Bose Quietcomfort 45 vs Bose Headphones 700: Which should you buy?

Text reading 'Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 vs Bose Quietcomfort 45' overlaid on top of an ear cup of those two models of headphones arranged from left to right.

Zak Khan / Srdtf News

Sequel to the ever-popular Bose QC 35 II headphones, the Bose Quietcomfort 45 slot in alongside the company’s existing flagship Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. The newest edition to Bose’s esteemed noise-cancelling headphone lineup brings USB-C support, a new sound signature with some quirks and, well, not a whole lot else. If you plan to spend hundreds of dollars on headphones, are you better off splurging a bit more for the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?

The Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 have a more modern design than the Bose Quietcomfort 45

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 on black surface.

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Bose gave the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 a sleek design with an all-metal headband that slides to your exact desired length. There’s no denying this pair of cans is objectively gorgeous and stands out from the crowd of Bluetooth headphones.

The Bose 700 are objectively gorgeous, but the QC 45 win out for comfort.

There are only three buttons on the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, with playback controls giving way to a touch-sensitive gesture pad on the right ear cup. The ear cups rotate 90 degrees for resting around the neck, but there are no hinges for folding. You’ll want to make use of the included hardshell case to keep the headphones safe from scratches.

A man uses the control cluster on the back of the Bose QuietComfort 45.

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Meanwhile, the Quietcomfort 45 are stuck in the past, with an outdated design we’ve seen for the better part of a decade now. However, this design clearly wins out when it comes to comfort since it evenly distributes weight and doesn’t cause pain or fatigue during long listening sessions.

The ear cushions on the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are stiffer than the Bose QC 45, which causes heat buildup and sweaty ears. Another downside of the sleeker headset: the NCH 700 have a rubberized headband that pulls on hair.

Check out: The best Bose deals

Do the Bose Quietcomfort 45 have more Bluetooth codecs than the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?

A pair Bose Noise Cancelling 700 headphones lying on table.

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No matter which headphones you choose, you will attain a solid connection across most devices. The QC 45 and Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 both use the SBC and AAC audio codecs, with a minuscule difference of Bluetooth 5.0 on the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 compared to Bluetooth 5.1 on the QC 45. AAC is well optimized for Apple devices, but we’re disappointed, though not surprised, that neither of these expensive headsets feature an Android-friendly high-quality codec like aptX or LDAC.

Learn more: Bluetooth codecs 101

If you prefer the nuances of wired listening, both headsets ship with an aux cable. It’s a 2.5-to-3.5mm TRRS cable, so you’ll want to be a bit careful not to lose it — chances are you don’t have one of these lying around your house.

Does the Bose Music app work with the Bose NCH 700 and the Bose QC 45?

A man holds up a smartphone with the Bose Music app open, showing the controls for the Bose QuietComfort 45.

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When it comes to companion apps, Bose still lags behind the competition. Whether you go with the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 or the QC 45, you’re stuck with the Bose Music app which offers little in the way of customization and features. Even worse, to access features like voice assistant, you have to share way too much information like location, and call and message history. Both headphones have an EQ in the app if you have the latest firmware installed, but it’s limited, with only bass, mid, and treble sliders.

The QC 45 have longer battery life

One area in which the QC 45 hold an advantage over the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is battery life. The QC 45 are rated to last 24 hours on a single charge compared to the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 rating of 20 hours. In our testing of constant playback at 75dB (SPL), the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 actually lasted 21 hours and 25 minutes with ANC set to maximum. However, in the same test setup, the Bose Quietcomfort 45 lasted 24 hours, 49 minutes, surpassing Bose’s official 24-hour battery life for the headset.

A lot of variables can affect headphone battery life, however — charging speed can change the equation dramatically. Both headsets use USB-C to charge, which is a nice upgrade from the micro-USB port of past Bose headsets. You can fast charge either headset: a 15-minute charge of the Bose NCH 700 yields 120 minutes of playtime, and those same 15 minutes will get you 180 minutes of playtime with the Bose QC 45.

Do the Bose Quietcomfort 45 have better noise-cancelling than the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?

A chart showing the Bose QuietComfort 45's isolation and active noise cancelling performance. The moderately high isolation and very high ANC performance holds well through all frequencies.

Zak Khan / Srdtf News

Bose has once again improved its active noise-cancelling (ANC) technology with the QC 45, which brings a slight but noticeable improvement over the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

Firmware update 1.8.2 introduces ANC improvements to the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 that bring them up to par with other premium headsets, but it doesn’t perform quite as well as the QC 45 or competition from Sony.

