The corkscrew. The sparkplug. The light bulb. All are designed to perform a specific task, which they all do diligently without any need for fanfare. This is much like the Bose Quiet Comfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones. To coin a cliché, they ‘do exactly what it says on the tin’. In this case it’s enabling the wearer to enjoy their music or to sit in silence without being disturbed by the ambient noise around them.
The Bose Quiet Comfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones are beloved by frequent flyers and commuters for their ability to block out the rumble of the aircraft engines or train. But they are not without their critics, particularly among ardent audiophiles.
Considering their high-end price bracket, you might be disappointed with the build quality of these noise cancelling headphones. Rather than a luxurious, exotic choice of metals, the Bose Quiet Comfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones are made from plastic. But whilst they might not impress fellow commuters in the looks department, what the use of plastic does mean is that they are lightweight and comfortable to wear for long periods compared to metal heavyweight cans that can feel like wearing a vice after a while.
Supporting the focus on comfort rather than looks are the large earcups, which fit snugly over the ears. And being closed back means they will passively reduce background noise without the need to switch on the gadgetry hidden inside. The added bonus of the large earcups is that they don’t leak sound, which means you don’t have to worry about disturbing your neighbour when banging out Beethoven or the avalanche of explosions when watching The Avengers.
Additional features include the ability to answer phone calls on an iPhone with the inline mic, a reassuringly solid case and the ability to twist the earcups 90 degrees for neatly folding them away after your journey.
The noise cancelling abilities of the Bose Quiet Comfort headphones comes from battery powered technology packed into the cans. Mics are fitted to the inside and outside to pickup outside ambient noise and then to cancel it out using Bose’s patented Triport® acoustic technology for a tonally balanced sound performance.
Sounds impressive. So how does it perform?
The reviews I read are universally praising of the sound cancelling performance of the Bose Quiet Comfort headphones. Whether on flights, on trains or to block out the ambient noise at work, these headphones are the best in class at what they do. What’s more you don’t get the ‘whoosh’ that you get with most electronically powered noise cancelling headphones. Instead, the rumbling sound of an airplane engine is replaced with a mild mid-level hiss, enabling you to enjoy music and movies in peace.
So if you’re looking for comfortable, noise cancelling headphones for travel then look no further. But (and it’s a big but) if you’re looking for audiophile class sound performance you might want to look elsewhere.
The Bose Quiet Comfort headphones have been described as sounding ‘airless’ in the highs and slightly thin in the middles. The bass is likeable but can lack impact and weight when listening to drums or electric bass. So if sound performance is top of the agenda, you might want to look at what the Grado SR325is or Sennheiser HD650s have to offer in this price bracket. The payoff is that you’re then looking at losing the noise cancelling abilities of the Bose Quiet Comfort headphones. So it’s a case of horses for courses, as the saying goes.
When you’ll leave them on
The Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones are the perfect headphones for flights, commuting and for blocking out background noise at work. Their noise cancelling technology enables you to watch movies and listen to music in peace without being disturbed by the cacophony of people talking or rumbling engines. They’re also great for listening to classical, jazz and other music that lives in the midrange.
When they’ll be left in their carry case
These headphones won’t work without a battery. So it’s wise to carry a spare around. While great at cancelling background noise, they lack the sound performance of Sennheiser or Grado in this price bracket and will struggle with hip-hop, hard rock and other bass heavy music. However, Bose Quiet Comfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones are designed for listening to music quietly in a noisey environment, not the other way around.