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Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 vs Bose QuietComfort 45

Bose is stuck chasing its own tail.

Published onJune 20, 2023

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 vs Bose QuietComfort 45

Sequel to the ever-popular Bose QC35 II headphones, the Bose Quietcomfort 45 slots in alongside the company’s existing flagship Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. The newest edition to Bose’s esteemed noise canceling headphone lineup brings USB-C support, a new sound signature with some quirks, and, well, not a whole lot else.

If you plan to spend hundreds of dollars on headphones, are you better off splurging a bit more for the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?

Editors note: this post was updated on June 20, 2023, to add the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless Headphones to Alternatives, and to update formatting.

The Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 has a more modern design than the Bose QuietComfort 45

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 on black surface.
Bose redesigned its flagship headset from the ground up in order to make it more appealing to the modern listener.

Bose gave the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 a sleek design with an all-metal headband that slides to your exact desired length. There’s no denying this pair of cans is objectively gorgeous and stands out from the crowd of Bluetooth headphones.

There are only three buttons on the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, with playback controls giving way to a touch-sensitive gesture pad on the right ear cup. The ear cups rotate 90 degrees for resting around the neck, but there are no hinges for folding. You’ll want to make use of the included hardshell case to keep the headphones safe from scratches.

A man uses the control cluster on the back of the Bose QuietComfort 45.
Using physical buttons means pressing into the ear cup and potentially dislodging it.

Meanwhile, the QuietComfort 45 is stuck in the past, with an outdated design that we’ve seen for the better part of a decade now. However, this design clearly wins out when it comes to comfort since it evenly distributes weight and doesn’t cause pain or fatigue during long listening sessions.

The ear cushions on the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are stiffer than the Bose QC 45, which causes heat buildup and sweaty ears. Another downside of the sleeker headset: the NCH 700 has a rubberized headband that pulls on hair.

Does the Bose QuietComfort 45 have more Bluetooth codecs than the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?

Both headsets only support SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs.

No matter which headphones you choose, you will attain a solid connection across most devices. The QC 45 and Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 both use SBC and AAC codecs, with a minuscule difference of Bluetooth 5.0 on the Noise Canceling Headphones 700 compared to Bluetooth 5.1 on the QC 45. AAC is well optimized for Apple devices, but we’re disappointed, though not surprised, that neither of these expensive headsets features a high-quality codec such as aptX or LDAC.

If you prefer the nuances of wired listening, both headsets ship with an aux cable. It’s a 2.5-to-3.5mm TRRS cable, so you’ll want to be a bit careful not to lose it—chances are you don’t have one of these lying around your house.

Does the Bose Music app work with the Bose NCH 700 and the Bose QC 45?

A man holds up a smartphone with the Bose Music app open, showing the controls for the Bose QuietComfort 45.
The Bose Music app doesn’t offer much in the way of features.

When it comes to companion apps, Bose still lags behind the competition. Whether you go with the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 or the QC 45, you’re stuck with the Bose Music app which offers little in the way of customization and features. Even worse, in order to access features like voice assistant, you have to share way too much information like location, and call and message history. Both headphones have an EQ in the app if you have the latest firmware installed, but it’s limited, with only bass, mid, and treble sliders.

The QuietComfort 45 has longer battery life

The Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones on a statue head.
The QuietComfort 45 looks nearly indistinguishable from the QC 35 II.

One area in which the QC 45 holds an advantage over the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is in battery life; the QC 45 is rated to last 24 hours on a single charge compared to the Noise Canceling Headphones 700 rating of 20 hours. In our testing of constant playback at 75dB (SPL), the Noise Canceling Headphones 700 actually lasted 21 hours and 25 minutes with ANC set to maximum. In the same test setup, the Bose QuietComfort 45 lasted 24 hours, 49 minutes, surpassing Bose’s official 24-hour battery life for the headset

A lot of variables can affect headphone battery life, however. Both headsets also both use USB-C to charge, a nice upgrade from the micro USB port of past Bose headsets. You can fast charge either headset: a 15-minute charge of the Bose NCH 700 yields 120 minutes of playtime, and those same 15 minutes will get you 180 minutes of playtime with the Bose QC 45.

Does the Bose QuietComfort 45 have better noise canceling than the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?

A chart showing the Bose QuietComfort 45's isolation and active noise canceling performance. The moderately high isolation and very high ANC performance holds well through all frequencies.
A worthy upgrade to the eponymous Bose QuietComfort 35 II, the Bose QuietComfort 45 has an outstanding ANC system.

Bose has once again improved its active noise canceling (ANC) technology with the QC 45, which brings a slight but noticeable improvement over the Noise Canceling Headphones 700.

Firmware update 1.8.2 introduces ANC improvements to the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 that brings it up to par with other premium headsets, but it doesn’t perform quite as well as the QC 45 or competition from Sony.

Chart of ANC performance of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
With version 1.8.2 firmware update, ANC performance has improved.

No matter which headset you go with, you’re getting top-tier noise canceling. Ambient frequencies such as the hum of an airplane engine will sound about one-fourth as loud with the Bose Noise Canceling 700, and only about one-eighth as loud when wearing the QC 45.

Bear in mind, that this kind of isolation performance requires you to get a good seal with the headphones. This means there can’t be any gaps between the synthetic padding and your head, and it should remain this way as you move your head around. If gaps do form, you’ll notice how external noises become more audible and render the ANC less effective.

Does the Bose QuietComfort 45 sound better than the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?

