Bose headphones with active noise cancellation have long been considered the ultra essential for frequent travelers or sensitive minds. But with the release of the latest Sony WH-1000XM3, the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II had to give up their title as the best headphones with Active Noise Cancelling (ANC). Now a completely redesigned product is here to take back the throne. Here's our full review of the Bose Noice Cancelling Headphone 700.
- ✓Very good ANC
- ✓Very comfortable to wear
- ✓Noise minimization even during telephone calls
- ✓Connection with two devices possible
- ✕Bose AR is (still?) a gimmick
- ✕No cable with in-line microphone and remote control
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 release date and price
Before we go straight into the review on the Bose Headphones 700, we must first explain that these are not the direct successor to the QC35 II. Instead, Bose places the 700s above them in the range, which is also evident from the price. A full $399.00 price tag for Bose's new headphones, then. As is typical for Bose, the choice of colors remains black and silver.
Bose goes for a lifestyle design
To be honest, the Bose QuietComforts were good headphones, but they weren't a feast for the eyes. With the new Headphones 700, this changes completely. Cleverly, Bose reduced the number of physical keys by integrating a touch panel into the right earcup. The three remaining buttons control noise canceling, powering on the headphones or switching them to pairing mode, and activating your digital assistant. The latter is simply a button for the language assistant on your smartphone. The Bose app lets you choose whether to use Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Siri if you're using an Apple device.
What's special is the headband adjustment. The headphones hang on a completely rigid headband instead of using a sliding headband. So you move the earpieces to fit the Bose 700 headphones to your head. This looks very chic, but also has a disadvantage, because you can only flatten the headphones by turning them inwards, there is no additional folding mechanism.
There are two ways to connect them to your smartphone. Primarily, the NC 700 are to be connected to the playback device via Bluetooth. This is easy and thanks to Bluetooth 5.0, Bose's latest ANC headphones can be connected to two devices in parallel. This is especially useful when using the headphones at work, as you can connect both your laptop and smartphone wirelessly at the same time.
Alternatively, Bose also includes a 2.5 mm to 3.5 mm jack cable. It's a shame, however, that this cable does not include an in-line remote control with a microphone, so that you can still make phone calls and change the volume even if the battery is empty. With headphones that cost almost $400, it should be possible to include this. Anyone who wants to make ends meet has to invest another $30 to buy the right accessories from Bose.
Fits like a glove
Due to the big design changes, I was afraid that the comfort of the 700 would have suffered compared to the QC35, but I was wrong and can give the all-clear. The Headphones 700 offer a very pleasant pressure, the earcups enclose the ears very well and the cushions are also more pleasant. The weight of the headphones is also nice. At 250 grams, they are not unpleasantly noticeable even when worn for long periods of time.
Unfortunately, the design change has a serious disadvantage from my point of view: the ear cushions cannot be replaced, as one was used to with the QC series from Bose. It's very unfortunate because, at this price, it should be possible to easily exchange these parts that wear more quickly and replace them with new ones.
Two apps, two operating systems and a colorful bouquet of question marks
With the new 700 headphones, Bose is also introducing a new app. The Bose Connect makes way for the new Bose Music app with these Bluetooth headphones. This new app is kept simple, but requires you to have an account with Bose. I'm afraid there's no telling why that is. T he app is mainly used to regulate the noise cancelation's10 steps. You can also select three levels from the headphones themselves, which can then be accessed by pressing the ANC button. During my test, however, I did not use the app at all after it was set up, as it hardly offers any added value.
What is Bose AR? A feature of the future, or just gimmick?
Bose AR is a software innovation that, from Bose's point of view, should create added value in the future. All you need to use this function is the Bose Music App. If a compatible device is connected, currently the Bose Frames and the Headphones 700, a new logo appears next to the Bluetooth logo in the music app. Unfortunately, I found that the Android version of the app hadn't yet been adapted for the new headphones and Bose AR functionality. So if you want to test the new AR functions of the Bose 700 headphones, you'll have to be patient. It looks better if you have an Apple iPhone, because the iOS app is already a few steps ahead.
