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Beats vs. Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones Comparison

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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.

Beats vs. Bose Headphone Comparison

Bose QC 15Bose QC 25Beats Studio3Bose SoundLink IIBose QC35
Noise cancelling✘︎
Battery life35h35h12h15h20h

Beats Studio3 Wireless

Beats vs. Bose wireless noise-cancelling headphones review
Beats Studio3 wireless noise-canceling over-ear headphones
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Good noise reduction capabilities
  • Long battery life
  • Slick design
  • Great microphone
  • Very uncomfortable to wear

Buy on Amazon

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.

Comfort While Traveling

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.

Beats vs. Bose Noise Canceling Headphones

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!

Bose QuietComfort 15

Beats vs. Bose wireless noise-cancelling headphones review
Bose QuietComfort 15 earphones
  • Excellent sound
  • Outstanding noise-canceling capabilities
  • Very comfortable to wear
  • Sufficient battery life
  • Cable regularly gets in the way
  • Discontinued model

Buy on Amazon (Used)

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.

Bose QuietComfort 25

Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones
Bose QuietComfort 25 acoustic noise cancelling headphones
  • Excellent sound
  • Outstanding noise-canceling capabilities
  • Very comfortable to wear
  • Extraordinary battery life
  • Not wireless
  • Potential durability issue

Buy on Amazon

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.

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series I)

Beats vs. Bose wireless noise-cancelling headphones review
Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series I)
  • Excellent sound
  • Outstanding noise-canceling capabilities
  • Very comfortable to wear, even for extended periods
  • Great battery life
  • Price

Buy on Amazon

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.

Miscellaneous Features

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.

Bose SoundLink II

Beats vs. Bose wireless noise-cancelling headphones review
Bose SoundLink II around-ear wireless headphones
  • Excellent sound
  • Good battery life
  • Descent design (but not as slick as the Beats)
  • Great microphone
  • Very comfortable to wear
  • No noise-canceling capabilities

Buy on Amazon

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:

  • Beats Solo2 Wireless: They are neither noise-canceling nor do they offer around-ear cups. I tried them on, but they immediately felt uncomfortable on my ears.
  • Bose QuietComfort 25: These are the newer version of the Bose QC 15 that I have. As much as I like their sound, noise-canceling features and comfort, they are not wireless.

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.

Beats vs. Bose: Which are the Better Headphones?

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!

About the Author Michael Kummer

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.

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  • Shawn G says:

    This was helpful, thank you!

  • Tyler says:

    Nice review, Michael. I recently purchased the Beats Studio wireless headphones and thought I’d share my experience so far. Before I do I should provide a little context and inform readers that the only pairs of headphones that I’d owned prior to purchase were various brands of in-ear buds (mainly for working out) and the Skull Candy over the ear Hesh wireless headphones. So needless to say I didn’t have much previous experience our perspective to compare to. I only recently upgraded to the wireless age about a year ago with the Jaybird Bluebud X (gen 1) ear buds. Great for working out and unbelievable freedom without the cord but totally different soundscape vs over the ear headphones. The Skull Candy Hesh were over the ear and wireless but no noise canceling. They are supposed to be known for pounding bass but I felt the sound quality was really lacking including bass. In come the Studios. I was very impressed with the Studios. I thought the sound quality was really nice but I do also find minor discomfort on my ear and top of head when wearing for long periods of time. Noise canceling is awesome. Didn’t realize just how much sound gets through without that feature. Downside to that is that you can’t listen to music with the feature turned off which means when you’re out of power, you can’t listen to music. Play back specs are listed at 10 hours wireless and 20 hours wired. But if you’re like me, you want to be able to enjoy the wireless flexibility and still have the option to plug in the cord when battery runs low and not worry about them dying. Do I bought the Beats Solo 2 wireless as well to compare. No noise canceling like you mentioned but unlimited play time when wired. I found the Solos to be the perfect solution until I wore them for more than 30 minutes. Extremely painful since they are on ear and not over the ear. The Studios developed some sore spots but usually not until an hour or two in and not nearly as noticeable as the Solos. So I returned the Solos and decided to keep the Studios even with the dead battery issue. Have never owned Bose but tested a pair of the QC25s at Target earlier today which is how I stumbled across your review. I could tell the noise canceling feature on the Bose is superior to Beats and the QC25s did feel like they’d probably be more comfortable over long periods compared the Studios. Problem for me is that they aren’t wireless. Haven’t tried the wireless Soundlink but I’m not a fan of the color options. I know how that sounds but I’m just not a fan of the dark blue trim (I have the matte black studios). That and they don’t have noise canceling. For me the Studios are the best option for my preferences. I’d like to test both the Soundlink and QC25s for a few weeks and see if that might give me a better comparison.

