Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review: taking back the crown
Bose has a lot riding on the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. Long the dominant player in this space, the company has faced formidable competition from Sony’s 1000X-series headphones in recent years; the 1000XM3s finally bested the noise cancellation of Bose’s QuietComfort 35 II headphones, and many people prefer the audio quality of the Sonys. Even Microsoft made an impressive entrance into the category with the Surface Headphones and their inventive dial controls for changing volume and adjusting NC.
But Bose has finally returned with its own new pair of headphones. At $400, they don’t come cheap, but Bose tries to justify that cost with a premium build, even more effective (and adjustable) noise cancellation, far better voice call quality, and yes, a long-awaited move to USB-C charging. The NCH 700s aren’t without issues — and Bose has made some frustrating unforced errors that I’ll cover later on. But they send the strong message that Bose is back, and in many ways better than ever.
The NCH 700s mark a new path for Bose headphone design, and you can sum up that direction with one word: clean. There are no visible hinges or screws, and the result is a much more modern look compared to the early-2000s industrial design of the QC35s. A stainless steel headband is the foundation of it all, running down and shrinking to a cylindrical shape that cuts through the middle of each earcup. You adjust fit by sliding the earcups up or down that steel pole. It’s a smooth movement without any clicks or feedback. I’ve got an enormous head, so for me the fit is straightforward: I just put the headphones on and pull the earcups on each side as far as they’ll go. But some people might miss the clicky slider style of other headphones.
The foam cushioning between your head and the metal headband has a silicone texture — not the same Alcantara fabric as the QC35s — and there’s more silicone along the top of the headband. Speaking of the QC35s, at 0.56 pounds, the NCH 700s aren’t quite as feather light as Bose’s previous noise-canceling headphones (0.518 pounds), but I still found them to be extremely comfortable. The synthetic leather ear cushions feel great. I’ve seen complaints from a few early buyers about the clamping force on the head being too tight, but I didn’t have the same experience and never dealt with discomfort even during extended use. Others have mentioned that they can hear the headband clanking against the earcups (which are not made from metal) when walking around, but this is another issue I failed to notice. Maybe both are more of a problem for people with smaller noggins. I think the QC35 IIs still win out at overall comfort, but these are easily on par with Sony’s 1000XM3s.
The tradeoff to this sleeker style from Bose is that these headphones can’t fold away for compact storage. Instead, the best you get are earcups that can swivel flat when put into the carrying case. Sony has the efficiency advantage there — the 1000XM3s can fold down — but other competitors like the Surface Headphones are in the same boat as Bose. I found that Bose’s included hard case still fit perfectly fine in my backpack, and there’s a handy little compartment that holds the USB-C charging cable and 2.5mm-to-3.5mm headphone cable.
Following the trends of modern over-ear headphone design, Bose did away with physical buttons for controlling your music on the 700s. Instead, the front half of the right earcup can detect your index finger’s taps and swipes, and this system works quite well once you master the muscle memory of where to reach. You tap twice to play or pause, swipe up to raise the volume, down to lower it, forward to skip tracks, or back to return to the previous song. A double-tap answers calls, while tapping and holding rejects an incoming call. You can also hold down on the touch area to get a reading of remaining battery life (in hours, not percentage).
Sony ran into some problems with its earpad controls, which can behave erratically in cold weather. I raised this point with Bose was told that the NCH 700s have been tested thoroughly, and the company reminded me that it’s based in Framingham, MA, a city that gets plenty chilly in winter. It’s the middle of summer here in New York, so it’ll be a few months before I can determine whether these headphones are more cold-proof than Sony’s. In either case, they’ll probably prove to be more of a hassle when you’re wearing gloves compared to Bose’s older models.
There are still a few actual buttons around back: on the left earcup is one that adjusts noise cancellation, and on the right is a power/Bluetooth pairing button and another that activates your preferred voice assistant. One small gripe is that I often found myself pressing these by accident when picking up the headphones, and they activate the second you do so. Even implementing a split-second delay would help negate this annoyance and prevent false presses from causing frustration.
Bose supports all three major voice assistants: Siri (on iOS), Google Assistant (on both Android and iOS) and Amazon Alexa (on both). The advantage of choosing Google Assistant is that you’ve got the option of proactive voice notifications, where your messages and other important alerts will be read to you the moment they come in. Amazon also gets a point: Alexa is the only assistant that can be accessed without pressing a button; you just have to say “Alexa.” The NCH 700s don’t support hands-free “Hey Siri” or “OK Google” activation phrases. But Alexa is of limited utility on headphones. You can change volume, control your smart home gear, and ask the usual Alexa inquiries, but even commands like “next song” or “skip this track” don’t work. I mostly stuck with Siri and it worked great — and its recognition was a little more accurate than usual on account of the impressive mics.
Two devices can be paired and connected with the Bose NCH 700s at a time, so you can constantly keep them linked to your phone when listening to audio on a laptop or tablet. If a call comes in, the headphones are smart enough to automatically pause music on that other device so you can quickly answer. Sony’s headphones do not have this feature and it’s frustrating to use them with more than one device as a result.
Voice calls are one of the stellar strengths of these headphones. Bose built an entirely new mic system from the ground up, and it shows: the NCH 700s are better at isolating your voice from background noise than just about any other headphones I’ve ever tried.
In all, the headphones contain six microphones for noise cancellation. But Bose pairs two of those microphones with two others for a four-mic system that’s optimized for voice pickup.You can talk to people at a normal volume on loud streets and they’ll still hear you clearly. Same goes for voice assistant commands: the mic array does an astounding job staying on your voice and ignoring environmental noise or even other people nearby. If you talk on the phone a lot, this is a huge selling point for Bose’s new headphones and might justify the extra $50 over the QC35s, which are only so-so at voice calls. The people you’re chatting with will be able to tell the difference. If you don’t, you might not care about the progress Bose has made.
Bose says it has improved both noise cancellation and overall sound quality with the NCH 700s, and that checks out with my experience using them so far. When the adjustable noise cancellation turned up to 10 — this can be done by tapping the NC button or through the Bose Music — the isolation is more powerful than the QC35 IIs and neck and neck with Sony. I’ve never been sensitive to the “ear suck” phenomenon or uncomfortable pressure that some people experience with noise-canceling headphones. If you are, I’d definitely advise trying these in a store first.
When you drop NC all the way down to zero, Bose actually pipes in surrounding audio instead of leaving you with muffled sound. It’s a more realistic “ambient mode” than I’m used to with other headphones and earbuds. The company told me that the goal was making it sound like you’re not wearing headphones at all, and Bose came pretty close to nailing that sensation. There’s also a conversation mode that’s activated when you hold down the NC button: music is temporarily paused and outside audio is amped up until you press a button or tap the gesture area.
In general, audio playback does seem a little richer than the QC35 IIs. Bose has never been a head-rattling bass monster, instead favoring a clean, balanced low end that can span many different types of music. There’s ample separation between vocals and instruments and an engrossing depth to the soundstage — even if it’s not as wide or detailed as non-noise-canceling headphones at this price point. The audio tuning of the NCH 700s is very Bose, not quite as warm as Sony’s cans, but it’s refined, crisp, and lively. There’s no ability to adjust EQ at this time, but Bose says it plans to add that option in the future.
