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In this post, I’m comparing noise cancelling wireless headphones from Beats and Bose in order to pick a successor to my aging Bose QuietComfort 15 earphones. This review covers the Beats Studio3 Wireless, Bose QuietComfort 25, Bose SoundLink II, and Bose QuietComfort 35.
For a complete comparison of the best noise cancelling wireless headphones, check out my roundup.
|Bose QC 15||Bose QC 25||Beats Studio3||Bose SoundLink II||Bose QC35|
I never cared much for Beats by Dre, but since the Beats brand was purchased by Apple, and I’m somewhat of an Apple fan, I decided to give the Studio3 Wireless earphones a shot. I read mixed reviews about audio quality and durability before I bought them, but they didn’t disappoint in either category.
The packaging was slick (as one would expect from Apple) and the headphones felt solid and of good quality. They also looked good, and I quickly fell in love with them. Pairing them with my iPhone was a breeze, and I couldn’t wait to use them on my next business trip.
After I bought the Beats Studio3, I had to fly to Las Vegas for a trade show. The four-hour flight from Atlanta would prove to be an excellent test for my new gadget. The active noise-cancelling did a sufficient job of blocking ambient noise, although it fell short of the Bose QC 15. More concerning was the fact that the Studio3 started producing pressure points around my ears and on the top of my skull. I figured I might have positioned the headphones awkwardly and tried repositioning them a few times. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a position that felt genuinely comfortable.
Once I touched down in Las Vegas, I had to take a couple of phone calls. That’s where the Studio3 really shined. They successfully suppressed all background noise while the built-in microphone allowed me to make calls without being tethered to my iPhone.
Upon my return from Las Vegas, I thought about returning the Beats. But due to a lack of other options, I decided to wait a bit longer. A week later I had to go to Minneapolis and decided to give them another shot. The flight was short, but I had to take the headphones off just an hour into the trip because they started to feel uncomfortable.
Taking a closer look at the ear pads, I noticed that their opening was slightly smaller than the one on the Bose headphones. As a result, my ears didn’t entirely fit into the ear cup and thus got pressed against the side of my skull. Additionally, the headband has less padding than the one on the Bose model.
As much as I wanted to love the Beats Studio3 headphones with their slick design, solid sound quality and good noise-canceling capabilities, I ultimately decided to go with the Bose because they are comfortable to wear for hours. In my opinion, even the Bose SoundLink (which don’t offer noise-canceling capabilities) outshine the Beats. So as far as I’m concerned, the Beats vs. Bose QC35 round goes to Bose!
Before I bought the Beats Studio3, I had a pair of Bose QuietComfort 15 acoustic noise cancelling headphones. They’re incredibly comfortable to wear for extended periods of time due to their large ear cups and padded headband. I often wore them for 10 hours straight on transatlantic flights.
Only rarely could I feel pressure points around my ear (usually, only when I slept with my head resting against the window of the airplane). The Bose QC 15s offer outstanding noise-canceling capabilities and excellent sound. I never measured precisely how long the AAA battery lasted, but I never felt like I was changing batteries excessively. I would typically replace it every couple of weeks or months, depending on how much I used the device.
The only thing I didn’t like about the Bose QC 15 was the cable, which was consistently in the way. The provided cable is relatively long and often got tangled up, if not tucked under my shirt—especially while sitting in tight plane seats. I usually routed the wire under my shirt, but doing so drastically limited my range of motion while I had the iPhone in my hand.
The inconvenience of the cable was what ultimately led me to look for a wireless alternative. Unfortunately, there weren’t many options when it came to wireless headphones that also featured noise-canceling capabilities. In fact, the only well-known option I could find, until Bose launched the QuietComfort 35s, were the Beats.
The QuietComfort 25 is the successor to the now-obsolete QuietComfort 15. I never owned a pair of them, but I can only assume both the sound and noise-canceling works as good or better as in the previous model. Other reviews have suggested that some users have experienced durability problems with this set of headphones.
On the bright side, the QuietComfort 25 offers outstanding battery life—primarily because it’s not wireless and thus has no Bluetooth chip that requires power.
