with my last several generations of Bose headphones as well. When I bought the QuietComfort 35 headphones I said to myself “meh, they’ll probably not be worth it, but I might as well review them.”

However, before I purchased these, I never fully appreciated how much of a difference wireless headphones can make, especially on planes. When I’m flying domestically, I typically have my laptop on my tray table, and have it plugged into the outlet, while my iPhone is charging off of my computer.

The cord from my headphones was yet another cord that got in the way of things. It’s nice to be able to walk to the lavatory with your headphones on without having to worry about cords.

Is it life changing? No. But it certainly makes the wire “situation” on planes significantly better.

Can you use Bose’s wireless headphones on planes?

I haven’t had any issues, even during takeoff and landing. No one has said anything to me.

Are the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones worth the price premium?

The Bose QC25 headphones retail for $299, while the Bose QC35 headphones retail for $349. Is the premium worth it?

  • If you already have the QC25 headphones and they’re in good condition, I don’t think it’s worth paying $349 to upgrade to the wireless headphones
  • If you’re considering buying Bose headphones but don’t have any yet, I do think it’s worth the $50 price premium to get the QC35 headphones over the QC25 headphones

Bottom line

Every time I write about Bose headphones, I get comments from readers saying “there are headphones that are just as good for a fraction of the price,” and I’d certainly invite you guys to share those in the comments section. However, I’ve been a Bose customer for over a decade, and have always loved their products. The headphones are long lasting, and when I think of how many thousands of hours I’ve used them, I think I get good use out of them.

I love the Bose QC35 headphones since they’re wireless, so it’s one less cord for me to worry about when traveling. To me that’s valuable. I’d say the convenience of the wireless headphones is worth it for the $50 premium, though for most people with the QC25 headphones it’s probably not worth upgrading exclusively for the wireless feature, as I don’t think it’s worth $349.

Everyone values things like this differently. Those are my thoughts, and you guys can draw your own conclusions…

What are your favorite travel headphones?

Comments

  1. Have the QC 15’s, decided I liked the idea of Bluetooth and wanted to see how much better the 35’s sounded….wow! Love the wireless capabilities and the seamless transition from iPad use to calls on the iPhone. Sound quality is excellent and comfort is as good if not better than the 15’s. Highly recommended for the $50 premium.

  2. Bose makes great headphones. I actually prefer them to my current Beats by Dre wireless headphones. One problem that Bose has is not being able to evolve. Look at Beats…they have all these big name stars; Lebron, Cam, Serena, etc pitching their products…be it on social media…wherever.

    If Bose doesn’t find a way to evolve, they’ll become Nokia, Blackberry, Ericsson, etc.

  3. I’ve been through many headphones over the years and fly business class to Europe last year on AA and got to try out the Bose noise canceling ones. I was sold immediately and went out and bought my own QC25s. They are incredible and I don’t know how I traveled without them. They drown out all of the plane noise and I’m actually able to sleep on planes now, even in the recliner seats, it’s amazing!

    I have also recently purchased the Bose in-ear headphones (not noise canceling, I need to be able to hear stuff around me on my commute) and they are also the best I’ve ever had. I finally have comfortable earbuds that don’t hurt, it’s life changing! If you are at all on the fence about getting any Bose products, do it!

  4. How do you use these with a plane’s IFE system? Do you need to use the included cord, or can it be wireless somehow?

  5. I bought the bose since they don’t have that trash Lebron, Cam, Serena, etc pitching their products

  6. I’ve had the senheiser qc350 wireless for years. Love them. Would like to know if the Bose are comparable to them

  7. OK…. REALLY stupid question here, but….

    how do you / can you connect to an inflight entertainment systems if you want to listen to a movie? If you actually have to plug it in it kinda defeats the purpose of wireless, and if there’s a standalone dongle to plug in (i.e. a wireless transmitter) I can pretty much guarantee I’ll be forgetting that on planes….