I wish I had equally nice things to say about Bose’s smartphone app, which is an important utility for controlling the NCH 700s. Right now it’s a bit of a mess. For one, you can’t use it without creating a Bose account. You’ll never get beyond the splash screen. There’s little reason for Bose to force its customers into creating accounts for a headphone companion app. These are $400 headphones, and requiring a login to use the Bose Music app — without any choice to skip forward without one — leaves a bad taste in my mouth. This company has found itself in controversy over data harvesting before, so the lack of a “just let me use my headphones” option is a little disconcerting.
If you open the app on a plane without Wi-Fi and you somehow got signed out, you won’t be able to access settings for the NCH 700s. And early buyers of the headphones have found themselves randomly signed out of the Bose app; I’ve run into the problem myself numerous times with the iOS version of the app. (Tip: to avoid logout issues, make sure your headphones are connected to both the regular and Bluetooth LE listing of the headphones in your settings.) There are things you can do in the Bose Music app that aren’t available in your phone’s general Bluetooth menu. With the app, you can easily jump between all of your paired devices with a tap, adjust the amount of your own voice you hear when on calls, or customize the three presets of noise cancellation that you toggle between when pressing the NC button. By default it’s 0, 5, and 10, but you can save whichever three options you like best.
Bose needs to make its app more reliable regardless of whether there’s an internet connection, and customers should really be able to bypass the whole account process. The Bose Music app is the worst part of using the NCH 700s, and it’s in urgent need of improvement. (It was updated on the same day as this review with bug fixes, so the company is certainly trying.) You can use the headphones and their noise-canceling powers without ever installing the app, but you’ll be left without some advanced options.
Bose estimates the NCH 700s at 20 hours of battery life, which is good, but about 10 hours short of what Sony is able to achieve. You’ll be told how much time is left whenever you turn them on, and the app clearly displays battery status as well. I’ve been using them for a little over a week and have only needed to plug in once. Charging them up over USB-C takes around two and a half hours, but even a 15-minute charge is enough to get you over three hours of listening time if you can’t wait that long.
With the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, Bose has successfully played catchup with the strong competition it now faces in a category that this company helped create. My only reservation is price: I understand Bose’s reasoning for keeping the QC35 IIs around, but I wish those had seen a price cut and made way for the NCH 700s at that $350 mark. If you already own Bose’s previous pair of noise-canceling cans (and assuming the noise cancellation is still strong), you should stay put with those. Same goes for the Sony 1000XM3s. But if you’re on the lookout for new NC headphones right now and can spare the cash, you can’t do much better as a complete package. The comfort is there, Bose’s noise cancellation is about the best you can get, they sound good, and multi-device pairing is something you’ll quickly appreciate. And you’ll never want to go back to talking to people on other headphones.
But Bose, please, please fix the app.
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Bose 700 Over-Ear Active Noise Cancellation Wireless Headphone with Mic (Bluetooth, 794297-0100, Black)
If you are one of those who expect their music to be an unvarying companion to you then the Bose 700 Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones is the ideal product for you with heighten your music experience by providing you with surround sound quality that you can never move on from. It is no doubt, a boon for those who imagine their life in and around music. How long will you be spending time in plugging the aux cable in your phone and denying yourself the freedom of movement to groove and sway in the tune? Enjoy perfect flexibility and mobility with amazing musical quality with these Bluetooth Headphones giving you a truly awesome wireless stereo audio experience.
Sound Tuned to Perfection
No matter whether you like your music loud and buzzing or love them soft and melodious in your ear, these headphones give you the best of both. Bose Signature Active EQ gives you optimum precision and clarity at every volume to give you an immersive listening experience. With the Bose Music App you can customize your headphones to better suit your needs like controlling the Noise Cancellation level, setup options, etc. The headphone is powered by a long lasting battery enabling you up to 20 hours of continuous music.
Comfortable to Wear
The Bose 700 Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones comes in a seamless stainless steel headband with high quality leather cushions alongside silicone gel headbands to give you the most amazing comfortable wearing. The soft angled cups make sure you get the perfect fitting.
Truly Wireless Experience
The Bose 700 Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones not only allows you to enjoy music but gives you the ultimate wireless experience with responsive capacitive touch controls so that you remain connected without fumbling for your phone. There are programmable buttons to give you easy access to what you think is important. There are available Voice Prompts and audio tones for informative feedback. Personalized hotkeys allow you reserved touch gestures that can be configured in the app.
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Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review: Top noise-canceling headphones take it up just a notch
They also won't like the new, higher price: The Bose 700 is $400 (£350 or about AU$570), which is $50 more than the QC35 II and the Sony WH-1000XM3, CNET's current top-rated noise-canceling headphone. (The latter has recently sold for $300 or less, in fact.) But leaving aside the debate over the new design and higher price tag for a moment, I'll say this: The Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 sound and perform better than their predecessor, and shine as a headset for making calls.
To be clear, this really is a new headphone, both on the outside and the inside, with new drivers and a total of eight microphones to help enable Bose's "evolved noise-canceling functionality." One of the biggest external changes is to the headband. The QuietComfort 35 II has a high-tech resin (read: plastic) headband, while the Headphones 700's headband incorporates a single, seamless piece of stainless steel that seemingly makes it a little sturdier. However, as a result of the new design, there's no hinge, so they don't fold up, just flat, and you simply lay them into their protective carrying case, which is larger than the QuietComfort 35 II's case.
Some will like that you don't have to bother folding the headphones while others will prefer the predecessor's smaller case. I did like that there's a little compartment in the case -- its door closes magnetically -- for storing the USB-C charging cable and the short cable for wired listening. It's worth noting that the port on the headphone is the smaller 2.5mm variety so, bizarrely, it's a 2.5mm to 3.5mm cable.
Read more: Bose Earbuds 500 are the AirPods killers worth waiting for
In the past, Bose has tried to shave weight off its headphones, but at 254g this model is actually about half an ounce heavier than the QuietComfort 35 II, which will remain in the line. You can feel the weight difference. Personally, I didn't find the headphone any less or more comfortable than the QuietComfort 35 II; it just felt a little different (I don't have a large head). But some other editors in our office thought the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 clamped down on their heads a little more forcefully than the Quiet Comfort 35 II, creating slightly more pressure.
The material on the inside of the headband is also different. The Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 have a soft-to-the-touch rubberized inside band that's filled with air for extra cushioning while the Quiet Comfort 35 II relies on foam padding covered in a fancy cloth material for its cushioning. The rubber doesn't absorb sweat, which is good, but some people will prefer the cloth and padding on the Quiet Comfort 35 II.
The long and short of it is the Noise Cancelling Headphones are comfortable, but the Quiet Comfort 35 II and the Sony WH-1000XM3 arguably feel slightly better. On the other hand, the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 seems slightly more durable. That said, it's a good idea to store the headphones in their protective carrying case. The finish on the metal part of the band is a little susceptible to getting scratched up if they rub up against metal objects in a bag or backpack.
Built to communicate
Bose is touting the headphone's voice communication features. While the overall sound quality is a relatively small step up from the QuietComfort 35 II -- more on that in a minute -- the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 perform significantly better as a headset for making calls. The new microphones are designed to pick up your voice better (some of them are beam-forming mics) and reduce noise around you so people can hear you better in noisier environments. That goes for voice assistants as well -- the headphone supports Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa, all of which should better understand what you're saying in noisier environments.
