Hacker News

snailerz said 2 months ago:

They are showing so much respect and care for their customers that is almost unbelievable.

Kudos to their will to analyze and also document about a single problem so thoroughly.

I never bought a Bose product before, but reading this honestly makes me think about it...

If any company would cost a premium for being as careful as they are, I would definitely pay for it.

noncoml said 2 months ago:

I disagree. The great customer support is just PR and an image they managed to create. When it comes down to costing them money to do the right thing, they don't.

The headphones won't turn off, but Bose refuses to make it right for the users:


Note, the "solution" is buy new headphones if yours are our out of warranty.


Edit: Wow, downvoted to -1 :/

poglet said 2 months ago:


I had the same problem as you and was very disappointed. Up until this problem I was very happy with the QC35, which I have used for hundreds of hours.

I followed the below YouTube video a few weeks ago, and the problem has not returned.


The process took about 20-30 minutes and was relativity easy, however some parts are quiet small and it took a few tries to get them into the correct position.

The problem is the switch becomes loose and touches multiple contacts, making the headphones turn back on. Don't bother with all the other troubleshooting advice Bose has told people to do (updates, resets, pair & unpair etc), the problem is a physical problem with the switch.

simonlc said 2 months ago:

Wow I've had this issue for a year now, and just yesterday was thinking about taking it apart to fix it. This just made the task much easiser!

trog said 2 months ago:

Bought my partner a pair of these (super expensive) headphones as an Xmas present and her experience is a little similar. Battery life on hers plummeted after about 18 months to the point where if they're fully charged at night, by the morning with no use they're at 20% or less.

Was super unimpressed with Bose support, both in store and online - they offered to wind back the firmware for us, or our other option was buy a new pair.

It's interesting reading about this not-turning-off bug as maybe something like that is happening which is killing the battery overnight.

rconti said 2 months ago:

That sucks :( My QC35 are one of my favorite purchases still, something like 5+ years on. The battery life is simply astounding. I've worn them on entire journeys, from lounge to plane to plane through customs and to my destination and been shocked to find them with 40% battery life reported remaining after 16+ hours of constant use. It sounds like there's absolutely something faulty with her product, and Bose customer support should really step up and make it right.

moltar said 2 months ago:

Mine are 3.5 years old. I use them daily during all working hours and sometimes weekends.

The only thing that went thus far were the leather cups (twice) that are fortunately easily replaced. OEM are $$$, while after market alternatives I found to be just as good and are only $.

My battery is still strong. Probably around 10-12 hours of use.

njitbew said 2 months ago:

Are these "leather cups" you're talking about these "ear cushions" (https://www.bose.com/en_us/products/headphones/headphone_acc...)? If yes, then that's only 30-40$, which does not seem unreasonable for a product you use so intensively? I replaced mine after about 2 years. I remember the sound insulation being a _lot_ better afterwards.

I have the same experience on the battery: my pair is almost 3 years old and I can go about 2 days of work (~12 hours) before I have to charge them.

Fnoord said 2 months ago:

I found out I could do the same with my Logitech wireless/wired headset. They also allow me to purchase a replacement battery.

ornornor said 2 months ago:

> The only thing that went thus far were the leather cups (twice) that are fortunately easily replaced. OEM are $$$, while after market alternatives I found to be just as good and are only $.

The analysis in the page discussed in this thread doesn't match what you're saying: knockoff cups are inferior and degrade noise cancellation.

mrunkel said 2 months ago:

No, that’s not what the analysis said. It said that the one pair of aftermarket cushions were of inferior quality. No findings were made of all aftermarket cushions.

ornornor said 2 months ago:

I don't have anything to sell, if you want to roll the dice on aftermarket earcups, knock yourself out :)

But you paid 300-400$ for headphones, to me it's worth paying the OEM premium just to make sure they keep delivering the quality and experience I was looking for initially when I paid the high price. Otherwise, you might as well buy the lowest priced noise canceling headphones: you'll get a commensurate experience but you won't break the bank.

Anyway, to each their own :)

outoftheabyss said 2 months ago:

An ear cup is an ear cup, hardly military precision required in manufacturing. I got a pair of aftermarket cushions for my QC35s and I found them to be more comfortable, if there's any difference to noise cancelling I certainly haven't experienced it. Why pay 3 times more for something that does the same job, doesn't matter if I paid $1000 for them.

johnmaguire2013 said 2 months ago:

You're right - there's no reason to pay 3 times more for something that does the right job.

The problem is aftermarket cushions may not do as good of a job at passive noise reduction.

