Bose is one of the leading manufacturers of noise-canceling headphones. The company‘s QuietComfort line has long been a favorite for travelers and commuters looking to tune out background noise.
The QuietComfort 35 (QC35) launched in 2016 to critical acclaim. These over-ear headphones featured class-leading noise cancellation, good sound quality, and excellent comfort.
In 2021, Bose released the QuietComfort 45 (QC45) as an upgrade over the venerable QC35. The QC45 boasts improvements in noise canceling and battery life. However, with a $50 price premium over the QC35, you may wonder if the upgrade is worthwhile.
This guide compares the Bose QuietComfort 35 and QuietComfort 45 headphones in detail. We‘ll examine the differences in design, features, sound quality, and noise cancellation. Let‘s dive in and see which pair of QuietComfort headphones is right for you.
Design and Build
The QC35 and QC45 share a very similar design aesthetic. Both feature an over-ear form factor with oval-shaped earcups covered in soft leatherette.
The headbands use the same synthetic leather material with ample padding for comfort. Both models fold inward into a compact shape for portability.
Upon close inspection, you‘ll notice some minor styling differences. The QC45 ditches the infamous "neckbrace" look of previous QuietComfort models. The earcups now connect directly to the headband for a sleeker profile.
Bose also simplified the onboard controls on the QC45. While the QC35 has separate buttons for power, music, volume, and calls, the QC45 combines all these functions into one depression on the right earcup.
In terms of color options, the QC35 is available in black or silver. The QC45 comes in black, white, and a stylish "Soapstone" off-white shade.
The build quality is excellent on both models with no creaking plastic or seams. The leatherette earpads feel plush and durable. Overall, in terms of design and materials used, the QC35 and QC45 are very comparable.
Features and Connectivity
The QC35 and QC45 have similar feature sets typical of premium wireless headphones. However, the QC45 does gain two notable upgrades over its predecessor.
Both headphones connect via Bluetooth 5.0 and have multi-device pairing capabilities. Each model includes a carrying case, audio cable for wired use, and USB-C charging.
You‘ll get the same intuitive onboard controls for music, volume, calls, and voice assistants. Physical buttons activate Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
An important upgrade on the QC45 is the addition of USB-C charging. The older QC35 uses the dated Micro USB standard. USB-C charging offers faster power delivery.
The other big addition is Bluetooth multipoint. This lets you simultaneously pair two devices with the QC45, seamlessly switching between audio sources. The QC35 only allows single device pairing.
Noise canceling performance is arguably the most crucial factor when comparing the QC35 and QC45. This is the key reason people buy these headphones.
Both models use a mix of feedforward and feedback microphone arrays to sample ambient noise. DSP algorithms create inverse sound waves to cancel external noise before it reaches your ears.
However, the QC45 employs Bose‘s next-gen noise canceling algorithm. The company claims the QC45 can cancel more high and mid-frequency noise compared to the QC35 II.
In practice, both models offer excellent noise reduction that‘s effective against constant droning sounds like engines. The QC45 has a slight edge against variable sounds like voices.
You can adjust the level of noise cancellation on each model using the Bose mobile app. There‘s also an Aware Mode that lets in ambient sound so you can hear announcements.
Battery life is another major consideration for noise canceling headphones. Here the QC45 pulls ahead with an estimated 24 hours of use per charge versus 20 hours on the QC35. The QC45 hits Bose‘s claims in real-world testing.
Sonically, the QC35 and QC45 are more alike than different. Bose tunes its headphones for a smooth, neutral sound profile that aims to please most listeners.
The QC35 delivers pleasing audio quality with slight mid-bass emphasis. Although not a basshead headphone, the low end has decent kick. Mids sound clear and natural. Highs are crisp without harshness.
Bose‘s excellent active EQ technology maintains tonal balance at any volume. You don‘t get the skewed, muddy sound produced by some ANC headphones at lower volumes.
The QC45 has a very similar sound signature. Bose told Head-Fi that they tuned the drivers from scratch but aimed for the same target curve. The solid bass and clear mids are present.
Reviewers have noted the QC45 sounds a touch brighter. Treble is bit more forward which helps brings out detail. The sound seems airier versus the warmer QC35. It‘s a subtle difference that comes down to personal taste.
You can customize the sound on both models using the Bose Music app‘s built-in EQ. Presets are available for bass boost, treble boost, or vocal clarity.
For wireless codec support, the QC35 and QC45 are both limited to SBC and AAC. High-resolution Bluetooth codecs like aptX and LDAC are not supported. If you want Hi-Res Wireless, consider the Momentum 4 Wireless or XM5.
The microphone systems on the QC35 and QC45 work well for voice calls and voice assistant commands. Four microphones in each earcup focus on your speech while reducing ambient noise.
Voices transmitted through the headphones sound clear and natural. Background noise reduction is also impressive in noisy environments. As you‘d expect, microphone quality is nearly identical between both models.
That said, these mics won‘t match a dedicated boom mic for professional use. For conferencing or casual calls, either QuietComfort microphone gets the job done.
Bose QuietComfort 35 vs. 45: Verdict
The Bose QC45 builds upon the winning formula of the QC35 with incremental improvements. It retains the same comfortable design now with USB-C charging and Bluetooth multipoint.
Audio quality sees only subtle changes from the already excellent QC35. The most meaningful upgrade is enhanced noise cancellation that puts the QC45 among the top ANC performers.
Given these improvements, the QC45 is arguably worth the $50 premium if buying new. However, with the QC35 now regularly discounted below $250, it remains an incredible value.
So which should you buy? Here are some quick recommendations:
- Buy the QC45 if you want the best noise canceling from Bose. Also, get the QC45 if you‘ll use Bluetooth multipoint often.
- Buy the QC35 if you want to save money. It‘s often on sale for under $250, almost half the price of the QC45. You still get sensational noise canceling and sound.
- Buy the QC35 refurbished if you want the cheapest way to get excellent Bose ANC headphones. Refurbs directly from Bose come with a 1-year warranty.
No matter which QuietComfort model you choose, you‘re getting a phenomenal pair of wireless ANC headphones. Now get out there and turn down the noise.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How is the comfort and fit on the QC35 vs. QC45?
A: The comfort and fit are pretty much identical between the two models. Both have ample padding on the headband and plush earpads that enclose your ears. Clamping force is moderate, suitable for extended wear. Overall, the fit is very comfortable and designed to accommodate most head shapes.
Q: Can you use wired mode on the QC35 and QC45 with no battery power?
A: Yes, you can use both models passively in wired mode if the batteries are dead. Audio quality will be slightly downgraded without the headphones powered on, but music will still play. Keep in mind noise canceling requires battery power to function.
Q: Do the QC35 and QC45 block noise even when not in active NC mode?
A: The over-ear sealed design and leatherette earpads provide a degree of passive noise isolation on their own. This dampens ambient noise without powering on active NC. The passive isolation effect is mild compared to the ANC feature.
Q: What warranty do Bose QC35/QC45 headphones have?
A: Bose provides a 1-year limited warranty on both new QuietComfort models purchased from authorized retailers. Ensure you buy from reputable sellers. Register your headphones on Bose‘s website to receive full support.
Q: Can you use the QC35 or QC45 for working out or running?
A: The QuietComfort models aren‘t optimized for fitness use. Lack of water/sweat resistance makes them unsuitable for workouts. The loose fit may not stay securely on your head during intense activity. Check out Bose‘s Sport Earbuds or Sport Open Earbuds for exercise headphones.