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The 7 Best Alternatives to the Bose QC45 Headphones

The Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones are widely regarded as some of the best noise-canceling headphones on the market. With their excellent active noise cancellation (ANC), premium sound quality, and signature Bose comfort, it‘s easy to see why they are so popular. However, at $329, they are quite pricey. And while they are great all-around headphones, some people may prefer alternatives with different strengths, such as better sound quality, longer battery life, or a more tailored feature set.

Fortunately, the wireless headphone market is extremely competitive and there is no shortage of compelling alternatives to the QC45s. I‘ve tested over a dozen of the top models to determine the very best options depending on your needs and preferences. Whether you want the absolute best ANC, the longest battery life, or just great value for under $100, there are QC45 alternatives for you. Let‘s take a look at my top recommendations.

Best Overall Alternative: Sony WH-1000XM5

When it comes to matching or even exceeding the Bose QC45 in most areas, no headphones do it better than the Sony WH-1000XM5. These are Sony‘s flagship wireless ANC headphones and a culmination of years of refinement. The 1000XM5 has arguably the most advanced noise cancellation of any headphones. Sony uses a dedicated processor and eight microphones to analyze your environment and adjust the ANC in real-time. The result is near-total isolation that blocks everything from airplane engines to crying babies.

Sound quality is also phenomenal thanks to new 30mm carbon fiber drivers and support for high-resolution audio formats like LDAC. Music sounds full, crisp and detailed, while the adjustable EQ allows you to customize the sound profile. The headphones are also extremely comfortable with soft leather earpads and up to 30 hours of battery life. And when you need to hear your surroundings, you can activate transparency mode or put your hand over the right earcup to temporarily pause your music and let sound in.

All in all, the Sony WH-1000XM5 does everything the QC45 can and more. If you want the most advanced and best performing wireless headphones and are willing to pay a small premium over the Bose, the 1000XM5 is the way to go.

Best Sound Quality: Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2

If your top priority is sound quality and you want a more premium alternative to the QC45, consider the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2. Bowers & Wilkins is a British audio company known for their high-end speakers and these headphones definitely live up to that reputation.

The PX7 S2 features custom-designed 40mm drivers that are angled to create a more natural soundstage. The result is stunningly detailed, spacious and lifelike audio that really draws you into your music. From the deep rich bass to the crisp, soaring highs, everything sounds refined and immersive. ANC performance is also top-notch and nearly as good as the Sony 1000XM5 in my testing. The headphones have a very premium look and feel too, with a leather headband, metal accents and soft memory foam earcups.

Battery life is rated at 30 hours, quick charging provides 7 hours of use from a 15-minute charge, and you get useful features like wear detection sensor to automatically pause your music when you take the headphones off. If you‘re an audiophile who wants uncompromising sound quality and are willing to pay for it, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 will not disappoint.

Best for Apple Users: AirPods Max

For iPhone, iPad and Mac users, the AirPods Max provide the most seamless and integrated experience. Like other AirPods, the AirPods Max can automatically switch between your Apple devices and have hands-free Siri voice control. They also support spatial audio for immersive movie watching and Dolby Atmos music on Apple Music.

In terms of ANC, the AirPods Max are top-class and neck and neck with the Sony 1000XM5 in my experience. There‘s a dedicated transparency mode to let outside sound in and you can dial in just the amount of ANC you want. Sound quality is also excellent overall and tuned to be more lively and exciting compared to the more neutral QC45s.

Where the AirPods Max fall a bit short compared to other flagship headphones is battery life – you get 20 hours compared to 30 or more from Sony and Bowers & Wilkins. They are also quite heavy at 385 grams. But with an extremely premium design, physical controls, and unmatched integration with the Apple ecosystem, they are still a very compelling option for Apple fans.

Best for Voice Calls: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

If you spend a lot of time on voice and video calls, the older Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are still the best headphones for the job in my book. The reason is the microphone – Bose has equipped the 700 with a best-in-class adaptive 4 microphone system that picks up your voice with exceptional clarity while blocking out background noises.

There are actually a total of 8 mics on the headphones – 6 for ANC and 4 for voice. This allows the 700 to isolate your voice and make it sound like you‘re in a quiet room, even if you‘re in a noisy office, busy street or airport lounge. Callers have told me that my voice sounds clearer on the 700 than most other headphones I‘ve used. You also get 11 levels of ANC to further minimize background noise on your end.

