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Get in on the Bose name with these great headphones

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Bose is known not only for comfortable headphones, but for excellent sound quality, so getting a pair of Bose headphones might be worth the investment. Bose’s Noise Canceling Headphones 700 are the company’s most innovative headphone to date. They feature 11 different steps of active noise cancelation, great battery life with up to 20 hours on a single charge, USB-C, and solid sound quality.

Best Overall: Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

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The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 are the latest addition to the company’s headphone lineup, but they’re also, by far, its most innovative.

The headlining feature here are the NCH 700s’ active noise cancelation (ANC) capabilities. The outgoing Bose QC35 II were solid at active noise cancelation but were clearly showing their age. However, the NCH 700 now feature some of the best ANC available on the market today. With new ANC algorithms, they’re able to block out nearly all bass/low-end noise and a decent amount of midrange and treble. They also feature 11 steps of ANC, allowing you to choose how much (or how little) ANC you want or need.

In terms of comfort, Bose is still the best in the business. The ear cups on the NCH 700 are super soft and extend deep with no issues in regards to fatigue or pain from the ear cups or the headband. Soundwise, Bose has refined the QC35 IIs’ already great sound signature. They feature an overall balanced sound signature throughout, reducing the boosted treble issue with the QC35 II.

The NCH 700 features USB-C for charging and up to 20 hours of battery life on a single charge. You’re also able to charge and listen at the same time. The NCH 700 are fast charging capable, giving you two hours of listening time with a 10-minute charge.

The only real downside with the NCH 700 is that they don’t fold up in any way, making them slightly annoying to stow away in your bag while traveling.

Pros:

  • Sold, balanced sound
  • USB-C charging with fast charging
  • Excellent comfort
  • 11 steps of ANC

Cons:

  • Can’t be folded for compact storing
  • Soundstage is mediocre
  • Expensive

Best Overall

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

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$349 from Amazon $350 from Best Buy

Peaceful tunes

Bose’s Noise Canceling Headphones 700 feature excellent comfort and sound, great battery life, and a customizable ANC mode.

Best Value: Bose SoundSport Wireless

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If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, look no further than the Bose SoundSport Wireless.

Overall, the sound quality is good. There’s a small boost in the bass and a more substantial boost in the treble, giving them a “bright” sound signature. This means that hi-hats from drums, horns, and some female vocals will sound louder than the rest of the sound. Overall, the SoundSport Wireless sound excellent for their form factor.

Comfort is excellent as well. You get several ear tip sizes in the box to help with sizing and fit. Similar to other buds in the SoundSport line, the wings and ear tips are a single piece, adding extra stability when you have them in your ear.

Battery life is pretty decent with the SoundSport Wireless with up to six hours of usage on a single charge. Not quite a full workday’s worth of listening, but they make up for it with up to an hour of listening time when you plug them in for 15 minutes. A full charge will take roughly two hours and the SoundSport Wireless charges over the older Micro-USB connector.

Pros:

  • Solid sound with boosted treble
  • Fast charging capable
  • Excellent comfort
  • Comes with several ear tip sizes
  • Great price

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • Treble boost can be fatiguing for some

Best Value

Bose SoundSport Wireless

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$129 from Amazon $130 from Best Buy

Great all around

The Bose SoundSport Wireless offer solid sound, fast charging, and extremely great comfort.

Best True Wireless: Bose SoundSport Free

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True wireless earbuds are still relatively new on the market and don’t always land in terms of sound quality. Fortunately, Bose did exceptionally well with its first attempt at true wireless earbuds with the SoundSport Free.

In terms of comfort, the SoundSport Free are good. The wings and ear tips help keep the buds in your ear, however, the weight of the buds can slightly pull on the wings depending on how snug they sit in your ear. This could potentially cause issues for folks where the wing tips don’t sit snug.

For a set of true wireless earbuds, the SoundSport Free have solid sound reproduction. The bass is detailed and balanced, bet lacks rumble. This means you’ll get great bass that you can hear but not necessarily feel. The treble is pushed a bit forward as well, which means that they can be overly bright for some.

Battery life is the weakest link here. The earbuds themselves get up to five hours of battery life on a single charge. The included charging case nets you an additional 10 hours of battery life, allowing up to 15 hours of listening time total. Most true wireless earbuds feature at least 20 hours of battery life between the case and earbuds. They aren’t fast-charging capable, and the charging case charges over Micro-USB. Fortunately, the case is relatively small, making it easy to carry.

Pros:

  • Solid sound
  • Good comfort
  • Small case
  • True wireless

Cons:

  • No fast charging
  • Micro-USB for charging
  • Fit can be odd for some

Best True Wireless

Bose SoundSport Free

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$199 from Amazon $200 from Best Buy

Cord-free listening

Bose SoundSport Free are solid true wireless earbuds with great sound, fit, and portability. The battery life is pretty good, too.

Best Neckbuds: Bose QC30

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Neckbuds are great for those who prefer earbuds but want the added comfort of knowing it’s basically impossible to lose them. In the Bose universe, the QC30 are your best bet.