Bose QC 45 vs Bose 700 frequency chart
The QC 45 (cyan) emphasizes high frequencies more than the 700 (dotted yellow) and our house curve (pink).

While neither headphone sounds bad, the sound of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is more likely to appeal to a wider audience with its more versatile frequency response. The QC 45 has a boosted high-end that makes busy tracks with a lot of high-pitched sounds like punk, badly mixed ’90s and 2000s music, and some pop tracks sound rough around the edges. All this is to say that the exaggerated treble response of the QC 45 will make poorly mixed tracks sound that much worse than they do with the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

One bonus to the QC 45’s boosted high-end is speech intelligibility. Podcasts sound clear on the latest QC headset, and you may even be able to pick out some additional treble notes from the headset.

Overemphasized high frequencies leaves some music to sound less than ideal on the QC 45

Low and mid-frequency sounds are neutral on both headphones; these certainly aren’t headphones for bass heads.

However, all the QC 45 needs is a bit of taming to those harsh high frequencies to level the playing field. Those who want to go the extra mile can use the app’s EQ, or download a third-party equalizer app.

Which Bose headset is best for phone calls?

A photo showing the microphone array of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
Microphones on the side of the ear cups provide excellent call quality.

No matter which headset you choose, you won’t have to worry about microphone quality. The QC 45 and Noise Canceling Headphones 700 each have embedded microphones that do a pretty good job of accurately portraying the voice. We’d still recommend a dedicated mic for any serious audio needs, but for everyday calls and conference meetings, the Bose headphones will be serviceable.

Bose QuietComfort 45 microphone sample (Ideal):

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 microphone sample (Ideal):

Which microphone sounds better to you?

16434 votes

Bose QC 45 vs Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Which should you get?

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 outside
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is still the best ANC headphone in the company’s lineup.

If you want the best from Bose, you need not look any further than the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. Despite being over two years older than the QC 45, the Noise Canceling Headphones 700 still delivers a better all-around listening experience. All these years later, we still can’t stop gawking at that elegant design; however, the real kicker is in sound quality. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 sounds better out of the box. They’re currently available for $379 at Amazon.

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
SG recommended
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Excellent ANC • Lightweight design • Rotable ear pads
MSRP: $379.00
If you want some of the best ANC you can get, Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 have you covered.
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 still reigns supreme.

The Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is slightly more expensive than the QC 45, so you may be considering the latter if you want to save some pennies. Our advice? Skip the QC 45 and save a whole lot more money by going for the QC 35 II instead. Aside from USB-C, you won’t miss out on much, and you might even prefer the default sound of the older QC 35 II over the QC 45. It can be found for $374 at Amazon.

Bose QuietComfort 35 IIBose QuietComfort 35 II
SG recommended
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Excellent ANC • Strong connection • Customizable controls
MSRP: $349.00
One of the most comfortable ANC headsets
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is one of the best active noise canceling headsets. The companion app lets you manually adjust the ANC and other sound settings, and the slim design makes it comfortable to wear for hours.

What should you get instead of Bose headphones?

The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones on a yellow couch.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 doesn’t look too different from the originals except for a few slight tweaks.

You can’t talk about premium noise canceling headphones without bringing Sony into the discussion. The Sony WH-1000XM5 is one of our favorite all-around headphones, with great sound, noise canceling, and Bluetooth streaming quality. If you’re looking to save, you can also frequently find the older Sony WH-1000XM4 at major discounts. The Sony WH-1000XM5 is currently $387 at Amazon and the WH-1000XM4 is $278 at Amazon.

If you’ve fully bought into the Apple ecosystem, the Apple AirPods Max might pique your interest. These headphones have the best ANC and transparency modes, but you’ll have to dig deep into your wallet to pick up a pair. They’re available for $394.99 at Amazon.

A person uses the capacitive touch controls to control media playback.
Capacitive touch controls allow quick inputs like call controls and music playback options.

The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless Headphones with their impressive Bluetooth codec suite including aptX, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, AAC, and SBC are an appealing proposition for $289.23 at Amazon. These come with good ANC and excellent sound quality, alongside a long battery life.

Listeners who want something elegant, well built, and with great sound quality should also look into the Shure AONIC 50. Upon its debut, this headset cost just under $400 USD and has since hit a more affordable mid-$200 price point. You get a custom EQ from the app, solid microphone quality, and great sound from the minute you don the headset. It’s not as lightweight as the Bose QuietComfort series, but the AONIC 50 still manages to be comfortable with its plush ear pads and headband. Right now it’s $298 at Amazon.

What earbuds should you get instead of Bose’s headphones?

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds noise canceling true wireless earbuds rest outside of the charging case on a table and in front of a stack of books.
Lil Katz / SoundGuys
The Bose adaptive EQ is great and makes the QC Earbuds an easy device to use, but pickier listeners can EQ the sound from the Music app.

If you want something a bit more compact, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds is a great option too. This pair of true wireless earbuds has ANC that’s almost as good as the Sony WF-1000XM4 and certainly better than the AirPods Pro. Bose’s noise canceling earbuds cost quite a bit less than the QC 45 and around the same price as the QC 35 II, with the main benefit being portability. They’re available for $154.96 at Amazon.

Frequently asked questions about the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 vs Bose QuietComfort 45

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds offer active noise canceling and good sound in an ultra-portable true wireless earbud package. To learn more about the differences between over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear style headphones, check out our full headphones buying guide.

Yes, you can listen to lossless audio files (FLAC, WAV, etc.) with either the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 or Bose QuietComfort 45, but you will need to listen over a wired connection rather than Bluetooth.

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