I made some calls from the noisy streets of New York and people could hear me even when I was standing next to a trash truck that was compacting old furniture outside our office building. The headphones do a really good job filtering out background noise. Not all of it, but a lot of it. When you're not talking, the headphones greatly reduce the ambient noise around you. However, when you speak, the headphones do let some background noise in because the microphones, even beamed into your voice, pick up some outside noise. Needless to say, the headphones' computer chips are doing a fair amount of sound processing.
There's also an adjustable sidetone feature that allows you to hear your voice in the headphones (which prevents you from talking too loudly when on a call). The QuietComfort 35 II has some light sidetone that not everybody notices, but you can really sense it in this new model.
In Bose's Music companion app for iOS and Android, you designate which assistant you want to use and then access that assistant with a button push like you do on the QuietComfort 35 II. If you choose Alexa, you can activate Amazon's voice assistant by simply saying the wake word "Alexa." That makes this one of the few headphones to offer always-on Alexa and it performs about as well as the AirPods and Beats Powerbeats Pro do with always-on Siri. The Jabra Elite 85h, another headphone that's great for making calls and is equipped with lots of microphones, was supposed to have this feature but Jabra ended up leaving it off after it discovered that it had too great an impact on battery life.
Read more: Best headphones for 2019
I asked a Bose rep about the possible adverse impact on battery life when using always-on Alexa because the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700's 20 hours of battery life is shorter than that of a lot of its competitors (a quick-charge feature does allow you to get 3.5 hours of battery life from a 15-minute charge). The rep said that it did not have an impact on battery life and that the battery life was the same whether you had Bluetooth on or off, say, if you were in wired mode on a plane. To that end, it's also worth noting that you can use the headphone in wired mode if the battery dies. It doesn't sound quite as good unplugged -- yes, I tried it -- but it still sounds pretty decent (the bass isn't as strong) and the headphones passively muffle a fair amount noise simply by virtue of being an over-ear model.
New for Bose
This is the first Bose headphone equipped with touch controls. The touch area is on the right side of the right ear cup. I found that they worked well and that same Bose rep told me that Bose's engineers were aware of the problems that some Sony WH-1000XM3 users were having with that headphone's touch controls in cold weather and that the Noise Cancelling 700 Headphones had been tested in the cold. The touch controls supposedly work but we'll have to wait until winter to test it out ourselves.
Typically, Bose hasn't offered us much in the way of customizable settings, but that's changed a bit with the 700: You can adjust the level of noise canceling in the Bose Music app and there's a dedicated button on the headphone that allows you to toggle between low, high and a zero noise-canceling mode that Bose refers to as a true "transparency" mode.
Impressively, when you're in that transparency mode you essentially hear the outside world as your ears normally would. It's hard to tell the difference between having the headphones on or off. Holding the noise-canceling button puts you right into transparency mode (your music pauses) so you can talk to someone while you're wearing the headphones -- to a flight attendant on a plane, for example. This is similar to Sony's Quick Attention feature except that you have to touch the noise-canceling button to unpause your music -- you can't just let go of the button for your audio to start playing again.
They're also enabled with Bose AR, the company's audio-augmented reality platform, and in the future, Bose says it will add new features -- the headphones are firmware upgradable -- including an equalizer for tweaking the sound to your liking, a Dynamic Transparency mode that allows you to hear the outside world but muffles loud noises such as sirens and a Noise Masking feature that creates white noise to help you block out the outside world and concentrate without listening to music. Bose lists those features as "coming soon."
One important note about the companion Bose Music app: During my initial testing, while my iPhone X paired fine with the headphones, I couldn't get the headphones to link with the app. They connected fine with the app on a Sony Android phone and an iPad. It's unclear what the issue is, but other people have reported having connection problems to the app on iOS devices. (That might account for the initial wave of unenthusiastic Amazon user reviews, too.) But as I was writing this review, Bose came up with a fix, and I was able to connect with the app on my iPhone X. I still think the app needs some work, and I expect we'll see some tweaks to improve its reliability and features in the coming months.
The good news is the app isn't required to use the headphones. The main thing you need the app for is to set up Alexa or Google Assistant. It also lets you simultaneously pair two devices to the headphones and toggle between them. But aside from those two features, the rest of the settings aren't too vital and you can access the limited number of Bose AR apps from the App Store.
Bose noise cancellation vs. Sony noise cancellation
Bose and Sony have been battling it out for noise-cancelling supremacy over the last couple of years and Sony arguably pulled slightly ahead with its WH-1000XM3. The noise-cancelling features in the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones is slightly improved over the noise-cancelling in the QuietComfort 35 II, and its noise-cancelling performance is neck-and-neck with the Sony's. Depending on the type of noise you're encountering, you may find one a tad more effective than the other, but again, it's very close.
I have a fairly loud air conditioning system at home and I stood near a vent in the kitchen and swapped between the new Bose and the Sony. They both did an excellent job muffling the sound but the Sony was a hair better. I had the Bose at level 10 (the highest level) for noise-cancelling. If you're more sensitive to the pressure feeling of noise-cancellation technology, as noted, the Bose allows you to adjust the level of noise cancellation. The Sony also does, too -- via the app -- but you have you to turn off adaptive sound control in the companion app to get to the setting.
I've used both headphones in an open office environment and the streets of New York (and in the subway) and they both work well, tamping down the noise around you in those environments. To declare one an absolute winner (from a noise-cancelling perspective) is difficult because I can't walk around swapping them on and off everywhere I go, but I don't think anybody will be disappointed with the Bose's updated noise-cancelling abilities.
Bose has made some improvements to the sound quality in its new model, too. The Noise Cancelling 700 Headphones sound a little better than the QuietComfort 35 II, with more overall clarity and bass definition. Listening to our test tracks, including Alt-J's 3WW, Rag'n'Bone Man's Human and Spoon's You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb, I came away thinking that the Sony's bass had more energy and a little more oomph to it but the Bose's bass sounded a little tighter. The Sony is the warmer headphone and is the better pick for hip-hop and electronic dance music. The brighter Bose will bring out more detail in jazz and classical material, with slightly better separation of instruments.
CNET's home audio editor Ty Pendlebury, whose musical tastes skew toward rock, liked how the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 sounded. He thought they were well-balanced and clean sounding. Do they make you want to go back to listen to your whole library to hear it in a way you hadn't ever heard it before? Probably not if you've already been exposed to exceptional headphones. But these are very competent headphones with an appealing sound that's easy to listen to over long periods (with their warmer sound, the Sony headphones may be even better for long listening sessions). I wouldn't call them better or worse than the Sonys. Both sound excellent for noise-cancelling headphones, but if your tastes run toward beefier bass, you're going to dig the Sony more. If you prefer more detail, you may find yourself leaning toward the Bose. (Note: the Sony gets a slightly higher rating for sound partially because it delivers the quality of sound it does at a slightly lower price point).
One other piece of good news on the Bose: I noticed no lip-sync issues with video when paired to an iPhone X.
Bose or Sony?
