What We Like
- The best active noise cancellation on the market.
- As solid an audio performance as you can get in wireless headphones.
- 20 hours with wireless mode does the trick.
What We Don’t Like
- The design isn’t incredible, but the power lies elsewhere.
For much of the last decade, Bose has been the one to beat when it comes to active noise cancellation technology. So do the QC 35s help them to maintain their crown, or is it time to pass it down?
Available either in black or silver, the QC 35s are best described as a fairly classic, unassuming design. Like many Bose headphones, the aesthetic is simple—it could reasonably be described as a little dull if you were looking for more in the way of visual flair—but well put together. A standard matte finish which you will recognize from myriad other Bose products, and nothing flashy. It’s clear that this simplicity is itself a design choice rather than a physical manifestation of not having bothered to put much thought into how they actually look.
As the name suggests, they’re a comfortable wear even after extended periods of use. The plush padding on the earpads does a great job of keeping them in place and preventing that dull ache that can so often accompany the wearing of headphones for more than a couple of hours. The headband, too, is comfortable, so you won’t have to worry about constant adjustments to make sure it doesn’t become painful.
Overall, whilst they aren’t the most aesthetically interesting or innovative looking headphones, the QC 35s do exude a certain luxury, robust vibe. You can tell it’s a premium product even without any particular visual flairs to indicate it as such.
Let’s begin with an overview of the basics. Like most models at this price point, the QC 35s are equipped with all of the usual controls on the outside panel of the right ear cup. You’ve got a power/pairing button, a multifunction button (for managing playback, taking calls, and navigating through tracks), and volume controls. There’s also the nice touch of a few LEDs which inform you as to Bluetooth pairing status and battery life, and the micro USB charging port.
An audio cable comes thrown in with the headphones which you can plug in to switch to wired (or passive) listening mode. This is a great way to handle a situation in which you run out of battery at an inopportune moment (and, let’s face it, there’s never a good time for the battery to die on you mid tune), but does have a minor drawback. There’s no inline microphone or remote control. The lack of controls is fine—you can just use the ones on the ear cup as you would in wireless mode—but you won’t be able to deal with calls unless paired with your device.
Starting with a look at connectivity, pairing was a quick and painless process as you would expect from a high-end pair of Bluetooth headphones. Bose also provides an app called Connect which lets you manage your list of paired devices, upgrade firmware, and change a few other settings related to power plans and suchlike. The range is around 33 feet—longer in our tests—, and we experienced no lag, skipping, or other connectivity-based audio errors in our tests.
When it comes to audio performance, the first thing to point out is that you aren’t going to want to mix your next album on a pair of QC 35s. Bose is not aiming for absolute accuracy, but rather for a sound signature which emphasises balance and power across the board. And it’s certainly a marked improvement from their previous offerings: the onboard digital signal processing (DSP) does a great job of adjusting lows and tweaking highs depending on your listening levels. It’s about as good a sound as you’re going to get from wireless headphones, and listening in passive mode is pretty much just as good.
So how about the flagship feature, active noise cancellation? Well, there’s not much to say other than that Bose will certainly be keeping their crown. Simply put, it’s the best there is. If what you are looking for is top of the range, no holds barred noise cancellation, there is literally no better choice than the QC 35s. Bose remains a step ahead of the competition, and it really shows in a big way.
If you want the best of audio quality and active noise cancellation in a wireless form, there is simply no better choice than Bose’s QC 35 model. Packed into an unassuming but premium-feeling design, they’re a cut above the rest.