Bose QuietComfort 35 (QC35) - Review

July 10, 2016

The wireless Bose QuietComfort 35 (aka QC35) is the highly anticipated follow up to Bose's top notch wired active noise canceling (ANC) headphones, the QC25Newly launched last month, they are now available in Singapore for SGD 549 (USD 350). We gleefully received the unit and took it to the streets for a review!

Pros (+): Excellent ANC; Classy design; App support; Usage of integrated rechargeable battery.
Cons (-): No aptX; Pricey.

Design
There are currently 2 color choices available - Silver and Black of which we are dished the latter. 

Onto the unboxing. One thing is quite clear - with the launch of the new Bose wireless products in June, the packaging graphics appear to have been uniformly updated to a new theme (yes, the SoundSport Wireless also have a massive font size for the product name across the top). Here's how it looks:


We slide out the inner black box to unveil a black colored flap which doubles as a quick setup guide on the flip side.

The carrying case lies within and unzipping it reveals the QC 35 neatly folded. The airplane adapter slots in firmly at the left corner while there's a handy sleeve, both inside and behind, to slot in the accompanying cables.

We spilled out the contents to unveil the following:

  • Bose QuietComfort 35 (QC 35) headphones
  • Audio cable (2.5mm to 3.5mm)
  • Airline adapter
  • Charging cable (micro-USB)
  • Carrying case
  • User guides


And now for the product proper. The QuietComfort 35 is and over-ear pair of headphones that weighs a meaty 309g, marking a more than 100g weight gain over the QC25. Somehow, it still feels alright when place around the head, possibly due to good weight distribution. 

The headband comes in leather and Alcantara, a good combination for a touch of class and comfort. Like its predecessor, the dual-hinge design at the cups allows for better angling placement to your head and easy storage.

The product design appears to be a cross between the Bose QC 25 and the Bose AE2 SoundLink (aka SoundLink around-ear wireless headphones II), though it takes the predominant style from the former. The playback controls, USB port and power switch intervals are all cues from the AE2 SoundLink while everything else looks very QC25-ish.

Features
The draw of the QuietComfort 35 is undoubtedly the active noise-canceling (ANC) technology. This incorporates a dual-microphone system where one's on the outside and the other within, to effectively block ambient noise. Unlike the QC 25 where you need to activate this through a switch, the ANC is auto-on once the headphones are powered. We'll go into detail on the experience later. 

Pairing to your device is a breeze. You can either connect through Bluetooth or NFC. To link via NFC, you need to activate the NFC and Bluetooth on your device, flick the power on and press the middle of the outer (right) earcup to the NFC touchpoint of your device. For Bluetooth pairing, you just need to flip the power switch to the right to initiate. Once the Bluetooth indicator flashes blue, just select 'Bose QuietComfort 35' from your device to complete the pairing. The unit can connect to up to two devices simultaneously. You just need to halt playback on one to start music on the second unit or you can use the Bose Connect app to manage.

The voice prompts make the user experience intuitive. Whenever you turn the power on, a voice will inform of the battery charge level. The pairing process is complemented with prompts such as 'Ready to pair' and 'Connected'.

The provided audio cable doesn't include an in-line remote. What this means is that using the over-ears in wired mode, you will need to control playback through your device. It plugs to the Bose QC 35 through a 2.5mm port and to your device by the usual 3.5mm jack.

There is a supporting app called Bose Connect (man, everyone has apps now!). The first supported product was the AE2 SoundLink and it appears to support the new range of Bose's wireless headphones. 

What can you do? From the pic below, you can adjust the QC 35 name, power down timing, voice prompt language (out of 11 options) and the most useful is the pairing management to other devices. Is the app absolutely essential? We'd have to say not quite yet but we will have to see how the app evolves.

Performance
Updated (19 Jul 2016)
The QC 35 is a pair of over-ear headphones and they sure are comfortable when you fit them on. They have a snug fit and certainly won't fall off accidentally. Only after prolonged walking, you start to feel a very negligible weight on your head...and I must emphasize only negligible. 

Let's talk about the experiences on each of the 3 sound modes available. Riding trains and sitting at the back of a bus is a really noisy event for most. What better place to test the active noise canceling (apart from a plane)? Of course, when testing sound quality, this was done in a quiet room to keep the sound environment constant. 

1. Wireless (ANC)
There's bass emphasis resulting in a warm sound delivery. The bass buildup on Solarstone's Seven Cities is wonderful to behold. The rumbles of train and bus accelerations are drowned out though the occasional high-frequency shrieks of wheels grinding the rails are apparent. On wireless, ANC is activated by default and the Bose lasts up to 20h (for ANC + Bluetooth).

2. Wired (ANC)
For those who like a one notch of bass less and a more balanced sound quality, wired ANC would work well. Sarah Brightman and Fernando Lima's vocals on Ave Maria become clearer. The noise canceling appears to be similar in both wired and wireless. If you're on a plane, likely this is the ideal mode since the battery life doubles to an impressive 40h (for ANC only).

3. Wired (Non-ANC)
The soundstage significantly widens. Sound perfectionists would do well to avoid this mode as the vocals sound drowned out. Bus revvs are painfully obvious in this mode, though some is taken out by the over-ears product design that gives some noise isolation. The power is off in this mode and the headphones can be used as long as needed.

I actually liked the wireless mode the best. When traveling, I feel that the added bass plays a big part in reaching out to you beyond the low frequency traffic noise. In providing 3 sound modes, I reckon Bose is just giving more options for usage flexibility. The whole purpose for getting the QC35 is 'cos it's wireless and likely, you want to commute without cable tangle. 

Overall
The Bose QC35, like the QC25, is a top notch choice for frequent travellers who want their own sound space in a noise-laced environment. While it's certainly pricey, it's likely the top wireless noise canceling pair of headphones in the market and I'd say that's a good enough reason to own one. All in all, Bose has done a great job on the sound quality in wireless mode while delivering a mind-numbingly quiet experience. They sure know what a wireless headphones' priorities are for the user.

Where To Buy

If you like what you have read, do feel free to support me by buying from Amazon. Here are the affiliate links for the Black and Silver variants. 

Audio Sources
Ave Maria (Duet with Fernando Lima) - Sarah Brightman (320kbps MP3)
Seven Cities (Original Atlantis Mix) - Solarstone (Spotify 320kbps MP3)

Credit to Bose and Atlas for an evaluation unit.

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