Geek Culture

Geek Review: Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Bose versus Sony. 

At one point in time, it wouldn’t even be a contest, but somehow it happened and consumers are hearing it loud and clear.

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For the longest time, the Bose QC35s reigned supreme in the air. Then came Sony’s WH-1000 XM2, and subsequently, XM3 and the Bose QC quietly fell from the top.

Now, the company is looking to jostle its way to the top once again, with their new Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Headphones. On one hand, it’s good to see Bose bringing the fight to Sony, but on the other, it’s sad to see the company dump its QC (otherwise known as Quiet Comfort) range for a more vanilla naming convention. Is there any sense to this madness? 

Regardless, Bose has been silently taking notes and has spared no effort with their brand new Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Headphones. If the competition was a checkbox, fans of the QC range will be pleased that the new 700s range has been brought up to speed with a few nifty additions and improvements.

When it comes to style, it is almost universally acknowledged how good the new Bose 700 looks. Right out the box, Bose has ensured that this is not any other normal headphones to unbox. As you rip off the strips sealing the box together reveals a lithe package housing your headphones.

One thing that’s distinct about the Bose 700s would be their design choice when it comes to the hinges (or the lack of) connecting to the earcups. There are no awkward angles to be found here as the headband glides effortlessly until users find their perfect fit. When it comes to style, the Bose 700 headphones exude a sense of style which comes off as more fashion accessory than an audio powerhouse.

Weighing in at 254 grams, the Bose 700s aren’t as light as its predecessor, but the weight distribution certainly makes it seem so. In fact, it’s hard to place a finger down on where the weight ultimately sits. The headphones do clamp down hard closer to the sides but this is of little consequence. Aided with plush, leatherette cushions, these headphones have been worn extensively on a flight for a good stretch and it still feels great with little discomfort. Folks who have bigger heads might want to give these a try before buying. When it came to my (smaller) noggin, these felt amazing as it the weight was evenly distributed across the head and side. The headphones gently enveloped my ears but didn’t rest directly on them avoiding any strain.

Thankfully, in the noise-cancelling and audio department, the Bose 700 has made great strides in their latest attempt.

A testament to the power of their noise-cancelling tech that for the very first time, there was a distinct discomfort to my jaw as the noise-cancelling was dialled up to the maximum. This was not experienced in other similar headphones but other users have noticed this effect to varying degrees. While this might be a good judge of how impressive the noise-cancelling tech is, it only took a short while for me to get used to it but others might feel differently.

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Compared to the Sony XM3 headphones, if noise-cancelling is a priority when it comes to such headphones, the Bose 700 headphones are the ones for you. With 11 different toggle levels (with one being zero), it only made sense to keep at maximum most of the time. The world simply disappears once you put these on, and it can be rather dangerous considering hardly any environmental audio penetrates through once the music starts playing. Having tested the Bose 700 headphones on multiple short and long haul flights, these will definitely be the new best friends for many frequent fliers. 

The only real thing which could be heard over music would have been the brief chat with the stewardess and she had to be really close before her vocals made it past the headphones.  If travelling on the plane is a stressful scenario, the Bose 700 headphones are the best option in calming those nerves.

Alas, the only issue found was finding out the headphones and it’s supplied audio cable do not play well with the flight audio adapters, which is something you’d want to keep a note of when commuting on the plane. Not all adapters are made equal as seen above.

Noise-cancelling is just part of the puzzle and Bose’s record of audio quality is good but inconsistent across their range of audio products. With most headphones now coming with their own mobile apps, which allows users to toggle the sound profile to suit your tastes, the Bose 700 and its companion app lacks this. Out of the box, the headphones have a much stronger emphasis on clarity when it comes to music, while bass takes a backseat. 

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The bass toggles can certainly be tuned up higher, especially since they ring with less body compared to the competition when using the Spotify’s equaliser. When it comes to playing to its strengths, Bose wants to take the lead in creating what they think is best for the customer. Thus, if you have a stronger preference when it comes to audio toggles, this might be an area of concern.

Taking calls on the Bose 700 has certainly made its mark as pretty much everyone who was a call while using the headphones noted how different my voice sounded, and in a good way. Even in a noisy public environment, the folks on the other end of the line were able to hear my voice with immaculate clarity without having to raise my voice. This is definitely something the folks at Jabra need to be worried about. 

While the Bose 700 has no issues connecting to 2 devices at once, it’s always great to have seamless handover when calls come through the phone while the headphones are connected to my tablet. It’s these small things which are minor boons given some folks juggle many devices from day-to-day.

With simplicity in design placed at the forefront, the Bose 700 only has 3 physical buttons on the headphones itself. The audio playback controls are now entirely touch controls and in my tests, the controls have been precise. The actions of double-tapping, swiping up and down, left and right are no stranger to premium headphones in this category and are a much-needed inclusion to achieve parity.

One thing which has to be noted when it comes to the Bose 700 is how it handles when not used. As the headphones fold outward and flat, it does well to reduce its overall physical profile, seeing as how slim the carrying case is. Bose has gone to great lengths to ensure that all the supplied cables with the headphones are stored away nicely within the case in a magnetic storage nook. It’s small, considerate touches like these which go a long way to improving the overall experience with the Bose 700.

When worn around the neck, the Bose 700 does not do that great, it’s easy to hit the physical buttons accidentally and because the headphones only fold outward, it means the cushions are unable to rest onto the collarbone of the user.

When it comes to battery life, this is where Bose certainly has no qualms flexing their stamina. Instead of opting for more vague power levels, each time you power on and put on the headphones, the Bose 700 will tell you exactly how many hours the headphones have to support your activities. This is something the competition definitely needs to take note of. Packing 20 hours of audio playback, the Bose 700s certainly live up to its claim, having drained down to the final hour of battery life, Bose clearly one-ups to competition with its precision. If you’re a particularly busy person, a quick 15-minute charge reaps an additional 2-3 hours of battery life with a USB-C connection.

The only hurdle to overcome right now is the issue of price. With an RRP of S$559, the Bose 700 is a touch more pricey than it’s biggest rival, the Sony XM3 headphones. It’s certainly hard to make a distinction which of the two is any user’s preference and it totally warrants a separate look comparing the two. Taken on its own, the Bose 700 is definitely prized for the best-in-class noise cancellation and form factor which should allow it to rate highly with premium business travellers.

The Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Headphones are available on Amazon for US$399 and Lazada for S$599.

GEEK REVIEW SCORE

Summary

In the face of strong competition, Bose has taken notes to ensure their latest noise-cancelling headphones stand tall amongst its rivals. With the Bose 700, the company has certainly jostled its way to the top and it’s all down to the user if these are the ones to snag.

Overall
9.6/10
9.6/10
  • Aesthetics - 10/10
    10/10
  • Build Quality - 9.9/10
    9.9/10
  • Performance - 9.2/10
    9.2/10
  • Value - 9.4/10
    9.4/10
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