Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones are the latest of the Bose QuietComfort headphone product line. It is one of the most popular Bluetooth headsets with top of the game noise cancelling. But are they any good for something other than cancelling out your daily commute noise?

Pros
  • Great noise cancelling
  • Portable

Pros list with Sonarworks Reference calibration

  • Beefed up low end
  • High mid dips and peaks fixed
Cons
  • Inconsistent sound among users
  • High frequency resonances
  • Huge sound difference between headphones turned On and Off
Use cases Best use case:
Recreational listening on the go
Tech specs Type
Closed back, Over-ear
Connector
3.5 mm stereo jack
Adapter
Airplane adapter
Weight
235 g (without cable)
Require headphone amp
No
Cable
1.2 m straight, detachable
Headphone amp

As these headphones are designed to be used on the go with either a Bluetooth connection or wired, a designated headphone amp is not a necessity. 

Build quality

Bose QuietComfort 35 II are built to be on the move. You can use it either with a cable or in bluetooth mode. They are made from durable and lightweight materials. Although most of the body is made from plastic, it does not feel cheap. The metal plating on the cups add extra protection and feel nice to the touch. The hinges of the cups move smoothly and allow to fold the headphones compactly so they fit in the small sized traveling pouch. The headband is very flexible and allow for various head sizes. Overall this is a nicely built headphone appropriately to the price.

Sound

Right out of the box the QC35II are not even close to a neutral frequency response and it alters whether the headphones are turned on or off.

First let’s look at probably the most popular way these headphones are being used – turned on. This is possible either with a cable or Bluetooth connection. There is a mild low end bump but the real issue is with the high mid and high frequencies. A dip between 500 Hz and 2 kHz and uncomfortable resonances above the 5 kHz region colors the sound in the most unflattering way. Although the big ear cups are comfortable, the position of how they are placed on the ear noticeably alters the frequency response. 

When the headphones are turned off, the frequency response changes drastically. A significant 5 dB boost at 100 Hz and a massive, more than 7 dB void at 2 kHz region really shatters the clarity at the top end. Using these headphones turned off should be the last resort in case the battery dies. 

Channel balance

Up until 1 kHz the difference between channels falls in 1 dB range but above that, depending on the unit, it may reach +/- 5 dB difference in some narrow resonances. Looking at the sample pool, it can be concluded that there is no channel balance consistency above 1 kHz. Some examples show very similar channels, but others show substantial differences.

Comfort

The Bose QC35II are great over-ear headphones designed to be worn for long periods of time and would be a great pair to use for daily commute or longer flights. The ear pads are quite big and fully cover the ear so there is no pressure on the pinna. For some people this might be an issue, as the cup might move too much around the ear. Ear pads are soft and even after longer usage, ears don’t heat up nor get sweaty. 

Value

The biggest selling point on these headphones is the noise cancelling and it delivers. You can forget about the daily low end rumble of the city and dive into your tunes undisturbed. The Bluetooth connection is very stable and connects super fast. These are one of the best noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones in the game only rivaled by the Sony 1000X series. You won’t get much audio work done with these though, but for your daily needs these cans will leave you satisfied with your purchase. 

Observations on how headphones perform after applying Sonarworks Reference calibration Total Harmonic Distortion

These headphones show some minor harmonic distortion below 30 Hz, but it doesn’t even reach 1% and is inaudible. Overall this is very impressive performance.

How accurate and consistent is the correction effect among different listeners?

Not so consistent. As mentioned before, the frequency response of these headphones differ a lot on how they are placed on the ear, so different people might hear the same pair differently. 

How much do they differ pair to pair in terms of frequency response?

Pairs differ above the 1 kHz range a lot, so the average correction curve, while compensates the major issues, will not be consistent among different users, but the individual calibration smooths out the channel differences very neatly.

Rating

5.6 / 7.2 / 8.1

Sound rating is a weighted average of Frequency Response, Adaptiveness, Harmonic Distortion and Channel Balance scores, with Frequency Response and Adaptiveness having the greatest influence.

4.5 / 9 / 10

The flatter the frequency response – the higher the score. When evaluating the frequency response score with the Average calibration profile, the pair to pair consistency of the given model is taken into account – if we have measured a considerable frequency response inconsistency among multiple pairs of the given model, the score drops, as the profile loses accuracy. Individual calibration will grant perfectly flat frequency response.

5

Adaptiveness shows how capable these headphones are at delivering the same perceived frequency response to any listener. Headphones with high score will sound nearly identical to everyone.

9

Harmonic distortion – the lower the Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) figure, the higher the score. Headphones with prominent 3rd harmonic distortion above 100 Hz will score lower.

7 / 10

Channel balance – the closer to identical the frequency response of both channels, the higher the score. Individual calibration delivers perfect channel balance.

8

Comfort – shows if headphones can be used for long listening sessions comfortably. Every model is tested by at least a few individuals.

8

Build – evaluates how well the headphones are put together, the materials used and indicates the expected longevity. Easily replaceable (and easily available) parts will boost the score. We don’t do any stress tests and very few models are used for longer than a couple of days, so this is a fairly subjective score.

8

Value – indicates the price-performance ratio of the given headphones and how they stack up against the competition. High score means that you won’t find more neutral sounding alternatives for the price.

Conclusion

These are not a pair of pro high end headphones but rather high end consumer headphones. Frequency response and accuracy might lose here to great noise cancelling and mobility. Nevertheless these are well built headphones and the calibration nicely compensates for all that lacks in the sound department.

Final Rating

7.3
With Sonarworks Reference 4
Calibration Enabled
5.9
Without Sonarworks
Calibration

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