The benefits of Bose AR are not yet clear to me, which is certainly due to the very small number of apps. So far, there are six apps. Theoretically, thanks to Bose AR, you should be able to leave your smartphone in your pocket. But first there must be the right apps and currently, I doubt that Bose can get enough developers enthusiastic about this.
Enjoy your music in a room of silence
Let's now finally get to the part that is most important in headphones: the sound and, in this case, the active noise canceling. First of all, I can say that Bose doesn't disappoint its fans with the Headphones 700.
Bose uses a total of eight microphones on the outer sides of the ear cups to pick up ambient noise and generate counter-rotating waves. This works best when there is constant background noise, such as commuting noise (a train, plane, or car) or household appliances such as vacuum cleaners and refrigerators. Noises that quickly change their wave pattern can be difficult to eliminate with active noise cancellation. Here, however, the physical shielding intervenes. The closed earcups dampen well even without electronic aid.
Silence at last!
If you activate electronic noise cancellation and select the highest level, you can see how effective Bose's noise-canceling technology is. One feels as if one is in a room of silence, in which only very fine sounds can be perceived in the background. A slight noise can also be heard, but the competition, such as the Sony WH-1000MX3, is on the same level here.
If your colleague wants to talk to you or if you are approached by a conductor or stewardess on your journey, you can put the Bose NCH 700 into talk-through mode by pressing the ANC button for a longer time. Music is faded out, the external microphones are activated so that you can perceive your surroundings electronically and interact with them.
It gets exciting when you want to make phone calls with the Bose Headphones 700 as well, because here too the outside microphones, two of the eight, are used for noise suppression. In practice, this works very well, so that the conversation partner is spared annoying background noise even in very noisy environments, or hears them only very muffled. Unfortunately - and this is due to the design - the conversation partner hears you as if you were holding the phone further away, as the microphones are of course not near your mouth.
Audio enjoyment a la Bose
The Bose headphones can block the outside noise thanks to the combination of a closed system and very effective noise suppression, but can they entertain me as well? Are the strengths more in music, gaming or videos? Of course, one's own preferences play a very strong role here. For my taste in music, rather mainstream, R&B and pop, the Bose headphones sounded a bit too strongly centered. Treble and bass are less present, but these are of course only the basic settings. If you want, you can refine the sound with an equalizer and adapt it to your own requirements.
For videos, it is important that picture and sound are in sync. Nothing is more annoying when the picture is already further ahead than the sound, especially in videos where you can see the speaker up close. But don't panic, the Bose headphones are perfectly suitable for video and there's hardly any noticeable lag between picture and sound. The same applies to games. Here, too, there is hardly any noticeable delay.
A rechargeable battery for long-haul flights
With wireless headphones that also have active noise canceling, battery life plays an important role. Bose promises up to 20 hours of battery life, and the headphones actually came close to 20 hours for me. Your own smartphone won't last that long. If the battery indicator is set to zero percent, you can still use a cable and the headphones without ANC or the headset functionality.
It's a good thing that Bose has thought about switching the charger cable connector on the Headphones 700 to USB-C. The headphones are equipped with a USB cable that can be used for charging. A charger cable without a power supply is included with Bose in the carry case. A full 2.5 hours need to pass for a battery charge up to 100 percent.
The market for headphones with active noise canceling is large and more and more manufacturers are moving into this segment. Bose came under pressure with the Quiet-Comfort series, not only from well-known manufacturers such as Sennheiser, Sony and Co., but also from relatively unknown manufacturers, mostly from Asia. But with the new Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, Bose shows how to use its strengths and experience in noise reduction to create another high-quality product. It remains to be seen whether the Bose AR technology, which is currently hardly usable, will prevail. First of all, Bose has to work with interested developers to create one or more killer applications. At the moment it is more of a concept.
Is it worth investing in headphones worth almost $400, such as the Bose Headphones 700? If your bank account allows for it, the Bose NCH 700 definitely deserves a recommendation. You'll be rewarded with a pair of headphones that have one of the best active noise cancellation systems on the market. The fact that you can also make great phone calls is a plus for your conversation partner. Bose has presented, now the competition must follow.