  8. I’ve recently been traveling a lot to Canada and this past flight (on Air Canada) I was told by the flight attendant that Bluetooth headphones were not allowed on AC flights, so I’d have to either plug it in or use a different headset. That having been said, most of my flights are on US carriers and I’ve never had a problem with any of them. It’s possible this is just an AC rule, or perhaps the FA was misinformed. I do know that AC flights require you to remove non-earbud headsets during takeoff and landing (the only audio devices AC allows during takeoff and landing are “earbuds plugged directly into the onboard entertainment system” – as quoted from their pre-takeoff video).

    As for favorites, I have the Sony MDR-ZX770DC and I bought my wife the Bose QC25. I also have an array of other, cheaper Bluetooth headsets. The noise canceling is definitely better in my wife’s QC25, but I like the fit of the MDR-7X770DC’s more (and not having wires is super nice). As far as I can tell audio quality is about the same between the two of them (note: I’m not an audiophile). I’d have to try out the QC35’s for a week to have a firm opinion, but my off the cuff guess is they’re not worth $200 more when compared to the Sony MDR-7X770DC (I got the Sony’s for ~$120 from Costco).

  9. Also, to reply to previous commentators, most Bluetooth headsets come with a male to male audio cable that allows you to plug directly into the airplanes IFES. It’s the thinner cable in the pictures above (not the USB cable). And I was also confused about this before buying a Bluetooth headset.

  10. Well timed review as I was considering these as an upgrade to my much loved QC15’s. Always wanted a pair of Bose but could never justify the cost for the odd flight within Europe. A monthly round trip to the US soon changed my mind, they’ve made AA cattle class much more bearable!

    One thing I wondered, if the battery completely drains do they function wired as regular headphones without NC ability?

  11. @ Lucky. Have you used the QC20 on a plane? I have a QC25 that I love on planes, but I am going to be traveling for awhile and need to pack light, so was thinking of getting a pair of the QC20. Want to know if the QC20 does as good a job canceling the white noise on the plane as the QC25. Thanks!

  12. Bose QC35 comes with a 2.5mm to 3.5mm cable when you need to plug into IFE. It also extend battery life.

  13. A few thoughts. If you already have the QC25, the QC35 are probably not worth it unless you REALLY want the newest Bose thing. I received the BTunes bluetooth adapter on FT and have been using them since last year. Pros and cons, but a good way to make your QC25 wireless. I’m guessing the QC35 is a better experience all around (quality, range, etc.), but it works as a cheaper solution than buying an all-new set of headphones.

    If I didn’t already have the QC25, I would probably be torn between the QC35 and the QC20. If I wanted to over-ear form factor, QC35 over the QC25 is a no-brainer.

    My co-worker has the QC20 and prefers them to his QC15. He travels more than I do (he’s usually UA 1K, I’m usually UA Platinum) and says that they do as good a job as his QC15. That probably means there is, at most, a minor drop-off in quality from the QC25, but you more than make up for it with portability.

    There are bluetooth adapters you can plug into the plane’s IFE plugs so that you can use your bluetooth headsets. I have one, although the quality is iffy (part of that is often due to the crappy plugs on the planes, part is the poor latency of my cheapo unit). If you can get a good one, then that would probably work for that use case. I’ve just used the wire when watching to AVOD on planes.

  14. I always found Bose to be overrated.

    Has anyone tried Senheiser? I’ve been reading their reviews and they seem to be fantastic.

  15. @John

    “Have you used the QC20 on a plane? I have a QC25 that I love on planes, but I am going to be traveling for awhile and need to pack light, so was thinking of getting a pair of the QC20. Want to know if the QC20 does as good a job canceling the white noise on the plane as the QC25. Thanks!”

    I travel with these and they work great.

  16. Panasonic headphones are a good value alternative at ~$45 or less. (I’ve seen them go under $20)
    Look for the RPHC200 series. http://amzn.to/29nKs4Z
    Noise reduction not as good as noise cancellation on the Bose headphones but it does reduce engine noise inflight which has helped sleep quality.

