Review: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Filed Under: Travel Technology
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In late May I wrote about how Bose is introducing all new headphones this summer. We just saw the introduction of the new Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which I’ve been excited to try out.

I just bought a pair, and have been using them for several days now. In this post I wanted to share my thoughts on them. For what it’s worth, previously I used the QuietComfort 35 Headphones, which I thought were great. So in the meantime I’ve given my QC35s to Ford, and I’m using the new 700s.

So, what do I make of these headphones?

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Review

In this post I want to look at various aspects of the headphones — the design, the noise cancelation, the call quality, and some other features.

Before I get too deep into this post, note that I’m not really a tech guy. I like using gadgets that make my life easier, though I also appreciate simplicity. So consider this a review from someone who is 29-going-on-69 when it comes to technology (no offense to our high tech 69 year old readers!).

$399 Price Tag

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 cost $399. That’s obviously pricey for headphones, but in line with what you’ll find for many high end headphones.

As a point of comparison, the previous generation QuietComfort 35 Headphones retail for $349.

Sleek Design & Aesthetics

Perhaps this is an odd thing to even talk about, but the new Bose headphones have really nice packaging. They come in a sturdy box that feels pretty fancy when you open it.

The headphones come with a case, USB charging cable, and audio cable.

The headphones themselves are sleek-looking, in my opinion. I bought a black pair of headphones, but they also come in silver, if you prefer that.

While I love the way the headphones look, I don’t love the process for “extending” the length of the thing that goes around your head. For those of us with big heads, you have to pull on the ear cup and it slides further down the piece that connects the two ear cups.

Maybe it’s just because my headphones are still new, but it doesn’t slide very easily, and I always feel like I’m about to break it (though I’m sure I’m not). So maybe it just takes some getting used to.

Up To 20 Hours Of Battery Life

The headphones have up to 20 hours of battery life. This matches the battery life on previous generation headphones. While I can’t guarantee that’s actually how much life you’ll get out of them, this is an area in which I’ve been impressed.

I also like that rather than indicating the percentage of battery remaining, it instead tells you how many hours of battery life you have remaining.

The headphones also have an auto-off function, so that they automatically turn off after a certain amount of time where they don’t detect movement. This can be anywhere from five minutes to three hours.

This is a handy feature, because I know with my old headphones I’d sometimes accidentally forget to turn them off, and then would find them dead when I needed them.

Get The Bose Music App

Most of the headphone features can most practically be controlled from the Bose Music app. You just download the free app and pair your headphones, and then you can control all functions with your phone, ranging from how much noise cancellation you want, to what music you want to listen to.

Incredible Sound Quality

Simply put, the qualify of sound on these headphones is incredible. That being said, I also thought sound quality was excellent on the old headphones, so I’m not sure the sound quality as such is that much better.

Variable Noise Cancellation

The Bose 700 Headphones offer variable noise cancellation, which is a new concept for Bose. You’d think that you’d always just want the maximum amount of noise blocked, but sometimes that isn’t the case.

The difference between setting it to one and ten is huge.

On one hand this may seem like something that’s cool to have but doesn’t have many practical uses, but I actually do appreciate this.

For example, when taking phone calls on the headphones, I far prefer to have no noise cancellation. Maybe it’s just me, but I always find it really weird to talk while the noise cancelling feature is on.

So, it the noise cancellation with setting 10 better than it is on previous generation Bose headphones? Bose advertises that it’s “slightly better.” I can’t say I notice a difference in that regard, but the old headphones were already great in that regard.

Excellent Call Quality

This is an area in which these headphones are awesome. The phone call quality on these is truly exceptional. I tried both ends of this — both making a call with them on, and calling someone who was wearing them, to see how it sounded when receiving a call.

For example, I asked my mom to put these on while she was sitting down near a loud TV, and on the other end I couldn’t even hear the TV.

So the improvement in call quality is huge. I’d now use these headphones to make phone calls, while I never used my old headphones for that.

A Bunch Of Fancy Control Features

The headphones have three buttons, but those don’t even control all of the functions:

  • The left earcup has a button that controls the level of noise cancellation you want, and you can choose between zero, five, and ten; best I can tell, if you want anything in between you’ll have to go through the app
  • The right earcup has two buttons; the bottom button is for Google Assistant, while the top button is to pair with a bluetooth device or turn the headphones on

I don’t love how easy the three buttons are to hit, though. While trying to use some of the features I’ll outline below, I found myself sometimes accidentally hitting the bluetooth/off button.