There are lots of good noise-cancelling headphones out there (check out our full list of best noise-cancelling headphones), but as soon as I got the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, people were asking me whether I thought it was better than the Sony WH-1000XM3. Unfortunately, it isn't a simple yes or no answer. In some ways it's better and in some ways it isn't. Here's a little scorecard that will hopefully inform your buying decision.
Points in favor of Sony WH-1000XM3:
- Lower price (the WH-1000XM3 seems to be frequently discounted to $300)
- Slightly more comfortable
- Better battery life (30 hours compared to the Bose's 20)
- Meatier bass
- Case is slightly smaller
- We like the look of the Sony slightly better
Points in favor of Bose:
- Sturdier headband
- More detailed sound
- Always-on Alexa voice assistant is an option
- A programmable button allows you to quickly toggle between 3 levels of noise cancellation of your choosing
- Superior voice communication (cell phone calling)
- Bose AR as an added feature
There are only two things that ultimately gnaw on me about the Bose: Its higher price tag and its incomplete app experience. It's an excellent noise-cancelling headphone with high-tech features and impressive overall performance, but I'd have liked to have seen Bose price it at $350 and lower the price of the QuietComfort 35 II to $300. It may shake out that way in due time. And while the updated app fixed my initial pairing problems, it still lacks all of the features Bose promises for the headphones.
We'll update this review once Bose releases the updated software down the road. Until then the Sony, especially when it's discounted to $300 or less, is the better value.
Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 specs
- Weight: 254g
- Over-ear design
- New acoustic and electronics package with new digital signal processing
- New eight-microphone system
- 11 levels of noise cancellation
- Adaptive voice system
- Built-in voice assistants (one-touch access)
- Low-power wake word (for Amazon Alexa voice assistant)
- Conversation mode
- Active EQ Sound Management (coming soon)
- Touch controls
- Over-the-air updates
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Bluetooth range: Up to 33 ft. (10m)
- Battery charging time: Up to 2.5 hours
- Quick charge time: 15 min for 3.5 hours
- Battery life: Up to 20 hours
- USB-C charging
- Supported codecs: SBC and AAC
- Two color options: Black and silver
- Price: $400 (£350)
Bose NC 700 review: Perfection, refined!
For the last few years, Bose had been at the top of its game when it came to offering the best noise-cancelling headphones money can buy. They successfully managed to thwart whatever competition that had come its way and they did it with a subtle brilliance that only they knew how. However, one brand managed to beat Bose in the premium noise-cancelling segment and this was none other than Sony. The WH-1000XM3 redefined what a class-leading Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphone should be as it came with a host of features and packed in a design that made the Bose QuietComfort 35 II seem outdated and dad-like.
Fast-forward to the fall of 2019 and things look a lot different. Bose has taken consumer feedback and repackaged its best noise-cancelling headphones, the QC35II in a design that’s contemporary and builds upon the best features that they have to offer. In step the Bose Noise-Cancelling 700, a pair of high-end headphones that takes noise-cancellation to new levels (literally!) as well as added breakthrough audio technology that’s worthy of the discerning ear.
Priced at Rs 34,500, the Bose NC 700 is launched not to replace the QuietComfort series, but to be a standalone series that comes with a swanky new design for people who want nothing but the best in audio technology; not to mention a great auditory experience to go with it.
Having spent some time with the Bose NC 700, here are our unbiased thoughts on if this is worth its lofty investment.
Bose received a lot of flak for the design of its QuietComfort series and rightfully so. Although it fares extremely well in the performance department, the design is rather boring. Bose went back to basics and with the NC 700; the brand has launched something that’s very pleasing on the eye. No more do we find the horrendous pleated earcups, unsightly hinges or any untoward bulk in the hardware department. The brand has now launched a headphone that’s not just sleek; but extremely modern looking as well. These wireless headphones feature Bose’s new design thinking and it sure is a stunner.
The Bose NC 700 come in three colour options — black, luxe silver and soapstone; the latter of which is dressed in white and has rose gold accents. No matter which colour you opt for, you will get a pair that’s an absolute head-turner.
The Bose NC 700 is built around a stainless steel headband that features a matte finish and they beautifully shift from a flat to a cylindrical shape. The height adjustments here can be easily altered by merely sliding the cups up and down the headband. That’s not all; there are multiple axis points here which help with keeping the headphones flat for storage purposes as well as to sit comfortably on your head while in use. The option to slide the earcups on the headband is a great choice as it negates the need for the ugly sliders that are found in traditional headphones.
The outside of the earcups are built using plastic and it too is completed with a matte finish. The padding here is streamlined as well and Bose has thankfully done away with the pleated faux leather that is found on the QC35II. All in all, Bose has done well to ensure a smooth design transition from headband to earcup.
During usage, the one aspect about the NC 700 that we found the most appealing was that they are seriously lightweight and this elevates its comfort level quite drastically. This definitely comes as surprise since the NC 700 is actually a tad bit heavier than the QC35 II. Another design choice that we loved here was that the cushioned earcups not just provide a comfortable fit; but also give you nice passive noise isolation by merely resting easily on the ears. This makes extended listening sessions a non-issue, especially during long-haul flights.
If you are concerned about storage, Bose has supplied a gorgeous zip-up carrying case here which helps with easily storing them in a backpack or such. However, we would have preferred if they could be folded inwards as it would make stowing them without a case much more convenient.
Bose has absolutely filled the NC 700 to the brim with technology and these ranges from touch-sensitive controls to Augmented Reality. To get the most out of the Bose NC 700, you will need to install the Bose Music app for Android or iOS.
The Bose NC 700 are seriously great headphones and they have the potential to be the best noise-cancelling headphones in the world; however, there is one issue with these headphones that make you want to skip them for practically anything else and that is its companion app.
The Bose Music app is littered with features that can make the headphones perform way better than they already do. However, getting the app to work or merely connect with the headphones is one of the most tedious, irritating processes you will ever find yourself doing.
While the app downloads fine, it just doesn’t connect the NC 700 to the smartphone. We tried pairing it with both iOS and Android devices (iPhone 11 Pro and OnePlus 7T Pro) and no matter what we did, it just failed to connect. After trying continuously for about 20-30 minutes, the NC 700 finally connected with the iPhone. However, this app is half-baked and Bose should seriously do something about it. Because of this one feature, we would actually recommend you not buy these headphones as you won’t enjoy the complete experience it has to offer.
After connecting, the app provides you with a comprehensive guide on how to operate your new Bose NC 700 headphones. It instructs you on how to manoeuvre through the touch-sensitive controls which one should pay close attention to for the most optimal experience.
The touch controls are rather intuitive. You swipe up or down for adjusting the volume, swipe forward or backwards for navigating through tracks, tap twice to play/pause songs as well as answering rejecting calls. All touch controls are handled by the outside of the right earcup.
It comes with Alexa built-in which is always welcome and it also supports Google Assistant and Siri. With Alexa, all you need to do is just say ‘Alexa’ and your virtual assistant is pulled up.
These headphones come with physical buttons too and the lower button on the right earcup allows you to quickly access your voice assistant while the upper one can be used for turning the headphones off/on or just simply to pair a new device to it. The button on the left helps with adjusting the amount of noise cancellation and you can cycle through three shortcuts. By default, the levels are set and 0 (noise-cancellation off), 5 and 10. With the latter being the maximum.
