Straight up my new favorite headphones
were’ve long been a fan of noise canceling headphones, but it wasn’t until this past year that I really started appreciating the scope of their use. I traveled across the country on a crowded airplane. While thousands of people do this every day, I can’t say that I was totally prepared for it the first time around. All the ambient noises really took their toll on me and one year later, when I flew for the second time, I had an excellent pair of noise-canceling headphones in-hand to make the flight bearable. At that time, I was rocking the Sony 1000X Wireless Noise Cancelling headphones and I never thought I would find a better, more comfortable pair of headphones. This past week, I was introduced to the QuietComfort 35 II headphones by Bose. I’ve been a fan of Bose products for many years because they have a reputation for designing great, high-end audio gear. I’m happy to say that the QuietComfort 35 II’s don’t disappoint and they really live up to the Bose quality name.
The QuietComfort 35 II headphones are a follow-up/update to the headphones with the same name that were released in 2016. Both models have the same form factor, but the series 2 version has a few additional new functions. These headphones boast a 20-hour battery life and can be paired through Bluetooth or NFC. The headphones are built to last using impact-resistant materials, glass-filled nylon, and corrosion-resistant stainless steel.
The headphones arrived in a standard Bose branded box. The outside covering of the box included some basic details of the product in multiple languages. You will also notice the MFi icon along with the Android logo and the Google Assistant built-in graphics. The QuietComfort 35 II are the first Bose headphones to come with built-in Google Assistant support. That is, in fact, the biggest difference between the QuietComfort 35 II and the original version of the headphones according to Bose’s website. When you look at the specs of the two headphone models, you will see that they are nearly identical except for the weight (version II is 2.6 ounces heavier) and the fact that the original QuietComfort headphones come packaged with an airline adapter.
The QuietComfort 35 II’s package includes a carrying case, charging cable, and audio cable. When you first open the box, you will see the carrying case. All the other pieces are tucked away inside. The case is built very well. There is an exterior mesh pocket that could be used for extra cables or even your smartphone. When you open the case, you will find another interior mesh pocket and the main compartment where the headphones lay. They actually fold up in a very specific way, but Bose was kind enough to include a small illustration that shows you how to place them in the case.
The headphones are lightweight and flexible. I really like that the earpieces aren’t static and can swivel around a bit. It makes it easier to wear in my opinion. The headband extends easily and the materials used to build it feels very solid. The padding on the headband is probably the only thing I would change. It’s soft and comfortable to wear, but it’s covered in some sort of suede fabric, which leads me to think that over time, it will soak up sweat and other oils and wear down. I would have preferred to see this padding covered in leather instead.
The inside of the earpieces are marked with an “L” and “R” to show you which way to wear the headphones. One thing I noticed was that the actual speaker on the inside of the ear cup seems to be angled toward your ear. Many of my other headphones just have a flat speaker. I haven’t been able to find out this sort of orientation would affect sound quality or volume, but I am sure the design was done with purpose. The padding on the ear cups is very nice and seems to wear well. I did notice that the foam segments don’t pull off of the cups as magnets, but it does appear that they might snap off the ear cups. Not wanting to damage the foam, I didn’t try to pry them off.
These headphones have physical switches on them which is a bit of an oddity these days. Most of the headphones I’ve seen lately seem to utilize touch controls (the Sony headphones only have touch controls). So, the tactile nature of the buttons and switches on the Bose headphones was a nice departure from what I was used to. I’m sometimes not a fan of physical switches because they will get caught on things like hoodies, but the on/off switch on the right ear cup was designed in such a way that it avoided that usual problem. In addition to the on/off switch, you will also find the volume up/down buttons, and the play/pause button on the right ear cup. On the left earpiece, you will find the Google Assistant/ANR settings button.
On the bottom of the two earpieces, there is also a port for plugging in the Micro USB charging cable and the audio cable for a wired connection. Even though Micro USB has been a standard for quite some time for charging devices of this nature, I feel with a brand new product like this, Bose should have taken the opportunity to switch over to USB-C for charging.
As soon as the headphones arrived, I paired them to my phone using the app. Since the headphones had a companion app, I decided to use it for pairing along with the added functions provided. With the app, you have control of volume and the ability to turn off the headphones. You can also adjust the noise cancellation from high to low. While the app didn’t have a lot of advanced functions available, I still found it useful for easier control of the headphones.
The headphones had 70% battery life out of the box, which made me happy that I could go ahead and start using them. I put the headphones on my head and found very quickly that they were more comfortable than my Sony headphones and they caused less strain on my head, too. I’ve used the headphones for a couple of days off and on and not had any issue with the battery life.
The buttons and functions were very easy to pick up on without reading the manual but for more in-depth features, you will need to read the manual because they are not as intuitive as the ones listed above. For example, you have no dedicated button for changing songs. For us iPhone users we can easily remedy this by simply pressing in and holding the play/pause button to activate Siri and asking her to switch to the next track or calling up a totally different album. All the Siri commands that work on your iPhone work via this button so no worries here.
Even though I’ve only had these remarkable headphones for a few days, I’ve been incredibly impressed with them. The comfortable design and sound quality both live up to the Bose name. I’ve worn them for several hours and don’t perceive any earaches or headaches from wearing them too long.
Making and receiving calls is pretty simple. making calls again takes the use of Siri. I found this to be super simple and had no issues with Siri hearing or understanding what I asked her to do. I don’t currently have Google Assistant installed so the dedicated Google button was used for the ANR settings instead. The sound quality is amazing. I am hard of hearing and I didn’t have any issues with hearing music or spoken words. Music and sounds were crisp and dynamic.
As noise-canceling headphones go, I really like how the Bose headphones block out ambient noise with little effort. I love that the noise canceling is activated by flipping a switch. I’ve not had the chance to use these on a plane yet like I did with the Sony’s but with noise canceling turned up to high I can almost not hear anything else around me so I’m assuming they will work just as well if not better for travel.
I think the Bose QuietComfort 35 II are the best wireless headphones on the market right now. I’ve officially made the switch over to them as my primary listening companions. If you had the QuietComfort 35 that was released last year, I don’t know that the Google Assistant feature is enough to upgrade, but if you are using a different style or brand of headphone, I think you will be happy with the Bose QuietComfort 35 II.