Review: Bose QuietComfort 35 II noise cancelling headphones
4.6Overall Score

Price (RRP): $499.95
Manufacturer: Bose

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, Bose has updated its QuietComfort 35 headphones. Now they’re the QuietComfort 35 II noise cancelling headphones. As with the model they replace (which we reviewed here), they are Bluetooth models, but with some significant upgrades. I’ve had the new model clamped over my head for many, many hours over the past week. What did I find?

Description

What I found startled me. I will get to what it was that startled me soon, but first some facts and figures.

Well, actually, there aren’t too many. Bose is one of those companies that doesn’t like to talk about specifications. Power output? Like Rolls Royce, it’s sufficient. Speaker drivers? Heh, it’s Bose, so the details don’t matter. Check out the website and you’ll find their size – which is kind of the same as most headphones – their weight, which is 310 grams – and the lengths of the audio and USB cables supplied with them. Frequency response? Sufficient, I guess.

More importantly, codec? Since nothing is mentioned, we’ll have to assume the basic SBC codec and not aptX or aptX HD or AAC. Bose is not listed on the aptX website amongst the brands using its technology.

Bose QC35II

So, for really serious listening, you’ll be wanting to plug in. But, to be fair, the limitations on quality due to the SBC codec are usually not too dire.

It was a little quick in dismissing the dimensions. How big a set of headphones are when planted on your head generally doesn’t matter much. But these headphones fold up nicely to go into their semi-hard carry case. Because the earcups swivel before you fold them up, the case ends up only 50mm thick and so fits into brief cases and such reasonably well. Better than most headphones.

They are over-ear models with closed backs, so you get some isolation from external noise. The active noise reduction works in the usual way: environmental sound is captured, adjusted, inverted and fed back into the signal to cancel the original noise. Bose says that there are microphones both outside and inside the earcups.

On the right ear cup is a physical power switch. It slides on and off, and pushed a step further it engages pairing mode. Behind the right ear cup is the volume up and down rocker with an indented play/pause control in the middle. I found it easy to start using this reliably.

That play/pause also works for fast forward and rewind, track skipping and so on by the usual double and triple presses and holds. It also works to answer calls, hang up and so on.

On the left earcup is a single button. Using the Bose Connect app (iOS or Android) it can be assigned to controlling the level of noise cancellation, or invoking Google Assistant (not Siri).

The headphones work without power, but of course require a wired connection in that case.

Bose says that the battery is good for twenty hours of operation, and that a fifteen minute top up of power via the Micro-B USB socket will deliver another 2.5 hours of performance.

Setting up

One way to start listening is to just plug it in. The audio cable is 1.2 metres in length (the specifications helpfully inform us). At the headphone end is a 2.5mm plug. At the other is a standard three-conductor 3.5mm plug. The cable is quite thin and is clearly not designed for hands free operation, nor for any kind of volume control.

Incidentally, unlike past Bose practice, there is no two pin airplane adaptor included.