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Bose QuietComfort 35 II vs Bose QuietComfort 45

Both these headphones are now a few years old, but they still hold up for different use cases.
By

Published onApril 24, 2024

Originally published on April 12, 2022
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
MSRP: $349.00
8
Check price
Positives
Noise cancelling
Great headphones
New mic attachment is easy to use, well made
Battery life
Negatives
Expensive
Mic attachment isn't sold separately
The Bottom Line.
If you don't have a gaming headset or everyday headphones, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset might be just the ticket. Otherwise, it's expensive and pretty barebones.Read full review...
Bose QuietComfort 45
MSRP: $329.00
7.9
Check price
Positives
Outstanding noise-cancelling
USB-C port
Comfortable over long periods of time
Wired and wireless playback
In-app EQ
Negatives
Sound quality
SBC and AAC only, no aptX
Only way to turn off ANC is to turn on Aware mode; no true off listening mode
The Bottom Line.
The Bose QuietComfort 45 has all the parts to be a great ANC headset, but it doesn't quite have the finish. Sound quality isn't all that great, even if the ANC is among the best in class.Read full review...

Comparing the Bose QuietComfort 35 II to the Bose QuietComfort 45 is like comparing oranges to oranges—there’s very little difference between these two active noise canceling (ANC) headsets. True to the series name, both QuietComfort headsets are very comfortable and great for travelers. However, Bose includes some new hardware and a unique sound to its latest headset.

Bose took four years between the QC 35 II and QC 45, so it must have cooked up something good in the lab, right?

Editor’s note: this article was updated on April 24, 2024, to add new alternatives, adjust formatting, and answer additional FAQs.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II and QuietComfort 45 share nearly the same design

A man uses the control cluster on the back of the Bose QuietComfort 45.
Unlike the QC 35 II, which lets you disable ANC, the Bose QC 45 makes you choose between ANC on and Aware mode on—there’s no middle option.

The Bose QuietComfort 45 is a clear descendant of the QC 35 II with its oval ear cups and plastic finish. There are minor modifications between the two designs: Bose traded the tiny microphone slots on the QC 35 II for a matrix of dots on the QC 45, and the new version has better hardware, like a USB-C input rather than micro-USB input on the old model. Bose keeps the power switch and controls on the right ear cup, so older QC headset owners should feel at home with the QuietComfort 45.

Clearly separated, you can operate the multi-function and playback buttons without any guesswork on either headset. To access your phone’s native assistant, press the multi-function button. Both QC headsets have an action button on the back of the left ear cup that executes slightly different commands. On the QC 35 II, the action button cycles between noise canceling modes. With the QC 45, you have the added function of an Aware mode toggle, which the QC 35 II lacks altogether. Aware mode is just another name for audio passthrough, and it amplifies external noises through the headphones to keep you aware of your surroundings.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II lying on an open book.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II remains competitive, thanks to software updates through the proprietary app.

Bose redesigned the ear pads on the QuietComfort 45, and they have a smoother finish than the padding on the previous headset. The headbands look nearly identical, and durability is the same: neither Bose QuietComfort headset has a water-resistant rating, but each is made of sturdy plastic. You can rotate the headphones on either the Bose QC 35 II or Bose QC 45 to lay flat against a table, or you can fold each headphone toward the band and throw it into the included protective case.

No matter which headset you buy, Bose includes a zippered protective case, a 2.5-to-3.5mm cable, a charging cable (micro-USB or USB-C), and wireless noise canceling headphones.

How is the Bose QC 45 experience on the Bose Music app different from the Bose QC 35 II’s Bose Connect app?

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, so those looking to EQ their headphones will be disappointed.

The Bose Music app is a newer mobile application than the Bose Connect app, and both are available for free on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. You can’t do much with the Bose Music app (version 5.0.2) aside from toggle between ANC on and Aware mode on. You can’t choose to disable ANC and Aware mode for a standard listening experience, something we’ve seen with the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2. In February 2022, Bose added an in-app EQ to the Bose QuietComfort 45 via a firmware update.

The Bose Connect app lets you choose between three noise canceling modes (high, low, and off), and program the action button. You can either set it as the ANC toggle or to your preferred smart assistant. You can also share music from the Bose Connect app simultaneously to two compatible Bose headphones and set an auto-off timer for the QC 35 II (the Music app also has a standby timer).

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones in a man's hand.
The oval ear cups and padding fit nicely around most ear sizes.

Neither app is supremely useful, but you may want to keep it around for firmware updates down the line. Bose does a pretty good job of adding important features to its products, though one could argue those updated features should just be included from the start.

Which Bluetooth codecs do the Bose QC 45 and Bose QC 35 II support?

