For the last few years, Bose had been at the top of its game when it came to offering the best noise-cancelling headphones money can buy. They successfully managed to thwart whatever competition that had come its way and they did it with a subtle brilliance that only they knew how. However, one brand managed to beat Bose in the premium noise-cancelling segment and this was none other than Sony. The WH-1000XM3 redefined what a class-leading Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphone should be as it came with a host of features and packed in a design that made the Bose QuietComfort 35 II seem outdated and dad-like.
Fast-forward to the fall of 2019 and things look a lot different. Bose has taken consumer feedback and repackaged its best noise-cancelling headphones, the QC35II in a design that’s contemporary and builds upon the best features that they have to offer. In step the Bose Noise-Cancelling 700, a pair of high-end headphones that takes noise-cancellation to new levels (literally!) as well as added breakthrough audio technology that’s worthy of the discerning ear.
Priced at Rs 34,500, the Bose NC 700 is launched not to replace the QuietComfort series, but to be a standalone series that comes with a swanky new design for people who want nothing but the best in audio technology; not to mention a great auditory experience to go with it.
Having spent some time with the Bose NC 700, here are our unbiased thoughts on if this is worth its lofty investment.
Bose received a lot of flak for the design of its QuietComfort series and rightfully so. Although it fares extremely well in the performance department, the design is rather boring. Bose went back to basics and with the NC 700; the brand has launched something that’s very pleasing on the eye. No more do we find the horrendous pleated earcups, unsightly hinges or any untoward bulk in the hardware department. The brand has now launched a headphone that’s not just sleek; but extremely modern looking as well. These wireless headphones feature Bose’s new design thinking and it sure is a stunner.
The Bose NC 700 come in three colour options — black, luxe silver and soapstone; the latter of which is dressed in white and has rose gold accents. No matter which colour you opt for, you will get a pair that’s an absolute head-turner.
The Bose NC 700 is built around a stainless steel headband that features a matte finish and they beautifully shift from a flat to a cylindrical shape. The height adjustments here can be easily altered by merely sliding the cups up and down the headband. That’s not all; there are multiple axis points here which help with keeping the headphones flat for storage purposes as well as to sit comfortably on your head while in use. The option to slide the earcups on the headband is a great choice as it negates the need for the ugly sliders that are found in traditional headphones.
The outside of the earcups are built using plastic and it too is completed with a matte finish. The padding here is streamlined as well and Bose has thankfully done away with the pleated faux leather that is found on the QC35II. All in all, Bose has done well to ensure a smooth design transition from headband to earcup.
During usage, the one aspect about the NC 700 that we found the most appealing was that they are seriously lightweight and this elevates its comfort level quite drastically. This definitely comes as surprise since the NC 700 is actually a tad bit heavier than the QC35 II. Another design choice that we loved here was that the cushioned earcups not just provide a comfortable fit; but also give you nice passive noise isolation by merely resting easily on the ears. This makes extended listening sessions a non-issue, especially during long-haul flights.
If you are concerned about storage, Bose has supplied a gorgeous zip-up carrying case here which helps with easily storing them in a backpack or such. However, we would have preferred if they could be folded inwards as it would make stowing them without a case much more convenient.
Bose has absolutely filled the NC 700 to the brim with technology and these ranges from touch-sensitive controls to Augmented Reality. To get the most out of the Bose NC 700, you will need to install the Bose Music app for Android or iOS.
The Bose NC 700 are seriously great headphones and they have the potential to be the best noise-cancelling headphones in the world; however, there is one issue with these headphones that make you want to skip them for practically anything else and that is its companion app.
The Bose Music app is littered with features that can make the headphones perform way better than they already do. However, getting the app to work or merely connect with the headphones is one of the most tedious, irritating processes you will ever find yourself doing.
While the app downloads fine, it just doesn’t connect the NC 700 to the smartphone. We tried pairing it with both iOS and Android devices (iPhone 11 Pro and OnePlus 7T Pro) and no matter what we did, it just failed to connect. After trying continuously for about 20-30 minutes, the NC 700 finally connected with the iPhone. However, this app is half-baked and Bose should seriously do something about it. Because of this one feature, we would actually recommend you not buy these headphones as you won’t enjoy the complete experience it has to offer.
After connecting, the app provides you with a comprehensive guide on how to operate your new Bose NC 700 headphones. It instructs you on how to manoeuvre through the touch-sensitive controls which one should pay close attention to for the most optimal experience.
The touch controls are rather intuitive. You swipe up or down for adjusting the volume, swipe forward or backwards for navigating through tracks, tap twice to play/pause songs as well as answering rejecting calls. All touch controls are handled by the outside of the right earcup.
It comes with Alexa built-in which is always welcome and it also supports Google Assistant and Siri. With Alexa, all you need to do is just say ‘Alexa’ and your virtual assistant is pulled up.