Aside from the excellent call quality, you get the signature Bose sound profile and comfort, 20 hours of battery life, and a stylish, professional design that looks great for work. So if call quality is a top priority for you, it‘s worth checking out this Bose QC45 alternative.

Best Battery Life: Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

Most of the flagship wireless headphones I‘ve tested top out at around 30 hours of battery life, which is already very good. But if you want the absolute longest lasting headphones, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless is in a league of its own. It has a massive 60 hours of battery life with ANC on, enough to listen continuously for 2.5 days! This is incredibly liberating and convenient, as you rarely have to worry about recharging the headphones.

The Momentum 4 is no slouch in other areas too. It features Sennheiser‘s signature high-quality sound with well-balanced, detailed audio. The ANC is also very effective and nearly on par with the Sony and Bose headphones in my experience. Other notable features include a comfortable lightweight design, Bluetooth 5.2 with multipoint connection to two devices simultaneously, and a companion app to customize settings and sound.

So if you hate worrying about battery life and want incredibly long endurance, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless has you covered. It‘s the ideal headphone for long commutes, flights and road trips.

Best Earbuds: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

If you prefer the compact in-ear form factor, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II is my top pick for a QC45 alternative. These are essentially everything Bose learned from the QC45, distilled down into a true wireless earbud.

You get best-in-class ANC that does an incredible job of hushing the world around you, aided by a snug, sealed fit. Bose‘s Active EQ technology also automatically tunes the audio based on the unique shape of your ears. The result is well-balanced, rich sound across a wide frequency range. I found the bass to be deep and punchy, mids to be clear and detailed, and highs to be crisp and energetic.

Other standout features include 2 custom-shaped silicone ear tips for a personalized fit, wireless charging case, 6 hours of listening time plus 24 hours from the case, and IPX4 sweat resistance. The only downside is the bulky design compared to alternatives like the Sony WF-1000XM4 and AirPods Pro 2. But in terms of pure ANC and sound quality, the Bose QC Earbuds II lead the pack for a QC45 earbud alternative.

Best Budget Pick: Anker Soundcore Life Q30

If you want a pair of noise-canceling headphones that perform well but don‘t break the bank, the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 is a fantastic value. Despite costing a fraction of the QC45 and other flagship models at just $80, you‘d be surprised by how much these headphones have to offer.

First, the hybrid ANC is very impressive for the price and does a great job of reducing low-frequency noises like bus engines and air conditioners. Anker even gives you three different ANC modes to choose from. Sound quality is also very good, with custom 40mm dynamic drivers that cover a wider frequency range than most budget headphones. You can further tweak the EQ in Anker‘s companion app.

Other features that stand out at this price point include the lightweight, comfortable design with soft protein leather earcups, 40 hours of playtime (60 hours with ANC off), and NFC for one-tap pairing with Android phones. There are some missing features compared to more expensive alternatives like wear detection sensors, but for around $80, the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 is an excellent Bose QC45 alternative.

Choosing the Right Bose QC45 Alternative for You

With so many compelling options to choose from, which Bose QC45 alternative is right for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. If you want the absolute best all-around option and are willing to pay for it, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is my top recommendation. For audiophiles who prioritized sound quality above all else, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 is sonically sublime.

If you‘re deep in the Apple ecosystem, nothing beats the AirPods Max for convenience and spatial audio support. For those who are constantly on calls, the Bose Headphones 700 has the best microphone system. The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless is ideal for those who want the longest battery life, while the Bose QC Earbuds II is my top earbud pick. And if you‘re on a budget, the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 delivers incredible value under $100.

Whichever headphones you choose, you can‘t go wrong with any of these QC45 alternatives. The key is to identify what matters most to you, whether it‘s ANC, sound quality, special features, or price. Focus on the headphones that best match your top priorities and you‘ll be very happy with your choice.

I personally tend to switch between the Sony WH-1000XM5 and Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 depending on whether I want the absolute best ANC or best sound quality, respectively. But I‘ve also been very impressed by the AirPods Max, Bose 700, and Sennheiser Momentum 4. Even the budget Anker Soundcore Life Q30 get a lot of play time from me when I‘m working at my desk, thanks to their reliable performance and excellent value.

The bottom line is that while the Bose QC45 is a fantastic pair of headphones, it‘s far from the only game in town. After months of hands-on testing, these are the best QC45 alternatives I can confidently recommend depending on your needs. All that‘s left is to determine your budget and key priorities, then enjoy your upgraded listening experience!