Bose’s noise cancelling technology has been the industry standard for several years now. When a company releases a new set of cans, you know at some point it’ll be compared to the Bose Quiet Comfort range. The QuietComfort 35 II is an update on the hugely successful original QC35. It retains the customisable noise cancellation, comfortable build, 20-hour battery life and the well-known Bose sound. Note: If you’re a gamer and don’t need ‘active’ noise cancellation, look at our V-moda Crossfade 2 review.
The QuietComfort 35 II is a closed-back, over-ear design which can be operated wired and wirelessly. Bose’s new model costs $349 USD, while the original is still available for $329. The only difference between the versions is the new Google Assistant button which allows you to issue voice commands to the assistant.
QuietComfort 35 II lives up to its name
Bose weren’t kidding when they called this the QuietComfort. If you’re travelling by vehicle, the noise cancellation removes pretty much all the low end of the engine. The only sounds that come through are some mids and highs, and even those are reduced in volume. The Bose noise cancellation strength stacks up against the best in the market right now.
Noise cancellation often produces a sensation of pressure on the eardrums which can be unpleasant to some users. Bose have almost removed this effect from the QuietComfort 35 II thankfully. If you need to adjust the noise cancellation, it can be easily adjusted via the left earpiece. There’s three levels: High, low and off.
Bose sound here in spades
If you’ve used Bose headphones you’ll recognise the sound of the QuietComfort 35 II. The wired sound is gorgeous, with an evenly balanced frequency range. The headphones make pretty much any style of music sound good, with a tight bass, detailed midrange and clear treble. It’s not an audiophile sound, as it brings together the layers in a smooth, listenable way, rather than exposing flaws or idiosyncrasies.
The wireless sound is noticeably different, pushing the bass harder and losing some of the tightness and detail. Wirelessly it’s more suited to bass-heavy genres such as hip hop and EDM. As someone who listens to mostly guitar-based music, I definitely prefer the more detailed mids of the wired sound. There’s no frequency response specs listed unfortunately.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is sublimely comfortable. The earcups are nice and roomy, which is important to prevent the drivers rubbing against your ears. The headphones are easy to adjust and there’s really nothing to complain about in the comfort department. The earcups can heat up easily in warmer weather, but that’s an issue common to all closed back, over-ear headphones.
The one thing I expect on headphones over $100 is a hardcase and thankfully Bose have got with the program here. You get a tough case with a side compartment for the cables. The charging cable is 30cm and the headphone cable is 1.2m.
Tough physical controls
The QuietComfort 35 II is operated with physical controls on the earpieces. They are robust and organised in a user-friendly manner. You can tinker with the QC35 further using the free Bose Connect app. The app gives you control over the standby timer, voice prompts and the action button. The button can be set to change the noise cancellation or control Google Assistant.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II verdict
The QuietComfort series has gone from strength to strength. The QuietComfort 35 II is an excellent release that delivers everything you expect from a high-end noise-cancelling headphone. If you have the original QuietComfort 35, I doubt it’s worth spending $350 for the Google Assistant upgrade. But for anyone else, it’s a great contender in the $300+ market. It’s not the best sounding headphone in its price range. However, the combination of strong noise cancellation, comfort and solid audio performance make the QC35 a tempting buy.
Update: We had some users complaining about defective noise cancelling after the latest firmware upgrade. Our manager reached out to Bose to ask about the problem with the following message:
As you know Stephen reviewed the QC35 II headphones back in February. I’m reaching out because yesterday we received the following comment: “Bose exchanged them twice – for equally defective pairs. Constant bluetooth stuttering made these unusable. Firmware upgrade degraded sound quality, adding more background hiss and static to ANC.”
Turns out there is foundation to this and I’ve done some digging. There was no closing statement from Bose and the problem was dismissed as user error. There is enough evidence online to suggest that 2.5.1 firmware updates reduce the noise-cancelling quality. Unfortunately, the moderator of the Bose forum thread locked it so users can no longer give continued feedback.
Bose responded to SoundReview with the following:
The Bose engineering team has confirmed that no changes were made to the noise cancellation or audio performance of the QC35II with the latest software update. Here are some troubleshooting steps that users can undertake if they feel that there is an issue with the headphone’s noise cancellation abilities:
Be sure the headset is turned on. The switch on the right earcup should be in the “On” position with the green LED illuminated. The headset must be turned on to cancel noise.
Double check that the cushions are securely attached to the earcup. If the ear cushion is not affixed to the ear cup properly, the noise reduction may be affected.
Check to make sure the headset is fully seated and the ear cushions are in good shape as the seal they provide is extremely important for noise cancellation performance.
Verify the noise cancellation mode you are in through the Bose connect app. These modes are designed to customize the noise cancellation effect for different environments and may sound very different from one another. A video detailing these modes can be found HERE.
Users can also find out more about how the Acoustic Noise Cancellation technology works here. If users continue to experience issues, they’re encouraged to reach out to their local Bose support. (Contact info can be found HERE.)
If you think you’ve experienced the same issue and none of these steps worked, we’d love to hear your view in the comments below!
Dimensions/weight without the cable:
Headphones:18 cm H x 17 cm W x 8.1 cm D (0.31 kg)
Audio cable:1.2 m
USB cable:30.5 cm
In the box:
QC35 wireless headphones II
USB charging cable
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is a comfortable headphone with excellent noise isolation and solid audio.