Over the last four years, I have purchased two sets of Bose QuietComfort over-ear headphones for myself. The current pair, 35 IIs picked up in 2019, were the benchmark for how music should sound. But boy have they been superseded by the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones. These are the most perfect things I have ever put near my ears.
Usually when I review headphones and earbuds, the Bose QuietComfort 35 IIs are what I use to determine how good the music quality is. So, it’s been an easy comparison for the 2021 model.
Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones
WHAT IS IT?
The latest noise cancelling over-ear headphones from Bose
Bose QuietComfort 45s are better than the 35s
Back when Bose dropped the QuietComfort 45 headphones in September, its tagline was ‘Bose updates the headphones that redefined headphones’. So what are these updates?
Well, for starters, the Bose QuietComfort 45s have two modes: Quiet and Aware.
In Quiet Mode, Bose tells us microphones inside and outside the earcups “sense, measure and respond” to more unwanted sounds in mid-range frequencies – think anything you can hear on trains, in the office, for example.
I absolutely cannot hear anything but sweet, sweet tunes when this mode is on and as the cups are comfy af, this sensation doesn’t feel like suction cups have been placed over my ears.
In Aware Mode, the QC45 headphones switch to full transparency. I don’t like this mode much for listening to music, as it drops the quality of the sound a lot. But walking to the car from the train late at night does feel safer. Just wish it wasn’t up to my headphones to make me feel safe doing such a daily task.
That aside, Aware Mode allows you to hear everything without taking them off.
There’s also now Voice Isolation, mostly for phone calls and providing smart assistant (think Siri or Google) commands. Strangely, Bose refers to this as being able to share your noise cancellation.
While we’re still on improvements, you’ll get 24-hours of battery life on a single charge. I actually got around 27-hours of play, with a few hours of off/idle time in between, too, so Bose is being conservative.
I bought my first pair of QCs ahead of a long-haul flight because a reviewer back in 2017 was kind enough to tell me they were the perfect headphones for a plane. I’m now passing on this message. This 24-hour promise will last you the flight, as well as customs hell on either side (when travel is a proper thing again) and it’s super easy to sleep with them on your head, too.
Also fantastic is that the QuietComfort 45 headphones have done away with micro-USB charging and now have USB-C. Thank god. It now takes two hours for a full charge, and a quick 15 minutes for three hours of playback.
The last improvement? Somehow it’s sound quality, but more on that a little later.
What hasn’t changed with the Bose QuietComfort 45s?
The comfort factor, mostly. Oh, and the fact they sound bad ass.
The Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones still look very Bose. Perhaps I could complain that the style hasn’t changed but why fix it if it ain’t broken?
There’s a slight difference in material in that it doesn’t seem to pucker as much, and the QC 45s are a little comfier than the 35 IIs (this could also be that I’ve worn the pads down on the 35 IIs, however).
They feel premium, as well as look like it.
They still fold down to fit in a storage case and as someone who didn’t store their first set in a case, I’d recommend using it to keep the headphones in decent shape.
Drawing on past experience again, wearing them to the gym and wrapping them around your neck when not in use will also eat into their lifespan (at least where looks are concerned).
The Bose QuietComfort 45s still boast useful on-device controls to do the usual play/pause, volume up/down, etc and there’s the option to plug in an audio cable if your phone or laptop still has one of them holes.
I’ve found something to complain about
One thing I have found to complain about is that they come in white – in 0.5 seconds I ruined the QuietComfort 45s because I wear makeup and the pads touch the edge of my cheek. “Oh but can’t you just use makeup wipes?” I hear you ask. No, Rihanna makes good makeup, there’s no chance I’m getting that stain out. I guess if you’re reading this with the intention of buying someone you care about some kick-ass headphones and they wear makeup, stick to dark colours (lucky for you, the Bose QuietComfort 45s come in black, too).
To clarify, the colours are: ‘Triple Black’ and ‘White Smoke’, both matte.
OK, how do they sound?
Thank you so much, I was dying to tell you how they sound.
I wish Bose’s marketing words weren’t such fluffy crap because I really wanted to tell you why they sound so good, not just say “yeah, these are sick”, but have something to back this up. I guess the easiest way to explain it is: each instrument is balanced. I can hear the drums, I can hear the guitars, I can hear the bass and I can hear the vocals. The one volume works for all (versus other headphones where they favour one instrument over another at a particular volume). I feel like I have a mini soundbar injected straight into my eardrums.
The darkest screams, the highest female vocals and a track straight from an EDM playlist I found just to test the Bose QuietComfort 45s all sound fantastic. You won’t get much better music quality from a pair of over-ear headphones.
When it comes to sound quality from a call/video chat, video or a podcast, the audio is clear and crisp and pretty much better than in real life.
Bose QuietComfort 45 Headphones: the verdict
In a verdict surprising no one that has read this far, I can’t actually fault the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones one bit (just don’t get the white pair if you wear makeup). 10/10. They are perfect. And I have definitely not changed my mind from being a Bose QuietComfort stan.
The QuietComfort 45 headphones will set you back RRP $499.95, but they’re worth it if you love music.