I own over half a dozen top rated headphones and its a real shame that I won't be using them anymore after experiencing the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 Wireless Headphones II (QC35II). These headphones along with their predecessor (QC35) are simply one of the best in class noise canceling headphones available today.
I start out with comfort because no headphone is worth wearing, no matter how good it sounds, if you find yourself taking it off every half hour or more to alleviate ear fatigue. I know, I've been there.
The QC35II feels as light as a feather, weighing in at 10.9 oz according to Bose's website. The headband, constructed of stainless steel and engineered composite plastic and glass filled materials, is very strong, allowing it to elastically bend and stretch. There are ample incremental adjustments to the headband length which means that it will accommodate a large range of head sizes. The oval shaped ear cups are large enough to comfortably surround your ears. The top of the headband is cushioned with Alcantara, a premium material, giving it a touch of luxury.
What all this means is that Bose's Quiet Comfort lineup has become as legendary for its comfort as it has with its active noise cancellation feature. It is not mere opinion but a matter of fact among the industry that no other manufacturer has come close to developing a set of headphones to rival the comfort that Bose offers. It continues to hold true with the QC35II. I hardly feel the weight of the headphone resting on my head. More importantly, eyeglass wearers everywhere should rejoice. I wear glasses, and there is no pinching of the frames from the ear cups against the ears. No fatigue whatsoever, and I have been wearing the QC35II for the past six hours straight. You could sleep with them on, and that's one of the reasons its so popular with air travelers – superior comfort combined with noise cancellation.
The exteriors of the ear cups and exterior of the headband are plastic, but appear to be well built. According to Bose, the materials are impact resistant. I'll take this at face value as I'm not willing to drop my QC35II onto a hard surface to find out. All mating surfaces are tightly fitted. The ear cup cushions themselves are soft and supple, with a very premium feel. Bose describes the material used for the ear cushions as a synthetic protein leather.
I have the black colored QC35II headphones and they look sleek and professional, but unassuming. The all black design is definitely not bold. It's rather conservative. And this is the way I like it as a professional who commutes on the train and wouldn't want a funky looking headphone with gaudy design and colors attracting attention.
All controls with the exception of one button, are located on the right ear cup Buttons are intuitively tactile. The center control button is depressed slightly, allowing you to easily locate the remaining +/- buttons. I will not go into the functions of these buttons as they are standard controls for headsets.
However, the single button on the left ear cup needs a brief introduction. This button is the new feature on the QC35II that is not found on the QC35. It controls the Google Assistant on your Android phone, assuming you own an Android phone. This left button can also be programmed to control the level of ANC as discussed below.
Active Noise Cancellation (ANC):
ANC is controlled two ways. The first is via the Bose Connect app. Through the app, you can select high ANC, low ANC, or turn off ANC entirely. The second way is to re-assign the button on the left ear cup to act as the ANC selector which will allow you to cycle through the three levels of ANC.
The ANC is amazing! I tested the headphones at an indoor swimming pool with loud, screaming kids and noise from HVAC and pump machinery operating. I put the ANC at its highest level without any music from the headphones, and the drone of the HVAC and machinery disappeared. The children's voices, although they are still audible, seemed eerily distant even though the screaming children were only several feet in front of me. As good as ANC technology presently is, it has not been developed to the point that it will eliminate all external sources of noises. ANC will only work for certain lower frequencies of the sound spectrum with a repeatable pattern, such as the sound of machinery, and of course an interior cabin of a passenger airline. It won't be as effective with human voices, higher frequency sounds, and non-repeatable patterns. So all those reviews that you read about people stating that the sound of crying babies being eliminated are misguided. ANC, by itself, will not eliminate all external noises. You will need to combine the ANC with music through the headphones loud enough to drown out the sound of voices.
ANC works in both wireless and wired mode. In wired mode, however, you will not have the low ANC option. It will be either ANC on high or ANC turned off. ANC functions independently and will work whether or not music is playing. You can use the headphones solely for the ANC feature. This is useful if you simply want a quieter environment for such things as studying or concentrating.
It's always a challenge to describe audio performance. It is subjective. I liken it to purchasing clothes or shoes. It's not a one size fits all solution. You really need to try it on to find out if you like it or not. Same goes with audio. You might want to have a stronger bass response. Or you might desire clearer highs. My recommendation is for you to go to your local Best Buy and bring your favorite audio tracks and see if it is the sound you prefer.
With that said, however, I will say that Bose tried to appeal to as many of us as possible. Sound is well balanced. Bass is strong, controlled, tight, without being too overpowering. Trebles are clearly present, but are restrained from drifting too high. Vocals (mids) are clear. This is classic Bose sound signature.
In wireless listening, the audio sounded the same regardless of ANC setting (high, low, off). In wired mode however, with ANC turned off, the audio sounded a little bit flatter.
The QC35II has the Google Assistant built in to the headphones. This is a great feature to have since you can have the Google Assistant do things for you without having to take the phone out of your pocket. Pressing and holding down the button on the left ear cup, you can speak right into the headphones to access the Google Assistant to do a multitude of tasks such as making phone calls, skipping songs, adjusting volume, etc. I found that much of what you can do with the Google Assistant with your phone, you can also do with the press of the left button on the headphones. Again, a very convenient feature to have when you don't want to reach for your phone.
Bose states that you can get up to 20 hours of battery life in wireless mode, and up to 40 hours when using the audio cable. It will take up to 2.5 hours to fully recharge a depleted battery.
Differences Between QC35II and QC35:
I do not own the original QC35, but had to borrow one from a friend. When I tested the headphones side by side, they appear to have the same audio quality and superior ANC levels. The only difference I could tell is that the new headphones now have the dedicated button on the left ear cup to access the Google Assistant/adjust ANC levels. Also, the airline adapter jack has been eliminated in the QC35II. That's all I can observe is different.
Included in the box are the headphones, headphone storage case, a 4' long audio cable, and a micro usb cable for re-charging the battery.
The Bose Connect app has various features such as adjusting ANC levels, re-assigning the left ear cup button to function either as the Google Assistant or adjusting ANC, turning on and off voice prompts, changing prompt language, auto-off timer to assign a specific duration at which point the headphones will turn off, and a user manual. The app also displays the remaining battery life and allows for volume adjustment.
In order to use the Bose Connect app you will need to allow the app to access your location. Some of you may or may not be comfortable with providing this permission.
You cannot go wrong with the Bose QC35II. Luxurious comfort, world-class ANC, very good audio performance, long battery life, and now with the Google Assistant built in, are the reasons to choose these headphones. I highly recommend you give them a try. The ANC alone will leave you speechless and the headphones are so comfortable that you don't want to take them off. You may just end up walking out of the store with them (after paying of course).