Bose QuietComfort 35 II Review-Still classic wireless noise cancelling headphones


Introduction

Only a few months ago these were Bose’s signature wireless over ear Bose cancelling headphones. However after having been eclipsed by Sony as the king of the active noise cancelling headphone market,

Bose came out with the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which in my view are the new King in the Wireless Active noise cancelling headphone segment.

Bose released the latest in its Quiet comfort version of its signature active noise cancellation headphones, the Bose Quiet comfort 35 II (Bose QC 35II) which comes with google assistant and Alexa built in.

Bose stuck to their strength and designed a set of headphones with a balanced sound, and did not try and compete with the noise cancelling headphones from Beats

I rate this version of Bose headphones some of the best noise cancelling headphones for Travelling.

The Bose headphones also come with Bose AR audio augmented reality platform enabled. A close second (I mean very close) to the Sony WH-1000XM3,

These headphones are the upgrade to the popular Bose Quiet comfort 35.

The QC 35 II, still offers a similar type of noise cancellation capability, audio performance and dual microphone as the original QC35.

Bose QC 35II ANC Headphones Black

The QC35 II also comes with a 20-hour battery life, just like its predecessor.

The biggest difference between the two headphones are the new action button located on the left ear cup.

This button gives you instant access to voice controlled tasks in countries where voice assistants (Amazon Alexa or google assistant) are available.

If Google assistant or Amazon Alexa are not available, clicking the action button allows you to quickly toggle through 3 different ANC settings.

Coupled with quick charging that gives you 2.5 hours of additional playtime hours with a 10-minute charge, and 11 preset languages, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones are a multifaceted, quality sounding, and well engineered set of cans.

What’s in the box

When you open the box, you will find your headphones, a 12 inch USB charging cable (available in black white or silver), a 47.2 inch (1.2m) audio cable and a carrying case.

The headphones themselves use a 2.5mm Jack, which may be difficult to replace. The Bose QuietComfort 35 II come with a cable that you can use to plug in and listen to music when the battery is not charged.

The packaging of the Bose QC35II is very similar to the original Bose QC35, so ensure that you are purchasing the correct product.

The headphones come in a carrying case and include an audio cable and USB cable for charging purposes.

Sensors

You will notice that on the back of the right ear cup there are a few buttons. There is the larger middle button which serves as a multi function button.

Among other things, the multi function button initiates voice commands such as siri or voice dial, answers and ends calls and also initiates play/pause and other track controls for videos and music.

Earcup- sensors

Bose QC 25II Ear Cups

Let’s talk about the headphone controls. On the left-hand side you find the action button on the upper end of the back of the headphones. Below that is a 3.5mm audio cable connector.

On the right-hand side, between the ear cups and the outside of the headphones, you will find the volume up/volume down button and a multi function button.

This is the first drawback of these headphones. The muscle memory that one needs to be able to exercise to remember what button does what is a little exhausting in my opinion.

For example to pause/play, you have to press the multi function button. To skip forward, double press the multi function button. To skip forward you triple press the button.

To skip backward triple press the multi function button. To fast-forward, double press and hold the second press. To rewind triple press and hold the third press.

I really do not see why I should have to remember 5 different methods of changing my songs and fast-forward and rewinding.

I think this is one area where Sony’s WH-1000XM3 out performs the Bose QuietComfort 35 II with their touch sensors that you simply have to slide backward and forwards.

To manage calls, this is how you would make use of the multi function button.

To answer an incoming call press the button once. To end the call, press the button once. To decline an incoming call, press the button and hold for one second.

To answer a second incoming call and put the current call on hold, press the button once. To decline a second incoming call and stay on current call, press and hold the button once.

To switch between 2 active calls, double press the button. To create a conference call, i.e in the middle of 2 active calls, press and hold the button for one second.

To mute and unmute an active call press the + and – button simultaneously.

I would personally use my phone to navigate through the phones controls. Note that the action button can only be programmed for one function at a time.

