Today I’ll be giving an in-dept review of the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 ii and comparing it to its predecessor, the Bose Quiet Comfort 35. Even though some of the differences are subtle, there are enough differences between the two that it warrants taking a closer look to determine which one would be the better choice for you. I’ll dedicate a section below just to comparing the differences between the two so you don’t need to read the whole article just to get that information.
Currently the newest Bose QC35 ii retails for about $349, but you can click here to check the up-to-date price.
If you’re interested in just the comparison between the original QC35 and the newer QC35 series ii, then there is a dedicated section below where I cover what’s the same and what’s different.
Included with these headphones you get a sturdy carrying case, a micro USB charging cable, and a 3.5mm audio cable.
The QC35 ii has bluetooth 4.1 which works very well. I was able to get a distance between 57 and 58 feet consistently from my iPhone 7 when there was nothing obstructing the signal. You can also connect to multiple Bluetooth sources as a source for your sound.
These do have NFC communication to make it easy to pair with an Android device. It works extremely well and by just touching your phone to the headphones they pair nearly instantly.
Bose claims these will have at least 20 hrs of battery life but at 50% volume I was able to get a little over 23 hours of listening time (starting from a full charge). But you can also listen to these in wired mode which doesn’t require any battery life to do that.
One of my favorite features is the rapid recharge feature, which allows you to get 2.5 hrs of playback time after only 15 minutes of charging.
When noise cancellation is in use, there is a setting you can adjust by using the Bose app which allows you to choose between three different levels (low, high or off). The app also provides volume-optimized equalizer settings to help give you a more personally tuned listening experience.
On the left earcup there’s a button which allows you to switch between ANC and using Google Assistant.
Call quality is great, you can easily have a conversation with someone and hear what each other is saying without a problem.
The Google Assistant feature works really well, it’s easy to use and does give you more ways to control your music using your voice, or asking about specific genres of music to start playing.
The most noticeable advantage the QC35 II has over the previous QC35 is the new Google Assistant Action Button which works on Android 7.0 or newer. You press and hold the button and it activates Google Assistant where you are now able to check calendar events, send messages, have it read your notifications to you when they come through, control music playback, play Spotify playlists and more. The idea behind this is that you can now access Google Assistant more efficiently with a press of a button, while your smartphone is in your pocket.
There are however some limitations on iPhone. For example, you can’t ask it to send an SMS or iMessage, and you can’t ask it to play music through Spotify. However, one workaround to this is to use the play/pause (multifunction) button to launch Siri on your iPhone instead.
Another nice feature addition with the series ii is the ability to control active noise cancellation from your headphones. Originally with the QC35 there was no way to adjust the ANC options when you were in wireless mode. Eventually a firmware update made it so that you could turn ANC off but you had to manually do it through the Bose Connect app. Now with the QC35 series II, you can control the ANC levels by pressing the Action Button and then you can cycle between low, high and off.
ANC (AUTOMATIC NOISE CANCELLATION)
Next I will talk about QC35 iis active noise cancellation feature. But first, I want to make sure that the difference between the noise cancellation and noise isolation is understood.
Noise isolation is when the external sound is suppressed by your headphones, whereas Active Noise Cancellation is achieved by having inverse waves passing through the headphone speakers, which is what helps to cancel out the surrounding noise. So this works best with lower frequency sounds such as the drone of an airplane engine, subway noise, or the whirl of an office air conditioner.
If you haven’t used an effective noise cancelling headphones before, you’ll be blown away by how powerful this feature can be. When it comes to active noise cancellation, Bose is simply the best and the QC35 truly decimates all low-end noise. Airplane engines and similar type noises disappear on these making them perfect for use on airplanes, trains, busses and the subway. Even just walking next to a road, it’s impressive how much these dampen the noise of passing cars.
Now as I alluded to earlier, these aren’t as effective at cancelling out higher frequency noise. So if you’re using these in an office, you’ll still be able to hear people’s voices, especially female ones, but these do help take the edge off of nearby conversations.
