Bose’s QuietComfort 35 (QC35) were a massive hit, so much so that they released a follow-up not long after in the QC35 II.  These were once again a massive hit (I still see folks wearing them at the gym!) and with their quality sound and possibly the best active noise cancellation available it came as no surprise.  What was a surprise that they followed up with an entirely different design and line, the NC700, which while a bit more modern and sleek in their styling, just hasn’t seem to have had the success of the QC line.

Now they have released their QC follow-up in the form of the QuietComfort45 (QC45) and from all accounts they look to be a hit for Bose once again.  While the hardware is extremely similar underneath the design, the styling is most definitely a QC line with the design nearly identical to the QC35 II.

Design and fit

The design of the QC45 is virtually identical to the QC35 II with the buttons all in the same place but the QC45 have USB-C charging as opposed to the micro-USB in the QC35 II.  The QC45 also pick up an extra two microphones bringing the total to six compared to the QC35 II’s bringing it in line with the NC700.  Four of these microphones are used for voice.

Inside each ear cup are the same drivers as those used in the QC35 II which is surprising considering that they were released a few years ago now but then speaker tech for these headphones has not come that far since then – it also demonstrates just how good the QC35 II were/are.

The headband is the same design as the QC35 II with a hinge on each side to allow the headphones to collapse down to a size much smaller than the NC700 do.  The NC700 only fold flat but not into a smaller size which is limiting, especially when travelling and you are limited by how much you can carry.

The headband is the same shape as that on the QC35 II which is different to that on the NC700.  The QC45 has a flatter headband which can be harsher on your head if you do not extend it much.  The NC700 on the other hand as a more circular shaped headband which for me fits the shape of my noggin better.  Simply extending the QC45 headband out more fixes that though and the headband is extremely comfortable for long wearing times.  The padded material of the QC45 is a very soft leather-like material which is easy to clean.

The ear cups on the QC45 have a smooth, soft leather-like material which sit extremely comfortably on your ears but, like most over-ear headphones, if you are using them in a warm environment your ears will start to heat up and get a bit sweaty.  Just as well they are easy to clean and wipe the sweat off. 

As mentioned above, the buttons on the QC45 are not unique with the right earcup housing the volume up and down and play/pause buttons, as on the QC35 II.  The left ear cup houses an action button that switches from Quiet mode (full ANC) and Aware mode which lets you hear your surroundings.  Unfortunately, unlike the NC700, you cannot set the level of ANC for each of these modes:  it is either on full or in Aware mode with Aware mode basically just turning off the ANC.

The active noise cancelling and sound quality

Bose has always had one of the next ANC available and they have improved it even more with the QC45.  Adding new hardware and technology to the ANC system has resulted in a much better cancelling of unwanted noise – and it was already great beforehand.  Side by side with the NC700 the QC45 provide a much better cancellation of surrounding sounds – standing next to my external AC unit at home, the QC45 removed most of the noise, with the NC700 doing a good job but not as good as the QC45.

The sound for the headphones is extremely good on the QC45 – as you would expect from Bose — after you have adjusted it to suit the music you are listening to.  The range of the sounds provided is fantastic and no matter what type of music you listen to you can get a great listening experience.  Some may feel that the highs of the music may be emphasised just a bit too much – which could be due to the inbuilt EQ and should hopefully be fixed with an OTA update in the future.  You can of course adjust this over emphasis on the high sounds using the Bose equaliser within the Bose Music app.

Bose only recently added the equaliser (as I was typing this actually) to the Bose Music app for the QC45 headphones, allowing for a small amount of control of the music profile. The EQ is extremely basic though without any ability to really fine-tune the sound profile.  Instead, Bose have an “Active EQ” which “optimises” the sound using their inbuilt AI depending on what is playing and how loud it is playing – that could be the reason they sounded so good no matter what style of music I listened to.

For some reason Bose has not included support for aptX and LDAC which may affect some audiophiles who do prefer these codecs but it did not affect my music streaming.  

Trevor used a pair of QC45’s on the plane and over in Barcelona for his trip to MWC 2022 and these were his thoughts:

Now, granted it’s been a couple of years since we were in the groove of travelling and using noise cancelling properly – but it’s still fresh enough in my mind to know these are top notch.

I still feel Sony may have the slightest of edges on overall noise cancelling, but it’s negligible. The Bose lack the simple touch controls of other brands, but that doesn’t worry me on a flight because I’m using them to watch content on a tablet, not skip through songs.

They are unquestionably the most comfortable over-ears for a long journey like an overseas flight, and while Bose tried to innovate with design in those 700’s, I’m much more comfortable with the look of the QC’s every day of the week.

Reliable connection to two devices meant I could pause a movie and watch a video on my phone in an instant, that worked really well, and of course, there’s no complaints about Bose and their audio quality generally.

No doubt, these will continue the long-held tradition of popularity among travellers for the Bose QC range.

Call quality

First things first, the QC45 offer multi-point pairing thanks to the Bluetooth 5.1 connection, so that even if they are connected to your PC for work/gaming etc, you will still be able to have them paired to your phone to be able to make and receive calls as required.

As for the surrounding noise cancelling it worked extremely well.  Next to the AC unit and the fan of the stove going for blast (Boost mode) the caller on the other end of the phone was able to head me perfectly well with only a small amount of external noise interfering with the call quality. These new additional external mics on the earcups make for some high quality noise reduction.

Battery life

Bose state that you should be getting 25 hours of usage from a single charge and a quick charge of 15 minutes can provide you with 3 hours of battery life.  After using them for a couple of weeks I can say that I easily clocked up the 25 hours of battery life on these headphones (mostly because I was in an indoor, relatively quiet environment so did not require the volume to be anywhere near maximum) but if you do happen to run out the battery you can use them in wired mode – assuming the device you have them connected to has a headphone jack (do planes still have them?  It’s been a while since I’ve been overseas).

What’s missing?

Aside from the popular aptX codec there is also a lack of any form of on-ear sensing technology so simply removing them from your ears and placing around the neck will not pause the music – this is a feature I love on headphones that have it and it is disappointing to see Bose not include it.

Should you buy them?

The Bose QC45 are a nice upgrade from the QC35 II, albeit a small one. They offer some features but not all features you may hope to see in headphones in this category. What they lack though they make up for it with one of the best ANC on the market and although there are only two settings for the ANC — on or off and nothing in between.

They are comfortable and with the use of the Bose Music equaliser and Bose’s AI you can produce a high-quality sound. Not only that but they fold down to a relatively small size allowing them to be a lot more portable than Bose’s other recent ANC headphones, the NC700 — perfect for those overseas trips that we are all looking forward to now that we can do that. If you want a good set of ANC headphones with one of the best noise cancelling available then you should be taking a serious look at the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones.

The pricing is not cheap so we encourage you to test them out before purchasing — at that price there are a few options including Sony and Bose headphones so make sure you do your due diligence before purchasing. The Bose QuietComfort 45 can be purchased in Black and White Smoke from Bose or from any good electronics retailer at a RRP of $499.