Bose QuietControl 30 (QC30) - Review

March 20, 2017

Bose introduced a whole slew of portable wireless audio products in their June product launch. One of them is called the Bose QuietControl 30 or QC30 (USD 299.95 / SGD 529) and it hit the shops in North America in Nov 2016 and Singapore just this month. These are their first pair of neckband headphones, in a product category pioneered by the LG TONE series. We check out how these fare in a full review! 
Bose QuietControl 30 (Bose QC30)

Pros (+): Controllable active noise cancelation (ANC) levels; Good fit; Intuitive voice prompts; App support.
Cons (-): Not for jogging purposes; Non retractable cable.

The Bose QC30 currently comes only in a black color scheme. 
Bose QuietControl 30 (Bose QC30) box

The new packaging identity seen on the Bose QC35 / Bose SoundSport Wireless is yet again seen for the QC30. Sliding off the outer cover, we pop open up the inner black box to get access to the neckband headphonesHere's what's in the goodie bag:
  • Bose QuietControl 30 (QC30)
  • Charging cable (micro-USB)
  • StayHear+ buds (S / M / L)
  • Carry case
  • User Guides
Bose QuietControl 30 (Bose QC30) Packaging Contents

The Bose QuietControl 30 is approximately 28 grams (1 oz), and the neckband design does feel thicker than the LG TONE Active. The key advantage of neckband headphones is you can simply slink them around your neck and voila, you're good to go. The buds have a subtle 'Bose' logo right in the centre, surrounded by the microphone input holes for ANC noise measuring purposes. Do note that when you remove the tips from your ears, the cable will dangle downwards as they are not retractable.  
Bose QuietControl 30 (Bose QC30)

The circular carry case is gigantic but needs to be given the size of the QC 30. Within lies an inner pouch to conveniently place any eartips or charging cables.
Bose QuietControl 30 (Bose QC30) Carry case

The in-line remote controls lie on the right cable. The layout is similar to Bose's other buds - a multifunction button (Play / Take calls) flanked with the volume buttons. Skipping tracks is still restricted to double (or triple) tapping the centre button though it would certainly have been more intuitive for users if they implemented holding the volume buttons to do the same.
Bose QuietControl 30 (Bose QC30) remote

Controllable Noise Cancelation:
While its predecessor, the QC20 had a single button to power the Ambient Sound mode by fully turning on and off sounds from your surroundings, the QC30 goes one better. The side of the remote features 2 buttons that handily allow you to fluctuate the magnitude of surrounding sounds at 12 different active noise cancelation (ANC) levels. What this means is you can listen to music and hear environmental sounds to suit your comfort or safety (like when crossing a road).
Bose QuietControl 30 (Bose QC30) packaging

You can pair to your device through Bluetooth or NFC. To link via NFC, you need to activate Bluetooth on your player, power on the buds and press the remote (see the 'N') to the NFC touchpoint of your device. For Bluetooth pairing, hold the power button until the LED indicator flashes blue. Select 'Bose QuietControl 30' from your device to complete the pairing and the LED will give a white glow. The Bose can connect to up to 2 devices simultaneously. You can manage it by stopping music playback on one and then start music on the second.
Bose QuietControl 30 (Bose QC30)

App Support:
Voice controls were excellent on Bose's previous products and continue to be over here. You get information on the power level, pairing status and it supports up to 11 languages, configurable either by actuating buttons or via the Bose Connect app, that supports all portable audio devices starting from the AE2 SoundLinkYou can adjust the product name, power down timing, voice prompt language (out of 11 options) and the most useful is the pairing management to other devices and quick ANC level adjustment. 

Bose QuietControl 30 - Bose Connect app

Update (21 Mar 2017)
In the latest firmware version (1.2.8), the Bose QC30 now supports Music Share through the Bose Connect app. This allows music to be streamed to two Bose headphones that use the app.
Bose QuietControl 30 (Bose QC30)

I would say that the ideal usage for these buds would be when you are traveling by air. I daresay that's where it is actually better than the similar Bose ANC products like the QC35 or the QC20. Why so? Well simply put, the QC35 are headphones so when you choose to rest your head on your seat, the earcups will be the point of contact and as for the QC20, these are wired in-ears so there's always the possibility of tugging them. The QC30 just lies around your neck (ie. no tug) and if you want to figure out what the stewardess is hounding you about, just lower the ANC level. 
Bose QuietControl 30 (Bose QC30)

The very snug StayHear+ tips are the same as the ones used on the Bose QC 20SoundSport Wireless and they do not disappoint. Fitting them in the ears, they are gentle on the ears and yet aren't easy to dislodge. Leaving them for hours at a stretch wasn't a problem for me.

Bose QuietControl 30 (Bose QC30)

Noise Cancelation:
The active noise cancelation (ANC) is like what you'd expect from a Bose. By default, ANC is already activated. The QC20 was astoundingly good for a pair of in-ears and while I did not have them on hand for a mano-a-mano comparison, the QC30 is almost, if not just as, good as its wired predecessor when set at the highest ANC level. When walking, the microphonics is quite negligible and I could turn my head left and right without hearing any cable rustle. However, I would not recommend this for jogging purposes as the neckband will bob up and down. 
Bose QuietControl 30 (Bose QC30)

Sound Quality:
The sound quality is inclined toward the low frequencies, which to me is good especially when you are traveling ie. with high environmental noise. When listening to Sarah Brightman's Deliver Me (classical), you get relatively decent but never overly crisp vocals but the bass from the orchestration that emanates from these buds is mighty, not in a thumping manner but resoundingly inspiring. 
Bose QuietControl 30 (Bose QC30)

Battery Life:
According to the Bose website, there's up to 10 hours of power on a full charge that takes just under 3 hours. This is a relatively decent number that compares very favorably with the 9.5 hours from the LG TONE Active (which does not feature ANC) and the 6 hours of the Samsung Level U Pro ANC (with ANC activated).
Bose QuietControl 30 (Bose QC30)

With the QuietControl 30, Bose has made one very ideal noise-canceling pair of earphones to use on the airplane. For those used to the LG TONE, sure the cable is non retractable but Bose has done a great job in other areas. The QC30 juggles fit, battery life and app support  easily. And of course, the deal clincher is its ability to adjust the ANC intensity to your level of comfort.  
Bose QuietControl 30 (Bose QC30)

Where To Buy
The Bose QuietControl 30 can be purchased from (US - USD 299.95), (UK - GBP 259.95) or (Singapore - SGD 529). 

Alternatively, if you liked this review, do feel free to support us by buying from  Amazon through this affiliate link. 

Credit to Bose, Atlas-SV for an evaluation unit. 
Bose QuietControl 30 (QC30)
Credit - Bose

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