The Bose Quietcomfort 45 have all the parts to be a great pair of ANC headphones, but they doesn’t quite have the finish. Sound quality isn’t all that great, even if the ANC is among the best in class.
When most people think of active noise-cancelling (ANC) headphones, they think of some iteration of Bose’s cans. For a long time, its offerings were among the most popular on the market, famed for their effectiveness and relatively painless interaction. It’s been a few years since the release of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and more since the Quietcomfort 35 II hit the shelves. But did we need a new headset? Let’s find out in this Bose Quietcomfort 45 review.
This Bose Quietcomfort 45 review comes from the audio experts at our sister site SoundGuys. Check out their in-depth take on the Bose Quietcomfort 45.
Work-from-homers and commuters alike will appreciate the noise-cancelling chops of the Bose Quietcomfort 45.
Anyone craving great ANC who isn’t worried about dishing out some cash for cans that can do it will likely enjoy the Bose Quietcomfort 45.
What is the Bose Quietcomfort 45 like to use?
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Bose’s ANC headphones provide comfort and ease of use to most people, and the Bose Quietcomfort 45 are no different. If there’s one major positive about the QC 45 looking nearly identical to their predecessors, it’s that you’re not in for any major surprises.
The ear cups are large, and while the headset weighs 240g, they distribute the weight well and don’t create too much fatigue over long periods of time. The synthetic leather pads offer decent isolation, and the band also provides a bit of padding on the top.
Inside the packaging of the Bose Quietcomfort 45 you’ll find a travel case, 3.5mm TRRS cable, a USB A-to-C cable, and assorted documentation.
One of the biggest updates to the new design of the Bose Quietcomfort 45 is the jump from the outdated micro-USB port to USB-C. Of course, this is mainly for charging your headphones, so it’s nice to not have to futz with micro-USB anymore.
Speaking of updates, the Bose Quietcomfort 45 look slightly different than the Bose Quietcomfort 35 II they replace. Gone are all the little holes in the back of the ear cups, and instead the outer plastic is smooth. While there are still a fair few microphones used for the active noise-cancelling unit, they’re definitely not as noticeable as before.
How does the Bose Quietcomfort 45 connect to your device?
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The Bose Quietcomfort 45 connect to your smartphone or source via the Bluetooth 5.1 hardware nestled inside the ear cups, or you can hardwire them via the included 2.5-to-3.5mm TRRS cable. When you go wireless, you can move up to nine meters away from your source device before connection hiccups occur.
If you were holding out hope for a higher-end codec on Bose’s latest, you’ll be disappointed: the QC 45 don’t support aptX or other high-bitrate Bluetooth codecs. While this may be disappointing to some, the implementations of SBC and AAC have improved over the years, and you’re not likely to notice anything that’s the fault of Bluetooth itself.
Can you use the Bose Quietcomfort 45 with a cable?
Yes, the QC 45 support both wireless and wired playback. You can use the provided cable that can be plugged into the left ear cup of the Bose Quietcomfort 45. While smartphones with headphone jacks are becoming an endangered species, this headset will give you the opportunity to listen with older equipment.
What are the controls of the Bose Quietcomfort 45 like?
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Controlling the Bose Quietcomfort 45 is pretty straightforward once you get used to the process, but there are a few foibles to go over.
The buttons on the back of each ear cup are fairly intuitive but can be a bit odd to get used to if you’re used to touch controls. However, for those who don’t trust controls that are susceptible to failure in colder climes, buttons are a good fallback.
Playback controls live on the right headphone, and voice assistant plus ANC toggle lives on the left. Unfortunately, you can’t turn off the ANC if the headphones are on; you can only toggle a mode called “aware” that allows some passthrough of your surroundings using the external mics of the Bose Quietcomfort 45 — an unfortunate feature we’ve seen with the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2, too. In the table below you’ll find all the default controls:
Top button (right)
One pressTwo pressesThree pressesHold
Middle Button (right)
Play/pause, answer/end call
Bottom button (right)
One pressTwo pressesThree pressesHold
Action button (left)
Toggle ANC mode
Should you download the Bose Music app?
