Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones
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|Model Name||Quietcomfort 20|
|Form Factor||In Ear|
About this item
- Ideal for Android, BlackBerry and Windows phones. Connectivity Technology: Wired
- Advanced noise reduction rivaling any full-sized headphone
- Aware mode for hearing what's around you while enjoying your music
- Notable audio performance from exclusive Bose technologies
- Long-lasting comfort plus stability from proprietary Stay Hear+ tips
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14 days after receiving this product it cannot be returned or refunded.
What's in the box
Shut out the world and lose yourself in your music - or let the world in. It's your choice with the first in-ear noise cancelling headphones from Bose. Quiet Comfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones are engineered to let you enjoy better sound every day, everywhere you go. Turn on noise cancelling to reduce surrounding distractions and focus on your music. Or choose Aware mode to continue enjoying your music while also hearing what's going on around you. Inside these advanced headphones, exclusive TriPort technology brings your music to life. Additional exclusive technologies provide dramatic noise cancellation rivaling any full-sized headphone on the market today. The proprietary Stay Hear+ tips create a soft, secure fit - with no need to force them into your ears. The inline mic/remote is compatible with most Android, Windows and BlackBerry phones. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides up to 16 hours of use, and a USB charging cable is included. And even when the power is off or the battery runs out, you can still use these headphones to enjoy Bose quality sound. What's in the Box: Quiet Comfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones, 3 pairs Stay Hear+ tips (S, M, L), Clothing clip, Rechargeable lithium-ion battery, USB charging cable and Carrying case.
Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2018
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I am an Android user (and have a series of iOS + Apple products like this very Macbook Air). I develop software so I need iPhones, iPads and Androids.
When I got my QC-15, I remember going to an App Store with my MBAir to try whether the mic would work when connected in the computer. It did, so it was awesome, because I could use it to Skype with people without using the integrated mic in the computer while wearing the awesome headphones.
I later gave my QC-15 to a very good friend who couldn't afford them and decided I was eventually going to buy new ones.
I finally got these new QC20. As an Android user, I picked the Android version. That was my first mistake.
I'll summarize the pros/cons:
- They are light and very portable. The battery doesn't really bother much (but it has a few caveats).
- Moderately easy to fit and less tiring (for me) than the full in-ear-canal (Etymotic stuff). I flew 16 hours straight and they didn't really cause a major problem (tho I could feel them by the end).
- Easy to sleep with these on a plane while tilting your head. Still some vibrations can be heard, but with the others is really hard for obvious reasons.
- The USB charging is nice (Boeing 767-400 have USBs on every seat so you can watch the TV while not draining your battery).
- The new "Aware Mode" is also a nice thing, but on a plane it will not necessarily be loud enough to hear a person talking to you. You have to turn it on-off when you want to use it, because when that is on, the cancelled noise is nowhere near as good as when it's off.
- The sound is good, but these are not top of the end headphones. The idea is for sound to be acceptable in noisy environments. It's certainly not the best sound you can get, but it will be probably the best isolation in certain environments. And the combination of both is extremely decent.
- You can use them even when turned off as regular headphones.
- The cable is nice and doesn't create the annoying sound (known to Etymotics and such) when hit by objects or your own body.
Now the Bad things:
- With the 3 sizes (S-M-L) ear tips, you might not find an appropriate one for your ear size. Mines (I was using Med) would slowly pop out after a few hours. Not a big deal, but I wish Bose would offer more choices (Like Etymotic does).
- The battery is not heavy, but heavy enough to cause disconnects if it hangs from a loose plug (like on a plane where the plug is abused a few times a day).
- The position of the battery in the "cable" is a win-loss situation. Sometimes you feel like it's great and sometimes you wished it where somewhere else.
- The Amount of cable after the battery could use a few more inches (it's really really short) so you have to basically "stick" the battery with your phone and every time you hold your phone, you have to hold the battery or it bother you all the time
- The Android/Windows version only comes with 1 button (plus the button to activate aware mode). The button serves as a play/pause on any app that is registered to operate with media buttons (most should anyway). But it has no volume controls (lame). The iOS version of these controls in the QC15 work on Android (the volume doesn't but the play pause does, so you get the same functionality). On the plus side, the QC15 buttons (for iOS) work with a Macbook so you get a Mic, mute, volume keys and this is why I'm returning my QC20. I use a Macbook Air and I need the headphones + mic for Google Hangouts or Skype. It doesn't work for some reason. The MIC works on my Nexus 4 tho (but no mute which would have been great).
- Since the buttons are not interchangeable (like in the QC-15), you're stuck with what you got. I'd get the iOS -EVEN- if you have an Android device (don't know about Windows).
- The tips (rubber?) are very weird and fit ok, but they are "fragile" (I almost broke one trying to remove it) DON'T PULL. Read instructions.
- For obvious reasons, you can't detach the cables and use the noise cancel feature alone (like in the QC-15)
These are great headphones if you travel a lot (especially on short trips where you don't carry a lot of stuff and you have limited space in your bag). They win the size war vs. the QC-15.