  17. People seem to be confusing two things: the quality of audio playback for Bose headphones is widely considered to be mediocre for the price. The quality of noise cancellation for Bose headphones is widely considered to be unparalleled for the price. Buying Bose QC headphones is a decision to trade one for the other.

    As for the fellow using wireless Beats by Dre as a benchmark for audio quality: lol.

  18. @John

    I travel on a weekly basis and have been using the QC20 for over a year now.
    Unless it’s a prop plane, it cancels all the noise.
    I absolutely love it!

    @GringoLoco
    You seem to not being enjoying or finding the blog useful. No one is forcing you to read.
    If you don’t have anything constructive to say, whether positive or negative, then don’t.
    We really don’t need your troll like comments here…

  19. Correct. Always sacrifice some noise cancelling for audio quality. If you’re willing to spend $350 then also consider http://en-us.sennheiser.com/momentum-wireless-headphones-with-mic Then for best audio quality with passive over-ear noise cancelling then get http://www.beoplay.com/products/beoplayh7 I’ve been researching this product category and listening to earphones as I’m replacing my old Bose QC15. Thanks for writing this review, very timely for me as I’m deciding what to buy.

  20. I’ve been putting off buying these for some time now. I currently use B&O Play H8. Anybody know how these two compare?

  21. The other advantage for purchasing these over the QC25’s is the rumors that Apple will be removing the headphone jack from iPhones soon. Might save a lot of pain if you were choosing between them now.

  22. @mike I have the seinheiser m550x. I think they are a better headset. My buddy has these and don’t get me wrong they are great but the seinheiser I’ve had for over a year are to me better. The only downside is battery life if I’m doing Bluetooth it’s about 8 hrs I’m noise cancelling mode it’s about 16. But the battery is changeable the frequency range is also better for audiophiles. I am not sure if you can tell the difference on a plane though to be honest. It also comes with adapters that for me have worked with every airline I highly recommended them.

  23. Bose over-ear are annoying. Give me headaches and ear aches from the sound pressure. But the earbuds are fantastic, especially when sleeping. I would never waste precious space on over-ear headphones now that the earbuds are so great. I keep them in my shirt pocket and wait until last second to remove them. Can’t recommend the earbuds highly enough. Worth every penny.

  24. How do you use these headphones on a plane ? I thought flight mode disabled Bluetooth ?

  25. Since iPhone 7 is not supposed to have a headset jack, you’ll need Bluetooth headset to stream music from your iPhone. I suspect the timing is in prep for the new iPhone 7, coming out later this year.

    Leaked photos – show no jack.

    At this point, I would not buy any Bose headsets without Bluetooth.

  26. @Paul Pope – airplane mode shuts of wifi and Bluetooth, but both can be enabled when in airplane mode. Just go the airplane mode, then turn on wifi and Bluetooth.

    I use the wifi to connect to gogo to check aa.com flight status.

  27. I love, love, love my Bluedio Victory headphones. They run wireless, mini or SPDIF connectors and work beautifully when flying. $299 on Amazon. I think that they now away Boss or Beats… and no, I don’t work for them. But this is my 4th pair of Bluedios.

  28. Plantronics backbeat pro… Easily the best pair of headphones I’ve ever owned. The open mic function (listen to announcements without taking them off) is easily Worth its relatively low price, plus the wireless battery lasts for a very long time.

  29. How is the noise cancelling feature compared to the QC25? I’m debating to switch and recently tried the Parott Zik, but thought that louder noise wasn’t as well cancelled than on my QC25s. Would you say that it is comparable or do you think the new over ears are a little less effective regarding noise cancelling?
    Xx

  30. Lucky, could you please do a giveaway for your old bose QC 25’s.
    I Really want them, and I don’t have a pair of anything currently.
    I live in India.

  31. I luv my qc20 for traveling, they work very well on plane, compact, just need to remember to recharge the battery, I always forget

  32. I had 2 Audio-Technica noise cancellation headphones (lost one), which were greats for the price I paid, but my QC25 (my 2nd pair, the first one was stolen by a valet parking guy..), is way better than any other NC headphone. Bose doesn’t have the best audio quality for headphone, but they have the best Noise Cancellation technology, and so far, nobody was able to beat them.

