The Bose QuietComfort 15:
Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones

The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br />Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones

In a previous review we put to the test two of the most popular high-end noise reducing headphones—the Sennheiser PXC 450 and the Bose QuietComfort 3. Our verdict: the PXC 450 was the better.

Since that review Bose introduced a new member of its noise reducing headphone lineup: The QuietComfort 15. So how does it compare?
travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones

travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones

The short answer is: incredibly well.

Counterintuitively, the Bose QC15 replaces the Q2C but complements the QC3 in the QuietComfort lineup (thus ruining what had been the trend of the higher the QC number equating to the higher quality and price). In fact, the QC15 looks nearly indistinguishable from the QC2 save for a few chrome accents. The largest physical upgrade is to the included carrying case. In our experience the case that came with the QC2 was prone to opening spontaneously; the QC15 case seems to stay closed and provide better headphone protection.

Where the QuietComfort 15 has really been ungraded is on the inside. The biggest improvement is to the noise canceling ability. By improving the circuitry and adding a second mic inside the ear cup the electronic noise canceling is truly remarkable. Happily, Bose was not content with merely improving the noise canceling and created a better all-around audio experience too. As we noted in our previous noise canceling headphones review, the bass quality of the QC2s is rather disappointing. Bass notes on the QC3 sound rich and textured without being throbbing.

Clearly the QC15 is a step up from the QC2. Here’s how it compares to other models:

Compared to the Sennheiser PXC 450

travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones Advantages of the Bose QuietComfort 15: We give the QC15 a slight edge in comfort and audio quality. The QC15 also weighs 1.1oz (32g) less than the PXC 450 and has more than twice the batty life (35 hours vs 16). But the big advantage to the QC15 is the noise canceling ability. As good as the noise canceling is on the Sennheiser even the most casual of listeners would instantly hear the superiority of QC15. On an airplane trip it is almost eerie how well the QC15 cuts out engine noise. Add up these advantages and you can see why the QC15 has replaced the PXC 450 as our favorite noise canceling headphones.

Advantages of the Sennheiser PXC 450: Both headphones require a battery for noise canceling but with the PXCs you can continue to get non-noise-cancelled audio after the batteries run out; not so with the QC15. Also, the PXC 450 is about $20 less.

travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones

Compared to the Bose QuietComfort 3

travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones Advantages of the Bose QuietComfort 15: The QC15 is about $50 less expensive than the QC3. Perhaps more importantly, the QC15 is significantly more comfortable after prolonged use. This increased comfort comes from the huge ear pieces that cup over the entire ear. The QC3′s ear pieces fit on top of the ear, pressing down on the lobe and the top of the ear in a way that starts feeling uncomfortable to us after about 20~30 minutes and made the QC3s nearly unwearably painful after about 90 minutes~2 hours. The QC15 also has the somewhat superior sounding noise canceling, though we can’t tell whether this is because of better electronic technology or because the QC15′s ear-encompassing cups help keep noise out.

Advantages of the Bose QuietComfort 3: The QC3 is about one-third smaller and one-third lighter than the QC15—that might not sound like much but it makes a huge difference when it comes to portability. The QC3 also comes with a lithium-ion battery; it doesn’t last as long as the AAA batteries used on the QC15 (25 hours vs 35) but have the use convenience and environmental benefit of being rechargeable while inside the headphones (a wall outlet cord is included).

travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones

Compared to the Dr. Dre Monster Beats

travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones Advantages of the Bose QuietComfort 15: The Bose QC15 is virtually the same price as a pair of Dr. Dre Monster Beats but has the far superior noise reduction. There seems to be no official battery life listing for the Monster Beats but in our tests the QC15 batteries lasted about 6 hours longer—both headphones use AAAs and can’t be used without batteries. To us the QC15 also seemed a little more solidly built.