There are some other features that sound awesome in theory, but are sort of clunky, in my opinion. You can also change some settings simply by “swiping” on your right ear cup (think of it as Tinder for your music):

  • If you want to play or pause audio, you can just double tap anywhere on the right ear cup
  • If you want to increase or decrease the volume of your audio, just swipe up or down on your right ear cup
  • If you want to skip a song or go back, you can swipe forwards or backwards

This sounds cool and I guess it’s useful, though the logistics aren’t as smooth as I would have hoped, necessarily. In other words, I’m finding myself having to swipe a bit more than I’d like to achieve the results I want. Of course you can also just use the controls in the app instead.

Are The Bose 700 Headphones Worth It?

I have to be honest — when I first got the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 I was kind of annoyed. There was a lot to learn, and I felt like they were too complicated to use. There were too many buttons and other features.

But as I’ve started to use the headphones more, I really like them. I guess to summarize my take on them:

  • The noise cancellation is excellent, though personally I can’t say I notice a huge difference compared to previous generations of these headphones
  • The call quality is spectacular, both in terms of audio quality and mic quality; you can make a call in a loud place, and it will sound crystal clear on the other end
  • Using the Bose Music app there are some other potentially cool features, like the ability to control how much noise cancellation you want

I really do like my Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 headphones, and they grew on me quickly. If you’re in the market for new headphones and aren’t too put off by the price tag, I think they’re an excellent choice.

However, I also really liked the previous generation QuietComfort 35 Headphones. Personally I’m not sure it’s worth upgrading from the 35s to the 700s, unless you’re someone who really values making calls through your headphones, in which case these are a huge upgrade.

For me these headphones will be a nice complement to the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones, which I always take with me, as I use them when working out or when I don’t want to take big headphones with me.

If you have the new Bose Headphones 700, what has your experience like? Does anyone plan on picking them up?

Comments
  1. I picked up a pair of the QC35 v. 2 headphones at a Bose outlet store a couple weeks ago. They’re priced at only $229. Personally, I think that’s an excellent value for Bose noise cancelling headphones. The Bose website also shows the QC35’s. Unfortunately, it’s their v. 1 and they have been out of stock for at least a month.

  2. The auto shut off feature sounds good. I can’t tell you how many times I have forgotten to turn them off and drained the battery…

  3. The “touch” functions seem very similar to what my Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones have. I certainly don’t see enough here that I’d pay more for the Bose if I were in the market for new cans and I certainly don’t see a reason to switch. Once again, you’ve saved me money. LOL

  4. Well, at this case, I’d certainly go with QC35s. 700 is not that different.

    Or you should go for Beoplay H9i. Trust me, it’s much better than Bose.

  5. I’m also a long time QC-35 user, not just for travelling, but for working in the office, watching the TV at home and when out walking (they keep your ears warm in winter)
    The great thing about them was always the comfort (I’m not an audiophile), but I’ve worn them for 14-15 hours straight on long haul flights without my ears getting sore.

    I also bought a set of 700’s and have been using them for a few weeks now, alongside the 35’s.

    I’m not sure they are much of a step forward for me – one of the main disadvantages is the loss of the folding facility – with the 35’s I rarely bothered with the case, they just folded up neatly at the top of my backpack or even in a jacket pocket.
    The swipe controls I’m still getting used to – they can be a bit hit and miss and of course if you have gloves on then it becomes a problem.
    Sound quality seems to be a bit better, at least according to a friend who is an audiophile, and I agree that the call quality seems to have improved a bit.
    The variable noise cancelling isn’t actually new – the QC35 has high, low and off (via the app) – but there is a greater degree of control now. Incidentally one of the places this is important is when you are out walking, wind noise over the mics can be an issue, and dialling down the degree of noise cancellation helps a lot.
    One area where I seem to have problems with the new earphones is with pairing – I have about 7 or 8 devices that are paired with my headphones – and with the QC35s I could easily and quickly switch between them (2 active at a time) via the app – with the 700’s this is a much more hit and miss procedure, sometimes requiring both headphone and app restarts.

    Overall I would say they are different, but not better – I’ll keep using them, but I think mainly at home and keep my trusty QC35s with me when I’m travelling.

  6. STICK WITH THE QC35 or 25
    Bose is best in class for its noise cancellation, which the 700 is hardly a noticable upgrade.