In terms of sound quality, the QC30 are excellent, as expected, with a mostly balanced bass and midrange, and a slightly uneven treble response which could cause some fatiguing for some.

Comfort is excellent thanks to the neckbud design. The ear tips extend into your canal, allowing for superb stability. The QC30 also have optional wingtips that allow for even more stability.

The QC30 have decent media control options. They follow the standard “iPod” media control scheme, which means they should be relatively easy to get used to. However, the buttons are often hard to press and, unfortunately, don’t soften up over time. On the plus side, the QC30 do offer a dedicated ANC button on either side of the neckband to adjust ANC levels. For its size, the QC30 has excellent ANC, blocking out the usual bus or train noise, but they struggle with louder noises including planes and higher-pitched noises.

Lastly, let’s discuss battery life, which is decent for neckbuds with up to 10 hours on a single charge. It’s enough to get you throughout a normal workday, although you’ll have to plan to charge them daily if you’re going to use them often. Unfortunately, the QC30 charge over Micro-USB, which is becoming increasingly extinct as the world moves on to USB-C.

Pros:

  • Great battery life
  • Excellent comfort
  • Superb sound
  • Good ANC for its class

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • Media control buttons can be hard to press

Best Neckbuds

Bose QC30

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$299 from Amazon $300 from Best Buy

Comfortable neckbuds

The QC30 are the best neckbuds available from Bose. They feature excellent sound, comfort, ANC, and solid battery life.

Best Over-Ear: Bose QC35 II

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The Bose QC35 II are easily the best over-ear headphone Bose makes aside from the just-released Noise Canceling Headphones 700. They’re a few years old, but they still hold their own.

Let’s start with sound quality. The QC35 II are relatively balanced in their bass and midrange response, however, the treble region is boosted quite a bit, providing overall bright sound signature that can often be sharp and piercing. The QC35 can be fatiguing for some thanks to the treble boost.

They feature decent battery life with up to 20 hours of battery life on a single charge. If your battery dies, you can simply plug them in using the included Micro-USB cable for charging. You won’t be interrupted in doing so as the QC35 II can simultaneously play audio and charge at the same regardless if its over Bluetooth or over the analog wired connection.

By far the biggest selling point for the QC35 II is comfort. The QC35 II are easily the most comfortable over-ear headphone created within the past five years. They’re designed for long-term use and fold up super easily when you need to stow them away. The ear cups and headband are super soft and the clamping force isn’t too strong, allowing them to simply rest on your head and ears.

The active noise cancelation (ANC) on the QC35 II is really good given how old they are. The QC35 II are a few years old now and have a tough time competing against more modern competition. Don’t get me wrong, the ANC is still solid on the QC35 II and most people will be content with them. Just know that there are better options out there.

Pros:

  • Good, treble forward sound
  • Excellent comfort
  • Great battery life
  • ANC is still great in most cases
  • Fold up for portability

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging

Best Over-Ear

Bose QC35 II

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$299 from Amazon $300 from Best Buy

Over-ear lovers dream

The QC35 II are solid over-ear headphones that also provide excellent sound quality, comfort, and solid battery life.

Best Wearable: Bose Frames

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Every now and then a headphone company will do something new and unique. In some cases it’s a total flop, but in other cases it can turn out to be really useful. Enter the Bose Frames, a pair of sunglasses that also pump audio to your ears.

Comfort depends on how well the sunglasses fit over your ears. The Frames don’t actually have a bud of any sort and rely on little speakers that live on the stem to project audio to your ears. Yes, the audio quality isn’t going to blow your mind, and yes audio leakage will be apparent, but they are great for those who struggle with traditional earbuds. If you have no issues wearing glasses, the Bose Frames will be as comfortable as any other pair of glasses.

In terms of sound quality, the Frames are good for what they are. The bass is pretty mediocre due to their design, with basically no bass at all. The midrange is balanced and the treble is recessed quite a bit. This means that the Frames are best for those who take a ton of phone calls or listen to a podcast.

Battery life is as expected for a relatively new product line, coming in at around 3.5 hours of usage on a single charge. It could be better but there’s only so much you can stuff into the frame of the glasses before they become too heavy. Unsurprisingly, the Frames use a proprietary magnetic charging connector instead of something like Micro-USB or USB-C as those connectors would add too much depth to the Frames. This also means that if Bose decides to ax the Frames, you’re SOL if your charging cable stops working.

Pros:

  • Great sound for phone calls and podcasts
  • Great comfort
  • Super discreet design

Cons:

  • Battery life is poor
  • Audio is still only OK
  • Proprietary charging connector

Best Wearable

Bose Frames

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$199 from Amazon $200 from Best Buy

Discreet tunes

The Bose Frames are designed to hide the fact that you may be listening to audio. With that comes with compromises in sound and battery life.

Best Wired Buds: Bose SoundSport In-Ear

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While many are choosing to go wireless, especially when it comes to earbuds, some may prefer wired variations because you don’t have to worry about charging. If that sounds like you, the Bose SoundSport In-Ear are calling your name.