Also, you may feel a bit of that ‘air cabin pressure’ feeling when the ANC is turned on. Some have found they get used to this over time, but I do find it to be a bit distracting. So personally, I find I don’t tend to turn on the ANC unless I’m in a noisier environment and then it’s so worth having. I don’t mind that slight ‘air cabin pressure’ as a trade-off in order to not have to suffer or endure all the noise going on around me. But either way, you do have the option of turning the ANC on or off so you’re never forced to use it.
Overall, the noise cancellation feature of these headphones is fantastic and they are truly designed to be used in noisier environments. So whether you’re on an airplane or riding the subway, you’ll still be able to have a very quiet and intimate listening experience.
BOSE QC35 SERIES II COMPARED TO BOSE QC35 SERIES I
They Look identical to each other and there are no differences cosmetically.
They are almost identical in weight though the series ii does weigh a bit less. The original QC35 weighs 235g, whereas the series ii QC35 weighs 232g. The weight difference isn’t that noticeable except it does help the newer series ii to be even more comfortable to wear, especially for longer listening sessions.
There is no change in the bluetooth distance.
They sound exactly the same.
The biggest chance is that the series ii adds Google Assistant. You can read more about this in the “Features” section of this article.
Noise cancellation is slightly better w the original series 1. For example, the QC35 Series 1 offers a reduction of 25.2 dB whereas Series 2 offers 20.8 dB. However, when it comes to real-live listening, the difference isn’t that noticeable (and that’s the reason you’ll hear some people say they don’t notice a difference).
But subjectively speaking Series 1 is still about 10-15% quieter than the Series 2. Specifically, you’ll notice the difference the most in the mid-range where these frequencies are reduced a little more effectively on the QC35 series 1.
But with the QC35 ii, you can control ANC levels while in wireless mode, whereas the original Bose QC35 only allows you to turn off the ANC by using the Bose Connect app.
Finally, series 1 includes the Bose airline adaptor, whereas series 2 does not. However, you can purchase the exact same airline adaptor separately if you’d still like to have and use that with the series 2 QC35.
Currently there is about a $30 price difference between these two headphones. But you can check the links below for the current lowest prices for each of these headphones:
DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
These are well made headphones using a mixed construction of mostly synthetic materials and plastics. You can even bend and stretch the headband without and pops, creaks, cracks, etc. They only weigh 232 grams which makes them one of the lightest ANC headphones available.
They’re surprisingly durable considering how light these are. Meaning, you don’t have to treat these delicately as they’re designed to hold up to constant use.
On the right ear cup there is a multifunction button for play/pause/skip, and two separate volume buttons for turning the volume up or down.
These headphones also use USB 2.0 (though type C would have been even nicer).
The leather on the ear cups are made of a memory foam and covered in a protein leather. synthetic protein leather ear cups and a plush Alcantara microfiber headband They’re quiet soft and supple feeling. There’s a generous amount of room inside the ear cups which makes these very comfortable feeling around your ears. And the padding underneath the headband is likewise feels very nice.
These are one of the few headphones I can wear all day without getting any hotspots on the top of my head underneath the headband or discomfort around the ears. Their lightweight design definitely contributes to why these are such comfortable headphones to wear.
The integrated headband pad is velour covered and the padding is comprised of a soft foam. The inside of the ear cups are designed at a bit of an angle to help with sound quality and comfort. You can also remove and replace the ear pads.
Overall, these are one of my favorite headphones to wear for comfort (not just among the noise cancelling headphones but compared to everyone headphone I’ve ever worn).
An important thing to realize about the sound quality is that it is affected by which mode you’re in or how you’re using these. So I’ll be breaking down how these sound when you’re using these passively as wired headphones, using them as wired headphones with the ANC turned on, and then using them wirelessly (in Bluetooth mode) with the ANC turned on.
The sound quality when listening in passive/wired mode is decent and the overall tonal balance is good. The low end or bass is slightly over emphasized and loose, but still respectable. The midrange has a bit of a boxy coloration to it. The treble or upper frequencies sound generally good for the most part but can be a bit splashy at times. So while listening to these as wired headphones with the ANC turned off is ok, they don’t really project anything outstanding here either. The overall sound quality in this mode of listening would be on-par with a good sealed-design, $200 over-ear headphone.