Voice assistant

For those of you not familiar with Amazon Alexa, it is a virtual assistant developed by Amazon. All you do is connect to Alexa, ask it/or her questions, and Alexa will respond accordingly.

Things you can ask Alexa include.

  • Playing music
  • Hearing the news
  • Checking the weather and controlling smart home devices.

Just remember that Alexa is not available in all languages and countries, so just check if it is available in your country.

To set the action button to Alexa, you download the Amazon Alexa app and follow the app instructions. This must be done once you have connected your headphones to a mobile device.

Then press and release the action button. The headphones have also been optimized for google assistant. The following steps can be taken to activate google assistant.

  • Connect your headphones to your mobile device.
  • Press and hold the home button on your android device and follow the instructions.

Fortunately Google assistant is available with all compatible android devices, so it is far easier to activate google assistant than Amazon Alexa.

You can also use the multi function button on your headphones in order to access the native voice control on your mobile device. Native voice control cannot be accessed while you are on a call.

Battery

The battery stays charged for up to 20 hours when the headphones are used wirelessly with noise cancellation turned on. The battery is a lithium – ion rechargeable.

The headphones can be used with a cord for up to 40 hours. 20 Hours is pretty ordinary for a $350* pair of cans for 2 reasons.

Firstly this noise canceling capability is the same as the original Bose QC35. Secondly compared to the Sony, which deliver 30 hours of battery life, the Bose QC35 II battery life is fairly disappointing.

USB Port

Disappointingly, the Bose QC35 II headphones come with a micro USB charging port. I am a fan of headphones that are USB -C compatible as most new devices being created are USB C compatible.

When you plug the USB cable into a USB port or PC wall charger you will be able to charge the QC35II. Simply plug the small end of the USB cable into the micro-USB connector on the right ear cup.

Note that when you are charging the headphones the battery indicator blinks amber, and as soon as the battery is fully charged, the battery indicator glows solid green.

Solid amber indicates low battery and blinking red indicates that your headphones need to be charged.

The headphones do not play while charging, which I find to be inconvenient, but that seems to be a common feature of noise canceling headphones and hopefully something that makers are working on.

When fully charged the battery indicator light turns green. Note that when you do charge your headphones, your PC must be on.

If you have an apple device, the device will display the headphone battery level near the right upper corner of the screen and the notification center.

As mentioned above a quick charge of 15 minutes can achieve a 2.5 hour playtime. This is less than the Sony which provides 5 hours with a 10-minute charge.

You can listen to your headphones even when the power is depleted. How can this be achieved ? Well you can listen to your headphones without the active noise cancellation and Active EQ .

When you slide the power button, to the right, you will hear a voice prompt, which announces the battery level, and the battery indicator glows according the current charge level.

Use the Bose connect app to set up and customize the standby timer. The standby timer conserves the battery when the headphones are not being used.

Sound

I could not find a distinguishable difference in the sound quality between the Bose QC35II and the original Bose CQ35. The sound in the original QC35 was pretty good.

The depth was plentiful and vocals were also good. I always did feel as if these headphones played it safe, in that the sound signature is neutral.

The bass was decent not great. I felt like if they were going to make an upgrade the bass could have been lifted slightly. The QC 35II drivers come with volume optimized EQ, providing clear and balanced audio.

Weight Comfort Style

When you first see the QC35II you will notice that the headphones look almost identical to the original Bose QC35, except for a new button on the left ear cup.

The headphones come in at a lightweight of 235g. I am a sucker for lightweight headphones. These headphones come in slightly lighter than the Sony WH-1000XM3, which weigh 255 grams, but this is no deal breaker.

Color

The standard Bose headphones come in the signature black and silver, exactly like the Bose QC35II. Bose is willing to custom coat your headphones for you at an extra fee of $50*.

I, for one do not see why it would be worth popping out an extra $50* for this feature.  The standard colors are pretty awesome themselves.