In terms of sound quality, the SoundSport In-Ear are OK at best. The bass is well detailed and full but lacks thump. This means you’ll get bass that you can hear but not necessarily feel. Both the midrange and treble is balanced but boosted a tad. This creates an overall bright sound signature that will likely sound piercing to most people’s ears.

The SoundSport In-Ear are wired so there’s no need to worry about batteries or battery life. The cord is rather thin, which means they’re more likely to tear versus braided cables or thicker cables. Fortunately, the SoundSport In-Ear features 3.5mm for audio out, which is the standard within the industry. You also get in-line media controls, which follow the standard “iPod” control scheme. The only downside to the media controls is that the buttons are a tad small, marking them slightly difficult to press.

Comfort wise, the SoundSport In-Ear come with multiple ear tips in the box, giving you plenty of options just in case the default set doesn’t fit your ears. Unlike most other earbuds, the SoundSport In-Ear have a combination in-ear and wing design, meaning the tip and the wing are a single piece. That being said, comfort is excellent and we haven’t experienced any issues with discomfort or fatigue.

Pros:

  • Standard media controls
  • Excellent comfort
  • Standard 3.5mm cable

Cons:

  • Bass is lacking
  • Media controls are small

Best Wired Buds

Bose SoundSport In-Ear

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$116 from Amazon

Wired tunes

The Bose SoundSport In-Ear feature great wired audio with awesome media controls and comfort despite lacking bass.

Bottom line

Our top pick, the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700, are among the best wireless headphones out there, let alone Bose headphones, and for good reason. They offer the best comfort out there, whether you’re taking an 18-hour flight or a 30-minute commute to work.

The NCH 700 also features some of the best ANC performance on the market, now offering up to 11 different levels of ANC. This means you can block out everything around you, or just enough to block out nearby chatter but still be able to hear oncoming traffic. Sound quality is excellent as well with a relatively balanced sound.

How to choose the best Bose headphones

Bose makes some of the most comfortable and popular headphones on the planet. The company gained even more popularity when it jumped in the active noise cancelation (ANC) market.

Outside of ANC, Bose still makes great headphones (and in some cases, awesome headphones) for a fair price. When looking at Bose headphones, there are a few key factors you want to look for.

Sound Quality

Sound quality should be the top priority for potential headphone buyers. It doesn’t matter if they’re super comfortable or look pretty if your headphones sound like absolute crap. Fortunately, Bose is a company that cares about sound quality — at least in the frequency response department. The company’s headphones typically have balanced bass and mids with some boosted treble.

Our top two picks are the Bose NCH 700 and the Bose SoundSport Free for offering awesome, balanced sound. The NCH 700 are our number one pick purely due to their versatility and great ANC performance.

Our next two picks are on the list for having solid bass and midrange response but have greatly boosted treble performance which equates to a more sharp and piercing sound that may sound fatiguing to some users.

Best Bose headphones, ranked by sound quality

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Bose SoundSport Free
Bose QC30
Bose QC35 II
Bose SoundSport Wireless

Comfort

Honestly, most Bose headphones are comfortable. There are a few outliers but generally speaking, most of them are super comfortable for both short and long periods of use.

Our top pick surprisingly goes to the QC35 II, even though they’re older. Comfort is excellent and the QC35 II and you won’t have any issues with discomfort or fatiguing even after wearing them for 20 hours straight.

The NCH 700 are our second pick but it’s pretty close to our top pick. You’ll be happy with them whether you’re buying them for an 18-hour flight or a daily 20-minute commute to work. If you’re okay with wearing over-ear headphones, you can’t go wrong with the NCH 700.

Our next two picks are on the list due to their in-ear design. It’s a different set of comfort principles you have to look at. For example, both the SoundSport Wireless and the SoundSport In-Ear feature swappable buds that also have the wing tips bundled as a single piece. That adds less complexity and more stability and overall creates a better sense of comfort.

Best Bose headphones, ranked by comfort

Bose QC35 II
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Bose SoundSport Wireless
Bose SoundSport In-Ear
Bose Frames

Battery Life

Unsurprisingly, over-ear headphones tend to have longer battery life than earbuds and that holds true here. Both the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 and Bose QC35 II feature a great 20 hours of battery life on a single charge. This should be plenty for most people, whether you’re taking a daily commute or flying a long haul flight.

Our third pick technically gets up to 15 hours of battery life but that requires using the charging case. The Bose SoundSport Free are true wireless earbuds and net you a total of five hours of listening time on their own. However, with the included charging case and fast charging you’re able to easily get 15 hours of listening time.

The Bose QC30 gets you up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge, and that’s OK because 10 hours is more than enough for most people. Obviously, you’ll need to charge them on a daily basis if you plan on using them frequently.

Best Bose headphones, ranked by battery life

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Bose QC35 II
Bose SoundSport Free
Bose QC30
Bose SoundSport Wireless

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

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Peter Cao spends most of his days listening and analyzing music through headphones or speakers. Off the clock, he can typically be found listening to even more music, playing video games or playing basketball.

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