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Bose QuietComfort Headphones vs Bose QuietComfort 45

Should you get the new hotness, or the old standby? Good news: it's impossible to pick wrong.
By

Published onApril 9, 2024

Bose QuietComfort Headphones
MSRP: $349.00
7.5
Check price
Positives
Comfort
Portability
ANC
Negatives
Cost
Default frequency response
Limited scope for EQ changes with Bose app
Outdated hardware
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

For active noise canceling (ANC) headphones, Bose has been a top choice for quite a long time. However, now that the company’s latest line of cans is hitting shelves are the updated models worth shelling out for? Let’s take a look at how the new Bose QuietComfort Headphones stack up to the older Bose QuietComfort 45.

Editor’s note: this article was published on October 5, 2023, and is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.

What’s it like to use the Bose QuietComfort Headphones compared to the Bose QuietComfort 45?

Comparing both the Bose QuietComfort Headphones and Bose QuietComfort 45 seems like a fool’s errand, given the level of similarity we’re talking about here. For example, both headphones have virtually the same controls, form factor, and software features. The main differences seem to be limited to the colorways available and the new product name. Neither product offers waterproofing, and neither product offers any sort of advantage over the other regarding driver tech.

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

Both headphones are 240g, both support Multipoint with their use of Bluetooth 5.1, and both offer the same connections to users. In a sense, that’s a good thing: Bose clearly hit upon a good design and is unwilling to tinker with something that should probably be left alone. However, that also means that there are no improvements with the newer headphones in this regard.

While this doesn’t help us decide which set of headphones is better, it does offer some peace of mind that you can’t actually choose wrong when it comes to user experience. You won’t be missing any features or fit if you choose one headset over another.

How do you control the Bose QuietComfort Headphones and Bose QuietComfort 45?

A man wears the Bose QuietComfort Headphones.
If you found the Bose QuietComfort 45 to be comfortable, good news: the Bose QuietComfort Headphones is virtually identical.

As I said, both sets of headphones are controlled in the exact same way. In this sense, the Bose QuietComfort Headphones are the true successor to the Bose QuietComfort 45. However, that’s not necessarily what you want. As both of these headphones use physical controls, they both come with the drawbacks of that control style.

Bose QuietComfort Headphones controls:

ACTIONTOP BUTTON (right)MIDDLE BUTTON (right)BOTTOM BUTTON (right)ACTION BUTTON (left)
ACTION
One press
TOP BUTTON (right)
Volume up
MIDDLE BUTTON (right)
Play/pause, answer/end call
BOTTOM BUTTON (right)
Volume down
ACTION BUTTON (left)
Toggle ANC mode
ACTION
Two presses
TOP BUTTON (right)

MIDDLE BUTTON (right)
Next track
BOTTOM BUTTON (right)

ACTION BUTTON (left)
Mute/unmute call
ACTION
Three presses
TOP BUTTON (right)

MIDDLE BUTTON (right)
Previous track
BOTTOM BUTTON (right)

ACTION BUTTON (left)
N/A
ACTION
Press and hold
TOP BUTTON (right)

MIDDLE BUTTON (right)
Decline call
BOTTOM BUTTON (right)

ACTION BUTTON (left)
Activate shortcut

Bose QuietComfort 45 controls:

ACTIONTOP BUTTON (right)MIDDLE BUTTON (right)BOTTOM BUTTON (right)ACTION BUTTON (left)
ACTION
One press
TOP BUTTON (right)
Volume up
MIDDLE BUTTON (right)
Play/pause, answer/end call
BOTTOM BUTTON (right)
Volume down
ACTION BUTTON (left)
Toggle ANC mode
ACTION
Two presses
TOP BUTTON (right)

MIDDLE BUTTON (right)
Next track
BOTTOM BUTTON (right)

ACTION BUTTON (left)
Mute call
ACTION
Three presses
TOP BUTTON (right)

MIDDLE BUTTON (right)
Previous track
BOTTOM BUTTON (right)

ACTION BUTTON (left)
N/A
ACTION
Press and hold
TOP BUTTON (right)

MIDDLE BUTTON (right)
Decline call
BOTTOM BUTTON (right)

ACTION BUTTON (left)
Voice assistant

Should you use the Bose Music app?

If you’d like to be able to get the latest firmware and features for either the Bose QuietComfort Headphones or the Bose QuietComfort 45, you’re going to want to use the Bose Music app. However, there really isn’t a huge advantage to using the app. For one thing, it doesn’t really give you granular enough control to fix the worst issues with the sound of Bose QuietComfort Headphones, and for Bose QuietComfort 45, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive updates for the long haul.

The Bose Music app allows both teh Bose QuietComfort 45 and Bose QuietComfort Headphones to have a handful of software features.
The EQ supplied by Bose is fairly scant in its utility.

Additionally, if you want to limit what personal info of yours gets shared with third parties: you may want to avoid installing the app. Even if you’re not all that privacy-minded, you may find the idea that data is being collected from your habits and location quite creepy. There’s very little that can’t be accomplished in the Bose Music app that can’t also be accomplished by using the Bose Updater utility and an equalization app, so you can skip this if you want.

How do the Bose QuietComfort Headphones and Bose QuietComfort 45 connect?

Both products connect to wireless sources over Bluetooth 5.1 via AAC or SBC. Should you prefer a wired connection, both headsets use a 2.5 to 3.5mm TRS cable to connect to analog ports.

The connection ports and buttons of the Bose QuietComfort Headphones.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
Unfortunately, that USB-C port doesn’t allow USB-C audio.

