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Even though there are a lot of great premium ANC headphones on the market right now, and there’s even whole bunch more on the way… the most common question I get in my comments is WHEN ARE THE BOSE QC45’s COMING OUT?!?! Now I don’t know if the Bose QC45’s will be coming out next week, next month, or next year… But I thought I would make a wish list of what I would like to see from the Bose QC45’s… And showcase how the aging Bose QC35’s stack up against some of 2019’s top ANC headphones.
The original Bose QC35’s were released around June 2016, and then the Bose QC35 Series 2 were released in September 2017. The only technical difference between the original Bose QC35 and the Series 2 was the addition of this action button. So technically the Bose QC35’s are over 2 and a half years old now. Which from a product standpoint is a long time cause Sony has been updating their 1000X headphones year over year, and were currently on the Sony 1000X Mark 3.
So the first thing I want to see upgraded on the Bose QC45’s is the addition of USB C, and I think this is pretty much a given. Right now most $350 ANC headphones are coming with USB C. Now the reason USB C is a big deal is because if you have an android device you can charge your phone and headphones with the same cable, which is super convenient. But USB C is also able to handle more power than a micro USB port, which as a result will mean better fast charging. Right now the QC35’s have a rated fast charging of 15 minutes gets you 2 and half hours of playback time. Where as the Sony’s get you 5 hours from a 10 minute charge. So I would like to see the Bose QC45’s at least match or exceed the M3’s fast charging numbers.
But Bose also has to step up the QC45’s battery life. The Bose QC35’s have an advertised battery life of 20 hours, which is below average for 2019 but at least its better than the surface headphones. But I would like to see the Bose QC45’s to have a battery life between 30 and 35 hours cause the Sony 1000XM3’s have an advertised battery life of 30 hours and the Jabra Elite 85H’s are slated to have a 32 hour battery life.
Now when it comes to design and comfort there are some minor changes I would like to see from the Bose QC45’s. One of the best things the Bose QC35’s has going for them is that they are perhaps the most comfortable ANC headphones on the market. Their ear cups are super spacious and they are without a doubt big head approved. Obviously I would like the Bose QC45’s to keep the same super spacious ear cups but I would like for Bose to slim down the headband and make it more low profile. Now something a lot of companies are doing these days is that they’re throwing on touchpad on to their headphones cause it makes them look fancier I guess. And when they’re implemented well, like on the Sony’s I don’t mind them. But I personally think Bose should stick to having physical buttons on their QC45’s cause for some casual users choosing between physical buttons or a touch pad could be a major deciding factor. Some people just don’t want to deal with finicky touch pads or phantom presses.
However, I would like to see Bose to add an additional action button on their left ear cup. When the Bose QC35 Series II were released they were the first ANC headphones with Google assistant integration and you could interact with your voice assistant by using this button. Now Im fully aware that if you press and hold on the multipurpose button you can also talk to your voice assistant… but its not as efficient as having a dedicated button
And now since more and more headphones are getting voice assistant integration, I think voice assistant integration on headphones is here to stay. You can even choose which voice assistant you would like to use these days. But if you do want to have voice assistant integration in your headphones you end up sacrificing some functionality. On both the Bose and Sony’s you give up the ability to manually toggle between your active noise cancelation settings. So if you want to turn your ANC Up or Off you have to open up the App every single time. Which can be annoying. So this is why I would like the Bose QC45’s to have 2 action buttons, one for your voice assistant and another one so you can still manually toggle your ANC settings. You’d be surprised that nobody has been able to get this right yet.
And from a software standpoint Bose desperately needs to add a transparency mode to their Bose QC45’s. Almost every other pair of premium ANC headphones has this feature. Sony call it ambient mode and Microsoft calls it enhanced mode. But basically the headphones will pump in the ambient sound around you so you can still hear whats going on if you’re walking around in the city or work in an office. And I also think Bose needs to add a quick attention mode like on the Sony’s so you can talk to someone really quickly without having to take off you’re headphones like this.
And I think Bose could do this on their QC45’s by pressing and holding down on the dedicated ANC toggle action button I mentioned earlier. But the most important thing Bose needs to improve on their Bose QC45 is their active noise cancelation. Plainly said, the active noise cancelation on the Bose QC35’s struggles to keep up with the ANC on newer headphones. And just so you can see for yourself we’re going to do ANC test with the Bose QC35’s, the surface headphones, and the Sony 1000XM3’s running the latests 4.1.1 firmware update.
The Bose QC35’s just aren’t able to block out the same amount of noise as the surface headphone and Sony 1000XM3 across the board. So obviously the Bose QC45’s need to improve the amount of sound they block out. But it's also crucial Bose reduce the amount of cabin pressure in their ANC. For some people like myself we just cant wear the Bose QC35’s for too long cause we feel this pressure on our ear drums that sometimes leads to headaches. And these days cabin pressure in ANC headphones is associated with older or cheaper ANC headphones cause newer headphones like the 1000XM3’s or surface headphones don’t have a lot or any cabin pressure at all. And finally, Bose also needs to rethink the positioning of their ANC microphones. Since the Mics on the Bose QC35’s are so exposed the Bose QC35’s like to pick up a lot of wind noise. Where as the ANC microphones on other headphones are recessed into the body thus dramatically reducing the amount of wind noise their headphones pick up.
Now when it comes to sound quality the Bose QC35’s have a neutral sound signature where the bass just isn’t going to hit like some other headphones. And since sound is subjective some people prefer neutral headphones over bass heavy headphones. But I would definitely like to see the Bose QC45’s to have an adjustable EQ. And again since sound is subjective people want to have the ability to adjust the EQ on their headphones so they can make them sound however they want. But in general Bose does need to improve the bass on their QC45’s cause sometimes the bass on the QC35’s does bottom out in bass heavy music which I feel in unacceptable for $350 headphones.
But finally I also want to point out Bose's multidevice connectivity. The Bose QC35's can be connected to two devices at the same time. Which is great, cause it means you can hot swap from your phone to your computer effortlessly. Even though this might seem like a basic feature, some headphones like the 1000XM3's can't do that. Which is pretty annoying and I think it's a huge oversight on Sony's part. So obviously I would like the Bose QC45's to have this feature but I would also like them to improve upon it. I think if the QC45's can get up to 5 simultaneous connections I think power users with multiple phones, tablets, and computers would really like that.
But overall that's my wishlist for the Bose QC45, and I think everything is well with in reason. I'm not asking for anything over the top and I think these improvements would better position the Bose QC45's to complete against 2019's newer Headphones. Cause right now I think the Bose QC35's are lagging behind the competition cause of their specs and feature set. Cause as of right now, I'm a little hard-pressed to recommend the Bose QC35's over the Sony 1000XM3 unless you really need those super spacious ear cups.