Many of us have fought the battle of noise: trying to get the volume of your music just right to overrule the noise of the city, of an airplane, or of loud neighbors without compromising on sound quality (or our eardrums). It can be quite a fight, which is why noise canceling headphones are a coveted niche in the market today. But which model is worth the money? As one of the most popular and revered options, the Bose QuietComfort 25 is an obvious choice to analyse.
Throughout this review, we'll go over what makes the Bose QuietComfort 25 such a common choice for those needing a noise canceling set of headphones, but we'll also go over some of the competition too so you'll know exactly where you stand on these headphones and if they're the right option for you.
Bose QuietComfort 25
As the name suggests, the Bose QuietComfort 25 is a noise canceling headphone option. They bring what Bose does consistently well to the table, with a lightweight and extremely comfortable build as well as good sound quality. And, of course, the added noise canceling is a major plus for most of us as well. Bose focuses on comfort and noise cancelation with these headphones, making them a great option for travelers, podcasters, vloggers, and any other user who needs something comfortable and functional for long periods of time in spite of the sound level around them.
These headphones are an over-the-ear type build as well as wired. Its active noise canceling is optional and easy to turn on or off with a switch on one of the ear pads. The noise cancelation operates via 1 AAA battery that will give you about 35 hours of on time.
The Bose QuietComfort 25 are collapsable, so traveling with them is easy and they won't take up much space (a sign Bose really thought through their design, because noise cancelation headphones are optimal for travelers).
The quality of the build doesn't surprise us, as it is what we've come to expect from Bose; though there have been some minor upgrades in this model compared to others. Bose has traded their headband material from synthetic leather to synthetic suede for a more comfortable and longer lasting fit. They've also flattened out the headband to make it a little more secure for atheletic users, and runners and gym-goers may be thankful for this change.
How It Compares
We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare. Those we have chosen represent other popular options on the market now and should offer a close comparison for those needing a quality pair of noise canceling headphones. In order to create a straightforward and nonbiased comparison, we chose the following criteria to compare: price, ease of use, design quality, warranty, and pros and cons.
Bose QuietComfort 25
Ease of Use
The noise cancelation feature is simple to use and find unlike some other brands that tend to hide the switch for noise cancelation, making it hard to turn on, and, more importantly, hard to turn off when someone approaches you.
Storing these headphones is also simple as they collapse inward in one swift motion and are durable enough so that you don't need to worry about snapping or cracking any pieces. The metal plating on the ears really helps with this.
One thing to note here is that it can be very easy to forget to turn active noise cancelation off, which will run your battery down. While leaving them on overnight by accident won't kill the battery, it will definitely be a disappointment the next day when you have less than half life left on them.
Bose is known for quality headphones, and they definitely haven't dropped the ball here. The changes to the headband and ear pad exteriors was a good move. They are lightweight, as well, which only adds to that long-term comfort.
Sound quality is good as well, though there is a little emphasis on bass which some may find annoying. Overall, it's well balanced and of decent quality, which we are glad for since oftentimes noise canceling headphones can drop sound quality as a priority.
As for noise cancelation, these headphones do a great job at canceling out low frequencies (computer noise, plane engines, city noise, etc.) which is great for travelers especially. They do not cancel out a lot of the higher frequencies though, like high-pitched conversations, which can be good or bad depending on your use of them. It is important to note that because the noise cancelation is powerful, there will be more pressure against your ear while it is on. This may take some getting used to.
The choice for a battery-powered active noise cancelation may not have been the best. It is a powerful noise cancelation (so it may take some getting used to as the pressure is higher than other models), so you don't have to turn your music up as loud; but not having a chargeable option can be inconvenient. Plus the battery does add a little weight to the headphones. This may be more of a personal preference though, so definitely take your own needs into account here.
Bose has a 1-year limited warranty to cover malfunction or manufacturer errors. This is a standard warranty typically found with a model of this price, and we hare happy to note that overall users have been satisfied with this model and have not needed to use the warranty.
Plantronics Wireless Noise Cancelling Backbeat
In looking over the specs and features for this model, it is easy to see that they are pretty intuitive when it comes to user interface. They offer features like auto pause and play that is activated by sensing you putting on or taking off your headphones. They also offer wireless Bluetooth use and have an option for active listening so you can choose when you want to hear your surroundings (a different function than the noise canceling also offered), which is great when you're ordering food or need to say a quick word to someone.
