If it is not broken, do not repair it.
Bose did just that with its QuietComfort line of noise canceling headphones – and with good reason. The QC35 and QC35 II set a limit for active noise cancellation (ANC) when it comes to wireless ear cans. Bose’s powerful ANC blocks out more ambient noise than almost all competitors, and QuietComfort’s reliable controls meant it was happy to use them on long flights. However, the QC35 II debuted in 2017 and the technology has advanced a lot since then. Still, Bose managed to keep most of what made the line so popular as it made a few minor updates with the QuietComfort 45 ($ 329). As it turns out, you don’t need fancy new features to make your headphones unique.
- Clear and balanced sound
- Improved ANC
- Long battery life
- Comfortable as always
- Design is what it is
- There is no automatic pause
- Connecting to multiple devices can be frustrating
As for aesthetics, there is almost nothing new to perform here. Bose was clear that the idea was to keep the trademark of the QuietComfort series intact. The company has removed the creases around the ear pads to clean things up and close open spaces for a smoother look. It also replaced the micro-USB port for modern USB-C charging. All in all, you could easily replace the QC45 with a pair of QC35 or QC35 II headphones.
The QC45 ear cups continue to rotate and fold for easy storage, while the ear pads and headband remain soft and fluffy. On the right, the power and pairing slider is located on the outside of the ear cup, while the controls are on the board along the back edge. These physical buttons give you the ability to play / pause, receive calls, skip songs, and adjust the volume. At the same point on the left, what was once Google Assistant and the Alexa button now switches between active noise cancellation (Quiet Mode) and Ambient Sound (Conscious Mode). If you press this button during a call, it will mute the microphone. You can still call your assistant of your choice, but now you do so by holding down the center multifunction button on the right instead.
Gallery: Bose QuietComfort 45 reviews | 11 photos
Gallery: Bose QuietComfort 45 reviews | 11 photos
If you want something less like a “dad on a business trip,” but still want Bose sound quality and ANC cuts, you’ll want to take a look at the Bose 700 (more on them below). They are of a more modern design. However, the whole point of the QuietComfort series is to be comfortable for hours at a time while blocking the world. The QC45 continues to do just that with its lightweight design that is easy to pack and is a great travel companion.
Software and features
Like other Bose headphones and earphones, the QuietComfort 45 works with the Music app. The software doesn’t offer much in terms of customization, but it will guide you through the on-board controls, display battery life, allow you to change the ANC mode, and switch between connected Bluetooth devices. There’s also a volume slider and a basic media controller, which you probably won’t need. Still, what you are able to customize comes in really handy. You can choose between four levels of Self Voice or as much as you can hear yourself in the headset during a call (off, low, medium and high). This helps you shout less on Zoom, which is always nice. You can also set how long the QC45 stays inactive before turning off automatically to save battery power.
That’s really it. Bose does not offer the ability to adjust the equalizer, or even a choice of preset settings to adjust the sound profile. Instead, the QC45 is equipped with an Active EQ function optimized for volume that automatically adjusts the treble and bass to maintain performance at all levels. There’s really no need to redistribute any of the controls, and features like auto-pause or voice recognition aren’t available. This means that the Music app is potentially something you will visit during the initial setup and never again.
Lastly, there is one thing with connecting to multiple devices that is frustrating to me. You can connect the QC45 to both your phone and computer at the same time. This way when you’re working, you’re set to Slack and Spotify, but the headset automatically switches when you get a call. However, when that call is completed, the QC45 remains connected to your phone and you must tap to return the computer to the active stream. It’s a small nuisance, but when competitors do it automatically, it sticks out.
You may be considering a set of Bose headphones just because of their noise canceling functions, but don’t neglect the sound quality. The company has a decent tuning record, usually offering warm, balanced sound with good clarity that emphasizes the details of the music. This continues with the QuietComfort 45 as these headphones carry all genres well, offering sharp treble, robust mids and bass when the song requires it. Tuning is more even than what Sony offers on its flagship model, so don’t expect a low-quality boom.
Plus, there’s enough bass for albums like Run The Jewels RTJ4 i Chvrches’ Screen Violence. The difference with Bose is that the lower part does not have the same depth or details as the other sets. The bass of “Walking In The Snow” and “Asking For A Friend” does not hum or oscillate with the same impressive quality as the competition. With a more balanced setting and thanks to how well they handle the details, the QC45 is suitable for all genres – from metal to bluegrass and everything in between. They can get loud when you need them and have enough depth to keep things from looking flat or boring.
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