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on August 23, 2011
Bose QC25 vs. Bose QC15 vs. Beats Studio (by Dre.) vs. Sennheiser PXC 450 vs. Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b

Disclosure: I have tried all these on an airplane. I am not an audiophile. Noise Cancelation is the most important attribute to me.

The Carrying Case: All four are quite durable and stiff.
1.) Bose QC25- Very small, compact, and just big enough. Does not really have room for anything else. Could fit in a briefcase.
2.) Bose- QC15- This case is bigger than the QC25 (Which could be a good thing. Doesn't feel much bigger, and still has room for ipod, Gameboy, batteries, whatever).
3.) Sennheiser- Square shape, low profile, however not a lot of room for anything else in case.
4.) Audio Technica- Nice big case if you want to carry extra stuff (Nintendo DS, ipod, etc).
5.) Beat case is very elegant and hip, but very wide and skinny. Maybe room for an ipod and that's about it. Caribbeaner Clasp.

Build Quality:
1.) Sennheiser- you can tell this is built VERY well. Strong plastics, good components, thick cord. Top notch. You feel like you are getting something really high quality.
2.) Beats appears to be extremely well made. Heavy duty industrial plastics, metal fasteners. High end box, thick cord, great packaging, solid construction. Only concern of mine is that the battery compartment seems a little fragile.
3.) Bose25 is a step up here from the 15. Detachable cord. A little more substantial feeling. Touches of aluminum on the headphones, and some nicer quality padding. While not as substantial at the Sennheiser, they do feel more luxurious and a little more solidly built than the QC15.
4.) Audio Technica- Nice solid construction, appears durable. Mostly heavy duty plastic.
5.) Bose15- If this had a Sanyo logo on the side, I would not have flinched. How can something $300 be so incredibly cheaply made.

1.) Bose25- A step up from the Bose15. A little more sleek. Not as dorky looking. Fold flat.
2.) Beats- These are a little bigger than the others, but that are also meant to stand out and be seen. Probably the hippest looking, but a little bold for business users.
3.) Bose15- as far as over the ears go, these are pretty small.
4.) Audio-Technica- mid-sized.
5.) Sennheiser- These are big. No question, but they store flat.

1.) Sennheiser- Very comfortable, will fit almost any size ears. Keep on for hours.
2.) Bose25- A stepup here. More comfortable than QC15, more flex, better padding. Less hot. Could be tight around some larger ears. Can press a little tight after some time, so test them. After a few hours, my ears hurt from the pressing, but some adjustments can be made.
3.) Beats seemed to be a little tight on my head and I didn't see a way to make them less "compressy." I don't think I (personally) would like to wear these all day. Too pinchy for my head. The earphone part is also a little small for me. These became hot and uncomfortable after time for me.
4.) Bose15- Also comfortable. I did not experience "highs" discomfort.
5.) Audio-Technica- Perfectly satisfactory. Larger opening than previous AT model. Gets warm and tight on head on long flights.

Disclaimer. This is a tough category, as they all had very different sounds and need to be used personally. The Sennheisers helped me hear parts of songs I had never heard before, but so did the Beats (baselines were much stronger).

1.) Sennheiser- I actually wore these at home too, simply to hear parts of songs I had never heard before. Astounding. My 10yr old music collection sounded totally NEW.
2.) Bose25- A step up from the QC15. Music more evenly balanced. Bass is hard hitting, but not as annoying as in the QC15. Some break-in is required. A more 3D sound than QC15. The QC25 closes the Sennheiser gap much more than the QC15. Be aware, some mp3s might feel a little flat.
2.) I put the Bose25 and Beats in the same category. The Bose seemed more evenly balanced. The Beats sounded great, but were EXTREMELY bass heavy. You will hear complexity of base lines that you never noticed. Drums tracks will sound like drums, bass guitar will be noticed for the first time on songs, but the highs are VERY weak. Pop music will sound very muted, rap and hip hop will pop and you'll feel like you have a Kicker Bass speaker in your car. I can't compare Beats to the others. It's a totally different sound which you will either love or hate.
3.) Audio-Technica- Well balanced, good sound.
4.) Bose15- Great clear sound, but very heavy on the bass. I listen to a lot of rap and pop, so it was mildly annoying. I ultimately had to turn my treble settings up on my ipod to balance the sound.

1.) Beats- Great packaging. Two cords with different connectors. Nice Case. Cloth. They do a good job of making you think you bought a nice product (and it is). Only concern is the headphones don't work without batteries. The headphone creates a pseudo noise cancellation.
2.) Bose25- Nice new case. Removeable cord (so it won't rip out if you jerk it accidently). Passive headphone (if battery dies, headphone still works - albeit without noise cancelation). Choice of white color.
3.) Sennheiser- nice cord, push to talk button (temporarily mutes NC and sound which is great for interruptions on airplanes).
4.) Bose/Audio Technica- just the basics. Bose simply an on/off switch.