Ease of Use
As we said, these are pretty intuitive when it comes to anticipating what the user needs. The auto play and pause function is a great addition, as is the active listening in addition to the active noise canceling.
These headphones are also collapsable and easy to move with. You can also pair these headphones with two devices and switch seamlessly between them both. The active noise canceling is operated by a switch on one of the headphones, as is the active listening function. While not as hard to find as other models, the switches do sit fairly flush with the rest of the ear pad, so it can take some time to fiddle with them.
Some users have been a little put off by the design. A wood grain look is a bit of a unique choice, but this is entirely up to user preference and there are other options. The headband and ear muffs are both padded and good for long-term listening.
The sound quality is made for music listeners with an emphasis on bass, so hip-hop and jazz both come through well; but for podcasters or vloggers this may not be the right option.
Like the Bose QuietComfort 25, the noise cancelation operates via battery, which may or may not be an influencing factor. It does add to the overall weight of the headphones. As far as the noise cancelation itself goes, it works well for casual noise cancelation but users have been disappointed at the lack of low frequency coverage on noise from plane engines or trains.
There is a limited warranty for the period of one year, which is standard for this type of product within this price range. Users have been overall happy with this model.
Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM2
These headphones feature an auto-detection option that will automatically adjust your noise cancelation levels to your surroundings. There is also an active listening function that operates by covering your right earphone, so listening or speaking in an instant is easy and convenient. The other controls are touch activated on the opposite earphone, including voice assistant for wireless use.
Ease of Use
The adaptive sound control is definitely a feature that aids in easy and convenient use. Even if you don't want it, you can use the app to customize your sounds the way you want. These are somewhat collapsable and there is a case included; however, we found that they take up about the same amount of space either way.
There are a lot of cool features to highlight with this model, but there is also a common issue that users have faced in previous models and were hoping would be fixed here. Sony headphones are notorious for having headbands that snap or crack very easily and quickly. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like Sony has put effort into fixing this issue, and most of the users reported having the same problem with this model.
This headband issue is due to the design of the band, which is only plastic instead of reinforced plastic or metal. If you plan on using these regularly, and especially plan on traveling with them, we would warn against it. Given how pricey these can be, it's not worth the money here for a cheap build.
While Sony has a warranty, it does not cover the common headband issue because they site it as a "user error" instead of a problem of design or construction, which has driven many users away from the company as a whole. Users have also had issues get hold of Sony for actual warranty concerns.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8 Wireless On-Ear Headphone
Similar to previous models, these also will pause and play automatically as you take them off and put them on. They are also wireless, though there is a cord if needed, and will work for 30+ hours of playback time. They also function with touch controls so you don't need to fumble for buttons or switches. Lambskin and cowhide leather add style and long-lasting comfort to these headphones.
Ease of Use
The touch feature and auto sensing for playback are definitely features to note here. Even with gloves on, the touch features work perfectly, so walking through the city in the winter won't limit your playback freedom.
Being able to use these with or without a cord is also a feature that is notable, and the battery life is great: though it does take a drastic hit if active noise canceling is on, cutting it from 30 hours to 10. However even without the cord there is a mic built in to the headphones, so whatever way you're using them, you're not restricted as to what you can do.
The design and build are made to last with aluminum materials for durability and soft lambskin for comfort. The adaptive memory foam in the ear pads is an intuitive addition as well.
There have been some complaints with the headband being too tight, so use for more than a couple hours can become uncomfortable. There has also been an issue with those on trains or traveling by foot, as bumps and footsteps seem to echo within the earphones. The noise cancelation is great on these and it does a good job of covering the lows and highs. However, the Bluetooth connection has had issues and may get spotty in places.
There is a two-year limited warranty to cover malfunctions and manufacturer error; however Bluetooth issues are typically not covered and users cannot pay to have their headphones repaired after the warranty is up: meaning that after two years you'll have to buy another pair if something happens. It's a little disappointing that a product so expensive isn't insured well enough to match the price tag.
Now that we've gone over the competition, let's get back to the Bose QuietComfort 25s. How did they hold up? While we have to admit that some of these other models have some newer features that are pretty cool, the Bose QuietComfort 25 held its own. In terms of quality, comfort, and noise cancelation especially, these headphones come recommended by users and by us.