Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review

The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700, the long-awaited successor of his QuietComfort 35 II models, they have a lot to live up to. The QuietComfort series is nearly 20 years old and is essentially the gold standard for active noise canceling headphones, loved by airline travelers and open office residents around the world for their ability to block out a good portion of external distractions. . Simply put, the QC35s are a difficult act to follow and some people will not like all the changes Bose has made in creating this new successor headset.

They also won’t appreciate the new, higher price: the Bose 700 is $ 400 (£ 350 or around AU $ 570), which is $ 50 more than the QC35 II and the Sony WH-1000XM3, CNET’s current best noise-canceling headphones. (The latter was recently sold for $ 300 or Less, in fact.) But leaving the debate about the new design and higher price aside for a moment, I’ll say this: the Noise Canceling headphones 700 sound and perform better than their predecessor, and they shine like headphones for making calls.

To be clear, this is truly a new headphone, both on the outside and inside, with new drivers and a total of eight microphones to enable Bose’s “advanced noise canceling functionality”. One of the biggest external changes concerns the headband. The QuietComfort 35 II has a high-tech resin headband (read: plastic), while the headband of the 700 headphones incorporates a single piece of seamless stainless steel which apparently makes it a bit sturdier. However, as a result of the new design, there are no hinges, so they don’t fold, just flat, and you just simply put them in their protective case, which is larger than the QuietComfort 35 II’s case.

The headband is reinforced with a seamless piece of stainless steel.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Some will like the fact that you don’t have to worry about folding the headphones while others will prefer the smaller case of the predecessor. I liked that there is a small compartment in the case – its door closes magnetically – for storing the USB-C charging cable and the short cable for wired listening. It’s worth noting that the port on the headphones is the smaller 2.5mm variety, so oddly enough, it’s a 2.5mm to 3.5mm cable.

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In the past, Bose has tried to reduce the weight of its headphones, but at 254g this model is actually about half an ounce heavier than the QuietComfort 35 II, which will stay in the line. You can feel the difference in weight. Personally, I have not found the headphones less or more comfortable than the QuietComfort 35 II; it just looked a little different (I don’t have a big head). But some other editors in our office thought the 700 Noise Canceling Headphones would hang on their heads a little more forcefully than the Quiet Comfort 35 II, creating slightly more pressure.

The material inside the headband is also different. The Noise Canceling 700 headphones have a soft-touch rubberized inner band that is filled with air for extra cushioning, while the Quiet Comfort 35 II rely on foam padding covered in a patterned fabric for its cushioning. The rubber doesn’t absorb sweat, which is good, but some people will prefer the Quiet Comfort 35 II’s cloth and padding.

The long and the short are noise canceling headphones that are comfortable, but the Quiet Comfort 35 II and the Sony WH-1000XM3 they probably feel slightly better. On the other hand, the noise canceling headphones 700 seem slightly more resilient. That said, it’s a good idea to store the headphones in their protective carrying case. The finish on the metal part of the strap is somewhat susceptible to scratching if rubbed against metal objects in a bag or backpack.

Built to communicate

Bose is promoting the voice communication capabilities of the headphones. While overall sound quality is a relatively small step compared to the QuietComfort 35 II – we’ll talk more about that in a minute – the Noise Canceling headphones 700 work significantly better as headphones for making calls. The new microphones are designed to better pick up your voice (some are beam-forming microphones) and reduce noise around you so people can hear you better in louder environments. This also applies to voice assistants – the headphones support Amazon’s Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa, which should better understand what you’re saying in louder environments.

I made a few calls from the noisy streets of New York and people could hear me even when I was standing next to a garbage truck that was compacting old furniture outside our office building. The headphones do a great job of filtering out background noise. Not everything, but a lot. When you’re not talking, the headphones greatly reduce ambient noise around you. However, when you speak, the headphones let in some background noise because the microphones, even transmitted in your voice, pick up external noise. It goes without saying that the headphone computer chips are doing a fair amount of sound processing.

There is also an adjustable sidetone feature that lets you hear your voice in the headphones (which prevents you from speaking too loudly during a call). The QuietComfort 35 II has a light side tone that not everyone notices, but you can really feel it in this new model.

The headphones fold into their case. There is a small compartment for storing cables.

Sarah Tew / CNET

In the Bose’s Music companion app for iOS and Android, choose the assistant you want to use and then access that assistant by pressing a button like you do with QuietComfort 35 II. If you choose Alexa, you can activate Amazon’s voice assistant simply by saying the wake word “Alexa”. This makes this one of the few headphones to offer Alexa always-on and behaves like AirPods and Beats Powerbeats Pro with Siri always-on. The Jabra Elite 85h, another great headset for making calls and comes with a lot of microphones, should have had this feature, but Jabra ended up leaving it off after discovering it had too big an impact on battery life.

Read more: The best headphones for 2019

Sarah Tew / CNET

I asked a Bose representative about the possible negative impact on battery life when using Alexa always on because the 20 hours of battery life of the Noise Canceling headphones 700 is lower than that of many of its competitors (a fast charging feature allows you to gain 3.5 hours of battery life from a 15-minute charge). The rep said it didn’t impact battery life and that battery life was the same whether you had Bluetooth on or off – for example, if you were in wired mode on an airplane. To that end, it’s also worth noting that you can use the headphones in wired mode if the battery runs out. It doesn’t sound as good when unplugged – yes, I’ve tried it – but it still sounds pretty decent (bass isn’t that loud) and the headphones passively muffle a decent amount of noise simply by virtue of being an over-ear model.

New for Bose

This is the first Bose headset equipped with touch controls. The tactile area is located on the right side of the right auricle. I found that they worked well and the same Bose rep told me that the Bose engineers were aware of the problems some Sony WH-1000XM3 users were having with that headset’s touch controls in the cold season and that the Noise Canceling 700 headphones had been tested in the cold. The touch controls presumably work, but we’ll have to wait until winter to test them ourselves.

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