1.) Audio Technica- $125 depending on how you shop.
2.) Beats Studio- $175-$200
3.) Bose QC15- $200-$250
4.) Bose QC25- $300 (hard to find discounted)
5.) Sennheiser- $200 to $400 (how are these going up in price- 5 yrs later)

Noise Cancelation:
1.) Bose- No question here, far surpassed the other two. Best Noise Cancelation. I did not notice a significant change in QC15- to QC25 on planes, however did notice a little difference in office.
2.) Audio-Technica- Good Noise Cancelation.
3.) Sennheiser- Not sure what happened here. Incredible sound, less than satisfactory noise cancelation.
4.) I don't think the Beats are official noise cancellation, but the headphone part is great at isolating outdoor noise, and they are very tight on the head. When you put them on without music, they offer decent noise cancellation.


Please understand, noise cancellation will not drown out a crying baby, slamming doors, or people talking. They will help out with repetitive noises like airplanes, air-conditioners or soft noises. If you don't listen to music, these might isolate sounds even more and be counter-productive.

The QC25 are a nice step up from the QC15. I do not feel they are overwhelmingly better or worth an upgrade if you were happy with QC15 (but some people like the latest and greatest). If I were buying new and the price difference was only $50, go for the QC25, if you have QC15 and you like them, it's not a huge jump (or buy them and return if you don't like). The QC25 sound a little better, are better built, and a little more convenient. But not sure they are 5 years of R&D better. If the difference in price is >$100, QC15 looks more attractive.

Audio Technica and Sennheiser don't seem to have any new offerings either, so this segment has been kind of stagnant. I will say that Bose seems to have listened and addressed most of the complaints of the QC15. They've improved the size, sound, build quality, and maintained their quality Noise Cancelation.

The Sennheiser Noise Cancellation is a real disappointment. Great headphone, horrible noise cancelation headphone. The Audio Technica is a great entry price point-value item.

The Beats are kind of their own product with their own demographic. Like the Sennheisers, they made me hear parts of songs I had never heard before, but on the bass side. If you like heavy, heavy bass, go for the beats.

Final assessment:

Audio-Technica- best balance of value for money
Sennheiser- Best sound and comfort
Bose- By far Best Noise Cancelation.
Beats- Best for bass. More of a hip hop bass then the Bose though.

I use these for airplane travel only, so I ended up keeping the Bose.
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on November 28, 2016
As an aviation professional, I wore BOSE MIL-spec noise-cancelling aircraft headsets for years and expected equal quality when I decided to purchase a pair of the acoustic noise-cancelling Quiet Comfort 15. As regards the sound quality, no argument that BOSE noise cancelling technology works extremely well, However, this past evening, when I was putting them on to listen to some much anticipated Yuja Wang interpretations of Rachmaninoff, the right sided load-bearing earphone support simply fractured and broke off cleanly (the plastic material snapped). The break is completely unrepairable, given the tension force that the earphone is subject to (i.e. it's not simply a matter of supergluing the broken earphone support back in place). This sort of material failure on the part of BOSE is simply unacceptable, given the high cost of the headphone set (I paid US$ 300 for them when new), and I am extremely dissatisfied with this unexpected failure of the (plastic) material used to produce the head band supports. Clearly, metal would have been wiser and far more durable choice than plastic for the important load-bearing assembly of the headband. Although the Quiet Comfort 15 model is now discontinued by BOSE, I would suggest that any potential purchasers of the unit (which is still available for sale on Amazon and other retail venues) consider this when they think about buying this model. Given the highly touted reputation BOSE claims for its products (along with their high cost), this sort of occurrence is not supportive evidence of those claims.
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on April 3, 2016
 This build consists of light weight plastic and metal with some pleather. This is to help with portability and to give them a light seamless feel when you’re wearing them.

These headphones don’t fold in like my Audio Technicians but, will swivel 90 degrees and fit into the case made for them. This leaves for a larger footprint.

The cable from your headphones to your audio source is proprietary and while sometimes the word proprietary is frowned upon, you’ll be happy to know you can actually replace the cable just as easy headband and ear cups. Links for those replacements are down below.
There is a switch on the cable that controls the loudness of volume. It has nothing to do with noise cancellation at all. He plugs into headphones and will lock into place. NOTE: When removing the cable from the headset DO NOT pull on the cable itself you will shorten the life of that cable or possibly ruin it if you do it too many times. The notch here is where you’ll remove the cable. ALWAYS REMOVE THE CABLE BY THE NOTCH NOT THE CABLE ITSELF.