But if you are interested the option is there. Luckily Bose does allow you to select from a few designs that others have selected before.

Earcups-style

The ear cups swivel on the joints. The joints look solid and well put together. These are not the types of earphones that you will have to replace suddenly.

The ear pads are well-designed and are very sturdy and strong. I notice that the ear pads were very cool and that my ears never overheated at any stage.

The ear pads are made of memory foam, and are nice and thick.

The ear cup design is large, and big ear friendly. There is definitely no chance that the ear pads will touch the outer portion of your ears.

Accessories

Bose also sells the accessories separately. For an extra $7.95* (At the time of writing) you get the Quietcomfort headphones airline adapter.

This allows you to connect your QC35 II headphones to in flight entertainment systems, that are equipped with dual or single output 3.5mm Jacks.

You simply plug the headphone cord into the adapter and insert it into the airline Jack, and enjoy your music or movies.

I however did not need the adapter as the audio cable included in the box was more than sufficient to do the job. I was able to plug my cable directly into the 3.5mm jack on the arm of my seat.

If you an international traveler you can get a wall charger and 7 international voltage adapters which can be used in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, Korea, and UK, Hong Kong and Singapore.

If your ear cushions become lost or damaged, then you can get a new pair for $34.95*. These also work on the original QC 35 headphones.

Carrying case

The Bose QC35II come with a hard shell carrying case, which serves to protect the headphones when packed with your luggage.

If you lose your carry case then you can buy it for an extra $24.95* at the time of writing. The case is nice and tidy, and comes with a zipper.

If you have the original Bose QC 35 headphones then you can also use that travel case to pack them.

My only criticism of the Bose QC 35 II carrying case is that it does not include an extra compartment for my cables.

This resulted in my cables being bent out of shape and me having to replace them after a few months.

Headphone slider and headband. The headband is made of stainless steel and covered in plastic. When I did the flex test the Bose QC35II came out with flying colors.

The flex test is when I stretch the headphones to see how durable they are.

I like the fact that there is a nice mash of alcantara padding at the upper portion of the headband. This is definitely an improvement from the original Bose QC35.

The top of the headband has itself been made with synthetic leather to enhance the aesthetic appeal.

Audio and connectivity

Now you can ask for assistance from your voice assistant, given that the Bose QC35II come with built in Amazon Alexa and google assistant.

Even for those who do not use google assistant or Amazon Alexa, you can still use the action button to adjust the level of noise cancellation between three settings.

For those new to google assistant or Alexa you can now add something to your to do list, check the weather and much more without ever needing to glance at your phone.

Using the Bose connect App you can, you can perform a multitude of functions. You can personalize your settings, unlock Bose AR, and get tips, all whilst you enjoy your music.

Once you connect to the app, slide the on/off button to the right to find your headphones.

At the time of writing, Bose indicated that the Bose AR-enhanced apps are currently only available for iPhone and IPad users. The Android Apps were under development.

You would have to check with Bose to find out if this has been updated. If you have an IPhone or IPad then you must ensure that you download the new Bose connect App (version 8.0 or higher) to enable Bose AR.

When a Bose AR product is paired, a Bose AR logo will be displayed in the app.

Bose also allows 2 sets of headphones to be connected to 1 device, allowing you and someone close to you to listen to the same entertainment at the same time.

In addition, multi point technology allows you to connect your headphones to two devices at the same time. You can connect to your iPhone and iPad simultaneously.

The Bose QC35II headphones come with NFC Technology (Near field communication).

This is short-range wireless technology that enables two NFC-enabled devices to communicate when they are placed in proximity, typically less than 4 in (10 cm).

Essentially, when NFC is enabled on both devices, if they are in proximity they will connect via Bluetooth automatically.

I personally do not make much use of NFC Technology, but I will provide a rundown of how it works for those who are interested.

Firstly you must have an NFC enabled phone. Slide the three position power switch on the right ear cup to the middle. You should see an NFC embossed logo on the right ear cup.