Advantages of the Dr. Dre Monster Beats: One very cool feature of the Monster Beats not available on any other headphones in this review: These headphones can double as a headset for a mobile phone or Skype! The headphones come with a special cell phone connector cable that includes a mic and an answer button—this system is compatible with most cell phones including BlackBerry and iPhone models. The Monster Beats also live up to their name when it comes to producing mind thumping bass notes. We found the bass excessive (and rather headache-inducing) when listing to audiobooks but rather amazing with rock and techno music. Read our full review of the Dr. Dre Monster Beats here.

travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones

Conclusions

After years of suggesting Sennheiser PXC 450 noise canceling headphones we suddenly (and, to us, surprisingly) find ourselves switching up to the Bose QuietComfort 15. The noise canceling the QC15 offers is simply outstanding.

If you travel a lot—and have another set of headphones for home use—the increased quality of the Bose QuietComfort 3 probably makes more sense for you than the QC15s. If substantial bass and/or cell phone integration is more important to you than optimal noise reduction choose the Dr. Dre Monster Beats.

There’s no longer any compelling logic that would lead one to the Sennheiser PXC 450, not with a mere $20 price difference. If are looking for a good noise canceling headphones that are less expensive than the $300 QuietComfort 15s then we suggest the $100 Sennheiser PXC 300. The noise canceling ability of the PXC 300 is only about half that of the QuietComfort 15 (making the QC15 worth the extra money to us). Still, The PXC 300 has superior noise reduction compared to any other pair of sub-$150 headphones we’ve tried and, of course, they are infinitely better than not having noise canceling headphones at all.

For everyone else, spring for a pair of Bose QuietComfort 15s. You’ll be quietly, and comfortably, happy with them.

published: 15 Sept 2009
travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones

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travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones


travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones
travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones
travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones

travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones

travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones

travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones

travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones

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travel gadgets headphones home audio  The Bose QuietComfort 15: <br>Our New Favorite Noise Canceling Headphones


Responses

  1. Zach says:

    March 8th, 2012at 11:29 pm(#)

    I personally think dr dres beats are fantastic. I own the ibeats and they have great bass, amazing noise cancelation and it comes with control talk wired into the cable. It comes with multiple ear bud size and they fit in your ears almost perfectly. Just for a thumping 120$

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. Marcello says:

    December 24th, 2011at 8:08 am(#)

    I have QC 15, and the noise canceling system… it’s almost perfect for traveling …
    the sound quality is ok, but not so good as MM550.
    I have both, in the city, to avoid the noise from streets and subway, and to go to the gym, I use MM550 cause it’s wireless and it filters maybe 70% of noise around, and that’s ok for me because when in the city I don’t want to feel isolated… and I think it can be dangerous being in a complete noise canceling when walking around in public places.
    When I travel, yes I use QC15.
    bad points on QC15: no wireless, no rechargeable battery …if you’re traveling and your battery runs out, sound doesn’t work… it turns off completely
    MM550, has inside a battery that you can charge everyday, and if you run out battery, you can use the wire that come with it and continue to listen to your music. In plus, you can talk to people when using it, it has a filter for voice, so you can stop music, and talk to people (and of course get your incoming call and make out call) …all without removing the headphone from your head.

    It depends on your needs, if you’re looking something for day by day, go for MM550, if you travel a lot or you just want to be completely isolated from noise around, go for QC15

    [Reply to this comment]

  3. scavenger says:

    November 13th, 2011at 9:08 am(#)

    MANY THANKS for this objective and complete comparison. Exactly what I was searching for to make me an idea !!

    Later on, can you add the comparison to the NOKIA BH-905 ICE ?

    thanks again !

    [Reply to this comment]

  4. A says:

    July 15th, 2011at 11:03 pm(#)

    I bought the Q15s about 6 months ago on my way to Korea for a year. The first time i turned these things on in the airplane i smiled and turned them off then on several times because i was amazed. The Jet sound was about 95% muted without music and 100% gone with music along with the children crying. The only thing that would remind me that i was on a packed 16 hour flight was the passenger next to me moving around.

