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Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones vs Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Bose replaces their old flagship with a new model, but bargain hunters may be thee biggest winners here.
By
November 21, 2023
Bose QuietComfort Ultra
MSRP: $429.00
8.6
Check price
Positives
Great ANC
Good passthrough mode
Snapdragon Sound
aptX Lossless
Negatives
Price
No IP rating
Immersive audio
Some channel matching issues
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
MSRP: $379.00
8.2
Check price
Positives
Great active noise canceling
Sleek design
Gesture pad works perfectly
Better sound than the QC35 II
Negatives
No folding hinges
Expensive

Bose refreshed their line of headphones in late 2023, bringing a new halo product to the market. Where does this leave the former top-of-the-line option? Let’s find out which cans reign supreme in this matchup of the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones vs Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

Editor’s note: this article was published on November 21, 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 Ultra Headphones compared to the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?

Both the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 represent the upper end of what Bose has to offer, though the newer headphones are built for power, while the older ones are more geared towards style. To that end, it’s no surprise that the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones has better hardware under the hood at the expense of a plastic chassis and outer casing, while the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 has a metal exterior and somewhat more dated hardware. Both headphones are comfortable and are about the same weight (253 vs 250 grams), but the newer headphones make a better seal to most heads owing to better padding and weight distribution.

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 outside
The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 feature a clean with matte-finished ear cups and a steel headband.

Both headphones are excellent travel buddies, but only the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones folds down to fit into a carrying case. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, on the other hand, can only fold flat. It’s not such a huge deal, but this difference makes the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones more convenient for airplane travelers.

Neither headphones bear any ingress protection rating, so if you were hoping for a gym companion: you might want to leave these at home. While our time with both the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 demonstrated that they won’t give up the ghost to a little sweat, it’s still a good idea to use these where they won’t get splashed or drenched.

How do you control the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones have only two buttons to control calls and playback.
Austin Kwok / SoundGuys
The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones use two buttons and a capacitive volume slider to control calls and playback.

The control schemes for the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are quite different, with the former relying on buttons, and the latter using a series of touch gestures to control calls and playback. We typically recommend headphones with touch controls because it’s more difficult to accidentally dislodge your cans (leading to a poor fit) through normal operation. Still, it’s not much of an issue if you use your phone to control playback more often than your headphones.

ActionMulti-function buttonBluetooth / Power buttonVolume strip
Action
Single tap
Multi-function button
Play / pause
Bluetooth / Power button
Battery level check
Volume strip
N/A
Action
Double tap
Multi-function button
Track forward
Bluetooth / Power button
N/A
Volume strip
N/A
Action
Triple tap
Multi-function button
Track backward
Bluetooth / Power button
N/A
Volume strip
N/A
Action
Long press
Multi-function button
ANC mode change
Bluetooth / Power button
On / off
Volume strip
Shortcut (define in app)
Action
Swipe
Multi-function button
N/A
Bluetooth / Power button
N/A
Volume strip
Volume up / down

You can also customize a user-selected input on both the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 through the Bose Music app. Though the options are quite limited, you can check out the screenshots in either review for more.

ActionRight headphone
Two taps
Play/pause. Answer/end call.
Hold
Decline incoming call
Swipe forward/backward
Skip/previous track
Swipe up/down
Increase/decrease volume
Buttons
Power, voice assistant, noise control
Customizable controls?
Yes, Bose Music app

Should you use the Bose Music app for the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones or Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?

If you want to make use of features like immersive audio, customize your equalizer, or adjust your ANC or passthrough modes: you need the Bose Music app. Additionally, this app will automatically download firmware updates should you need to. However, I will point out that you can simply use Bose’s excellent Updater Tool if you want to eschew the app altogether.

Firmware updates are a big deal for Bose headphones, as they often fix minor annoyances or increase performance. For example, a 2022 firmware update improved the ANC performance of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 considerably. If you do end up grabbing the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 on sale and find that its ANC is lackluster, try letting the app update the firmware before you return the headphones.

How do the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 connect?

Though both the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 connect to their source devices through a 3.5mm cable or a wireless connection over Bluetooth, both headphones are quite different in the wireless department. Since the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is quite long in the tooth, it’s not surprising that they use an outdated Bluetooth standard and are limited to AAC and SBC. It’s not really a problem, but it will mean that you miss out on new features as time goes on. If you just want to listen to music, these headphones are fine.

The USB-C charging port of the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones.
Austin Kwok / SoundGuys
This USB-C port is only for charging, unfortunately.

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones on the other hand do offer higher-bitrate listening via the aptX Adaptive codec family. This includes the newer aptX Lossless, which boasts CD-quality listening where other Bluetooth headphones can’t match it. In fact, it’s one of only two products on the market as of publish that support the codec. Unfortunately, the only way you can make use of this is with an Android phone with Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor or newer with Snapdragon Sound. If you have an iOS device, you’ll be limited to SBC and AAC.