Then you follow the prompt and establish a connection .

Bluetooth

The Bose QC35II use Bluetooth 4.2 and have a range of roughly 9m. So unfortunately if you have a class 1 Bluetooth device you will be disappointed.

If Bluetooth is a game changer for you, then you could look at the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 SE.

On the outside of the ear cups, you will find the power on/ Bluetooth switch. Bluetooth can be activated by the sliding the switch to the right.

The Bose QC35II contains the following Bluetooth settings.

If the Bluetooth indicator is blinking blue then its ready to connect, if the Bluetooth indicator is blinking white then the indicator is ready to connect.

If the indicator is on for 10 seconds and then is solid white, and the powers off, your headphones are connected to your device.

If your phone supports the Bluetooth HFP profile, you will be able to make calls using your headphones. This Bose achieves this through the dual-microphone system in the headphones.

The QC35II also supports HD voice. With those bad boys you can play a Bluetooth device up to 100m (That’s no joke). Click here for a review of the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2.

For me Bluetooth is not this is not a deal breaker, so I really did not mind. I am never that far from my iPhone or any other device in any case.

I am far more intrigued by the quality of noise cancellation, style and fit than Bluetooth.

Noise cancellation

Noise cancellation, much like sound quality has not been upgraded with the QC35II. The noise cancellation is pretty decent though.

I was able to shut out sounds in a shopping mall almost completely.

The headphones are also a dream to travel with as they block out almost all the noise from a plane engine and even did a decent job of blocking out the low frequency sounds from crying babies.

The QC35II headphones utilize both active and passive noise cancellation technologies. Passive noise cancellation is similar to the Sony WH-1000XM3 Ambient noise cancellation feature.

The QC35II contain microphones both inside and outside the ear cups that enable this. The noise cancellation mode can be changed by setting the action button to a specific noise cancellation setting, or by making use of the Bose connect App.

If you make use of the app, then tap the gear icon to access action button settings and select noise cancellation.

The Bose QC35II comes with, High, Low and off noise cancellation modes.

The low noise cancellation setting, provides a noise cancellation experience that is fine-tuned for audio listening in quieter and windy environments.

One of the outstanding capabilities of Bose noise cancellation headphones is that they are very good at blocking out wind in windy environments.

I think the off mode is pretty self-explanatory. Note that the default noise cancellation function is set to high. So this will be the setting that appears when you switch on your headphones.

When you want to change the nose cancellation settings all you have to do is press and release the action button, and wait for the voice prompt to announce the noise cancellation mode.

To reach your preferred mode simply press and release the action button. When the headphones are powered off, noise cancellation is automatically disabled.

The Bose QC35II headphones also include something called side tone, which lets you hear your own voice when on a call, making you sound natural on a call so that you do not have to speak louder.

Price

The headphones retail for $350* at time of writing. This is the highest bracket for noise canceling headphones that are not audiophile level.

I think the only problem with the price point is that they are competing with the Sony WH1000XM3 which in my view are a better set of cans.

I think these should be retailing for $40-$50 less.

Conclusion

The battery life is not as long as the Sony WH-1000XM3, which I find to be a disadvantage of these headphones. Even the quick charge feature of the Sony is twice as good in less time.

It seems as if the only thing that I am paying for is google assistant and Alexa. Now is that worth the extra cash?

If you have the original QC35 and you have not had a problem with comfort then yes. Otherwise,

I think its worth the cash as they are very comfortable and the sound quality and noise cancellation is good.

Reasons to consider buying:

Amazon Alexa and google assistant built in.

20 Hours of battery life with ANC on

Multiple color selection

Stern build and steady fit

Comfortable foam ear cups

Acoustic noise cancellation

Volume optimized EQ

Bose AR enabled

Adaptive noise cancellation

Bose signature quality sound

multi-point technology allows you to connect to 2 devices at a time.

Other Relevant Reading:

Bose Website

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