You will need to download the Bose Music app (iOS and Android) in order to get the most out of your headphones; otherwise, you won’t be able to get the voice assistant or other features working.
When you open the Bose Music app, you’ll be prompted to share way too much information like location, call, and message history, but it’s the price of entry for this kind of feature nowadays. Once you accept, the app will set up your profile and locate your headphones (presumably, in your hands or on your head). After this process completes you’ll be able to rename your Bose Quietcomfort 45, mess with the options a bit, and that’s really about it.
In February 2022, Bose added an equalizer to the Bose Music app for the Quietcomfort 45 via a firmware update. That means you can fine-tune these headphones to your liking and deal with the wonky default sound profile (more on that below). We’ll be testing out this firmware update and will report back with our results soon.
If you need to update the headphones over USB, that’s easily accomplished using the Bose Updater tool over the included USB-C cable. Bose headphones have had a habit of botched updates over Bluetooth, so if that happens with these cans: just follow these instructions over at SoundGuys to fix it and you should be fine.
How good is the battery life of the Bose Quietcomfort 45?
With noise-cancelling on, the Bose Quietcomfort 45 lasted around 24 hours and 49 minutes in our testing, surpassing Bose’s official 24-hour battery life for the headset. Our battery tests are performed by subjecting a headset to a constant 75dB(SPL) output until the batteries deplete, so if you listen to lower volumes, you’ll likely surpass the 25-hour-mark and then some.
You can use the USB-C cable to fast charge the QC 45. A quick 15-minute charge yields 180 minutes of playtime.
How well do the Bose Quietcomfort 45 cancel noise?
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The Bose Quietcomfort 45 do an excellent job at canceling outside noise with its updated ANC system. Specifically, it does a surprisingly good job at dulling noises in the mids and highs that most headsets don’t attenuate terribly well.
That sounds amazing, but in practice, it means that instead of sounding one-fourth as loud as it otherwise would, the airplane engine hum will sound one-eighth as loud.
The Bose Quietcomfort 45 do an excellent job at canceling outside noise and keep pace with the best from Sony and Apple.
Though we hesitate to crown the Bose Quietcomfort 45 the king of ANC, Bose is definitely keeping pace with Sony and Apple after getting leapfrogged for a few years. However, bear in mind there’s no way to disable the active noise-cancelling without enabling Aware mode on the QC 45. At least with the Bose QC 35 II, which lacks an Aware mode, you can turn off ANC and enjoy your music.
As much as I’d love to tell you that the Bose Quietcomfort 45 offer some sort of improvement over their predecessor, I can’t. It’s fine, decent even — just not great. An overemphasized high-end — which does a good job making speech intelligible — makes busy tracks with a lot of high-pitched sounds like punk, badly mixed 90s and 2000s music, and some pop tracks sound pretty terrible.
Nowhere is this more apparent than a song like Green Day’s Insomniac. Not only does the overemphasis in the highs make the vocals and drums take a backseat to the cymbals and echo, but turning the volume up to compensate drives these grating sounds to even more annoying levels. Protip: do not play any punk with these headphones without equalizing them first.
The Bose Quietcomfort 45 make podcasts and spoken-word content sound okay.
Where the Bose Quietcomfort 45 does well is in newer mixes that are much more vocal-heavy (or the much-maligned “stomp-clap-‘HEY’” genre that includes Mumford and Sons or Imagine Dragons). Logic’s 2020 album No Pressure and Lil Nas X’s Montero will sound far, far better than the aforementioned older song. You may find podcasts sound particularly better than on bassier headphones, too.
How should you equalize the Bose Quietcomfort 45 to make up for the boosted highs?
Using the EQ in the Bose Music app, in your music player app like Amazon Music, or one on the system level, please drop the 3-20kHz range by about 5dB; your hearing will thank you. We’ve also created a more detailed table if you want to enter exact tweaks into your equalizer:
How good does the Bose Quietcomfort 45 microphone sound?
The microphone sounds okay enough. Bose knows its stuff, but it’s not like you’re going to be able to squeeze blood from a stone. Small embedded mics do fine, but they’re not going to replace a dedicated studio mic anytime soon. Still, take a listen and tell us what you think:
If you get the Bose Quietcomfort 45, you’re getting a competent set of noise cancellers. The addition of an EQ to the Bose Music app is also good news.