With the Bose Music app, you can also adjust the level of noise-cancellation from 0 to 10. This provides you with complete control over how much of ambient sound you want in. This is by far the best feature of the Music app and in our opinion; this feature alone makes the Bose NC 700 worth purchasing.
Another interesting feature that the app has to offer is Bose AR. Yes, these headphones come with augmented reality. The app allows you to access several AR apps that are available on the Apple App Store which allows you to experience spatial 3D audio and hear sounds by moving your head. There are apps for fitness, games, and even audio stories. However, this sort of AR is still in its infancy and in time, it will get evolve to a more rounded experience.
As far as battery life goes, Bose rates these at 20 hours. However, during our extended testing, even after a full charge, the headphones only managed 18-hours of playback with noise-cancellation on. Additionally, battery life is determined by a number of factors such as the level of noise-cancellation and volume; so, this means that it can differ from person to person.
The Bose NC 700 is hands-down the best noise-cancellation headphones available in the market currently and they have bested the competition in a way that only Bose knows how. The major determining factor of these headphones is the refined noise-cancellation on offer which is one of the primary reasons why people would opt for this pair.
Conventionally noise-cancelling headphones are made in such a way to block out ambient sounds in order that the music listening experience is uninterrupted. This is great; however, most headphones that offer active noise-cancellation check the right boxes when it comes to music; but fail drastically when it comes to making voice calls. The Bose NC 700 rectifies this issue and when using them for calls, the person on the other end can hear you clearly even if you are in a crowded environment or even in public transport. Bose has effectively added noise-cancellation for not just music but phone calls as well.
The trick Bose has used here is done by adding eight microphones (four on each side) with six working to achieve standard noise cancellation for music while two work to isolate your voice and block out external sounds during phone calls. With this technology in place, Bose ensures that your voice sounds extremely crisp to the person on the other end of the calls and no unwanted external sounds.
As mentioned earlier, the Bose Music app allows you to access 11 noise cancellation settings and these can be set as shortcuts and toggled by the physical button on the left earcup. For our travels, we preferred using the maximum available noise-cancellation as it blocked out almost all ambient noises.
A feature of the Bose NC 700 that we absolutely loved was that you don’t get the nauseous feeling that’s associated with some premium noise-cancelling headphones. This greatly helps those who are sensitive to the pressure noise-cancellation headphones put on the ears. Bose has managed to avoid this and this is another reason why these are rated as the best noise-cancelling headphones available.
Lastly, there is a ‘Conversation’ mode which allows you to use the headphones and turn noise cancellation completely off to allow voices or other external sounds to pass through easily. As the name suggests, this can be helpful during conversations without requiring you to remove the headphones.
The Bose NC 700 is easily one of the best headphones that are currently available and they come with the brand’s signature sound that’s garnered critical applause across the globe. The first thing you will surely experience is the vast soundstage that’s present here which is as colourful as it is energetic. Bose has always gone with a balanced low-end that’s clean which makes it suitable for a wide variety of genres. Like other Bose products, the low-end is not geared to the bass-heads and this is a welcome change from the enhanced bass-focused products out there.
Another easily discernible thing is that if you are coming from the QC35 II, you will notice that the NC 700 has a richer, fuller sound with generous separation between instruments and vocals which leads to an all-encompassing depth to the soundstage.
The headphones perform extremely competently with a lot of clarity and detail and there are textures to songs that hadn’t been noticed before. There is a rounded sound to these with ample punch in the low-end along with detail in highs that allow them to sparkle. Individual instruments have an irrefutable separation to them which ensures that there isn’t a muddied mess.
As mentioned earlier, the Bose NC 700 are great sounding headphones that will work extremely well with most genres with them being a good investment whichever way you look at it. The only downside to these headphones is again app related. There is no equalizer present here; however, Bose has stated that they will be working on adding this in the future.
The Bose Noise Cancelling 700 headphones retail in India for Rs 34,500. If it is a premium auditory experience that you’re seeking, then look no further than these. The pros here are too many and Bose has done well with a design that’s not just modern but also very functional. When it comes to noise-cancellation and phone calls, the Bose NC 700 are unrivalled. They offer the best experience money can buy. However, it does have its downsides as well and this is mainly to do with the extremely buggy Bose Music app. Also, to get the most out of these headphones, the app is extremely essential as it allows you to adjust the noise-cancellation as well as access AR apps. With that being said, the headphones don’t essentially require the app to work and a simple pairing can get the job done.
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Tags: bose nc 700, bose noise cancelling 700, bose nch 700, headphones, review
Nch 700 bose
For something that has a bizarrely bland moniker, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is an exciting release for a company that has gotten a run for its money in the last few years. With competing manufacturers like Sony, Sennheiser, Beats and even Apple giving this once household name some stiff competition in the best noise-cancelling headphone race – Bose hasn’t quite managed to hold on to its title and crown as tightly as it once did.
But, this over-ear noise cancelling pair might have just single-handedly propelled Bose back into the best travel headphone game, touting an appealingly well-balanced sound, terrific soundstage and outstanding ANC in a design that’s equal parts elegant, modern and comfortable.
Not that the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is perfect, mind you. There are still opportunities for improvement here, especially at that price. At the same time, there’s not much to complain about considering the amount of good stuff you’re getting. If a lot was riding on these headphones for Bose, it need not worry. This one’s a job well done.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Review: Price And Release Date
As far as noise-cancelling headphones go, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which officially hit the shelves in June 2019, is about on par with everything else at $379 / £349 / AU$599. On the other hand, the Sony WH-1000XM4, which is probably its most direct rival, was only slightly cheaper upon its release at $349 / £349 / AU$549. Meanwhile, other rivals like the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 and Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless are also in the same price range.
Still, it’s probably not what most folks would consider affordable, especially with options like the Beats Solo Pro and Razer Opus offering lower prices of entry and can now be found at less than $200/£200 at the biggest online retailers. That’s not considering all the bargain-basement brands touting their audio wares on Amazon like Anker’s Soundcore.
You’ll pay even more if you also want the charging case, which can come bundled with the headphones for $419 and £399 in the US and the UK, respectively. That’s a $40/£50 difference to get 40 additional hours of playtime per full charge of the case, which isn’t bad. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it sits in that higher mid-range aisle that most budget-minded consumers might not want to venture in.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Review: Design And Features
Though let’s be honest: the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700’s design alone might convince anyone to do so. The manufacturer has finally decided to give its headphones line a nice overhaul for a fresher, smarter look, and I, for one, am a fan.
It all starts with that sleek steel headband with a silicone top, a plush silicone-covered foam underside, and a smooth, silky finish. It tapers into these cylindrical ends at the ear cups that position them at a 15-degree angle, which Bose says mirrors “the anatomy of the human head and ears.” For a better fit, you can slide both ear cups up and down these cylindrical ends for necessary adjustments.
The ear cups themselves are finely designed, with outer shells made of similar material as the hard part of the headband and a finish coated with a special anti-stick material to reduce fingerprint tracks. Meanwhile, the ear cushions opposite are made of protein leather-covered soft foam to minimise outer ear fatigue.
