Best Bose Headphones 2021

Mar 24, 2021
SHORT VERSION: In real-world use, QC35II is BETTER the 700's. If pretty is your primary motivator, then 700's win but functionally, QC35II wipes the floor with the 700s in all categories but looks and ANC flexibility.

LONG VERSION: As an avid TomsGuide reader and an owner and user of both the Bose 700 and the QC35II, I'd like to call out some things in this article that I disagree with. The QC35II is not a draw in certain categories as this and many other articles would have you believe. The classic QC design evolved over time and reached it's pinnacle with the QC35II until it was replaced rather than further the 700's don't get any of the time-tested refinement that the QC series has earned...and seemingly only to make a prettier headset.

Light Weight Design: Tom calls this a draw but I disagree. QC35II wins over the 700 here as the QC35II's are not only technically lighter-overall but they are better balanced to sit on one's head while the head is at different angles. QC35II is weighted more heavily in the ear cups whereas the 700's have a lot of weight in the over-the-head band. When weighted at the earcup, leaning forward to pick something up or laying back in your first-class-cabin airline pod seat, doesn't cause the headset to pivot over your head and fall off. With the 700's however, with the extra bulk and weight in the over-head-band, this happens alot.

Portable Design: The QC35II's easily fold up like a transformer and fit into a compact rectangle-ish carrying case, that with a caribeaner can easily hang from a backpack or even on the seatback pocket of your economy cabin airline seat. The loop for the case is located on the top of the case with the zipper opening the case to the left like a door would open and even has a thin pocket that could hold a passport or a ticket or something of the like...great for travelling. The 700's on the other hand are huge, non-folding, and unwieldy to carry around. The ear cups swivel in and out to allow it to fit into the case but that's it. The case itself it nearly double the size of the case that comes with the QC35II's and for some odd reason has the attachment loop, not at the top as one would expect, but on the side, with the zipper unzipping around the opposite side of the case! When holding the case as you naturally would, in the same orientation as the headset would be on your head, that zipper causes the case to open like a door. With the loop on the side though, while hanging, your headset is aligned sideways and you are unzipping around the bottom of the case. Hanging this case on a backpack distributes the weight on the loop in such a bizar way that the act of walking alone causes it to flop around to the point where it gets annoying. On top of that, if one unzips the case while it's hanging from the loop, there's a good chance that the headsets will simply fall on the floor. This also means one needs to be careful to make sure the zipper is always closed when hooking it to a backpack via the loop because the weight of the case will keep the lid close while unzipped and not moving, but as soon as the aforementioned flopping around begins, an unzipped case can easily lead to a lost headset.

Easy to Use: The QC35II's have a true tactile on/off sliding switch for on/off control, true tactile volume up and volume down buttons, and an auxilliary button (again a REAL button that one can feel without looking at) for track and assistant control. The 700's have a true tactile but not-quite-real "toggle" button for on/off control, an true tactile auxiliary button for voice assistant control, and a single ear-cup-mounted, touch-sensitive, multi-use, pad for volume and track control. The QC35II blows the 700 out of the water in terms of functionality here. The only thing the 700 gets here is bragging rights on a cleaner looking design. When using these headsets though, the 700's semi-toggle button makes the simple task of turning the headset on and off difficult. You'll see post after post out there about how people can't figure out how to turn on or turn off their 700's without pressing that button 2 or 3 times to get it to register. (Master Class Note here...just get into the habit of pressing that button HARD every time.) The QC35's have a sliding switch that you just can't mess up. It's either slid to the right and on, or to the left and off. This sliding switch also has a green dot visible when the headset is on and a red dot visible when the headset is off so one can always tell just by looking at the headset if it is still on or not. With the 700's you actually have to put them on to double check that your on or off button press really registered. I can't tell you how many times my 700's batteries have died because i thought I turned them off but I didn't. The volume control buttons on the QC35II are also intuitive, easy to find in the dark, and are always in the same place regardless of how tilted forward or tilted back you like to wear your headset. The 700's on the other hand use a touch sensitive surface that interprets up/down swipes as volume control and forward/back swipes as track control...the problem here being that if you tend to wear your headset with the band over the front of your head or the back of your head, which you HAVE TO DO in some reclining or forward leaning positions to counteract that extra over-the-head-band weight which will cause them to fall off of your head...what is up and down to your head may be interpreted as forward and back by the tilted headset. There are no tactile clues on the headset to let you know where that diagonal limit line is between what the headset considers up/down vs forward/back.

Had I known all of this before purchasing the 700s I would not have. Because I spent the money on them though, I leave them on a purchased headset stand on my desk and use them for Zoom calls. My older QC35II's are the go-to for anything travel related or away-from-my-desk related.

One more thing that the 700's seem to have an issue with, that I assume will eventually get fixed in software, is multistreaming. The QC35IIs, using the older Bose Connect app would easily allow 2 seperate Bose QC35's listen to the same bluetooth stream. This is really nice for couples who travel together. The 700's, with the new Bose Music App, don't seem to be able to do this. Why, Bose? WHY????