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’ esteemed noise cancelling 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?

See more: The best Bose headphones

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.

Read on: What makes a good set of wireless 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Meanwhile, the QuietComfort 45 is stuck in the past, with an outdated design that we’ve seen for the better part of a decade now.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 headphone 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 Cancelling 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.

Learn more: Bluetooth codecs explained

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.

There is one major difference between the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and the QC 45—only the former has a custom EQ. Albeit, the custom EQ for the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is very limited, with only bass, mid, and treble sliders. It’s still miles ahead of the QC 45 in this regard, which only has Bose Active EQ that boosts bass and treble notes depending on how you adjust the volume output.

Read: How to EQ your headphones

The QC 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 that 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 Cancelling Headphones 700 rating of 20 hours. In our testing of constant playback at 75dB (SPL), the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 actually lasted 21 hours and 25 minutes with ANC set to maximum. We’re still waiting to wrap up our battery testing for the QC 45, so check back here for our updated test results.

A lot of variables can affect headphone battery life, but you won’t notice a huge difference between these two headsets. They also both use USB-C to charge, a nice upgrade from the microUSB 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.

See also: The best headphones you can buy right now

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 cancelling 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 cancelling (ANC) technology with the QC 45, which brings a slight but noticeable improvement over the Noise Cancelling 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 cancelling. Ambient frequencies such as the hum of an airplane engine will sound about one-fourth as loud with the Bose Noise Cancelling 700, and only about one-eighth as loud when wearing the QC 45.

See: The best noise cancelling headphones

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) has more presence in high frequencies 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 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.

If Bose releases a firmware update that adds a custom EQ to the QC 45, the sound of the two headsets will become comparable. 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 their smartphone’s rudimentary EQ (if it’s available), or download a third-party equalizer app in the meantime.

Which Bose headset is best for phone calls?

A photo showing the microphone array of the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700.

Microphones on the side of the ear cups provide great call quality.

No matter which headset you choose, you won’t have to worry about microphone quality. The QC 45 and Noise Cancelling 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

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 microphone sample

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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 Cancelling Headphones 700 still delivers a better all-around listening experience.

Bose Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Headphones 700
All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

All these years later, we still can’t stop gawking at that elegant design; however, the real kicker is in sound quality. Not only does the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 sound better out of the box, but it also has a custom EQ built into the app to adjust the sound. Until the QC 45 adds an EQ firmware update, we’re going to pass on these headphones.

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 sound of the older QC 35 II over the QC 45.

Bose QuietComfort 45
All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

What should you get instead of Bose’s 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 premium noise cancelling headphones without bringing Sony into the discussion. The Sony WH-1000XM4 is one of our favorite all-around headphones, with great sound, noise cancelling, and Bluetooth streaming quality. If you’re looking to save, you can also frequently find the older Sony WH-1000XM3 at major discounts.

If you’ve fully bought into the Apple ecosystem, the 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.

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 $300 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.

See more: Bose QuietComfort 35 II vs Bose QuietComfort 45

Frequently Asked Questions