Follow the link and check if you have the right number of clips on your aftermarket cushion. Obviously this isn't the full picture but is certainly a large piece of it.

kd5bjo said 2 months ago:

The question isn’t whether the aftermarket cushions perform at the same level as OEM, it’s whether they have sufficient performance for ‘outoftheabyss’s needs. If they’re good enough, why pay more?

jlg23 said 2 months ago:

> it's worth paying the OEM premium just to make sure they keep delivering the quality and experience I was looking for initially

And I am the guy who spent 4 times a few hundred on AKG studio headphones but replaced the ear cups with some much, much cheaper but better feeling ones.

To each their own :)

CraneWorm said 2 months ago:

Note that he report is by the seller themselves. Can you imagine them saying: "yes, we overcharge you for the cups, the off-brands work just as well"?

darkteflon said 2 months ago:

I’ve had mine for four years in June. Still as good as the day I got them - I’ve just changed the foam once. YMMV, of course.

bionoid said 2 months ago:

> My battery is still strong. Probably around 10-12 hours of use.

Mum bought new last year because pads were worn, I got her old set - uses a single AAA battery and lasts across the globe and back (~30 hours). Unfortunately she didn't like the new rechargable set, and neither do I..

kraftomatic said 2 months ago:

Yeah I've had no battery issues. I use mine daily for a couple of hours and change them about one every two weeks. They're about 2/3 years old now?

ct520 said 2 months ago:

likewise I used mine daily up until a couple months ago without issue. my leather cups are TOAST. Where did you get your replacement cups from?

baruch said 2 months ago:

I got a pair from AliExpress. I didn't notice a significant change in noise cancelling performance (active or passive). But I'm not a picky listener anyway. YMMV.

moltar said 2 months ago:


lstamour said 2 months ago:

Another user elsewhere in this HN thread says it might be caused by an app keeping the microphone awake — that the hardware on/off switch might be software-controlled, which does somewhat make sense if you want to “shutdown” the headphones firmware and disconnect the headphones before powering down...

noncoml said 2 months ago:

Yes, your symptoms sound like this bug. Unfortunately it is hardware and not software.

smilekzs said 2 months ago:

> is just PR

I would not dismiss the tremendous engineering + coordination effort required to pull this off as "just" PR.

atoav said 2 months ago:

If you do this, while simultaneously keeping a practise of wearing out your user's battery with no option to switch it off and no option to change a worn out battery (except to buy a new device) — then calling this a PR move is not far fetched.

Bose might care, but they care magnitudes less when it goes against their environmentally unsustainable business practise.

t-writescode said 2 months ago:

How is their response to quality issues of noise cancellation, what this article is about, in any way related to batteries dying out?

atoav said 2 months ago:
in_cahoots said 2 months ago:

I managed to get a free replacement and upgrade to QC II for my out-of-warranty headphones just by asking nicely a second time after the first offer of a discount. There’s a lengthy thread on their forums posting the phone number you need to call.

Godel_unicode said 2 months ago:

I'm always amused by how often just being nice to people manages to unlock customer service doors. Listening to people in the offices I've worked in talk on the phone has been pretty eye-opening about how terrible, entitled, and just plain mean people can be when things don't go perfectly.

I'm sure there are bad customer service people out there, but I really wonder how often reports of bad customer service are actually just pointing out that the poster was a jerk. See also Yelp reviews.

curiousgal said 2 months ago:

Being nice even when the company is at fault pays off. I ordered a base model Dell XPS 15 (i3 8gb) which got delayed about 3 weeks. After going back and forth with the support I finally asked nicely if it's possible to get an upgrade as a make up for the time lost. I received a maxed out model (i7, 1tb SSD, 32gb, GPU and 4k screen).

Klinky said 2 months ago:

Having to find a magic phone number on a forum is NOT good customer service.

Andrex said 2 months ago:

Having to call customer service to get customer service is not good customer service?

Judgmentality said 2 months ago:

Only if the number for real customer service is publicly available, which I'm guessing it's not if it's considered a magic phone number buried deep in a forum somewhere.

foobar1962 said 2 months ago:

I'm not going to down-vote your post, but I do disagree utterly. The linked article from Bose blew my mind on how far they are willing to go for customer support.

hordeallergy said 2 months ago:

Why would one downvote for disagreeing?

cbg0 said 2 months ago:

Simply because it's easy and anonymous.

wozniacki said 2 months ago:

What has your experience been with the multipoint feature of Bose QC35 IIs? I'll make do with above average noise cancellation; doesn't have to be top shelf in that aspect. I mainly want multipoint[1] and Bose I've been told does it absolutely seamlessly more so than the Jabras, Sennheisers etc.


What is Bluetooth multipoint, and why isn’t it more popular?


wronglebowski said 2 months ago:

Surprisingly these cheapo Anker Noise Cancelling headphones do support multi-point.


