Bose QC35 headphones review: Peace and quiet without wires

Bose’s QC25 noise-cancelling headphones were my best tech purchase of last year, bringing blessed relief to noisy coffee shops, plane journeys and offices. With the QC35 model, released in the UAE this month, Bose has gone one better, offering the same incredible audio experience, but wirelessly.

Simply put, the headphones sound fantastic, offering exceptional sound quality while effectively blocking background rumble, as well as my colleagues’ endless soliloquies about last weekend’s activities.

Bose has largely kept the QC25’s design intact, with two foam-rimmed oval cups fitting nicely over the ears, with a headband that will keep you listening in comfort for several hours.

What is new are three buttons to the rear of the right earpiece, offering a surprisingly intuitive set of controls. Two volume buttons flank a multipurpose button that is tapped once to pause or play, connect or disconnect a call (or, very usefully, summon Siri on the iPhone), twice to go forward a track and three times to go back.

Pairing the QC35 is simplicity in itself through Bluetooth or NFC (near-field communication), and it is easy to switch between different devices. At 20 hours, the battery (chargeable through micro USB) will last long enough for a flight to New Zealand.

But enough about the design and connectivity. Do they sound any good? Yes, they sound good. They sound very, very good indeed.

The QC35’s noise-cancelling capabilities are as good as their predecessor’s. They are particularly effective at negating low frequencies and great at screening out background chatter in a cafe and at the office.

The sound these headphones make is as good as you are going to get at this price range. Uptown Funk is tight and crisp with punchy bass, with the lush piano and sax and pure trumpet of Blue in Green by Miles Davis playing off each other perfectly.

Like its predecessors, the QC35 does not come cheap, retailing for Dh1,449. Such an investment, however, will buy you a beautifully designed, exceptional sounding pair of headphones that put most others in the shade. If you’re able to stump up the cash, it’s a purchase you won’t regret.

q&a: headphones that travel well

John Everington reveals more about Bose’s QC35 headphones:

So are the QC35s the world’s best performing headphones?

In a word, no. If you’re looking for the perfect audio experience, there are plenty of specialist manufacturers around to offer better sound performance. But expect to pay some crazy money for the privilege.

How much money are we talking about?

Well, you could spend $50,000 on Sennheiser’s Orpheus headphone system for example …

No thanks. What about in this price range?

Sennheiser’s Momentum Wireless headphones, launched a few months ago, are probably the closest alternative. Sound quality and design are exceptional, although you’ll pay a little more at Dh1,999.

The QC35s look a bit bulky. Are they good for travelling?

Indeed they are. They fold up into a durable travel case, with a useful airline jack adapter.

What if I want to extend their battery life a bit?

You do have the option of connecting to your device of choice via a physical headphone wire, which will extend battery life to about 40 hours.

So the QC35s are good in coffee shops and on aeroplanes. How about while I’m pumping iron at the gym?

Some people in my gym have been wearing big noise-cancelling headphones while they’re on the treadmill but you’re probably better off with in-ear – something like the Bose SoundSport or Jaybird X2.

And do they come in pink?

Sadly not, just silver or black.

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