Bose makes some of the very best headphones on the market — and two of its most compelling options are the Bose QC45 and Bose 700. There are seemingly endless players in the wireless headphone niche right now. Sony stands out as one of the most popular names, Apple is creating audio gear exclusively for its ecosystem, and there are countless smaller brands scattered across the internet (Anker, iJoy, OneOdio, Jabra, etc.) Among all of them, however, Bose remains the go-to choice for many people.
In the case of the $329 QuietComfort 45 and $379 Bose 700 headphones, these are two of Bose’s most premium options available in 2021. Both are well over $300, feature active noise canceling, and high-end audio quality. While the headphones are genuinely similar in many ways, they’re also substantially different from one another in a few key areas. Here’s a closer look at those similarities and differences — and how they play a major role in deciding which to ultimately buy.
Let’s kick things off with the design. Just like the QC35 and QC35 II that came before it, the Bose QC45 are made mostly out of plastic. Some folks will argue this makes them less premium than the plastic + stainless steel construction of the Bose 700, but that does come with a huge practical advantage. Unlike the 700 headphones, the QC45 can be folded up into itself for much easier portability while traveling. Whether someone needs to throw the headphones in a suitcase, backpack, or purse, being able to reduce the footprint like that is a huge advantage for folks who are constantly on the move. Something else to take note of is how playback controls are handled. On the QC45, Bose uses a standard array of physical buttons. The Bose 700, by comparison, hide its controls behind capacitive touch areas. This is yet another reminder of the differing philosophies between these products. The QC45 may not be the most luxurious-looking gadget, yet it makes up for that with legitimate functional advantages. The Bose 700 headphones are the exact opposite. They aren’t nearly as portable and have less intuitive playback controls, yet they make those sacrifices to be as sleek as possible.
After diving into the feature set of these headphones, the advantages of the Bose 700 become much more apparent. A prime example of this is how they handle active noise cancellation. The Bose 700 feature Bose’s most customizable ANC experience to date — enabling users to switch between 11 unique levels of how soft or intense they want the effect to be. It can be cranked up to 11 for maximum noise-canceling, down to 0 to easily hear the surrounding environment, or somewhere in the middle to best suit the task at hand. The Bose QC45 use Quiet Mode to enable ANC, Aware Mode to hear surrounding sounds, and that’s it. The Bose 700 also get an advantage in the audio department. While music and podcasts will sound equally amazing on either pair, only the Bose 700 come with a customizable EQ to manually adjust the sound profile to someone’s exact liking.
The Bose 700 might have the edge for ANC and music playback, but the QC45 come swinging hard with battery life. Bose promises up to 24 hours of listening time on the QC45 and up to 20 hours on the Bose 700. A four-hour advantage may not sound like much on paper, but in situations where someone is without access to a charger for a prolonged period of time, that extra bit of endurance can make all the difference. Not to be outdone, there are a few smaller areas where the Bose 700 continue to show their dominance. Both headphones can trigger the voice assistant on the phone it’s paired with, but the Bose 700 also feature built-in Google Assistant and Alexa for much faster responses. Another exclusive feature of the Bose 700 is something called ‘Spotify Tap.’ For someone who uses Spotify as their streaming app of choice, Spotify Tap allows them to tap and hold the right earcup to instantly resume their last Spotify session. After that, users can tap and hold again to hear a new playlist based on their listening tastes. Not having this on the QC45 certainly isn’t a deal-breaker, though it does act as another reminder of why the Bose 700 remain as Bose’s flagship headphone offering.
So, which pair of Bose headphones are the best purchase? That really comes down to what someone’s in the market for. For the person who does a lot of traveling, wants excellent ANC performance, and the longest possible battery life, the Bose QC45 are the way to go. They might lack some of the niceties found on the Bose 700, but from a practical standpoint, they’re exceptional. For folks who don’t care about the foldable design or extra battery, however, there are a lot of perks that come with spending more for the Bose 700 — including more customizable noise canceling, customizable EQ, and built-in voice assistants.
Next: AirPods Max Review