To activate the Noise cancellation simply flip the switch and you’ll see the green LED light come on. NOTE: If the green LED light is flashing that means the AAA battery needs to be replaced. Which can be found on the right earphone toward the top.

QuietComfort 15s produce a sense of pressure on the eardrum. Listeners sensitive to this effect may find it anywhere from mildly annoying to
uncomfortable. Most of the former group will tend to forget about it as soon they start playing music or movies.

The noise cancellation performs best with Low type sounds such as: air plane engines, ac units running, subway noise etc. You will be able to hear people around but, they will be muffled. Best way I can describe it to you is when you’re underwater listening to the sound above the water. MUFFLED or Dampened

Sound Quality, I always test headphones with all type of genres of music, movies, and playback for my recordings on my channel here. The sound coming from these cans are good. Bass, is well balanced with while the mids and highs will perform fine however, sound a little thin. They distort if you turn the volume above 80% or higher from my experience. Sweet spot for me was to have the volume level around 65-70%. That would sound come through clearly without distortion.

Sound leakage: Leakage is minimal if you’re putting the volume at 75% plus is when others around you they’ll be able to hear it but, not to point where they’d need ask you to turn it down. Quiet areas like libraries you may want to keep at a lower volume around 60-65% is my recommendation.

Plus Side:

No amp is required

Noise Cancelling does its job without fail

Even though the cable is preparatory you can actually replace it for cheap that you can find on Amazon for iOS specific or regular usage.1
Very comfortable of wearing these for long periods of time.

The headband\ ear cushions on the cans can be replaced and found on amazon for cheap.

Things to consider:

Not a very low bass range

When the battery dies so does your music

Expensive for a discounted product
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on July 27, 2014
. . . were wearing these headphones.

I use these every day at work so that I can concentrate on writing code because I have the operations manager right next to me. Why they would have a programmer sit next to someone who talks all day long? I guess she likes me. But she's nice, and so are these headphones!

These headphones also work well at home. I have an upstairs neighbor who I will name Thumbelina to protect the innocent. I cannot understand how such a tiny girl can clomp around like a Clydesdale every moment she is home. Do these work to drown her out? The short answer is 'yes'.

Now, I don't want to pretend that these headphones totally cancel out an unruly neighbor. That would be like saying a positive attitude will fix all the problems in your life. These headphones just make things better than if I wasn't wearing them, much like a positive attitude will help you do everything better than a negative attitude will. So with these babies, I can watch a movie and not think about Thumbelina the horse upstairs.

So what do you get?

1. AMAZING noise reduction for periodic noise, such as the hum of an air-conditioner or the engines on an airplane.
2. Good noise reduction for the Clydesdale who lives above you.
3. Good noise reduction for the chatty-Cathy who sits next to you.

For me, these headphones are a game changer. They're comfortable, the fidelity is good, and they do a reasonable job at noise cancellation.

So . . . why only four stars? They're a little flimsy. I am extra, extra careful with these because I want them to last. Even so, I suspect they will only make it about a year or two. I'd give them 4.25 stars if that was an option.

How about the cost? I think these were about three bills when I got them. Yeah . . . they're worth the cost. I would totally do it again.

How about the battery consumption? Not bad, actually. I would say I replace the single AAA battery every other week or so.

Fidelity? They aren't studio monitors, if that's what you mean. They're good enough for me, but I am not an audiophile. I listen to radio program podcasts that are 56Kbps.
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on April 22, 2016
Sound is excellent, but quality of material is kind of cheap, which is annoying since you're paying a lot for this toy. I had to sew the cushions on both side because the foam was getting out and now, the fake leather is getting slowly away, showing a cheap fabric below. Come on, Bose, synthetic leather, really ? And, by the way, I had to replace them after 15 days because I heard a kind of metallic sound in one of the headset. And also, one day, it just stops working randomly but came back to life after few vigorous shakes. Now, it's still working after two years, but I take a really good care of them (except the shakes, lol).
Comfort : good, in spite of the fabric which is disintegrating itself.
Conclusion : this is supposed to be a high end product for 300 dollars (yes, you read well), and things are not working the way they should. If I bought a luxurious car, I would expect to have it working flawlessly for years. Don't have enough money for luxurious cars, but I can afford a luxurious pair of headphones, and look at the result !
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The Bose noise-cancelling headphone is rather expensive and works only slightly better than Audio-Technica (but it does indeed work better). I have been a proud (and a sad) owner of five (yes, five...!) Audio-Technica ATHANC7 (two ATHANC7 and three ATHANC7B), and all five disintegrated after a year and a half of very moderate use (notably in the foam-cushioned area). I then decided to give Bose a try. Bose's noise cancelling technology does work better, however, only slightly better, than Audio-Technica's. After a few weeks, nevertheless, it broke, with one side going mute. But then a whole new world of experience started for me: the most unbelievable, professional, and courteous customer service one can imagine--and of all places... in Brazil! I was most amazed to witness Bose's truly customer-centered service. I called them several times and spoke with at least five or six employees. They were all extremely polite, warm, and professional. (Who did they think they were talking to? Some kind of VIP...?!) I dropped my defective headphone at their Sao Paulo store. After two days, they e-mailed me and called to report that they were already shipping a brand new headphone to my Rio address with express shipping paid by them. Every stage of the transaction was as smooth, respectful, and courteous as one could imagine. I'm already using my new headphone, which works perfectly. The quality of this extremely positive experience kind of "cancelled" the "noise" from the experience of my original defective headphone. Chalk one up for Bose! Best regards to all from Brazil! Peace! Claudio
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on June 9, 2014
The sound quality on these headphones is wonderful. I'd forgotten how nice real over the ear headphones could sound after years of using earbuds but these converted me back. The noise canceling features work well and really reduce the background noise on my commute (the BART trains of the SF Bay Area).

