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Tech Review: Bose QuietComfort 35 II Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is my first foray into noise-canceling headphones. Just like with any of my tech purchases, I thought long and hard before pulling the trigger. In this case, part of it was the disdain and suspicion for Bose products, which came from one of my instructors at an audio school I attended. The exact rationale isn't clear anymore, but it was something along the lines of sometimes incorporating and marketing existing technologies as if they were innovative.

Those were the Bose "Wave Radio" days. Since then, I have sometimes been on loud sound stages, where TV shows are being mixed, and noticed a Sound Supervisor I respect using Bose headphones. Hmm. That's interesting. Some sound professionals do use that company's products, it turns out.

While researching which headphones to buy, I kept going back and forth between the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and the Sony WH-1000XM3. Head to head, each have their pros and cons, but one thing really stood out: enough people had the headband on the Sonys break that I just couldn't shell out hundreds of dollars and have that be a possible issue.

So, I found a great deal and gave the Bose headphones a try.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II box - photo by KilmerMedia

They were quickly delivered and, oh man, my brain was so confused when putting them on for the very first time. I had never tried any noise-canceling products before, and the momentary vacuum feeling they created on my head tripped me out. Yet, I was soon clapping and yelling, trying to find out how much of the outside world these headphones could block. Bear in mind, most noise canceling headphones aren't rated for actual sound blocking, so these aren't a replacement for earplugs in a loud environment.

Since that first experience, what I have appreciated immensely is the option to either plug these in or listen via Bluetooth, and both options allow for active noise cancellation. The included audio cable and USB charging cable are both too short, though, so I bought longer cables that are more convenient.

These headphones have a built-in mic, so they can can be used for phone calls. For some reason, I still usually prefer to use Apples wired earbuds for calls, though. Unfortunately, you can't use Bluetooth and chair the Bose pair simultaneously. I was once on a long conference call when the headphones started chirping at me. Upon plugging them in, they made an awful noise, and that sure interrupted the meeting, if only for a moment. While on the subject of battery life, these are rated at up to 20 hours of wireless use and up to 40 hours if plugged in.

silver Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones up close - photo by KilmerMedia

Using the free Bose Connect app, some buttons can be customized, as well. Depending on the device used to control these settings, getting the software up and running can be a pain, though. Using a Samsung tablet, you must "grant location access" first. Tapping that button takes you to the tablet's software settings, where you have to navigate around to find out what the heck Bose Connect needs... and what it shouldn't actually need is to have "location access" turned on. After trying and trying and trying to resolve this, it took an app update to work my way past this roadblock.

When you do finally get Bose Connect to cooperate, you can:

- name/rename your headphones, for easier identification when connecting via Bluetooth

- set up "Music Share" to listen simultaneously with someone else wearing Bose headphones nearby

- change the noise cancellation levels (high/low/off)

- set the action button (select between the noise cancellation levels/activate Google Assistant/activate Alexa)

- activate Voice Prompts

- set up the Standby Timer

- view the device info (serial number, firmware version, etc.)

- access the manual

As far as the sound goes, I feel like the EQ is fairly neutral. For me, these headphones are another helpful tool for mixing music, when trying to find a happy medium between a pair of boomy Beyerdynamic DT 770 headphones, thin/tinny speakers on a laptop, and the custom EQ setup in my car. And like the Sound Supervisor at work, I use these in a sometimes-loud environment, to check the streaming audio feed while mixing the band playing at church on Sundays. Having these available in that scenario is a huge help.

For general use, I would and do recommend the Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones. If something happened to these, I'd be sad but wouldn't hesitate to buy them again.


"Tech Review: Bose QuietComfort 35 II Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones" (2023)

Written by: Justin Kilmer

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