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II on a gridded surface next to two smartphones.
iPhone users will experience better, more consistent high-quality audio via Bose’s headset than Android users.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II and Bose QuietComfort 45 share the exact same Bluetooth codec configuration, with SBC and AAC support. This gives iPhone owners a reliable, high-quality codec to use for music playback, but not all Android users will experience the same consistent output from AAC. Unfortunately, AAC’s performance is variable across Android hardware, but SBC has come quite a long way since its inception and sounds much better than it used to. You can also hardwire either pair of headphones to your device with the included 2.5-to-3.5mm cables for lossless listening.

Bluetooth 5.1 powers the QuietComfort 45, which is more energy-efficient than Bluetooth 4.2 on the QC 35 II. Neither headset will support Bluetooth LE Audio when it becomes widely available, but at least both headsets support Bluetooth multipoint for simultaneous connections to two devices.

Does the Bose QuietComfort 35 II have better battery life than the Bose QC 45?

A photo of the USB-C port of the Bose QuietComfort 45.
The USB-C input is the main reason to get the Bose QuietComfort 45 over its predecessor.

The Bose QuietComfort 45 has a longer battery life than the Bose QC 35 II; the former has an official battery life of 24 hours and 49 minutes, while the latter has a battery life of 21 hours and 12 minutes, according to our objective batter test. While this difference in playtime is important, some prospective buyers may be more interested in the QC 45’s USB-C charging port, which is more modern than the micro-USB input on the QC 35 II.

Charging the QC 45 for 15 minutes yields 180 minutes of playtime, whereas the same 15 minutes of charge time for the QC 35 II provides 150 minutes of playtime. It takes anywhere from two to two and a half hours to charge either headset to capacity.

Does the Bose QuietComfort 45 have better noise canceling than the Bose QuietComfort 35 II?

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

The Bose QuietComfort 45 has better noise canceling than the QuietComfort 35 II, but this is to be expected given how QC 35 II came out in 2017, four years prior to the QC 45. With the QC 45, you get excellent gross attenuation from the combined passive isolation and active noise canceling. It quiets midrange and high-frequency sounds that most headsets don’t affect to an extreme degree. The newer Bose headset effectively mutes sounds from 2-11kHz, should you achieve a good fit.

A chart compares the Bose QuietComfort 45 and QC 35 II noise canceling, revealing the QC 45 blocks out more noise.
A worthy upgrade from the QC 35 II, the QC 45 has excellent noise canceling.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II still dulls the 2-11kHz range but not to the same level; your ears may register particularly loud incidental sounds. While the active noise canceling on the Bose QC 35 II isn’t as impressive as with the QC 45, the QC 35 II more consistently attenuates low-frequency sounds.

Bear in mind that noise cancellation generally affects sounds below 1kHz more than those above 1kHz. To get active noise canceling performance that falls in line with our measurements, it’s important to make sure you get a proper fit with the headphones. The ear pads must fully encircle your ears without any gaps between the synthetic leather padding and your skull.

Does the Bose QuietComfort 45 sound better than the QuietComfort 35 II?

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II and the Google Assistant button is located on the ear cup.
The Bose QC 35 II uses a 2.5mm input just like the QC 45.

Sound quality is where the Bose QuietComfort 35 II comes back swinging: its default frequency response is much friendlier than that of the QuietComfort 45, which boosts treble notes so much that they sound unpleasant. The boosted high-end on the QC 45 is great for speech intelligibility—podcasts sound good—but poorly mixed punk and pop music aren’t enjoyable to hear. Bose added a custom EQ to its QuietComfort 45 headphones, so you can play with three bands to customize the sound.

A chart showing the +5-7dB overemphasis in the highs of the Bose QuietComfort 45 in relation to the sound of the Bose QuietComfort 35 II.
We expected a very similar sound with the Bose QuietComfort 45, but it seems to have a bit more of a boost in the highs when compared to the Bose QuietComfort 35 II.

Still, we don’t expect you to bet on a “maybe.” The Bose QuietComfort 35 II lacks an EQ module in the Bose Connect app, but at least its more versatile frequency response makes treble-heavy music sound good still. In fact, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II very closely follows the SoundGuys Target Curve, which we posit as the ideal sound for the general market.

While the QC 35 II clearly has the better frequency response, the QC 45 still sounds decent. Plus, most smartphones have some kind of onboard EQ adjustment embedded in the settings app, so you should be able to make changes to how the Bose QuietComfort headsets sound either from your smartphone or from your streaming service’s settings.

Bose QuietComfort 45 vs QuietComfort 35 II: Which headset has the better microphone?

A photo of the back of the Bose QuietComfort 45's ear cups, along with the control cluster.
Playback controls can be found on the back of the headphones.