My only complaint is the lack of support for Android phones as controllable music players. You have to use the plain cable with your Android phone or you won't even get stereo sound, also the controls don't work for the Android devices. I've tried it on a Samsung Galaxy SII, a Motorola Droid Mini, and a Google Nexus 7. Plug it into the iPhone 4S or 5S or a Mac Laptop and everything is perfect. Bose doesn't advertise support for Android, but I really think they should. And before you think you can just find a third party cable - don't bother. As of the time I write this there is only one, and it flips the L and R channels which really annoys some.

Add full Android support and this becomes a five star review.
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on November 23, 2013
Just not what I expected. I do a bit of airline travel and have almost always used a CD player (before iPods) or an iPod. Have used earbuds-only but was not pleased with all the additional noise. Picked up a pair of noise cancelling headphones a fellow employee had left behind about 10 years ago....and used them for several years. I don't know who the manufacturer was for those but they were/are adequate but the ear pieces fit on the ear rather than over and around. Not the most comfortable. Have always thought about getting the Bose. First, they are very comfortable. No problems wearing them on a 4 hour flight. With the caveat that I am older AND that I have a hearing impairment from a viral infection a few years ago, I was not at all happy with the quality of the sound on the Bose headphones. (It's a given that, as you age, you slowly lose your ability to hear high pitch.) The Bose were simply far too bass-ey for my taste. I've gone back to the older set which -- for me -- sound much better. Seems for the price, Bose could incorporate an in-line equalizer. (I have an idea that many people would find that the Bose are not bass-ey enough.) With an equalizer, everyone could choose their own 'mix'. A real plus -- which I had only experienced with a couple of early-model Kindles -- is the great return policy and method of Amazon. Quick, easy and the money is returned very quickly. However, even so, I would encourage others to do what I did not do: find a pair to 'test' before you actually spring for the purchase.
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on October 17, 2014
Amazing! These are the first set of noise cancelling headphones I have bought, so I can't compare them to the others out there but I can say they are fantastic. I bought these for two main reasons: One, I was about to take a series of long flights economy class and, two, to use at work. On the six different flights I had to take, I was always fairly close to the engines. These headphones are amazing in how they distinguish between sound and noise. The engine noise went from a roar to barely audible, without affecting the sound quality of the music or movie I was listening to. They even eliminated the noise of a crying baby. (There's always a crying baby). Yet, I could hear and speak with the flight attendants and hear the announcements without removing the headphones. When I ordered these, I was a bit concerned aout the comfort of over the ear headphones as I wear glasses and headphones sometimes uncomfortably push against the stems of the glasses. However, I was able to wear these through most of a 10 hour flight. When I wear these at work, all the background noise is eliminated, yet I can carry on conversations without problem. The only improvement I would like to see is the ability to customize the noise elimination for specific environments. As far as I am aware, there are no noise canceling headphones on the market that do this.
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on February 15, 2015
Of course these are awesome. Bose is the standard. I bought their first pair until they fell apart some ? 20 years ago. Forget Dr. Dre and the over priced clunky things. GO on any aircraft and you'll see the "elite" passengers with Bose. Bose invented noise cancelling...period. Always buy the "over ear" ones since you get the max power of noise cancelling. I have had all sorts of short cut ones and been fooled by "noise reducing". Never buy "noise reducing". If you want real noise reduction buy ear muffs for a rifle range! I once took my shooting ear buds and ear muffs on a plane - worked great with one on top of the other. The whole point of ear protection on a plane is that you do arrive more rested - at least I do. The constant pounding on your ear drums is more exhausting than you'd imagine on a 14 hour flight. Most times I use only 15 cent construction equipment foam ear plugs. But, my QuietComfort is awesome for great sound while watching a movie. Go Bose or go home!
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