The Bose NC 700 is designed in a way where there’s enough space between the drivers and your ear. It’s a good thing when you’re wearing it during a sweaty workout, although it also adds to that feeling of being at a large concert instead of a more intimate performance when listening to media. But, more on that later.
One of the many amazing things about its whole design is that these headphones do a great job staying in place without ever clamping down on your head. Perhaps it has a lot to do with that 15-degrees of tilt; maybe it’s just the way those ear cushions hug your ears – it doesn’t matter. What matters is that these will stay on your head whether you’re passed out on an aeroplane or running at a park.
Its touch controls are just as incredible and seamless. I’ve never really been one for using built-in headphone controls to manage my current playlist. I’ve simply found it better to change tracks or pause/play from my phone or smartwatch.
That isn’t the case with these headphones. Instead, all the controls are accessible on the anterior right ear cup and easy to remember: double-tap for pause/play, swipe up/down for volume, swipe back/forward for previous or next tracks, and tap and hold for battery level. The tap and hold function can also be assigned to either enable/disable wake word or resume Spotify, but you’ll have to do so on the app. Touch controls for phone calls are just as easy: double-tap to answer or end a call, tap and hold to decline one.
Thanks to these touch controls, there are very few buttons here. There are only three, two on the right ear cup, one on the left, all low-profile. The right ones are the on/off/Bluetooth and smart assistant buttons, while the left one is for cycling through three noise cancellation presets that you set up on the app.
These buttons are terrific to use as well. I especially love that you do not need to hold down the on/off button, unlike other headphones. You simply press once to turn it on and press again to turn it off. To connect it to a device via Bluetooth, just hold it down until the light starts blinking blue.
Speaking of Bluetooth, it’s got Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity that no-fuss linking, boasts a range of 33 feet or about 10 metres, and dual connectivity, which means that you can connect up to two devices simultaneously. But, unfortunately, it does need a little guidance in figuring out from which device to play. For example, if you have one connected device already playing music, you’d have to pause that before the headphones can start playing from the second connected device.
Finally, it utilises USB-C charging and naturally comes with a USB-C to USB-A cable. Much like most headphones, it also offers the 3.5mm analogue option for those who adore old-school sound quality, alongside the 2.5mm to 3.5mm cable for that purpose.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Review: Performance
If you prefer a brighter or darker sound, you might find the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700’s sound quality to lack character. These are fairly neutral-sounding headphones, which isn’t going to be for some casual users, especially those who are used to a bit of oomph or a whole lot of pop in whatever they’re listening to.
However, neutral-sounding headphones are generally preferred by audiophiles, as well as audio engineers and music-lovers with discerning and varied tastes. And, while this pair is not exactly quite at that audiophile-level, it certainly attempts (and succeeds) to give a taste of that to mainstream users.
The result is an impressively neutral and well-balanced sound. Bose does a great job with the mid-range frequency here. It’s not too emphasized to sound muddy yet not too quiet to sound hollow and cheap. The mids are, therefore, controlled but present, a wise decision as this is where most of the audio information lies.
Meanwhile, the bass sounds good and controlled yet not overpowering and the highs are very slightly rolled off. Bassheads and rock’n’roll fans will want to EQ. But, still, everything sounds good all around, nothing sounds anemic, muffled or losing detail. In fact, the sound quality is a bit reminiscent of the legendary Sennheiser HD600, which boasts a similar neutral sound, only with a bit more detail.
The soundstage is very good as well. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 feels wide, particularly with movies and shows. Its sound imaging is even better. All the different elements have more space to be heard here, so they’re not competing with each other. As a result, you can hear not just every single element, but also every nuance they come with.
In Queen’s Under Pressure, on which there are all these different elements – a guitar on each side, a piano, a bass and drums in the middle, and Freddie Mercury and Bowie doing their thing – nothing gets in the way of anything. Each element has its own space, making it easy for listeners to focus on a particular thing.
In the song Lost In The Dream by The War on Drugs, I can feel and hear the full range of motion of the tremolo on the guitar. Because the driver is further away from the listener’s ears, the sound has more space to resonate as it gets to your ear.
The only thing is that because of that space between my ears and the drivers, I’m not getting that wall of sound and that in-your-face kind of immersion. Instead, it feels like a more laid-back experience, much like how it feels to be at a sit-down performance. This is especially true, I’ve noticed, with rock songs.
The controllable noise cancelling feature is a boon to everyone. There are 11 settings on hand, as well as the conversation (full transparency) mode, with the lowest being off and the highest being full noise cancellation, which does a great job of blocking outside noise. There’s still a tiny bit of sound leakage, but it will do the job on a plane or airport if you have audio playing at a healthy volume.
As for the mics, there are six for noise cancellation and four more that ensure you’re coming through loud and clear (there are eight total, with two that are being shared by these two functions). Phone calls are easy with these headphones. Rest assured you’ll come through clear and crisp.
Finally, the battery life. Sadly, while competitors boast up to 30 or 40 hours of playtime, you’re only getting 20 hours here at full charge. This is definitely among these headphones’ (very few) weaknesses.
The good news is that it does deliver on that 20-hour promise. Plus, it comes with fast charging capabilities so a 15-minute charge time should give you 3.5 hours of playback. If that still isn’t enough, you can always spring for the charging case.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Review: Verdict
Forget everything you think you want from your headphones. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is going to be an upgrade from whatever consumer-end one you’re relying on right now. It may not have that booming bass or very bright sound that you’re used to or look for, but give it a chance and you’ll realise that it’s a much better prospect.
Coming from someone who loves brighter-sounding headphones, I respect what Bose is doing here – making me appreciate the value of a well-balanced audio sound. Even if it’s not exactly the most exciting thing at first, it will deliver many of the nuances you’ll miss in other mainstream headphones, from terrific sound imaging that accurately positions all the elements where they’re supposed to sit down to the smaller details like the crests and troughs of the tremolo effect.
Couple that with its incredibly seamless controls and elegant design, and you’ve got a pair of headphones that may not be quite at that audiophile-level, but brings mainstream consumers to the fringes of it.
Do I recommend the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700? A thousand times yes.
The Sony WH-1000XM4, which has long been a crowd favourite, offers its vibrant, detailed sound and impressive noise-cancelling performance for a bit less than the Bose NC 700. They can be a bit trebly, however.
If you’re done with the over-ear design and are looking for something more portable, consider a pair of earbuds. The Bose QuietComfort Buds also delivers a well-balanced sound, great transparency mode, and effortless Bluetooth pairing. They are currently included in our best noise-cancelling earbuds guide.
Prices - Bose 700:▼
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review
Bose took active noise cancelling and made it mainstream but eventually, the market caught up. Sony has released consecutive ANC hard-hitters, with better features, better noise cancelling, and better sound quality than the old Bose QC35 II. Well, it seems like Bose was listening, because the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is a complete redesign of its iconic product (and yes, that’s actually the name). The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 have a new design, improved sound quality, a touch-sensitive gesture pad for playback controls, and even USB-C charging, but should you get one of the best Bose headphones around?
Editor’s note: this post was updated on July 23, 2021 to discuss the firmware update to 1.8.2.
Who are the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 for?
- Travelers. If you want to block out the sounds of planes and trains, these have fantastic active noise cancelling.
- Students. While they’re expensive, the ANC is top-notch. If you’re tired of the noisy people in your library, these are the way to go.