  • Robbee says:

    Awesome review. But one super important question…how big are your ears
    I definitely want to get the beats wireless and my ears aren’t big (woman). So I am hoping it was your big darn ears and not the headphones (joking).
    Seriously though, on the ear size scale for men, are you a L, M, or S? ;-)

    • Hi Robbee,

      length of my ear (top to bottom) is around 2 1/4″. So average size I guess. If yours is smaller the Beats may fit but then you still may have the pressure point through the headband.


    • Seth says:

      I’d say the sound links 2 bose are good they are extremely comfortable and even if they don’t have noise cancellation they do a good job of blocking out noise and the sound is clear. they last up to 13 hours and 15 min charge is like 2 hours or an hour I’d say of play time. 3 hours of charging fully charges headphones if used till they die.

  • Zak says:

    I have Beats Studio and I only found this review because I am seeking alternatives. The “Adaptive Noise Canceling ” (ANC) is a joke. In any mode it is fundamentally designed to deliberately allow noise in from the world outside. And letting in noise from the outside it does exceedingly well. Noise canceling is not as important to you (as you stated) but to list “Good noise-cancelling capabilities” as a “Pro” for the Beats Studio is a disservice to those who read this review. Sorry, I just disagree.

    You are spot on with the comfort issue. I can’t wear them for more than 15-20 minutes without needing a break and my head and am generally a small guy (I’m 5’9″, 155lbs. not that this is a measurement of my head). I adjust them so the headband doesn’t even touch the top of my head. Works better but still too right around my ears after a while and of course they are less secure this way.

    So basically if you want uncomfortable headphones that have sub-par noise canceling then Beats Studio are for you! These are two major issues which is unfortunate because they have the potential to be great. They just aren’t. I’m disappointed that there isn’t a noise canceling wireless headphone from Bose but I’m certain they are coming and as soon as they are available these Beats are out of here.

  • Jp says:

    I’m on my 5th pair of beats studio wireless headphones. The previous 4 pair have failed. 2 have broken where they fold up and 2 have had the ear cup covers come unstitched. By buddy’s pair is doing the same thing. I keep returning them and exchanging for a new set, but i’m going to sell them outright and try bose. If they would hold up, i’d say they are ok comfort and sound quality wise. They seem comfortable enough for an hour or two at the gym– i’ve never worn them longer than that.


    Although Beats headphones are backed by giant mobile manufacturing company Apple, the headphones by Bose are undoubtedly are several steps ahead. Reasons can be more or less, but the first thing is Bose having speciality in the field of music and sound for years. Their headphones are very comfortable. One doesn’t feel any kind of uncomfort or inconvenience or even a bit irritation. Moreover, now Bose has noise cancelling wireless headphones too adding it’s merits.

  • Jackson says:

    I own those Beats that you tried and I had no problem – I wore them from Sydney to Los Angelas (14hrs) and only took them off once.

  • Adam says:

    Tried the Bose and went with the Beats Studio Wireless… why? Mostly the bass. After speaking with many who tried both that tends to be the same conclusion. Beats are more bass oriented for I guess a younger generation who likes mind-numbing bass and their music LOUD. My only complaint is that after wearing for a while the headphone tend to make my ears hot and a little sweaty. Probably due to the bass drivers going crazy. It’s the equivalent of having a 12″ sub-woofer in your ear. Other than the warmth generated after extended listening sessions they are extremely comfortable, felt Bose and Beats were equally as comfortable depending on the head size and ear size. The last pair of Beats I had, the Beats Wireless (pre Studio Wireless) were on ear and very uncomfortable.

    As far as noise-cancelling goes, i think the Bose work better in that department but when the music is on they function the same. You cant hear anything around you which could be a good or bad thing. Great for drowning out the co-workers that love to stand near your desk and chit-chat. All-in-All you wont be disappointed with either, IMO.

