Travel Tech: Bose QC35 Headphones Review

Travel Tech: Bose QC35 Headphones Review

I have a confession to make, I caved and bought the Bose QC35 Headphones. I resisted buying a new set of headphones because I was so happy with the QC15 and QC20 models I already owned. With the latest Quiet Comfort (QC) generation I just couldn’t resist. After a few months with headphones I am extremely pleased with them! If you already own a pair of QC headphones it may not be worth the upgrade, but I personally think it is.

Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones (A Brief History)

Bose first released consumer noise canceling headphones in 1999. The technology was originally created for Aviation headsets, but Bose eventually saw a market for selling noise canceling headphones to travelers. Over the years Bose released several improved versions, but the form factor has remained mostly the same. If you are interested a complete listing of discontinued Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones can be found here.

Bose QC35 Headphones Review

First off, if you have never used a set of Quiet Comfort headphones in the past they are truly amazing. Sure, many audiophiles will argue the sound quality is not as good as other premium brands, but the average consumer won’t have any complaints. By far the worst part of the Bose QC35 headphones are the price, especially for a custom pair. So, if you are interested in getting a less expensive set of Quiet Comfort Headphones it’s worth considering a pair of QC15 or QC25 headphones for less.

That being said, the following are all of the reasons why I think the QC35 Headphones are well worth the $350 price tag.

Noise Cancelation

Bose noise canceling headphones are incredible. The headsets alone offer the same noise reduction found in shooting ear covers. When first putting them on the world suddenly gets extremely quiet. Next, you turn on the headset, this odd suction like noise removes a little more ambient sound. Then, as you turn on the music (at a reasonable volume) you quickly are immersed in the sound without any outside distractions. If you have never used a set of noise canceling headphones before it is an amazing experience.

I’ve used other noise canceling headphones (Beats by Dre) in the past and noticed the music would have to be considerably louder than the QCs to block all outside noise. On top of that, music escapes other noise canceling headphones which can annoy people around you. With the Bose QC35 headphones you can listen at full volume (too loud for me) and people around you will hear almost nothing. This is perfect when you are rocking out to your guilty pleasure on a flight or in an office.

Currently there are a ton of noise canceling headphones on the market, but it is hard to imagine any others doing a better job then the Bose QC35 headphones.


The QC35 model is the first of the range with a built in chargeable battery. I was worried about the battery because I am so used to swapping a new AAA battery in when the other one goes flat. I was afraid I would find myself with a constantly dead battery because I am always forgetting to recharge my electronics. Luckily, battery life is as advertised and charging takes no time at all.

Bose advertises up to 20 hours of battery life and I have been getting around that when using the QC35s. Not much of a surprise. What is surprising is how quickly the headphones charge. I ran the battery to 0% and plugged them in and in less than 20 minutes I was at 100% charge. Even a few minutes on the charger will get 10-20% extra battery which is enough for a few hours of listening.

I am still concerned about the useful life of the battery. One of the issues with the QC20 model is the battery. Once the battery pack fails the headphones are worthless. We don’t know how long the QC35 battery will last, but we do know there is a hefty fee for replacing it when it fails. If you do end up upgrading from another QC model it may be smart to keep the old pair just in case!


The Bose QC35 Headhpones are the first Bluetooth headphones I have purchased and I love the technology. Pairing was extremely easy out of the box and from then on once I turn on the headphones they connect almost instantly to my device. The connection is pretty strong as well. I left my phone at my seat on a plane and walked the entire length of the plane and never lost connection. I’m sure my fellow passengers thought I looked suspicious, but all in the name of this review.

The other great feature of Bluetooth connectivity is the lack of wires (duh). I can’t tell you how many times my headphones were ripped from my ears while trying to board a plane. I also found when removing luggage from overhead bins that I would often catch the wires on my suitcase. No more with the QC35s. I absolutely love not having wires to deal with anymore.

Toggle Buttons / Microphone

Previous generations of Quiet Comfort Headphones featured an in-line toggle and microphone on the wired connection. The volume and toggle buttons have been moved to the rear of the right headphone. It’s very easy to adjust the volume, pause music, or answer a phone call while using the QC35 headphones.

In addition, the headset features a built in microphone. When answering a call you simply talk and the microphone picks up your voice. I have noticed when talking to people there is a ton of background noise. The listener often has a harder time hearing me than with other headphones. Also, I always find it a bit odd to talk on the phone using noise canceling headphones because of the way it sounds.

Passive Listening Mode

One of the more subtle features of the Bose QC35 headphones is the passive listening mode. In previous generations if the batteries were dead the entire headset was worthless. With the QC35s simply use the included aux cord to connect the headphones directly to a media device. Sure, the noise canceling feature won’t be active, but at least you can listen to music when the batteries die. This cord can also be used to connect to in-flight entertainment while noise cancellation is active.

Final Thoughts

Bose QC35 headphones are exactly what you would expect from Bose noise canceling headphones. The bluetooth connection is easy to set up and incredibly strong. Battery life is plentiful and charges extremely quickly. Yes, the $350 price tag is a little steep, but I personally find the headphones worthwhile. I love not having wires anymore which often catch on things when navigating an airport or airplane. Personally, I am a bit worried by how the headphones will hold up over time. After only a few weeks use I noticed some wear and tear on the ear pads. I also worry about how long I have until the battery pack breaks and headphones become worthless. For now though, I am completely satisfied with the Bose QC35 headphones. I definitely recommend them to anyone, but especially frequent travelers.

Featured image courtesy of Bose QC35 headphone customizer.