Unfortunately, the Bose Quietcomfort 45 are not currently worth the money when you can get the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 for $50 more, or the Bose Quietcomfort 35 II for $80 less. Really, the biggest downside to grabbing the older headset is the micro-USB port. Consequently, I recommend you try to find the Bose Quietcomfort 35 II on sale somewhere to save you some money over the new one.
The Bose Quietcomfort 45 are great noise cancelling headphones that update a classic, proven model. But there are better value headphones out there.
When you consider that the Bose Quietcomfort 45’s problems really are something that could be coded away or developed for, I’m not comfortable telling you that this isn’t a good headset, or that you should avoid it altogether, especially now that the app has an EQ included if you’ve got the latest firmware installed.
New Bose QuietComfort 45
The first noise cancelling headphones are back, with world-class quiet, lightweight materials, and proprietary technology for deep, clear sound. Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones aren’t just an icon reborn – they’re the perfect balance of quiet, comfort, and sound. Plus, everything that made the first around ear headphones an icon is still here.
What are some alternatives to the Bose Quietcomfort 45?
If you don’t want to spend the hefty sum of $329 USD, you may want to look into a few other models of headphones to make sure that you’re not overspending. For example, the Sennheiser PXC 550-II ($279.99) offer quite a bit more bang for the buck, and include creature comforts like in-app EQ and more audio quality-focused Bluetooth codecs like aptX and LDAC respectively.
Zak Khan / Srdtf News
If you’re still considering the Bose Quietcomfort 45, definitely take a good, hard look at their predecessor, the Bose Quietcomfort 35 II ($299). While they don’t have a USB-C port, they cost less, and they perform about on par with the newer headset.
Of course, when you get down to cost, some may find the Sony WH-1000XM4 ($348) or the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 ($329) to be much more their speed — we have a comparison of these two models to help you decide, too. If you have no set budget, the AirPods Max ($479) will provide a measurable step up both in performance and features.
If you want a more portable alternative to the Bose Quietcomfort 45, the Bose Quietcomfort Earbuds ($279) may be best suited for you. You get the advantage of Bose’s StayHear Max ear and wing tips, which keep the buds in place no matter what. With the IPX4 rating, you can even exercise with the Bose Quietcomfort Earbuds as they share the same IP rating as the Bose Sport Earbuds ($179).
There’s also the Sony WF-1000XM4 ($279), sibling to the famed Sony WH-1000XM4. Sony’s flagship true wireless earbuds have an IPX4 rating and slightly better ANC than the QC Earbuds. The default sound quality is a bit wonky but you can EQ the sound in the Sony Headphones Connect app.
We like the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless ($175) too, because they’re a value-packed pair of ANC earbuds with a solid mobile app. The blocky shape may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the aptX, AAC, and SBC support surely makes up for it.
Frequently asked questions about the Bose Quietcomfort 45
How do you pair the Bose Quietcomfort 45?
Follow these directions to connect the Bose QC 45 via the Bluetooth menu of your phone:
Slide the power/Bluetooth switch to the right. Hold it in that position for three seconds.
The headset will relay, “Ready to connect,” and the status light near the volume controls will blink blue.
Open your device’s Bluetooth menu; Settings > Bluetooth.
Enable Bluetooth on your device.
Select “Quietcomfort 45” from the list of available devices.
You can also use the Bose Music app (iOS and Android) to pair your QC 45 to your phone or tablet. The app will prompt you with specific pairing instructions.
Does Bose update headphone performance?
Yes. In fact the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 got better ANC through a firmware update. Just because their headphones have some sort of shortcoming right now doesn’t mean it won’t get fixed in the future.
Do the Bose Quietcomfort 45 have an in-app EQ?
Yes, in February 2022, Bose added an EQ to the Bose Music app via a firmware update. Make sure you’ve got the latest firmware installed, and you should find the EQ there in the app.
Should I still get the Bose Quietcomfort 35 II even though it has micro-USB?
At this point, if the connector is an issue for you, you may want to just get the newer headphones. That isn’t something that can be easily fixed.