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on May 2, 2013
Alright, so after having the opportunity to own both Quiet comfort 3 and 15 headphones, I thought I'd give my opinion on each to help those deciding between the two.

Size: The QC3s are an entire size smaller than the QC15s. QC3 wins in terms of portability, but both headphones come with a carrying case and I don't think the QC15s are more of a burden to carry around. The smaller QC3 is an on ear design compared to the QC15 which is an over the ear design.

Battery: QC3 comes with one rechargeable battery that lasts maybe 25 hours or so. I recommend buying another battery from amazon or ebay so that you can have one to use when the other battery dies. QC15 runs on AAA batteries and should last for 35 hours. I recommend buying eneloop rechargeable batteries and a charger so you're not buying batteries every two weeks. Buying an additional battery for the QC3 can be relatively cheap if you get an off-brand battery or buy it used (~$10-$20). 4 eneloop batteries and a charger to use with the QC15 is around $20.

Design: Major design difference is that the QC3 is on ear and the QC15 is over the ear. Both are very comfortable, but I personally thought the QC3 felt better on my head, maybe because it's lighter. The audio cable is also designed differently on both. QC15 has a volume control switch on the cable that you can change to high or low. This part goes inside the earpiece, so you'd have to remove the cable to adjust it. QC15 and QC3 also come with a cable that has a remote and microphone that you can use to take phone calls.

Noise Cancellation: I'll probably be in a minority when I say this, but I didn't notice a difference in noise cancellation between the two headphones. QC15 allegedly has the best noise cancellation, but it didn't block out the sound of people talking or even birds chirping outside without music playing. QC15 is supposedly great at blocking out airplane engine noise, so maybe you'll get the most benefit from these if you're a frequent flier. Both these headphones are great at reducing sound, but you'll still be able to hear outside noise. Also, the QC15 gave me a major headache within ten minutes of usage due to the noise cancellation technology. You may want to consider trying these out before you buy because the noise cancellation in the QC15 can cause dizziness and headaches in some people. I didn't encounter this problem with the QC3 though.

Sound Quality: This was the deciding factor for me in choosing which headphones to keep. The QC3 sounds so, so, so much better. I'm not an audiophile, but the difference between the two was night and day to me. I have a pair of Sennheiser HD202 headphones that cost me $20 and sound better than the QC15. If you have never owned high end headphones before, you might be satisfied with the QC15, but it's seriously lacking in bass and treble. I thought I was listening to a $10 pair of headphones and not a $300 pair. On ear headphones do tend to sound better because the speakers are closer to your ear, but over the ear headphones shouldn't be so lacking in sound quality if you're paying $300 for them.

Pricing: Would I personally pay $300 for the QC15 or $350 for the QC3? Absolutely not. I had the opportunity to own either set at a discount (~$120) which is the only reason I currently own the QC3. I'd pay $150 max for the QC3 and I wouldn't buy the QC15 at all. I'm not the kind of person who wants to spend a whole lot on headphones, so this is just a reflection of how much I would pay and not how much I think they're actually worth. I honestly haven't tried any other brand of high end headphones, so I can't objectively say if the retail price fits the quality on the QC3.

Bottom line: QC3 is the better set in my books due to the QC15s so-so audio quality. The only reason the QC15 is $300 is because of the noise cancellation. I bet the QC15 wouldn't even sell for $30 if it didn't have noise cancellation. Bose may tell you that the QC15 are the best headphones they have to offer, but I found the QC3 to be superior. I can't recommend the QC15, but I think the QC3 are the best sounding headphones I've owned and they do a decent job at reducing noise. I highly recommend trying out several pairs of headphones that are comparably priced before settling on Bose though. $300 isn't really chump change (for the average person anyway), so you want to make sure you get the best for your money.
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on June 18, 2012
I have had mine for almost 2 years. They are so effective that the quiet may bother some people. I live on a busy street
And the noise can be bothersome when sitting on my deck. These headphones eliminate all but the very loudest motorcycles.
even those few are very muted. If I lost these today I would buy new ones tomorrow. I have never given 5 stars before this.
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on October 16, 2013
Having read quite a few of these reviews, it is clear many owners were as ignorant as I of the lifetime replacement guarantee. Regardless if your complaint is wear and tear over time or if the dog ate the headphones, Bose promises to replace them ~ no questions asked ~ for $99. Yes, you do expend more money but if your set is worn out or eaten, it's nice to know one can get a completely brand new set of an invaluable item at a greatly reduced cost. I'm certainly glad someone told me; hope this helps.
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on July 4, 2012
I have owned my QC3's for quite some time now. They were a costly purchase and I wondered how good an idea it was at the time. The QC3's proved in performance during a lot of "back-end of the plane" travel that they are superb. I have been known to also travel at the front of the plane, where the impact is less, so I can truly attest to my next comment - QC3's are like an upgrade to business class. Get your own music and your QC3's and you can survive a 5 hour trip in economy without batting an eyelid. The volume on the ipod can drop from 90% to 50% with the same clarity!
I can recall before my QC3's the inevitable headache that would come from my monthly 14 hour each way journey. That all disappeared with the purchase of the QC3's. Just wonderful, and something that really works. I also find them incredibly comfortable and would strongly recommend the on-ear to the over-ear versions. You can't sleep so good (on your side) in them, but I have still done it (for many hours on the seats in various airports across the world).
I have shure se530 earphones, as well as Grado SR80i and Audio-Technica ATHESW9A headphones so I know the the Bose are no slouch in the sound department too. But their gift - simply - is a quiet background.
I think the reachargeable battery system probably adds $50 to the value of the package too. It has just been great.
Great job Bose, great headphone QC3!
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on March 17, 2013
I've researched for about 6 months before buying. Checked beats, sony, etc... Purchased them for a red eye flight and was between this one and the qc15. You can pick one or the other they are awesome and just the difference is the battery tech, one rechargable the other AAA. Yes they are pricey but last like for 5 years, if you are getting into long flights, then go for them.