    As far as price goes… i think they’re about the same. either way you wont be disappointed, IMO.

    • Art says:

      I used to listen to music like you describe… back when I was part of the younger generation… with tons of bass and loud. Now I am 38 years old and have partial hearing loss along with 24/7 ringing in my ears (tinnitus). My advice is to learn to enjoy sound quality and clarity while you still can! Mind-numbing bass may not actually numb your mind, but it CAN kill your ears.

  • Duane says:

    Has anyone given the Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones a shot? I’m guessing they came out after this review was written. (Excellent review, by the way!)

    • Hi Duane!

      thanks for stopping by! I have tested the Bose QC 35 as well, you can read the review here:



      • Michael A. Harris says:

        Just unboxed the new QC35 II to replace a pair of QC35s that I lost. I seriously considered Beats as Amazon had the Studio 3 for $195 v. the $350 I paid for the Bose, but I’m not a music person so wanted comfort, noise cancellation and multipoint.

        Other than the built-in Google Assistant, which doesn’t mean much to me they’re pretty much the same as the QC35s, except that the mic seems better; Siri and speech to text were almost a lost cause with the first generation – so far not a single error with these.

  • Jordan says:

    I have used Beats Studio before and they truly suck. Their sound is decent, but not as well as the QC25, and they are extremely uncomfortable to wear. I started using QC35 recently and they are so much more confortable and so much lighter compared to the Solo3, which I tried in the Apple Store, while offering better sound cancellation and better sound. Go Bose!

  • Bob L. says:

    I listened to the Bose QC 35 and the noise canceling does a nice job. I think I will go with the Bose soundlink II as I usually listen to music so the NC is not worth the extra $100.
    Beats look cooler but are comparable in all other regards. I’m going with industry experience and product support.

  • Jerry Swirsky says:

    Just purchased Bose sound link 2 wireless headphones and love them.
    Much more comfortable than the Beats Studio.
    I can understand why a much younger crowd would prefer the Beats because of the emphasis on base and volume.
    However,overall the sound in the Bose is excellent quality over more ranges for jazz,classical and overall Pop Music. Would give the Bose 5 stars.

  • Alexandar says:

    My ears felt really warm and somewhat painful after wearing Beats studio wireless for a while (maybe an hour). I started thinking maybe I should return it. Then I found your review, it is very helpful, thank you. But at the same time, I really don’t want to give up the style of beats. Tough to make a decision.

  • Poker_Ninja says:

    Aside from shoes (I’m an avid sneakerhead), when it comes to major purchases, I always have to do research and compare prices, etc. I bought the wireless Beats by Dre Studios yesterday from Best Buy for $249.99. I wanted a wireless pair to free me from the range of motion I’m limited to with the wired ones. That cord can be annoying. I’ve always worn Beats by Dre because of their style and bass clarity, not because of their comfort. I’m also a poker player and play long sessions. Last year at the WSOP on day 1 of a tournament, I played over 12 hours straight. After about two hours, I had to take a break from wearing them because of the pressure points. My ears became warm and sweaty and more uncomfortable as the day went on.

    I briefly tried on the wireless Bose QuietComfort 35. Sound quality was pristine as was the fit and comfort. These are premium noise-cancelling headphones. They’re not as stylish, but overall I feel they are the better headphones.

    As soon as I got home, I wore the Beats and after about 30 min, I started to feel regret because I knew that I would run into the same issue of discomfort. While playing poker, I wear a baseball cap and sunglasses. When I put on the hat, then put on the headphones with the headpiece fully extended on both sides, I immediately felt pressure on the top of my head. And no I don’t have a big head lol. With that said, I will be returning them today and purchasing the Bose QC35 for $100 more.

    • traveller 77 says:

      Beats Studio were my first over ear headphone purchase. I bought them on the way to my flight and within 30 minutes of wearing them on departure I regretted my purchase. Not because of the sound but because they are just so uncomfortable to the point of been un wearable after 15 minutes. They are now a paper weight. I have since purchase the BOSE QC 35 and they are amazing and so comfortable!! All i can say is BOSE is the only headphones i will ever purchase!

  • Khawaja Ali says:

    I own both the beats (studio wireless) and Bose QC35. The beats beat the bose in bass but the bose have longevity. I had to replace my beats cups 3 times and had the headpones replaced once. The more you do it, the more you get fed up. Luckily – I was able to repair them on my own.