- Anyone who wants the best. You can’t go wrong with either the Sony WH-1000XM4 or these. However, you choose to spend your money you’re getting a great pair of ANC headphones.
What are the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 like to use?
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 has been completely redesigned with a sleeker, all-metal headband.
In short: these headphones are a delight to use. There are a few issues that I found with these that I’ll get into, but overall my experience with the Bose Noise Cancelling headphones 700 has been great. They’re lightweight, easy to use, well-built, and I’d say are objectively gorgeous. The QC35 II and the Sony WH-1000XM4 are both relatively new, and I didn’t think they had a dated design until I held these. Whether or not you think they’re worth the $400, at least they’re a pretty pair of cans.
The design on these is objectively gorgeous.
The minimal design is reflected all over the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, and I’m here for it. There are a total of three buttons on the headphones and two of them don’t have any icons or labels of any kind, which I don’t mind since you can’t see labels when you’re wearing them anyway. Only the power/Bluetooth pairing button on the right ear cup has a small Bluetooth logo so you can tell it apart from the other two when turning them on. You won’t find any playback buttons here as they’ve been replaced with a touch-sensitive gesture pad on the right ear cup similar to that of the Sony WH-1000XM4.
You can now slide the ear cups into place thanks to the new sliding adjustment which seems more intuitive than the clicky ones of previous models.
The ear cups still rotate a full 90 degrees so you can rest these around your neck when not in use, but the clicky adjustment mechanism has also been swapped out for one that lets you slide the ear cups into place instead. These don’t have hinges for folding, so expect to make use of the included hardshell referring case if you want to keep these safe. The headphones are also no longer made entirely from plastic. Now the headband has a metal construction that will make it much harder to accidentally break. But this is where the praise for the redesign ends because while the 700 headphones aren’t uncomfortable by any means, they’re definitely a step backward from the QC35 II.
Related: Shure AONIC 50 vs. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
The main reason for this step backward is the change in materials used for the padding. While the ear cups are still using a comfortable padding, they’re stiffer than the previous cushions found on the QC35 II. This is great when it comes to isolating outside noise, but wearing them at my local cafe for a few hours while typing this up (yeah, I’m that guy) resulted in my ears getting pretty hot. It got to the point where I noticed that I was sweating when I took them off. It’s not like the cafe didn’t have the air conditioning on either, but in any kind of warm conditions these are going to get really warm which isn’t something I noticed with the QC35 II. On top of that, the padding on the top of the headband has been changed as well. I was a huge fan of the padding on the QC35 II as it was wrapped in a soft microfiber cloth that just felt great to wear. The pressure at the crown of the head was almost non-existent.
A soft, rubber plastic replaces the microfiber-lined headband cushion of the QC35 II, and while it’s still comfortable it feels like a step backward. Plus, these no longer have folding hinges.
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, however, are now rocking a soft rubberized plastic similar to the one found on the Beats Studio3 headphones. Thankfully, the padding here is way more comfortable than those, but I had the same problem where the plastic occasionally pulled my hair. Again, it’s still comfortable and this is a huge nitpick but considering the high price tag, I should barely notice that I’m wearing these. That level of comfort was always present with the Bose QC35 II and even the QC25 before them, and I just feel like it’s missing here.
Are the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 waterproof?
Unfortunately, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are not waterproof. That said, they are water-resistant meaning that while they can withstand some sprays of water they can’t be submerged. According to this post on the Bose community forum, the headphones have an IPX4 rating. This should keep you covered if you get caught in a light rain or even a heavy rain, but we still recommend using your best judgement as to when you should stash them in a dry place. Electronics and water tend not to mix very well and these aren’t cheap.
|IPX1||✓||Dripping water (1 mm/min)|
Limit: vertical drips only
|IPX2||✓||Dripping water (3 mm/min)|
Limit: Device max tilt of 15° from drips
Limit: Device max tilt of 60° from sprays
|IPX5||✓||Water jets (12.5 L/min)|
Example: Squirt guns
|IPX6||✓||Strong water jets (100 L/min)|
Example: Powerful water guns
Limit: 1 m. for 30 min
Limit: 3 m. for 30 min
How do you connect to the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?
To get the most out of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 you should download the Bose Music app. It’ll walk you through the setup process and is surprisingly simple to use which is rare with headphone apps. If you’re on Android you’ll get a little drop-down card to quickly pair with and hook up the Google Assistant all in a few screens. Once connected, you can do everything from adjusting the level of active noise cancellation (1-11) to rename the headphones if you want.
These have three buttons in total, one of which is for pairing, another is for controlling the level of ANC. and a third which can activate the Google Assistant.
One thing I really like is the ability to switch between devices in the app. As long as you can create an account with Bose, you can then switch between saved devices if the headphones are having trouble figuring out which one you want to listen to. If you’re listening to music on your phone and want to instead start watching a video on your iPad, you can select the iPad in the app. It’s been seamless in my experience and beats having to go through the settings of your devices every time. In the app, you can also choose which Assistant you want to activate when you click the custom button. You can choose between the Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or Siri if you’re on iOS.
Playback has also been moved into a touch-sensitive pad on the side of the right ear cup.
Playback has also been moved into a touch-sensitive pad on the side of the right ear cup. Swiping forward or backward skips between tracks, while swiping up or down adjusts the volume. Bose also made it so that pausing the music takes two taps on the touchpad, which is great. One of my biggest annoyances with touchpads is when the headphones accidentally register a touch and pause the music when you don’t want it to. By making the pause/play button a double-tap it ensures that the music won’t pause unless you want it to.
The microphones for the noise cancelling can be seen on the ear cups.
Connection strength has also been positive. These have Bluetooth 5.0, so I’m not surprised that they hold a solid connection to my source device. But unfortunately: they don’t have support for aptX. We have an entire explainer on codecs, but in short, a codec allows two Bluetooth devices to share data with each other more efficiently. Besides the standard SBC codec that all Bluetooth devices default down to, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 only have AAC.
Represented is the max transfer rate (kbps) of each respective Bluetooth codec (greater is better). Each waveform depicts a transfer rate of 100 kbps.
The AAC codec isn’t bad, but our testing found it doesn’t play as well with Android devices as it does on iOS ones. Though to be fair, I experienced no issues here and you most likely won’t notice any either unless you have been training your ears to be superhuman. These also have the option to be hardwired thanks to the input on the bottom of the left ear cup, but it’s a weird 2.5mm input instead of the standard 3.5mm so try not to lose the included cable.
How long does the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 battery last?
Even with active noise cancelling on max, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 headphones still managed to pump out 21 hours of constant playback.
When it comes to battery life, Bose remains on the conservative end of great. While products like the Sony WH-XB900N and can push upwards of 35 hours of constant playback in our battery tests, Bose claims only 20 hours. I found this to be fairly accurate and managed to squeeze 21 hours and 25 minutes of constant playback. We test this by setting the volume of the headphones to a constant output of 75dB and then letting them run themselves dry. This was with active noise cancellation on the maximum setting too, so you might be able to squeeze some more if you lower the ANC. In the app, you can also set a timer to have the headphones automatically turn off after a pre-designated amount of time. So if you take advantage of that too, you should be able to go a long time before you need to throw these back on the charger which is, thankfully, USB-C this time around.