  33. One point I would mention, without reading all the other comments in case this is a duplication, is that after a Bose product has been out for 6 months or so you can go into a Bose store and request a trade-up. They will sell a refurbish (this usually means a new product or one that was returned after the Bose free evaluation period) and give you a great trade-in price on your older product.

    For example I got 50% credit on my Bose radio after 5 years!. I also traded up my QC prior headset and got the QC25s for about $125, if I recall correctly. These offers do not become available for 6 months after product introduction and are dependent on the store to some degree. This is from experience and not official Bose policy.

  34. I used to have the Bose over-ears, then switched to Shure in ear buds. The difference in the sound quality (at comparable price) was hard to believe, the Shure was so, so much better.

    The Shure’s come in many price ranges,I bought the ones priced roughly the same as the Bose. They go all the way up to studio professional quality.

    Drawback is that you must be listening to something for the noise reduction to work. Some folks find the buds don’t stay in well, but there are many earpieces that come with it and I think it’s just a matter of finding the best fit.

    The main reason I bought them is that the Bose aren’t comfortable while sleeping (I’m a side sleeper). The Shure buds are a dream to sleep in.

  35. I was never a fan of the Bose product line even when working for them in Boston. I received the Bose QCs before and also tried the QC 35 wireless version recently. The NC functionality is good, but the audio quality for my music taste was poor, much the same as for most Bose products. Having said that, Bose headphones tend to be attractively priced (relatively cheap) , which are hard to beat. There really is no one-for-all best headphone out there. Generally, you will always find a compromise between noise-cancellation and high-fidelity audio due to the engineering challenges. So, preferences differ based on which functionality one prefers. I am a listener of Jazz, Blues and Classical. For those genre, I prefer the Sony MDR-10RNC due to the crisp and high-fidelity sound and a good NC functionality (excellent in aircraft, less so in normal office environs). For high-fidelity sound and portability, I am a die-hard fan of the Sennheiser IE 800 Audiophile. However, the IE 800s are also in a different price category, costing 2X-3X that of the QC35s.

  36. I understand this is a standalone review of Bose wireless headphones only but if you will be asked to pick either Sennheiser RS120 or the Bose Wireless headphones then which will be your first choice.

    I have purchased the former one and just wanted to be sure if I made the good decision or not.
    Looking forward to your reply.

  37. FLEW BA FIRST THIS WEEK ON THE A380 AND THE 777-300ER
    THE QC25s DO NOT FIT
    THE TWO PRONGS ARE JUST SHORT OF FITTING THE THE HEADPHONE SOCKET
    THE ADAPTOR I HAVE HAD THE SAME PRONGS SO DIDNT WORK EITHER
    THE CREW SAID THEY WOULD NOT WORK
    ANY SOLUTIONS?

  38. Did you observed any out of sync audio with image ( audio lag ) while watching movies in TV by connecting via blutooth transmitter ?

  39. In the strongest possible terms I urge that no one buy the Boseearphones! I wrote a scathing review on Amazon although I bought mine from Best Buy. After max four weeks of use the on/off button was broken. So I looked at Amazon reviews and discovered that many others had the same problem. So DO NOT EVER EVER EVER BUY TH ESE EARPHONES because their is a good chance that very quickly, after spending hundreds of dollars you will find as I did that these are useless! Trust me, trust all those others who, as written on Amazon, have been screwed by Bose!

  40. @Ian Assumption had the same issue On A380 and 787-8.

    @Peter Mortensen you signed up to the guatantee? BOSE salesperson did it for me in rehobooth Beach, so you should be able to get them fixed or changed intl. Reklamationsret kommer man ikke langt med når man er hjemme 🙂

  41. Can you charge them with 110v and 240v power supplies, or are you locked into the country of purchase power voltage requirements?

  42. There is no USB charger within QC35, but a airplane audio adaptor instead 🙂
    Seems like a USB charger in case, but it isn’t 🙂

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