These headphones come with physical buttons too and the lower button on the right earcup allows you to quickly access your voice assistant while the upper one can be used for turning the headphones off/on or just simply to pair a new device to it. The button on the left helps with adjusting the amount of noise cancellation and you can cycle through three shortcuts. By default, the levels are set and 0 (noise-cancellation off), 5 and 10. With the latter being the maximum.
With the Bose Music app, you can also adjust the level of noise-cancellation from 0 to 10. This provides you with complete control over how much of ambient sound you want in. This is by far the best feature of the Music app and in our opinion; this feature alone makes the Bose NC 700 worth purchasing.
Another interesting feature that the app has to offer is Bose AR. Yes, these headphones come with augmented reality. The app allows you to access several AR apps that are available on the Apple App Store which allows you to experience spatial 3D audio and hear sounds by moving your head. There are apps for fitness, games, and even audio stories. However, this sort of AR is still in its infancy and in time, it will get evolve to a more rounded experience.
As far as battery life goes, Bose rates these at 20 hours. However, during our extended testing, even after a full charge, the headphones only managed 18-hours of playback with noise-cancellation on. Additionally, battery life is determined by a number of factors such as the level of noise-cancellation and volume; so, this means that it can differ from person to person.
The Bose NC 700 is hands-down the best noise-cancellation headphones available in the market currently and they have bested the competition in a way that only Bose knows how. The major determining factor of these headphones is the refined noise-cancellation on offer which is one of the primary reasons why people would opt for this pair.
Conventionally noise-cancelling headphones are made in such a way to block out ambient sounds in order that the music listening experience is uninterrupted. This is great; however, most headphones that offer active noise-cancellation check the right boxes when it comes to music; but fail drastically when it comes to making voice calls. The Bose NC 700 rectifies this issue and when using them for calls, the person on the other end can hear you clearly even if you are in a crowded environment or even in public transport. Bose has effectively added noise-cancellation for not just music but phone calls as well.
The trick Bose has used here is done by adding eight microphones (four on each side) with six working to achieve standard noise cancellation for music while two work to isolate your voice and block out external sounds during phone calls. With this technology in place, Bose ensures that your voice sounds extremely crisp to the person on the other end of the calls and no unwanted external sounds.
As mentioned earlier, the Bose Music app allows you to access 11 noise cancellation settings and these can be set as shortcuts and toggled by the physical button on the left earcup. For our travels, we preferred using the maximum available noise-cancellation as it blocked out almost all ambient noises.
A feature of the Bose NC 700 that we absolutely loved was that you don’t get the nauseous feeling that’s associated with some premium noise-cancelling headphones. This greatly helps those who are sensitive to the pressure noise-cancellation headphones put on the ears. Bose has managed to avoid this and this is another reason why these are rated as the best noise-cancelling headphones available.
Lastly, there is a ‘Conversation’ mode which allows you to use the headphones and turn noise cancellation completely off to allow voices or other external sounds to pass through easily. As the name suggests, this can be helpful during conversations without requiring you to remove the headphones.
The Bose NC 700 is easily one of the best headphones that are currently available and they come with the brand’s signature sound that’s garnered critical applause across the globe. The first thing you will surely experience is the vast soundstage that’s present here which is as colourful as it is energetic. Bose has always gone with a balanced low-end that’s clean which makes it suitable for a wide variety of genres. Like other Bose products, the low-end is not geared to the bass-heads and this is a welcome change from the enhanced bass-focused products out there.
Another easily discernible thing is that if you are coming from the QC35 II, you will notice that the NC 700 has a richer, fuller sound with generous separation between instruments and vocals which leads to an all-encompassing depth to the soundstage.
The headphones perform extremely competently with a lot of clarity and detail and there are textures to songs that hadn’t been noticed before. There is a rounded sound to these with ample punch in the low-end along with detail in highs that allow them to sparkle. Individual instruments have an irrefutable separation to them which ensures that there isn’t a muddied mess.
As mentioned earlier, the Bose NC 700 are great sounding headphones that will work extremely well with most genres with them being a good investment whichever way you look at it. The only downside to these headphones is again app related. There is no equalizer present here; however, Bose has stated that they will be working on adding this in the future.
The Bose Noise Cancelling 700 headphones retail in India for Rs 34,500. If it is a premium auditory experience that you’re seeking, then look no further than these. The pros here are too many and Bose has done well with a design that’s not just modern but also very functional. When it comes to noise-cancellation and phone calls, the Bose NC 700 are unrivalled. They offer the best experience money can buy. However, it does have its downsides as well and this is mainly to do with the extremely buggy Bose Music app. Also, to get the most out of these headphones, the app is extremely essential as it allows you to adjust the noise-cancellation as well as access AR apps. With that being said, the headphones don’t essentially require the app to work and a simple pairing can get the job done.