However, when comparing the QC35 directly against other noise canceling headphones in passive mode, the QC35 equals or bests anything I’ve heard so far..
When listening to these in wired mode (using the included 3.5mm headphone cable) with the ANC turned on, you’ll find the bass is very clean, tight and well extended. It’s elevated about 5dB with a long gentle upward slope. You won’t hear the bass intruding on the mids and the transition to the mid-range is excellent. The low-end here is lively, satisfying, punchy and provides for a very engaging listening experience.
The mids are smooth sounding and quite pleasing to listen to. There is almost no noticeable coloration but the upper-midrange frequencies are a little laid back sounding which can cause vocals to sound just a bit veiled and lacking presence. Overall though, the mids are still very coherent, clear, articulate and you get a spacious listening experience as well. Instruments are also clear, full of detail, vocals shine and really every genre of music sounds great on these. The mids are definitely one of the best aspects of the overall sound quality of these headphones.
The higher treble frequencies is where things can be a bit problematic depending on the type of music you listen to. With some music, the sound is a little overly bright and sibilant sounds can come across more artificial sounding. So as a result, energetic and poorly recorded music can start to cause listening fatigue after an hour or so. But if you’re listening to good music recordings then these issues are greatly reduced and will probably not be an issue for most people. Otherwise there’s still nice resolution and clarity produced by the treble.
Something else to keep in mind is that these headphones are designed to be used in loud or noisier type environments. So in these types of situations, the QC35 still sounds better than similarly priced passive sealed (closed) headphones. And having such power noise cancelling ability such as what the QC35 ii provides, allows you to not need to turn your music up as loud in order to hear it so the issues with the treble and listening fatigue may never really be an issue.
Finally, when using these as Bluetooth headphones with the ANC turned on, the QC35 has largely the same sonic character as when used in active wired mode (having the ANC on and using the included 3.5mm cable). There is one significant difference however, and that is the addition of what Bose calls, “Volume Optimized EQ.” How this works is when you raise and lower the volume at the headset, the headphone changes it’s EQ along the lines of the contour curves. So when you raise your phone to full volume and lower the volume on the headset, you can clearly hear the bass has been emphasized at low volume. But when you leave the QC35 volume high and lower the volume on the phone, you don’t hear that same bass emphasis.
And overall, this type of tuning works quite well, as it gives the music a nice little thump even when you’re just quietly listening to music. So when you’re using this in Bluetooth mode, try raising your phone volume to one step below the top and then use the headset controls to adjust listening levels from there and see how that sounds to your ears.
Now for those who might we wondering about LDAC, aptX, and aptXHD type support for higher quality streaming via Bluetooth, unfortunately those aren’t supported by these headphones. You need two to tango with these codecs so when one side doesn’t support a codec, they default down to the standard SBC which is the same as the original. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, the average person will more than likely find these still sound excellent. But if you consider yourself an audiophile, or have an ear for those differences then that’s something to keep in mind.
I think when deciding whether to get these or not there are a few things to consider depending on which situation you’re in.
First, if you already have the original Bose QC35 and are trying to decide on whether to upgrade to the series ii or not. The biggest advantage is the addition of Google Assistant. If this is worth having for you, then it’s definitely worth upgrading. But, if Google Assistant is more of a take-it or leave-it kind of thing, then I’d stick with the the original QC35 as you’ll actually have slightly better noise cancellation over the series ii.
But if you don’t already have the original QC35 and are looking for the best noise cancelling headphones then these are the ones to get. Although there are a few other headphones (such as the Sony H900N and Sennheiser HD1) that do an impressive job of noise cancellation as well, they’re still not at the same level as Bose.
And when you factor in how the sound quality is as good or better than most any other noise cancelling headphone in the market, how absolutely light-wearing and comfortable these headphones are, it truly makes these one of the best headphones of all time. For anyone who’s a traveler or for anyone wanting the best noise cancelling headphone, these are well worth the investment.