Written by Cheryl Tan
The QC35 II from Bose were renowned for their noise cancelling ability, but they are an older pair of headphones that have been overtaken by newer models like Sony’s WH-1000XM3. The new Bose Noise Cancelling 700 (NC 700) headphones are the company’s response. So are they good enough to dethrone the WH-1000XM3?
Let’s take a look at the most important part, the noise cancellation. There are 10 levels of noise cancellation, with 0 being the Full Transparency mode piping in ambient sound from the surroundings, and 10 being the strongest noise cancelling setting. There’s a button on the back of the left earcup to quickly cycle through the 0, 5 and 10 settings.
While nice, I did find that the button was too easily pressed when picking up or adjusting the headphones as it is in that perfect spot that your thumb sits on.
With noise cancelling turned up all the way, it performed admirably in most situations – on the train, plane and just general walking around in the city. Unfortunately, I felt that it didn’t quite match the Sony WH1000-XM3 in this regard, though I have to point out that I believe the over-ear seal isn’t as great due to the fact that I’m wearing spectacles. The padding on the earcups do feel a little thinner than the Sony’s, which could result in small gaps, allowing external noise to trickle in.
But it’s not just for music playback, there’s also noise cancelling in your calls and it works superbly. My voice was picked up while surrounding sounds were blocked out quite well, resulting in calls where I didn’t have to raise my voice much at all to be heard clearly.
The comfort is another aspect that’s lacking. I’ve looked around and it generally comes down to two opinions. Either you find it incredibly comfortable, or you find the clamping force to be too much. Unfortunately for me, it’s the latter. It’s extremely uncomfortable listening to the NC 700s for long periods of time, and I reckon it’s made worse by my spectacles.
The sound quality is great though, if you enjoy Bose’s neutral tuning. Highs and mids are clear and upfront while the bass is quick, albeit lacking a bit of decay and rumble. If you’re looking for a pair of headphones that’s lusher and more full-bodied, you’ll be better off going with the Sony WH-1000XM3.
Battery life is decent at 20 hours, but not on par with other headphones like the WH-1000XM3 (30 hours) and Jabra’s Elite 85H (36 hours).
The NC 700 is also more expensive than the Sony, or other comparable headphones on the market right now at US$400 (as opposed to Sony’s US$350 or Jabra’s US$300). For that price, people might find it a bit hard to swallow unless you really desire these headphones for the call noise cancelling and sound signature.
The NC 700 (S$599) are now available in Singapore, more information and purchasing options can be found at Bose’s website.