    Too dependent on the app.
    Which
    1. Force you to register to use a headphone??? Hello Equifax
    2. Potentially logout at 30,000 feet without internet to sign back in, making the headphones almost useless. (Still works but inferior)

    This is the first time I had to return a Bose product because it sucks.
    The app should be a supplement not a dependent.

  7. I’ve had the QC 15 and 25, and what irks me about Bose is the price of replacement parts. The audio cord will break, and is $25. The ear cushions will peel, and cost $50 to replace.

  8. I had them in my cart the other week but am worried about the lack of folding and the extra room they’ll take up vs. the QC35s in my backpack. Any thoughts on how they shape up when it comes to storage?

  9. Hi Andrew,

    I have a noice-cancelling headphone from Audio Technica, which is cheaper than Bose. I bought it when I was a student and the noice-cancelling is ok-ish, but does almost nothing regarding voices.

    Can you say anything about the capability of the 700 to remove voices? It might be an insentive for me to break the bank.

    Sincerely,

    Harrie

  10. I still fly with my Bose Q15, which I got 6.5 years ago. I’ll eventually upgrade, but probably not until my Q15 breaks down.

  11. @Harrie — “I have a noice-cancelling headphone from Audio Technica, … the noice-cancelling is ok-ish, but does almost nothing regarding voices.”

    Which model of AT noise cancelling headphones do you have? I use the QuietPoint ATH-ANC9 and it has 3 noise cancelling modes, while actively reducing environmental nose by up to 95% … I’ve been flying monthly overseas to Asia and it is indispensable in eliminating aircraft cabin noise levels down to (basically) “silence”! Another “plus” (to me) is that it uses one AAA battery so if that runs down mid-flight, I just pop in another AAA battery and it’s back working again! My relatives like the Bose Q35s, but I think my AT QuietPoint works just as great!

  12. @lucky – Great review, however you imply that the QC35s don’t have the auto off feature, they do…same as the 700s. Perhaps, you were eluding to the ‘no movement’ aspect, which they don’t have.

    Either way, if you are finding your QC35s are running flat, you don’t have them configured correctly 😉

  13. Go to the nearest Sony Store and try out the WF-1000XM3 which is their wireless NC earbuds. Ideal for frequent travelers like myself who don’t like too much to carry onboard a plane.

  14. @Gene

    I agree that Bose was never good for headphones. For home system I disagree but that is a different debate. If you want good headphone sound quality, B&W is up there with Sennheiser or Shure.
    But at 30,000 feet, nothing beats Bose in the air. (Sony is catching up but still miles apart) Their noise cancellation are still second to none. B&W quality would do you no good if ambient sounds are still there.
    To double down on Bose, if you plug your headphones in to the IFE system, they don’t come with high quality sound to begin with, so B&W would be pretty much similar to airpods. Noise cancellation is what differentiate Bose.

  15. It’s funny that barely anyone has mentioned Sony’s M3 noise-cancelling headphones (not to be confused with the new noise cancelling earbuds) when the vast majority of both tech and audio reviewers say its cancelling beat out the best that Bose has to offer. 30 hours battery life, and the earcups fold down.

  16. I’ll hold on to my $400 and stuff my ears with cotton wool if I have to. I love money more than I hate noise.

  17. Every time I buy a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones, I use the a few times then they end up getting thrown in a drawer or closet. I find them a bit too cumbersome to carry in my bag. I use whatever noise cancelling headphones airplanes give me, plus Airpods / Earbuds for electronic devices. Even without noise cancellation, they work fine for me.

  18. Great review, thanks.

    Just to clarify, auto shut off has been a feature via the Bose app for a while, I have that on my first gen QC35s

  19. @J Munene

    You know what will kick ass. Stuff you ears with $100 bills instead of cotton wool. Now that is love money more than hate noise.

  20. i cant wait to purchase one!!! Bose is industry LEADING regarding noise cancellation, can’t beat it.

  21. Does Bose still allow you to trade-in your old Bose for a new Bose for something like a $100 discount?

  22. @BillC: I have a QuietPoint ATH-ANC9 as well. I agree with you on the NC part; it is great in planes as it removes the sounds of the engines well. However, it doesn’t do anything for voices.
    I travel by a lot by public transport for work. The ATH-ANC9 removes the sound of the air-conditioning perfectly, which unfortunately makes the voices only more pronounced.

  23. @Harrie — “… it doesn’t do anything for voices. … unfortunately makes the voices only more pronounced.”

    I see … I wonder if that might be by design, in order to allow you to still hear when others (eg, flight attendants) are trying to audibly get your attention (ie, without having to directly “touch” you)?

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