Both the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and QuietComfort 45 have great microphone systems, though neither is studio quality. What matters most is that you can use either headset for a conference call, and definitely for any personal calls.

Listen to the samples below and help other readers by casting your vote!

Bose QuietComfort 35 II microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Bose QuietComfort 35 II microphone demo (Street conditions):

Bose QuietComfort 45 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Bose QuietComfort 45 microphone demo (Street conditions):

Which microphone sounds better?

14835 votes

Bose QuietComfort 35 II vs Bose QuietComfort 45: Which should you get?

A man's hand holds the Bose QC 35 II noise canceling wireless headphones.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is still one of the best noise canceling headsets around, years after its debut.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II remains the better headset for most listeners: it sounds better, has very good ANC, and costs less than the QuietComfort 45. Unless you loathe carrying around a micro-USB cable and actively enjoy boosted treble, the Bose QC 35 II is a great contender in the wireless headphones space.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Bose 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.

There are still plenty of reasons to get the QuietComfort 45; chief among them is the unparalleled passive isolation and active noise cancelation. Anyone who flies a lot or commutes by train and bus will greatly appreciate how well the QC 45 quiets virtually all sounds. No matter where you are, you’ll have the option to enjoy a quiet space with the Bose QC 45. In February 2022, Bose added an in-app EQ for the Bose QuietComfort 45 via software update, and we’ll report back with our updated testing results soon.

Bose QuietComfort 45
Bose QuietComfort 45
SG recommended
Bose QuietComfort 45
Excellent ANC • EQ adjustable • Comfortable ear pads
MSRP: $329.00
An ANC headset that provides comfort and ease of use.
The Bose QuietComfort 45 does an excellent job cancelling outside noise, and it sounds great for podcast listening. It has a decent battery life, and the fast-charging USB-C adds another 180 minutes with only a 15-minute charge.

What should you get instead of the Bose QuietComfort headphones?

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones lying atop a wood slab.
Austin Kwok / SoundGuys
At 253g, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are quite a bit lighter than headphones with an all-metal construction and more portable as a result.

If you don’t want either headset, you may want to consider the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 ($379 at Amazon), which has a custom EQ, very good noise canceling, and a great sound profile. The Bose NCH 700 does well against the newer QC 45, though its design is less comfortable. You get USB-C charging on the NCH 700, along with a more modern design. It’s available for $379 at Amazon.

The latest headphones from Bose include the new QuietComfort ($349 at Amazon) and the QuietComfort Ultra ($429 at Amazon). The former isn’t all that different from the QuietComfort 45 in terms of features or performance, but the Ultra does bring a lot of future-proof features to take advantage of if you have a newer Android phone.

Top-down view of Sony WH-1000XM5 beside the Sony WH-1000XM4 on a metal surface
The Sony WH-1000XM5 (left) diverges from the WH-1000XM4 (right) with its new headband adjustment system and cleaner design.

Another alternative is the Sony WH-1000XM4 ($348 at Sony), which is packed with features you can use to customize the sound and streaming quality. It also supports Sony 360 reality audio and auto-pause when you remove the headset. Bass notes sound much louder through Sony’s headset compared to the QC 45, but again, you have the power to change that. Sony’s headphones do very well compared to the Bose NCH 700 and even the Apple AirPods Max. You can pick up the Sony WH-1000XM4 for $278 at Amazon.

Of course, there is the newer WH-1000XM5 from Sony ($387 at Amazon) that currently wears the crown for the best overall headphones. With new drivers, features, and design, is is an intriguing set of headphones among the flagship active noise canceling (ANC) devices on the market. It excels in travel or at the office, in particular.

Listeners on a budget should investigate the Sennheiser PXC 550-II ($299.99 at Walmart), which often retails for less than $200 and has very good noise canceling for the price, $299.99 at Walmart. This pair of headphones makes all music sound good and the microphone is pretty good for phone calls, too. It’s not as comfortable as the QC 45 and QC 35 II, but you can still wear it for hours with or without glasses. Like the QC 35 II, the PXC 550-II charges via micro-USB, but it’s a small price for such a great pair of headphones.

Frequently asked questions about the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and Bose QuietComfort 45

No, unfortunately, you cannot. If you want to EQ your QC 35 II, you must use a third-party app like your go-to streaming service.

Upgrading from the QC35 II to the QC45 offers better active noise canceling and the convenience of USB-C charging. However, the sound quality of the QC35 II is more versatile and preferred by many users. The decision to upgrade depends on your priority between advanced noise cancelation and sound preference.

The Bose QuietComfort 45 was released in 2021, making it about 3 years old as of 2024.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II was released in 2017.

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