I was considering several different pairs including the Bose and picked up these as I couldn't stomach the cost of the more expensive headphones. At 60$ they are great, the noise cancelling is good enough. The battery life is amazing. I can sit down at my desk and use them all day while connected to my laptop and phone. If either device reports a "Call" coming in it gets priority and I hear the ring. 10/10 Experience for the price.

noncoml said 2 months ago:

Very positive. IMHO they have the only Bluetooth implementation that doesn't suck. I had no problem with having it paired to multiple devices and switching from one to the other.

Godel_unicode said 2 months ago:

Flawless. It's connected to my work laptop and phone at work, and my personal laptop and (same) phone at home. Never gets confused, just "$device_name disconnected" when I leave one place and "$device_name connected" when I get to the other.

It's so jarring to use anyone else's Bluetooth products after using them. It's so smooth.

fragmede said 2 months ago:

It's a start, but personally, between my work phone + laptop, and personal phone + laptop, along with misc other devices, means that I find myself in the app switching devices more often than is ideal. It's a bit cumbersome. Better than competing products, way better than trying to manage without, could still use additional improvement to support additional devices.

theshrike79 said 2 months ago:

On the QC35 II you can cycle through the devices by using the power button.

mattmaroon said 2 months ago:

It works great. I didn’t know that all Bluetooth headphones don’t do that.

cepth said 2 months ago:

Incredibly, the Sony WH-1000XM3 (the 3 in XM3 is because this is the 3rd generation of the product) at this point still doesn’t have it. Similar price range, and maybe the closest direct competitor to the QC35/700 series in terms of audio quality and noise cancelling, yet it’s still missing this feature.

mattmaroon said 2 months ago:

My Airpods pro don't have it either apparently.

Despacito2019 said 2 months ago:

I bought a Sony WH-1000XM3 lately and i was so disappointed compared to my other Bose or Jabra product...

blinkingled said 2 months ago:

Yeah it works well enough. I have an iPad and my S10 connected and it works as expected. Are you looking for any specific use cases?

innagadadavida said 2 months ago:

Have the same issue with mine and many times the battery would've discharged when I need it the most. Horrible switch design. Someone on their forums posted how you can fix it:

> So I removed the old switch slider and spring, used 96% ethyl alcohol to clean the bottom part of the switch left on the PCB (filled it with alcohol, let soak for a few minutes, then used tiny cotton wool balls and a pair of pointy tweezers to clean the contacts, then dried it off using compressed air).

ungamed said 2 months ago:

Its funny, I needed to clean my old nintendo GBA with the same method.

nl said 2 months ago:

When it comes down to costing them money to do the right thing, they don't.

The investigation outlined in this would have cost a lot of money.

The headphones won't turn off, but Bose refuses to make it right for the users

There are plenty of countries (outside the US) with powerful enough consumer protection agencies to force Apple to change it's practices (eg, the ACCC in Australia[1][2]). If this really is a widespread manufacturing fault we'd see them forced to act elsewhere.

[1] https://www.accc.gov.au/public-registers/undertakings-regist...

[2] https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/apple-australia-gives-...

wtallis said 2 months ago:

> If this really is a widespread manufacturing fault we'd see them forced to act elsewhere.

Pretty much every Apple product is far more popular and has a higher public profile than any one Bose product. It's entirely plausible that Bose gets away with not fixing flaws because the products and their flaws simply don't get enough attention.

john_alan said 2 months ago:

I've had a great experience with Bose. The only premium product I bought were the QC35s, but they replaced mined even after 2 years (in EU) due to a sound issue.

I'm impressed with this reach out, something Apple are unlikely to do (even though I use their prem products)

hugofloss said 2 months ago:

I’m sorry you had a bad experience, but mine was fantastic. When I had problems with my pair of Bose headphones they immediately sent new ones, even out of warranty.

caseysoftware said 2 months ago:

Your Bose community link is broken. Maybe add the correct one?

noncoml said 2 months ago:

Ooops sorry, fixed.

adelpozo said 2 months ago:

I also had a great experience with Bose costumer service a while ago. I had them for more than one year. The audio was cutting off in one of the headphones. I emailed them about the issue and I got a new pair mailed to me right away. No fuss. I didn’t have to mail mine first. They got a customer for life with me.

CraneWorm said 2 months ago:

The deal seems to be working great for them since you give them free advertising.