Is battery life better on the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones or Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?

Using our standardized test protocol as a fair head-to-head matchup, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones last about 27 hours and 37 minutes in continuous playback. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, on the other hand, last 21 hours and 25 minutes under like conditions. This is a clear win for the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, but the battery life of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 isn’t terrible, just average.

A photo showing the microphone array of the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700.
The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 charge via USB-C.

However, what you may notice is the longevity of the battery over the course of a few years. If you’re charging more often, the risk of poor battery hygiene increases over time. In that light, you may want to stick with the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones if you’d like to postpone breakage or degradation longer.

Do the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones or Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 block noise better?

Though it’s probably a little obvious, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones blocks out a ton more noise than the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 does. Whether that’s a superior fit, or just more effective ANC, the newer headphones are some of the best ANC cans on the market when it comes to dispelling outside noise.

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It’s so good, in fact, that it forces our charts to expand the scale on the y-axis. That makes it a little more difficult to compare here, as the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 — decent in its own right — appears to go toe to toe. Unfortunately, that’s simply not the case. One look at the numbers to the left of the chart area should make that obvious.

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If you’re a frequent commuter, you’re going to want the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones. Though the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is more than capable enough of keeping outside noise muffled, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones is superior. You’ll be able to listen to your tunes at a lower volume, thereby helping reduce exposure to high sound levels. Though it’s no substitute for hearing protection, it is good to reduce your risk.

Do the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones sound better than the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?

From a pure test result standpoint, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 sound fairly similar, with some deviations here and there. The main differences between the two headphones seem to live in the bass and 2-8kHz regions, where the newer headphones seem to be much more conservative with their emphasis, and the older cans like to pump up the volume over our target. We prefer the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones’ performance here, but you may disagree, and that’s fine! When you get to this level it’s usually more about taste than objective performance. That said, Bose’s app is abysmal for user equalizing, so what you see is pretty close to what you’ll get.

However the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones allows the use of higher-bitrate Bluetooth codecs, meaning less necessary compression. Of course, this is only if you have a new Android phone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or newer. If you don’t have a phone that fits this description, you’ll be missing out on Snapdragon Sound — a necessary feature platform to enable the aptX Lossless codec supported by the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones.

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Each set of headphones also has a number of EQ presets in the Bose Music app, but they’re all pretty uninspiring. The Bass Reducer EQ was our favorite for both, but if you want to make more granular adjustments, you’ll find the app lacking.

Do the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones or Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 have a better microphone?

Rather than make a stand and assume your tastes, we like to offer recording samples achieved under standardized conditions so you can decide for yourself whether the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones or Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 has a better microphone. Just keep in mind that what you hear here may not be what your buddies hear on the other end of the line, as the chat app or network you use may limit bandwidth or compress your audio in unexpected ways.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones microphone demo (Office conditions):

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 microphone demo (Office conditions):

Which microphone sounds best to you?

353 votes

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones vs Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Price and availability

If this has seemed like a one-sided comparison up to now, you’d be right. However, where the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 has the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones beat handily is the price. Now that the older headphones are a few years old, you can regularly find them for around $225 online, whereas the brand-new QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are still $429. You may find either of these on sale, but you really can’t dismiss a savings of almost $150 to 200.

Of course, now that the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are so old, you’ll start to see fewer and fewer retailers carry them. Conversely, you’ll begin to see the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones just about everywhere headphones are sold. Bose has a long reach, and just about every big box store or online retailer should have some stock.

Should you get the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones or Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?

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

If you narrowed down your headphone search to the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones vs Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, you can’t pick wrong — though you can pick wrong for your budget. If you’re looking to save money, get the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. It really comes down to cost — the penalties for getting an old set of headphones aren’t as bad as they are with getting an old phone, and sometimes saving a couple hundred bucks is more important than getting a cutting-edge set of headphones. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 isn’t bad by any stretch, but the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones is one of the best headphones on the market.

See price at Amazon
Bose QuietComfort Ultra
Bose QuietComfort Ultra
Great battery life
Advanced audio experience
See price at Amazon
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Excellent ANC
Lightweight design
Rotable ear pads

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are far superior when it comes to sound quality, noise cancelation, and future-proofing. However, you may not care about features like Snapdragon Sound or immersive audio. Your phone also may not be able to keep up with the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones’ features, so if you’re just looking for headphones that can cancel noise and play back music: the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are perfectly capable for the price.

Frequently asked questions

No.

Yes, see above for samples.

Yes, you can find replacement ear pads on the Bose site or other online retailers.

You can, but we wouldn’t suggest it. Not having an ingress protection rating makes these a risky bet when taking part in wet activities.