    Now that i am in Korea i have a very rude suite mate who has people over and is quite loud at times. We work different shifts, meaning that i have to sleep during the day. One day i put these on to sleep with no music just for the noise cancellation and it worked. I bought rechargeable batteries and i use use these several times a month just to sleep.

    Also they are super comfortable, on the thing that sucks when wearing them for a long time is my ears will sweat a little. Other than that they fit my head in a way that i never get and aches or pains… i mean i sleep with them on all the time.

    10/10

    [Reply to this comment]

  5. Tristam says:

    June 11th, 2011at 9:27 pm(#)

    Thank you for the best article written on Noise Cancelling headphones. I’ve been researching for a solid week and it’s a rather hard affair. There really isn’t that much information on the web and comparisons are limited and often dated. The best video I saw was a youtube entry with a binaural human head microphone and recorded the sound coming in while wearing the five headphones. Which was great, but your article compares up to date models and searches for the best of the best, which is what I think really counts.

    If you are going to spend a huge amount of money on headphones, then it really pays to do your homework and you don’t want to find out later on that there was a better model you just didn’t research.

    I would be interested to know how the Sony MDR NC500Ds stack up to the QC15s, since Sony is using software to dynamically filter for different conditions, not just for engine sounds. Furthermore, the ongoing complaints I hear are that people can still hear others talking. Since I am buying these to cancel out my co-workers in the office I am and I’m sure others are particularly interested in finding the best set for cancelling speech.

    I don’t care how much it costs, I don’t mind buying military equipment as long as I can cancel out something that unfortunately my brain doesn’t do for me :( I’ve looked in to shooting ear muffs, industrial solutions, aviation headsets and commercial noise cancelling headphones. I just want to remove as much as technologically possible in 2011! I probably wouldn’t go past $5000 but anything out there that could get the job done would allow me to focus on my job better.

    Excellent article, definitely the most informative to date. After a lot of research I had my mind at a cross roads with three different models: Sony MDR NC500D, PXC 450 and the QC15. After reading your article it really helped to clear things up for me.

    Many thanks !

    [Reply to this comment]

  6. John says:

    June 8th, 2011at 12:56 pm(#)

    Hay friends, I just got a new set of Bose QC15 headphones, wanted to brag a little. OMG, these things are my new first love, I can put these things on an all I hear is silence or what I am wanting to hear, in the airplane I feel like I’m in a glider, no screaming babies, or people talking to loud in 6 different languages, no engine roar, I can mow my lawn and not even hear the motor, (when music is playing). I’m not kidding, I even sleep with them on some times cause of the dogs in the neighborhood, If I could of had these during ether one of my marriages, who nose, maybe I would still be with one of them loud mouth b—-. I have been looking for some thing like this for a long time An now my wish has come true, they have fast become one of my favorite companions they never leave my side. they give me the peace & tranquility I need to think and get all my thoughts & priorities in order. They sound really good but I have a 35 year old set of stratton wafers that sound better, Whats up with that. there is some room for improvement.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Mike Reply:

    Hello, at what volume was the music playing was it a moderate 50% level??? and was the lawnmower loud?

    [Reply to this comment]

  7. Ian Faroke says:

    May 7th, 2011at 9:40 am(#)

    Guys, I concur 100% with this review. I have personally tested several high-end headphone and Bose QC-15 are by far the best headphones available on market. They are a great escape for a powernap at the office (of course in the conference room).

    My research is not over yet. I’m looking into Aviation Headphones and I would like to compare their performance to QC15s. The two worth mentioning are Bose A20 Aviation and Sennheiser HMEC 460. Let’s see how that goes. Just be mindful of the fact that once you enter the aviation line of products, you are looking at a price tag ranging from $700.00 to $1400.00.

    Anyways, Bose QC-15 have my full approval.

    Ian

    [Reply to this comment]

  8. Corb says:

    April 11th, 2011at 6:58 pm(#)

    Hello,

    in the meantime I was able to test both the Sennheiser MM550 and the Bose QC15 at the same time and in the same environment (a big Data Center with a hundreds of systems inside plus the coolers making a lot of noise).