    Bose noise canceling is superb compared to beats. On flights you’re on a song cloud.

    Bose are the way to go if you have the extra to spend – but will tell you now if you go with the beats, MAX one year and repair work will need to be done. Also, Apple will FORCE you to buy a new pair as they only service them for a year. Spend the 349 and you have head phones that will last you YEARS or spend 200 every year.

  • Lisa Jones says:

    Can i pair these Bose earphones with my Sony TV?

  • Unam says:

    My sister needed my earphones and let me borrow her beats. Definitely painful didn’t make it an hour before it started either. Otherwise are lovely but painful. I am saving up for the Bose ones myself and enjoyed reading your review!

  • Blanca Aquino says:

    Great reviews!! I am also looking for buying a new pair of noise isolation headphones for myself. The old ones of mine are lost while I was on a trip out. Thank you for these helpful reviews, might help me in buying a new one in the future. Though I am looking forward to go with the personal recommendations, my friend recommended me to go with a brand which he uses from a long time and I got some options over here, It would be very helpful for me Michael, if you could add some more suggestion to me.

  • Fred says:

    On my end, I prefer Bose specially the The Bose QuietComfort 35. The headphone has a good designed for people who have an understated palette. They’re almost the same as other Bose headphones. These headphones are made from premium materials, which makes them lightweight. They only weigh 234g, yet they’re stiff.

  • Dawn says:

    After trying out Beats today. I will stick to my Bose. Better sound and better comfort around my ears. Beats squeeze my ears too tight and the sound is not as crisp and clear. Happy they were free with my Apple Purchase. My kiddos can have them.

  • Reggie says:

    I owned the Soundlink II’s awhile back but gave them to my dad. I totally loved them but hardly used them. So now I wanted around-ear headphones again but wanted to try another brand so bought the Beats yesterday at Best Buy for $200 (they are currently on sale). They are fashionable and I get why they are popular amongst the kids and pro athelets and celebrities. The marketing is superb for these headphones for sure. I noticed right off the bat the tightness of headphones on my head. I figure maybe they need to be broken in but after several hours of wearing these at the office, there was just discomfort around my ears. I had to take them off for a bit. I never had this issue with my Soundlink II’s. As far as the sound quality, the Beats have good bass over the Soundlink II’s but the sound is just overall better with Bose with the mids and highs and the bass isn’t bad. Right now I am considering returning the Beats and getting the Soundlinks again. I mean comfort and sound quality is what you look for in headphones isn’t it?

  • Pete b says:

    This is so spot on. Wanted to love the Beats but just so uncomfortable!

  • D.remo says:

    Question do the head set change text to speech

  • Hello Michael. Regarding the Bose QuietComfort 35. I have tried this headphones in some Electronic stores and I’m convinced that they’re impresive. But I only have one doubt, does this headphones come with a control to select [ NEXT ] song ?

    I’m a current user of iPhone, and one feature I just love is the option to control the next song in the headphones. Does the Bose headphones come with something similar?

    Thanks in advance for your answer.

  • Jaine says:

    Thank you so much for the info. I have the quiet comfort 15 Bose headphones that I got around 2012 I believe. I have always had the problem of them being too big on me. The top of the earmuff slightly pushes/touches the top of my ear when the headband is fully tightened. I’m hopping to find some new wireless headphones that fit better. Thanks to your review I’m going to test beets and see if they work for me. I think my ears are on the smaller side so I hope they work.

  • Billy Richter says:

    I have a question please. I’ve tried the Sennheiser 450BTN and the Sony MDR1000X and the issue I have is the lack of volume. I’m now looking at the Beats Studio 3 and the Bose QC35. I’m not of the younger generation however I like to listen to quality music but on the louder side. Any advise as to the Beats vs the Bose?

    • Hi Bill,

      I can only tell you that I have not had any issues with volume on my QC35. I usually don’t listen to very loud music, but I know I could crank up the volume if I wanted to.

  • Frederic says:

    You should have tried the Teufel Mute BT from Germany.

  • Thomas says:

    I’m thinking of getting the SoundLinks, but I’m curious, how good is the noise isolation feature aboard a plane? Does it reduce the engine sound well significantly?