A plot showing the excellent active noise cancelling performance of the Bose Noise cancelling headphones 700.

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No matter which headset you go with, you’re getting top-tier ANC. Ambient sounds like the hum of an airplane engine will sound about one-fourth as loud with the Bose Noise Cancelling 700, and only about one-eighth as loud when wearing the QC 45.

Bose has once again improved its active noise-cancelling (ANC) technology with the QC 45.

Bear in mind, that this kind of isolation performance requires you to get a good seal with the headphones. This means there can’t be any gaps between the synthetic padding and your head, and it should remain this way as you move your head around. If gaps do form, you’ll notice how external noises become more audible and render the ANC less effective.

Do the Bose Quietcomfort 45 sound better than the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?

Bose QC 45 vs Bose 700 frequency chart

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While neither of these headphones sound bad, the sound of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is more likely to appeal to a wider audience with its more versatile frequency response. The QC 45 have a boosted high-end that makes busy tracks with a lot of high-pitched sounds like punk, badly mixed ’90s and 2000s music, and some pop tracks sound rough around the edges. In general, poorly mixed tracks will sound worse.

One bonus to the QC 45’s boosted high-end is speech intelligibility. Podcasts sound clear on the QC headset, and you may even be able to pick out some additional treble notes.

Overemphasized high frequencies leaves some music to sound less than ideal on the QC 45

Low and mid-frequency sounds are neutral on both headphones; these certainly aren’t headphones for bass-heads. However, all the QC 45 needs is a bit of taming to those harsh high frequencies to completely level the playing field. Those who want to go the extra mile can use the app’s EQ, or download a third-party equalizer app.

Which Bose headset is best for phone calls?

A photo showing the microphone array of the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700.

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No matter which headset you choose, you won’t have to worry about microphone quality. The QC 45 and Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 each have embedded microphones that do a pretty good job of accurately portraying the voice. We’d still recommend a dedicated mic for any serious audio needs, but for everyday calls and conference meetings, the Bose headphones will be serviceable.

Bose Quietcomfort 45 microphone sample (Ideal):

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 microphone sample (Ideal):

Which microphone sounds better to you?

4 votes

Bose QuietComfort 45

0%

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

100%

Bose QC 45 vs Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Which should you buy?

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 sitting on a tree stump surrounded by grass outside.

Zak Khan / Srdtf News

If you want the best from Bose, you need not look any further than the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. Despite being more than two years older than the QC 45, the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 still deliver a better all-around listening experience. All these years later, we still can’t stop gawking at that elegant design; however, the real kicker is in sound quality.

bose 700 headphones

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Upgrade your audio with high-end Bose headphones. Packing 20 hours of battery life and Bose AR sound enhancement, you’ll forget what your old headphones sounded like.

The Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are normally slightly more expensive than the QC 45, so you may be considering the latter if you want to save a few dollars. Our advice? Skip the QC 45 and save a whole lot more money by going for the QC 35 II instead. Aside from USB-C, you won’t miss out on much, and you might even prefer the default sound of the older QC 35 II over the QC 45.

Product shot of Bose QuietComfort 45 headset from the side.

Bose QuietComfort 45

True to their name, these headphones are comfortable and boast great ANC.

The Bose QuietComfort 45 are a comfortable and versatile pair of headphones with a slightly wonky default frequency response, but you can EQ them in their app.

What should you get instead?

The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones on a yellow couch.

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You can’t talk premium noise-cancelling headphones without bringing Sony into the discussion. The Sony WH-1000XM4 ($348) are one of our favorite pairs of all-around headphones, with great sound, noise-cancelling, and Bluetooth streaming quality. If you’re looking to save, you can also often find the older Sony WH-1000XM3 on major discounts.

If you’ve fully bought into the Apple ecosystem, the AirPods Max ($549) might pique your interest. These headphones have the best ANC and transparency modes, but you’ll have to dig deep into your wallet to pick up a pair.

Listeners who want something elegant, well built, and with great sound quality should also look into the Shure Aonic 50 ($239). Upon its debut, this headset cost just under $400 and has since hit a more affordable price point. You get a custom EQ from the app, solid microphone quality, and great sound from the minute you don the headset. It’s not as lightweight as the Bose Quietcomfort series, but the Aonic 50 still manages to be comfortable with its plush earpads and headband.

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