Oct 19, 2023

My Favorite Headphones Ever: Bose QuietComfort (2023)

The all-new Bose QuietComfort Headphones really aren't that new at all. They are almost Identical to the QC35 headphones that came out in 2016. They are boring — perfectly boring — and that's why they are my favorite headphones ever.

Over the years, I've had the pleasure of testing countless wireless headphones, and I can confidently say that the new Bose QuietComfort headphones have stolen the top spot as my all-time favorite headphones. Yes, you heard me right: I prefer them even over the popular Sony XM5 headphones, and they have managed to outshine even Apple's headphones.

Back in 2016, Bose introduced the QuietComfort 35 headphones, marking a turning point in the world of wireless Bluetooth headphones with noise cancellation. To me, they were near perfection. The sound quality was class leading, the noise-canceling capabilities were outstanding, and the button layout was intuitive. But what set them apart was their unparalleled comfort; they were the most comfortable headphones I'd ever worn.

In the following years, Bose released the QC 35 II, which maintained the same excellent qualities while introducing an extra function button. Remarkably, these headphones were so good that they continue to be available even today.

In 2021 Bose released the QC 45 headphones, which were almost identical to the QC 35 IIs. Sound quality was the same, but noise cancelation had been significantly improved. Strangely, the QC 45s removed the "medium" noise cancellation option that the 35 IIs had. This option help the older headphones cancel out wind noise. Without this option, the QC 45s lost their ability to be used in windy environments. For some people, this wasn't a big deal, but for me, who uses my headphones outside all the time, it felt like a huge step backward.

Fast-forward to 2023, and Bose has given us the QuietComfort headphones, and it's what the QC 45s should have been. These headphones manage to retain the comfort and design of the original QC 35s while making some welcome improvements. For starters, they now come with a USB-C charging port, bringing them up to speed with modern connectivity standards.

The audio quality remains top-notch, and now, they even offer an equalizer feature, allowing you to customize the audio to your liking. The noise cancellation has been upgraded, making them even better at blocking out unwanted sounds. A new Wind Block feature minimizes wind noise more than any headphones I've ever tested.

QuietComfort headphones come with a transparency mode, making it easy to stay aware of your surroundings or engage in phone calls without removing your headphones. It's a pleasant addition for those moments when you need to tune in to the world around you.

All modern Bose headphones can be used wirelessly and support multi-device pairing, allowing you to connect to several Bluetooth devices simultaneously. For those who prefer a wired connection, they work just as seamlessly.

The Bose QuietComfort headphones are refreshingly straightforward. In a market flooded with headphones featuring fancy touch controls, automatic wake and sleep, and ear detection, these headphones are a breath of fresh air. They come with a simple on/off switch and physical buttons — a design philosophy I truly appreciate.

With all their virtues, there is one glaring issue with the Bose QuietComfort headphones: the price tag. At $349, they are undoubtedly on the expensive side. Considering that you can still get a brand-new pair of QC 35 II headphones for around $100 on eBay, it might make you question the value of the upgrade. The QC 45s consistently go on sale for around $230, and other than the "wind block" feature, they are basically the exact same headphones.

If you're someone who regularly uses headphones outdoors and values excellent sound quality, noise cancellation, and comfort, these headphones are perfect for you. However, I'd suggest waiting for a sale or a discount offer, as $349 is a bit steep when you consider how similar these are to past models.

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Lee Morris is a professional photographer based in Charleston SC, and is the co-owner of

My Favorite Headphones Ever:Sony MDR 7506. $90Used in recording studios coastTo coast.

Recording studios care about only one thing: tonal accuracy. It's so they know they got the EQ right. Dynamic range, detail, sound staging - these are all incidental.

All I can say is, if you're an audiophile and you like your current headphones, never, ever listen to a pair of Stax electrostatics, because they'll go on your credit card faster than you can say "dynamic range and detail". If you've never heard electrostats before, you will be astounded at how much you haven't been hearing.Back in the '80s, I heard a friend's entry-level $300 pair of Staxes. Went shopping and made the mistake of trying out the next model up, the Lambda Pro, $500 at the time. I was paying $300 rent and making $7.50/hour, and this was several months of disposable income. Bought 'em and still have 'em. They'd cost about $2k today. They've outlived every amp, preamp, CD player and speaker I've owned since. Def got my money's worth. Not wireless, not portable, don't care. Nothing comes close, not even the $2,500 pair of Martin Logan electrostatic speakers I had for a while.

I've been reading up on headphones and seeing 349$ listed as "undoubtedly on the expensive side" in that context is very funny. I suppose I've been desensitized.

I've been reading up on headphones and seeing 349$ listed as "undoubtedly on the expensive side" in that context is very funny. I suppose I've been desensitized.