    Sennheisers are great for running around having no cable which disturbs you. Sound is wonderful as long as you do not enable noise canceling. When you enable it, the music is turned down and is losing all the lower frequencies.
    The Bose only work with a cable (and battery) but do a great job on noise canceling.
    My phone has a volume setting from 0 to 30. With the MM550 and noise cancelling enabled I have to turn it up to 30 and still can hear the systems in the Data Center. With the Bose I set the volume to 7 and can listen to soft music while the noise around me nearly disappears.

    Combining the bluetooth of the MM550 with the noise cancelling of the Bose would make a perfect headset.

    As my focus was on noise cancelling I definitely had to buy the Bose. If your priotity is great wireless sound then you can go for the Sennheiser. If you want both features together then you will not find a headset (I tried for months).

    [Reply to this comment]

  9. GadgetLover says:

    March 19th, 2011at 5:31 pm(#)

    Great review.

    I currently have both the Sennheiser MM 550 and the Bose QC15. I think Sennheiser MM 550 beat the QC15 hands down. Yes, Bose’s noise cancelling is better, but sound and wireless feature of the MM 550 make tops.

    ULGW

    [Reply to this comment]

  10. sgtohk says:

    March 17th, 2011at 4:53 am(#)

    I have only tried the Bose QC15. I live in HK, next to a building site. I am trying to study. It was becoming impossible. Well, I can’t compare them to others but my world is now silent, I can even open the window. Add an earplug and the high frequency is gone too. These things are a MIRACLE.

    [Reply to this comment]

  11. JMG says:

    March 16th, 2011at 9:54 am(#)

    I have just recently purchased the QC15. Reading this review has made me feel I have made the right choice. I did have some Dr Beats (Studio)… given to me a present, look great if you are making a fashion statement, think i’m passed all that now.
    The sound quality on them was great, especially with dance music or something quite contemporary.

    However a personal thing, the Bose, are more comfortable, and for a not so trendy fella look better. The sound difference from the Beats Studio is difficult to tell for the untrained ear. So for me , its the BOSE , comfort , and styling , with sound quality to match just about anything on the market.

    [Reply to this comment]

  12. Sebastian says:

    February 19th, 2011at 9:46 am(#)

    Bose Quiet Comfort 15 vs Sennheiser MM 550 Travel
    I bought both headphones at bestbuy with there 30 day open policy so i just returned them both after I tried them.
    Bose qc15 , + Much better fit, Much better noise cancelation. – cable, no bluetooth. Sennheiser mm550, + found myself using this headphones more due to the bluetooth which works great, really hate the cable, talk threw works great push a button and you hear people talking around you very well no need to ever take them of, great. – fit and not as good noise cancelation as bose.
    Bose get your act together and implement bluetooth to your QC15.
    Sennheiser copy Bose’s fitting and there noise cancelation tech.

    Still haven’t decided on which to get after my 30 day test. Hoping that Bose will come out with some bluetooth headphones or Sennheiser will get better at noise cancelation so I do not have to choose. Best would be to use the Bose for traveling like driving car or flying or on the train and Sennheiser for everyday use when you move around more. Spoke to bose and they admitted that the biggest issue people have is they come in with a torn cable that needs to be replaced. Cable sucks big time!

    Sebastian
    email me if you have questions.
    sebastianeriksson82@hotmail.com

    [Reply to this comment]

  13. Wadood Chaudhary says:

    January 25th, 2011at 11:09 am(#)

    Can someone compare MM 550/ MM 450 with Bose QC15? I have Bose QC15 and I have also used number of others, including Nokia BH-905i, Sony’s various NC adventures, and bunch of others. Bose QC15 noise canceling is easily the best and way above the competition. In fact, all others do not real cancel out noise substantially. They do it marginally and do some bit of noise reduction. However, I find wires with QC15 increasingly difficult to manage because of my lifestyle which involved commuting, exercising, etc.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Manish Reply:

    I think its just not you. I myself found the cable too long and of very bad quality and thats why I am returning QC15 and getting MM450X. The Bose QC15 is so darn comfortable and noise cancellation is so good that its difficult to make my mind but I have to do it since I hate the cables(esp from BOSE)

    [Reply to this comment]

  14. Corb says:

    January 7th, 2011at 7:51 am(#)

    Hi. I also have to decide between Bose Q15 and Sennheiser MM550. I found no test comparing these two headsets. I really like the Sennheiser as it supports bluetooth and works with my phone. When I tested the MM550 I really did not like the music sound when ANC is turned on. Nearly all low frequencies get lost (e.g. Bebel Gilberto).
    I will do the same test with Bose Q15 but cannot compare both at the same time/surrounding.

    [Reply to this comment]

  15. Sebastian says:

    November 28th, 2010at 7:38 pm(#)

    Hi just looking into buying a good noice canceling headphones/ The best on the market to make it simple. I travel a lot and was reading that the Q15 bose or the Sennheiser mm 550 Travel are the best around but can’t find a site that compare them. If anyone know a site with good reviews let me know! just post it here on this page and I will come loking.
    Sebastian

    [Reply to this comment]

  16. Terry Wannan says:

    November 27th, 2010at 11:46 pm(#)

    The QC15s are excellent, but if the price is a problem consider Audio Technica ATH-ANC7s: 2/3 the performance for 1/3 the price and very well made.

    [Reply to this comment]

  17. PXC says:

    October 30th, 2010at 3:36 pm(#)

    After reading these reviews, and having just recently picked up the pxc 450′s myself, I would still choose the PXC 450′s. The ability to use the headphones WITHOUT the use of a battery is the selling point for me. They work well enough even without the batteries. 23 db passive reduction is great for the PXC’s. I purchased these headphones for use on my computer in the living room of my apartment. I live with 2 other people and they work to the point that they have to clap their hands or throw something at me to get my attention. I find this to be a good thing because while im sitting in the room with 2 other people, one playing a video game on their TV and the other playing music on their laptop, I cant hear them! That last situation is the only time I find myself using the batteries. Also, now that winter is coming up, I’m also using them as earmuffs! Thats one thing that I’ve never seen mentioned for the PXC’s is that while the batteries are in use they can become rather warm. I hope my post is read because I am a very satisfied customer of the Sennheiser PXC 450′s.

    [Reply to this comment]

  18. Marinus says:

    October 29th, 2010at 9:04 am(#)

    Hey, thank you so much for this review. The funny thing is, I was considering all these different headphones that you compared the QC15 with. I have to a conclusion that the QC15 is the best, due to it’s high performance in sound and noise canceling. It is also pretty cheap.
    One quick question though, I read other reviews, and they stated that the QC15 are not very good when it comes to good clean bass. Is that true, because I’m looking for good headphones with a good supply of bass! Since I listen to music that has a lot of bass. So my question is, are the QC15 good and better than a lot of other headphones, when it comes to bass?

    Thank you so Much,

    Marinus.

    [Reply to this comment]

  19. Doc Andy says:

    October 27th, 2010at 8:50 am(#)

    Hi Kagetsuu,

    Just happened to drop by on this site, as I too, am on the look out for the best quality ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) headcans right now. Luckily I was able to audition (just an hour ago!:) both the Bose QC15 (Bose store) and the Monster Beats (Apple store). Let me answer your query right now. Yup! They both work just fine even without music! But take note, if you’re really after the ANC feature, I’d say go for the Bose QC15′s! The review here was right, the “silence” that follows as soon as you turn on the ANC was quite eerie! I mean, the ambient sound was almost totally muted, sans the voice of the annoyingly persuasive salesman, hehe!

    There! Hope this helps.

    Have fun!
    :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

  20. kagetsuu says:

    September 26th, 2010at 8:48 am(#)

    Thank you so much for writing this review. It is really useful!!!! My room is located on top of the TV room so when other people watch TV at night, I have problem concentrating and do my things. I hope the headphone works without the music on.

    [Reply to this comment]

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