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Bose QuietComfort 35 (series 1) review: A classic design, superseded

Jonathan Bray Richard Easton
7 Jun 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
290
inc VAT

The QuietComfort 35 deliver great sound and superb noise-cancellation without the wires but they're no longer on sale

Pros 
Brilliant noise-cancellation
Superb sound quality
Impressive battery life
Cons 
Expensive
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The Bose QuietComfort QC35 (series I) were a revelation when they were first released back in 2016 but they've since been superseded by the £350 Bose QuietComfort QC35 (series II). Initially, it was possible to purchase the series 1 at a reduced cost, but they've gradually disappeared from shops to the point at which you can only get them used on Amazon now.

The good news is that the QC35 Series II has fallen in price now from the £350 list price to around £289, and they're definitely worth picking up at that price.

What does the Series II add? Surprisingly, very little. In fact, the only new feature is a voice assistant button, which you can press to issue Siri or Google Assistant with instructions or have your emails and other notifications read out to you.

If money's tight and you're looking to spend even less than £280, then go check out our round-up of the best ANC headphones, which start from £40.

The original review continues below:

Bose QuietComfort 35 (series I) review

Bose has made itself quite the name with its range of luxurious noise cancelling headphones. Indeed, you're probably quite used to seeing its QuietComfort range adorning the heads of weary commuters on your busy morning train.

Until now, though, the QuietComfort range had only one major drawback – the wire. With its QuietComfort 35, though, Bose has finally embraced Bluetooth and cut the cord, and the result is that the headphones are all the better for it.

If you're looking for other types of headphones, be sure to check out our dedicated headphones deals page

Bose QuietComfort 35 review: Price and competition

There's plenty of competition for the Bose Quiet Comfort 35, not least from Bose's own family of headphones. The Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II, for instance, are newer and include a button for invoking Google Assistant or Siri. They're more expensive, though, at £350 and perform the same.

The smartest rivals we've come across are the Nura Nuraphones, which sell for £349 and not only offer active noise cancellation tech but can also adapt the way they sound to the way you hear. The design is a bit weird, but they sound phenomenal.

Next, if appearance and sound quality is more important to you than all-out noise-cancelling capabilities, consider the Bowers & Wilkins PX; they cost £329, look simply stunning and sound brilliant as well.

Bose QuietComfort 35 review: Design and features

From a design standpoint, the QC35 isn't drastically different from the QuietComfort 25 or SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless II. The earcups use a plastic backing that feels well-constructed and the inside is nicely padded. There’s more padding on the underside of the headband, too, which provides just the right amount of grip so they won't feel like they're about to fall off if you lean backwards.

The QC35 can be easily adjusted to fit your head, too, as the earcups slide up and down a rail and they can rotate within their hinge. They also fold up so you can stow them away inside the included hard case. The case's design is worth a mention, too, as it does an excellent job of keeping the expensive headphones safe as well as providing somewhere to keep both the charging cable and bundled wired cable you can use to fall back on if the internal battery dies or you just want to use a non-Bluetooth audio device.

However, there are mild quirks to be found. For instance, it is mildly annoying that Bose continues to use a 2.5mm headphone jack on the QuietComfort 35 rather than a standard 3.5mm connection.

To be fair, the QuietComfort 25 had the same problem, but it does mean that you'll need to buy another cable with a 2.5mm jack on it if you lose the one in the box, as cables with 3.5mm jacks at both ends simply won't fit. Still, these aren't hugely expensive, so it's not a major shortcoming.

READ NEXT: The best wireless headphones you can buy

The wired cable also doesn’t include an in-line remote or microphone, so if the battery dies you’ll have to make do without until you can find a charger. An airplane adaptor is included, though, and there’s also a dedicated spot in the case to store it, which is a nice touch.

Bose QuietComfort 35 case

The right earcup houses the media controls along its edge, and these can be used for volume adjustment, skipping tracks, playing and pausing music, and accepting and rejecting incoming phone calls. On the topic of calls, the QC35 make for a great handsfree headset thanks to sensitive microphones and the fact that the noise cancelling makes listening to calls much easier.

The rear-facing power switch can be used to activate the Bluetooth pairing mode, but there’s also NFC support if your device supports it. You can pair two devices simultaneously, too, and if you connect a tablet and a smartphone, the headphones can automatically swap between them when you get an incoming call, which is particularly handy for those moments where you can't find your phone.

Bose QuietComfort 35 controls

Bose QuietComfort 35 review: Active Noise Cancelling

The QC35 use a circumaural design, meaning the earcups completely envelope your ears rather than resting on them. This in itself creates a degree of passive noise cancelling by sealing your ears away from external noises, but it’s only when you flip the switch to turn on the active noise cancellation that you can revel in the sound of pure and utter silence.

The noise cancellation is just as good as the QC25, and surpasses all other noise cancelling headphones I’ve tested, such as the Samsung Level Over and the Lindy BNX-60, although the latter are admittedly much cheaper.

Of course, active noise cancellation won't get rid of absolutely everything, as the waveform it uses only works on ambient noises - the drone of an airplane, for example, or a whirring air conditioning unit - but it may struggle to eradicate screaming children or more piercing sorts of noises.

That said, the QC35 still does an excellent job, and it's only when you take them off that you realise just how well they work. Even walking down the street becomes an incredibly isolating experience, but it's worth noting that this also brings with it certain hazards if you’re not aware of your environments.

There’s an optional Bose Connect app for iOS and Android, which can be used for managing the headphones and installing firmware updates. The app can be used to change the Bluetooth name, change when the headphones automatically power down, and turn on or off the voice prompts. These give battery and pairing status readouts through the headphones.

As for the sound quality, there’s Bose's usual Active EQ adjustment, which also tweaks the sound based on your listening volume levels. It makes for an eminently comfortable listening experience, but if you don't like any artificial colouring to your music, then the QC35 probably isn't for you. For example, the bass is quite pronounced (although I didn't find it too imposing) and the treble is crisp and well-represented. The mids are perhaps a little lacking, especially in electronic tracks, but overall the sound signature is comfortable enough for you to happily listen away for extended periods.

Bose QuietComfort 35 lead

The internal battery is rated for 20 hours, which is very good considering the noise cancelling. If you connect the wire, this number doubles to 40 hours of noise-cancelled music listening. If the battery dies, you can still use the headphones in passive mode using the wire, but this sacrifices the noise cancelling and the Active EQ. Without this, the headphones sound much tinnier, and some of the warmth of the Active EQ’s sound tweaking disappears, especially around the bass. It’s good to have as a backup in times of need, but you’ll get the best experience when the battery is charged and the Active EQ is turned on.

Bose QuietComfort 35 review: Verdict

Overall, there's a lot to like about the QuietComfort 35. It takes Bose’s excellent active noise cancellation and cuts the cord, which is an instant improvement, and its battery performance is excellent. The Active EQ also makes for a very pleasant listening experience and the build quality is top notch. The only minor sticking point is the price, but if you like the idea of completely blocking out the world around you, then you certainly won't be disappointed with the QC35.

Bose QuietComfort 35 specifications
Headphones subtypeOver-ear headset
Headphones driverClosed
Active noise-cancellingYes
Power sourceLi-ion battery
Headphones sensitivityNot disclosed
Frequency responseNot disclosed
Headphones impedenceNot disclosed
Plug type2.5mm headset jack plug (optional)
Inline volumeYes
Weight310g
Cable length1.2m
AccessoriesTravel case, airline adaptor
WarrantyOne year RTB

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