Are the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 better than the Sony WH-1000XM4?
- Among the best in its class, the Sony WH-1000XM4 offers very good noise cancelation and isolation.
- With the latest firmware, the maximum ANC performance is very good.
Before we dig into the sound quality of these headphones, we should address the main reason you’re probably interested in these. How is the active noise cancelling of the Bose Headphones 700 compared to the Sony WH-1000XM4? The team at Bose was clearly feeling the heat because they redesign the microphones in the headphones in order to better cancel outside noise. The effect is top-notch as you can hear from the clip below where I recorded the headphones on our test head with my air conditioner on and some music playing in the background.
Sony also does a great job with noise cancelling and for reference here’s a second clip of the exact same situation, but with the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones instead.
Be sure to stay on top of software updates, because you’ll need the newest version to get the most out of your ANC with these headphones. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 firmly secure their spot in the top three noise cancelling headphones when up to date, as their out-of-the-box performance leaves a bit to be desired.
Can you use the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 for phone calls?
The Bose microphone does a good job with the main parts of voices, but anyone with a deep voice will be slightly cut off as frequencies less than 200Hz won’t be nearly as loud.
Yes, the microphones here have clearly been given plenty of TLC by the engineers at Bose and they pick up voices nicely as well. The low-frequency attenuation is purposeful and reduces the proximity effect. This phenomenon is when a speaker is too close to the microphone and the low-frequency of their voice becomes distorted.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 microphone demo:
What do the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 sound like?
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 headphones have a new design and sound even better than the QC35s before them, despite still lacking any high-quality streaming codecs.
Now we can talk sound quality because even though the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 don’t have any high-quality streaming codecs—they still sound really good. It should be pointed out, however, that you can adjust the note emphasis in the Bose Music app through a somewhat crude equalizer. This will allow you to tailor things to your liking beyond what our measurements show you, so don’t let the following discussion of sound deter you if you like everything else about these headphones; chances are near 100% you can fix it with a little homework.
I found the to be a little more pleasant than the Bose QC35 II before them because even though they still have a slight emphasis on lower notes (as you can see from the pink in the frequency response graph below), the emphasis is more evenly spread out over the notes that fall in the 110Hz range and below 1kHz.
- Bose’s default frequency response (cyan) very closely follows our house curve (pink).
- Aside from a short ear resonance issue, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II aligns well with our target curve.
You can hear this nicely in the bassline throughout the song Sedona by Houndmouth which rumbles softly behind the vocals instead of overtaking them. Because of this, vocals in the mids sound great and are never eclipsed by what’s going on in the low end.
The slight dip around the 1kHz mark isn’t as big as an issue as it seems, and in fact, I find that vocals tend to sound a little smoother thanks them not being overly emphasized.
The vocals in Mightnight Blues by UMI sounds great, and the highs are also handled nicely which you can hear from the bells playing behind her which never get harsh.
Can you EQ the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?
Yes, but really: no. I know that’s not a good answer, but the truth of the matter is that while Bose has an EQ of sorts in the Bose Music app, it’s more or less only good for very ham-fisted adjustments, and not as granular as they’d need to be in order for best results. There’s only a bass, mids, and treble slider, with no indication of where the line is drawn.
This is especially frustrating because in order to get the headphones to reach certain profiles, you absolutely cannot move the emphasis in this way that wouldn’t cause an unpleasant swing in certain ranges.
Don’t move the mids or treble slider too much, or you’re going to have bizarre drops and peaks.
Our best suggestion is to use your music or operating system to equalize your headphones, as those apps will give you much better control over your results. The above chart is for software EQing only, and the vertical pink lines are the bounds of what most software EQs allow you to adjust.
A firmware update made my Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 worse, how do I fix it?
Just like the QC35 II before them, there have been some complaints about a firmware update giving the newer Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 some issues. While there haven’t been enough complaints to get a guaranteed fix, we figured it’d be a good idea to put the instructions that worked for most people last time in the hopes that it will similarly resolve this issue for most people as well. If none of these work, then at least you can tell Bose customer support that you’ve already done the “basic” fixes.
- Turn off the headphones. It sounds simple, but just restarting the headphones can fix a lot of issues.
- Plug the QC35 II into your wall charger for at least 5 seconds, then remove the cable
- Connect the headphones to your computer via USB, and go here in a browser
- Download and run the Bose Updater app on your computer
- Update the headphones using your computer to the latest firmware manually
However, it should be pointed out that despite their exhaustive efforts to recreate the problem, Bose was unable to rule out other factors like earpads coming undone, and poor fits. Ensure that your earpads are all the way clicked in before contacting Bose support.
Should you upgrade to firmware version 1.8.2?
According to Bose, the bugfixes added to firmware version 1.8.2 address a few small improvements to improve the overall quality of the product. You’ll get:
- General improvements to the Bluetooth connection to make it more reliable and to provide better voice assistant responses.
- Bug fixes to maximize the battery level.
While we generally take the view that you should wait and see what problems people have with firmware updates before making the leap yourself, this is an update that enables some helpful features that might be worth updating for.
Similarly, if you use an iOS device the company recently pushed an update to the Bose Music app that lets you add a Spotify shortcut to the headphones. If you toggle on the setting, all you need to do is tap and hold the right ear cup to quickly activate Spotify.
Should you get the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?
If you only care about owning the headphones that have the best active noise cancellation, then you should just get the Sony WH-1000XM3 because technically, they are better. There are also the AKG N700NC headphones worth considering, which are the best at active noise cancelling that we’ve tested thus far. The Sony headphones also have better codec support for high-quality streaming and are slightly more portable considering they have hinges and can fold. That said, at least to me, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are clearly the more desirable product.
The new design is stunning and makes everything else seem ancient in comparison. Though I liked the comfort and the ANC of the Bose QC35 II, I was never really a huge fan and would mainly recommend Sony noise cancelers anytime someone asked me for a recommendation. That changes now thanks to the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. These are an upgrade in almost every way thanks to the finely controlled noise cancelling, the ability to seamlessly switch between devices, USB-C charging, and the touch-sensitive control pad. They even sound better. It’s the spec and design upgrade that Bose needed, and moving forward the 700s aren’t leaving my head.
Currently, you can snag these on sale for $300USD via Amazon’s Prime Day deals, but it’s conceivable this pair of headphones will go on sale again soon. Where it’s a tough call whether or not these headphones are worth your money at MSRP, at $300 it’s a much more palatable cost.
What are some less expensive options?
The headband doesn’t fold down due to the lack of hinges, but the ear cups do rotate 90 degrees to lie flat.
While the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are great, there’s no denying that $350 is a lot of money. If you’re not looking to spend that much then I’d recommend giving Sony a shot. Both the WH-XB900N and WH-CH710N headphones offer solid noise cancelling, great sound, and better battery life at around $200 which is significantly cheaper. Of course, you won’t have the same beautiful design or build quality but you will have a good chunk of change still in your pocket. Then there are also previous Bose headphones like the Bose QC25 headphones that still have great active noise cancelling and, if you can find them, have dropped in price since they’re not the newest offerings from the company.
Next: Best AirPods Max alternatives
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BOSE Noise Cancelling headphones NCH 700
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