The wait finally ended when Bose launched the QuietComfort 35: This is the company’s first pair of headphones that features both wireless connectivity and active noise blocking technology. I ordered them on launch day and was super excited to use them on a flight from Atlanta to Seattle.
The sound quality is as good as you would expect from Bose, which is known for producing high-end audio output. I’m not an audiophile, but I love listening to a variety of music (classical, salsa, pop, etc.) and it all sounds great.
Like the sound output itself, the noise-canceling capabilities of the QuietComfort 35 headphones is outstanding—and far beyond what the Beats had to offer. The battery life is incredible (and better than in earlier models), lasting for up to 20 hours of wireless listening and up to 40 hours of wired listening. I used them for five hours on my way to Seattle and had about 80% battery remaining when I arrived.
The first thing I noticed was the improved comfort compared to the Bose SoundLink II headphones. The latter was already pretty comfortable compared to the Beats, but I could still feel pressure points after a couple of hours. Not so with the new QuietComfort 35; I didn’t feel any pressure points during the five-hour flight.
The headphones come with a dual microphone, so you can use them to make calls, even in noisy environments like an airport. According to Bose, you can link the QuietComfort 35s to multiple devices (i.e., an iPhone and an iPad) and keep them all connected at the same time.
So far, I have linked the QuietComfort 35s to my iPhone and iPad only and haven’t experienced any issues. Before, I had the Bose SoundLink II linked to three devices (an iPhone, iPad and a MacBook) and I had occasional connectivity issues.
I don’t know for sure, but I think the problem was that the SoundLink II could only support two parallel connections. When a third (linked) device was in range, it tried to connect, thus dropping one of the other devices. It never dropped an active connection, but it would announce that a connection was lost, which was pretty annoying during conference calls. If you experience that issue, turn off Bluetooth on the third device or make sure to link the headphones to only two devices at the same time.
The Bluetooth range is also quite good. During my flight from Atlanta to Seattle, I was listening to music when I went to the restroom at the front of the plane. I left my iPhone at my seat in the back of First Class. Despite the ~30-foot distance, the connection didn’t drop a single time and I was able to continue listening.
Before Bose released the QuietComfort 35 (Series I), the only wireless headphone model the company offered was the SoundLink II, which was not noise-canceling. But I was intrigued by the prospect of going completely wireless, especially considering the alternatives:
As a result, when I returned the Beats Studio3, I decided to go with the Bose SoundLink II around-ear wireless headphones. I’m acutely aware that the Bose SoundLink does not have noise-canceling capabilities, but at least they’re wireless.
When I travel and wear headphones, I listen to music 90% of the time and noise-cancellation is less of an issue in that case—especially considering that the Bose SoundLink headphones are around-ear headphones and already suppress some background noise by just covering the ears. Add music, and there won’t be much background noise left that could bother me.
So far, the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones are the best headphones Bose has made. They offer a quality build and they sound good—very good. They’re expensive (MSRP is $349), but worth every penny if you travel as much as I do. I wouldn’t want to live without them!
As much as I wanted to love the Beats headphones, with their slick design and noise-canceling capabilities, I ultimately decided to go with the Bose because they are comfortable to wear for hours.
In my opinion, even the Bose SoundLink, which doesn’t offer noise-canceling capabilities, outshines the Beats. With the introduction of the QuietComfort 35, Bose made it clear who the king of wireless noise-canceling headphones is. So as far as I’m concerned, the Beats vs. Bose QC35 round goes to Bose!
In the battle of Beats vs. Bose, which over-ear headphones do you think are the winner? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
I was born and raised in Austria. I speak German, English, and Spanish. Since moving to the U.S., I have lived and worked in the greater Atlanta area. In my twenties, I was a professional 100m sprinter. These days I do mostly CrossFit. I'm a technologist and Apple fan. I love science and don't believe anything unless there is proof. I follow a Ketogenic Paleo diet and intermittently fast every day. I'm married and have two trilingual kids. My goal with this blog is to share what I learn so that you can spend time on something else. Check out my latest Diet, Fitness, and Technology articles.