===Update after 6 weeks with them=== this thing is awesome, I've been using them for 6+ hours international flights and also in the office (When I need to get 'in the zone') this has to be one of the best investments I've made
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on October 20, 2012
I've owned Bose QE for about two years now.
Noise cancellation is excellent.
Abnoxious sounds like plane engines are virtually eliminated while you can still hear people speak.
The sound quality is ok but missing the low range.
Taking them off, produces a loud feedback squeal.
Last year I had to replace a battery pack because it was holding charge for only 30 minutes.
That's another 50 bucks.
I don't use them very often, mostly on planes or hotels while I travel.
True, I wore them to bed a few times, but It still doesn't justify how quickly they got so worn out.
Thin plastic covering ear paddings is peeling off and showing through the fabric underneath.
I guess I expected a lot from Bose at $350 price tag, but got mediocre.
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on December 28, 2014
See below for the "Too Long, Didn't Read (TL;DR)" version:

My wife got me these headphones a few years back and so far so good. Sure audiophiles will rag on Bose and say there are better products out there and there probably is but Bose doesn't exactly make crappy products. I don't have a keen ear for great audio quality but I do feel I'm an average listener of music and a average movie watcher. With that said here is my experience with these headphones:

First thing you will notice is the comfort. The fake leather or whatever the ear pads are made out of are quite comfy. I do not get any earaches wearing these and they are on-ear not over-the-ear headphones. But, the ear pads are one of my biggest gripes. The black fake leather started to dry up and come off. It is not like I wore them out, I don't use these headphones religiously or on an everyday basis.

The second thing you'll notice is the noise cancellation. Once the headphones are over your ear and you play with the on and off switch you will notice a dramatic difference in noise cancellation. As someone who never experienced noise cancelling headphones I was blown away.The only issue I personally have is that sometimes I get a headache when I wear them for an extended period of time. I'm not if this is a headphone issue or a personal one but I thought I'd point that out.

Then there is the sound quality which is what you would expect of Bose. I personally think it is great and I always love putting my headphones on when listening to music or watching a movie.

TL;DR - Comdy, sounds good, great noise cancellation but the earpads kinda suck (see pics) and wearing them for too long gives me a headache.
review image review image
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on February 20, 2014
Got these for my many flights after having lost my Bose QC15 for a while. Noise cancelling is excellent. If combined with ear plugs I cannot imagine what would wake you up. Music and sound books sound great to me but I'm no audiofile others may differ. My problem with these are that they are very uncomfortable for longer trips (+5 hours). My ears are sensitive and get sore and I need to take them off. I can see for other reviews that some people share this problem and I strongly suggest you test your ears before buying. Seem well built but I have not used them long enough to say anything about their life span. One star off for the somewhat high price.

Later found my QC15. So now I can compare the two main Bose models directly.

Noise cancelling effect:
Noise cancelling system is equally effective on both models. However, the closed design of the QC15 give them a slight advantage when it comes to sheer noise blocking (not all noises are handled by the noise cancelling system).

No difference to me. But as mentioned above I not an audiophile and I spend far most time listening to audio books anyway.

This is probably what people should choose after between the two. QC15 cannot escape the fact they are bulky + closed design may give you "sweaty" ears as mentioned above. However, I personally still prefer QC15 because my ears are quite sensitive to presure and I cannot have the QC3 mounted for a long distance flight (5 hours+) without resting my ears once in a while. Not doubt that QC3 are easier to sleep with due to less bulk if you have a custom shaped pillow (I always bring one with a special "dip" for the earphones).

Same cord system and built-in remote iphone/ipad control. However, the battery system is distinctly different. The QC15 takes standard batteries while the QC3 relies on a special battery unit you have to charge. The special battery on the QC3 saves weight and lasts for 15 hours (also in real life use). However, the draw down is of course the need for a charger, special battery and for charging. As I do gruelling 30 hour+ flights this is an issue. Some people buy an extra battery for their QC3. Recommended if you travel a lot but it adds even more to the extra price for the QC3.

Travel size/weight:
In-box the size difference is too small to matter. The QC3 box is smaller, but not by much. The QC15 case is actually more neat on the inside because there are fewer parts to go around and the QC3 box design seems less well thought out. QC3 is lighter and you can feel the difference.

Get the pair that fits your ears - I deeply regretted getting the QC3 instead and am very happy that I have my QC15 back - but YMMV and QC3 may be the better choice for others.
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on July 1, 2013
If what you are looking for is something to hear the sound of a conversation or the music perfectly while you are in a plane or in your work place surrounded by several partners that are not quiet enough, then these are the best headphones for you. No complaints. They are confortable and isolate you perfectly. The battery last plenty of time and does not take to much time charging.
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on June 15, 2013
A friend of mine turned me on to these headphones. I thought at first, a little pricey for a set of headphones. But after listening to his headphones, I was hooked on the audio quality. I was so impressed I bought both me and my wife each a pair for our recent trip to Ireland. That's when we both discovered the "Noise Cancellation Feature". It filtered out the jet noise on the plane and the background noise in the international airports, but yet allowed you to carry on a conversation without removing the headphones! So if you're exposed to a lot of background noise on a daily basis and/or love music, then these headphones are the ticket!
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