I've compared the noise cancellation inside a 737-900 mid-flight side by side. I asked a fellow passenger for their QC-15 and tried one after the other for a couple of times. The sound isolation is pretty much the same, I'd say the QC20 have a little but more mugginess to voices because they are somewhat in-ear and provide more passive isolation. But the "real" engine noise was cancelled by both in a very similar way. If anything, the QC20 wins by a small margin.
The sound quality is hard to compare (especially in a plane!) but with the QC-15 I had to turn my volume all the way up. With the QC20 it was 3/4 (for the same volume experience). I don't know if this was because of the battery or what.
All in all, these are expensive headphones that I can only recommend if you travel a lot and don't want to carry extra batteries or don't want to deal with the "big" QC-15.
The battery is not replaceable so I guess that could be a factor. It lasted through two flights: 8 + 4 hours with no problem whatsoever, but then again, Bose claims 16 hours.
So… which one do you get?
It really depends. If you're looking for portability, you won't look back, the whole thing is really light for what it does!
If you hate in-ear stuff, go QC-15.
If you want sound quality, get an AudioTechnica or similar :)
If you don't mind carrying AAA batteries around and want to use the noise canceling feature without carrying a cable and stuff, the QC-15 can do it.
If you need Macbook (Air/Pro) microphone compat, get the iOS version (even if you have an Android phone). Note: I haven't tested the QC20 iOS version, but I did have the QC15 iOS version and it works on both android (as a mic+play/pause) and on Mac (as Volume+mic+play/pause). The volume controls won't work on Android and that's why the presumably sell two versions, so you don't get controls that don't work… I assume the QC20 will have a similar behavior. But you should dbl-check.
I will be personally getting the QC15 again instead of these (which I am returning as we speak).
What would I like to see improved?
More ear tips
Ability to detach the whole battery thing and use them as regular earphones.
Volume buttons for Android (that also work on Macbooks!)
Battery should be replaceable, otherwise you're going to have to throw the whole thing away in a few years.
Better price, 200 dollars would be better.
- The cord could use a little help. It's about 3 inches short of perfect length. The aesthetic of the "zebra cord" is ugly. You expect top design for top dollar, and making it one solid color would be better. A removable clip comes with the cord to attach to your shirt, but it is weakly attached, flimsy, and easy to lose. Lastly, the cord is not replaceable. When it fails, I'll have to replace the whole product.
- The mic has a single button that picks up phone calls and acts as play/pause, but no volume buttons. Much cheaper headphones have volume buttons, and so should these. It also works with my Android phone but not my Apple laptop. I realize there are two competing standards for how the play buttons work on headphones. But for the price, I expect pure wizardry.
- The cancellation unit doesn't have an auto-off feature, which makes it easy to run your battery down. It can be nice to keep the unit activated with no signal, if you just want quiet. However, a short auto-off time should be the default. Instead of a single switch, they could have given it a power toggle button, and a lock switch.
- The value. Bose knows these are the best, and they make you pay. This is really where that star is lost. I realize that you can pay even more than this for IEMs that do less. But I don't judge these by the audiophile market, I judge by value comparison with other products I've owned and enjoyed. And by that metric, I think these should cost at least 33% cheaper than they do.
That being said, these buds are otherwise perfect. Here are some high points:
- The sound quality is flawless. And I have tried lots of earbuds/IEMs. It works great for all the music I listen to (rock, hip hop, classical, electronic, etc.) as well as for podcasts. They struck a very versatile tonal balance, with great clarity. This is unlike the super bassy SoundTrue's.
- The noise cancellation is best in class. I owned AudioTechnica's as well, and while those were good, these are noticeably better. In my regular routine, I spend time in a lot of challenging noise environments. These work great at the office and on airplanes, but those are the table stakes. Where these really blew me away is on the NYC subway platforms and on my runs across the Manhattan Bridge. Somehow, these manage to cancel a lot of the noise that extends above the bass range. It's not as though you'll hear complete silence, but you can still comprehend the material you're listening to without cranking the volume, and that's what it's all about.
- The fit is great and these are super comfortable. I can wear them all day with no discomfort at all. They stay in my ear just fine while running.
- The Aware Mode works great. Especially when activated without an active signal, the noise cancelling works so well that it can feel eerie. Aware Mode strikes a really nice balance and is a feature that pulls its weight. It's also useful on quiet streets.
- The cord does not knot. As someone who has to regularly stow and unstow my earbuds, not having to waste 5 minutes untangling them every time is awesome. They seem to have accomplished this simply by using really thick wire. I recommend taking care not to crimp it.
- The StayHear earbud tips are very comfortable, very secure while exercising, and very easy to clean.
- USB charging is really convenient. The AudioTechnica units require disposable batteries, by comparison. These one, I charge at my desk from my computer, and life is good. The batteyr holds enough charge and seems to charge quickly enough not to need to worry much about it. Since the battery is not replaceable, I can only hope this continues to be the case.