Though these are standard connection methods, it’s likely not enough to satisfy audiophiles chasing ever-diminishing returns from their music. Additionally, the Bose QuietComfort Headphones and Bose QuietComfort 45 miss out on USB-C audio, as well as any higher-bitrate codecs. It’s really fine, given that neither of these products is geared towards high audio quality.

Is battery life better on the Bose QuietComfort Headphones or Bose QuietComfort 45?

Despite having virtually identical hardware, the Bose QuietComfort Headphones seem to have a better battery life than the Bose QuietComfort 45. Whether this is due to a trick of firmware, slightly different components, or even just sample variation, we found that the Bose QuietComfort Headphones were able to withstand our test for 27 hours and 14 minutes, and the Bose QuietComfort 45 were able to withstand our test for 24 hours and 49 minutes.

In general, we try to recommend headphones that last longer simply because they will also last longer with regular charging habits. But it’s also better for the environment. A big win-win.

Do the Bose QuietComfort Headphones or Bose QuietComfort 45 block noise better?

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Both the Bose QuietComfort Headphones and Bose QuietComfort 45 attenuate noise in an almost identical manner. It shouldn’t be surprising, given that ANC is not something that needed an overhaul from the older Bose QuietComfort 45.

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The good news here is that, again, you can’t pick wrong. However, that also means that there’s no advantage to either. If you’re hoping spending more will net you better ANC, your hopes are misplaced.

Do the Bose QuietComfort Headphones sound better than the Bose QuietComfort 45?

In a rare case of “newer isn’t always better,” the Bose QuietComfort 45 is much easier to get sounding good than the Bose QuietComfort Headphones. This is because the highs reproduced by the Bose QuietComfort 45 are less erratic — albeit overemphasized compared to what we look for. If you’d like to know more about the following chart, here’s a primer.

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You can improve the sound of the Bose QuietComfort 45 easily by touching the highs down slightly, either in the app or through another means of equalization. Though there isn’t a more granular option available, you could also use a third-party app to address it.

There are, of course, several EQ presets with both headphones. However, there aren’t any that actually do a whole lot to improve the sound quality. You’re much better off with the default settings of both headphones.

Do the Bose QuietComfort Headphones or Bose QuietComfort 45 have a better microphone?

Because we have a standardized microphone test, you can directly compare the performance of the Bose QuietComfort Headphones to the Bose QuietComfort 45 by listening to the samples below.

Bose QuietComfort Headphones microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Bose QuietComfort 45 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Bose QuietComfort Headphones microphone demo (Windy conditions):

Bose QuietComfort 45 microphone demo (Windy conditions):

 

Of course, these are just two situations you may find yourself in. We did find that both the Bose QuietComfort Headphones and Bose QuietComfort 45 have some issues with noise rejection, but it’s a problem common to the product type. If you will be using either of these in an office setting, be sure to be kind to your conversation mates.

Which microphone sounds best to you?

1317 votes

Bose QuietComfort Headphones vs. Bose QuietComfort 45: Price and availability

The Bose QuietComfort Headphones fold up nicely.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
Though the predecessors were excellent commuter buddies, you may want to save your money here.

If the features, form, and performance are all extremely similar, why buy the Bose QuietComfort Headphones again? In short, it all comes down to price. Though the Bose QuietComfort 45 are older, they’re also one of the most popular on the planet Earth. Consequently, you should be able to find it online for a very low price, all things considered. Until Bose is able to clear its stock, and all online vendors do the same, you should probably target the Bose QuietComfort 45 to spend less money on what is ostensibly the same thing.

Of course, this won’t be true forever, and stock of the Bose QuietComfort 45 will eventually run out. Once this happens, though, it would not be unreasonable to expect the newer Bose QuietComfort Headphones to start to appear on sale as well.

Should you get the Bose QuietComfort Headphones or Bose QuietComfort 45?

Until there’s a large firmware update to the Bose QuietComfort Headphones, there’s little reason to get them over the Bose QuietComfort 45 while it’s still available. It’s not that the Bose QuietComfort Headphones are a bad set of headphones, but they just don’t set themselves apart from the Bose QuietComfort 45 in meaningful ways outside of the price. However, I will point out that as time goes on, the rest of the ANC headphones pack will leave both the Bose QuietComfort Headphones and Bose QuietComfort 45 behind. In a world where even Apple is getting in on the USB-C audio game, it seems that most other companies are looking to prove their value in a crowded field. As the Bose products do not have any killer features to offer, expect new models and even several current ones to leave both of these models in the dust.

See price at Amazon
Bose QuietComfort Headphones
Bose QuietComfort Headphones
Great battery life
Comfortable materials
Great ANC
See price at Amazon
Bose QuietComfort 45
15%off
Bose QuietComfort 45
Excellent ANC
EQ adjustable
Comfortable ear pads

If by some miracle you can find these headphones for the same price, by all means, pick up the Bose QuietComfort Headphones, as it will likely enjoy support from Bose for a longer period of time. However, that also comes with the caveat that you are much more likely to need some sort of EQ app to get the sound to your liking.

Frequently asked questions

Yes. See above for samples.

No. These headphones do not have an ingress protection rating.

Probably not, unless you have a large head. Over-ear headphones that aren’t water-resistant generally don’t do so hot when you work up a sweat.

Yes.

Yes, both use Bluetooth Multipoint.

The Best Bose headphones in 2024 are the QuietComfort Ultra. They cost more, to be sure, but they have features that will be relevant for years to come.

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