Thorrez said 2 months ago:

What would be the right thing in this case?

t-writescode said 2 months ago:

Isn’t this a different topic than a change in their noise cancelling properties? I thought that’s what this article is about.

riazrizvi said 2 months ago:

I bought my first pair of QC 20’s in 2015, and experienced mechanical failures over the years as you might expect. They replaced the first two pairs free. Then they let me buy the next two at cost. Considering I use them about 70 hours a week every week, I think their customer service has been absolutely fantastic. I’m waiting for their in-ear noise-cancelling wireless earpods that are due out this year. I don’t care how much they cost.

barrkel said 2 months ago:

Huh. I bought my Sennheiser PXC 450 nearly 15 years ago, and used it daily, as well as on regular transatlantic flights, for about 8 years and I only had to replace batteries and ear cushions and one cable, never the whole thing. That's a crazy rate of device replacement.

juahan said 2 months ago:

My PXC 450 still going strong as well, I think 7 years now. I have replaced the cushions once and will have to do it the second time soon, but will most likely continue using these at least for some years as they just don't seem to break. I have looked into wireless options, but so far I haven't really seen enough benefit to switch. And my worry is that once I switch, I need to get new ones every second year do to headphones just breaking or battery dying. I really don't want to do that, for many obvious reasons. I have also a lot of good higher end headphones that so far I have been able to fix every single obe with manufacturer spare parts when they wore down.

pimeys said 2 months ago:

I find that alarming you need to get new headphones so often. I've used my boses while commuting for over a year now with no trouble luckily, but this doesn't sound good.

My office headphones have always been Beyerdynamics. I've owned a pair of dt880s and now dt1770 pros and used them almost daily. The 880 I bought in 2003 and 1770 in 2016. Both work with no trouble and deliver perfect sound. I expect them to last for a few more decades...

Godel_unicode said 2 months ago:

The qc20s are earbuds, it's been my experience that they die more often. Partly from being in bags and pockets, and part from the wire-bud connection breaking down. Part of the reason I only buy mmcx models, so you can replace the wire when it wears out

thequux said 2 months ago:

I bought a pair of Etymotic Research ER4p IEMs in 2011, and was not even remotely gentle with them. They worked fantastically until 2017, at which point one of the cables came loose, and while I could have replaced the cable for $50 (Alas, not a user-servicable part), I decided that I wanted a second pair as a backup, and the replacement has user-servicable cables. My father, who is somewhat kinder to his electronics than I am, has been using the same pair of ER4p's since 2008 or so.

Quality earbuds don't need to be fragile.

mgkimsal said 2 months ago:

I went through 5 pairs in 18 months but it was because I slept with them in, and realized that was the source. Have had one pair die in 3 years when I don't sleep with them in, and I'm pretty careless (they fall on cement sometimes, get banged against the car door, etc).

hnra said 2 months ago:

Beyerdynamics make great headphones, have had my dt770 for 8 years. Their earbuds on the other hand; I have not owned a pair which lasted through the warranty period (3 pairs).

pimeys said 2 months ago:

Wouldn't touch any of the non-studio lineup from either Beyerdynamic or Sennheiser. The dt770/880 and 1770/1880 are great.

verelo said 2 months ago:

Wow. I bought mine back in 2009ish, they survived till around 2014 after near daily use. I wanted Bluetooth so i upgraded to the qc35 and they’re my current pair. I am super brand loyal now, but i will admit my AirPods are taking a lot of my ear time.

dzhiurgis said 2 months ago:

I went to Sony's and then started working from home, but still got AirPods Pro. Haven't used Sony's for months.

ornornor said 2 months ago:

> I use them about 70 hours a week every week

Do you work too much, or do you only ever take them off to shower and sleep?

diggan said 2 months ago:

Doesn't sound unrealistic if you consume a lot of audio media when working and in your free time.

168 hours in a week, minus the 70 hours leaves 98 hours free. Lets say you sleep 8 hours a day, 56 hours each week. 98 - 56 leaves 42 hours where they are not sleeping and not wearing the headphones. More than enough for showers!

I think I also listen to music or podcasts for around 9-10 hours a day currently, one way or another (for example, I usually listen to music while showering, way more fun). Most of the time I have background music on, unless I'm outside hiking or social gatherings. Then one of my hobbies are making music... But right now I'm doing 0 hiking and 0 social gatherings, so lots of music.

ornornor said 2 months ago:

I listen to music almost all my waking hours as well, but with speakers.

It makes my ears too itchy inside if I wear cupped headphones for more than 3-4 hours straight. My theory is that it build up humidity from my body but it's not ventilated because the headphones' cups are tight.

Anyone else with that problem? How do you avoid itchy ears after wearing headphones for longer times?

diggan said 2 months ago:

> How do you avoid itchy ears after wearing headphones for longer times?

Don't! I also have the same problem if I wear headphones for too long, usually 2-3 hours, so about the same as you (got the Bose QC35), so I usually only use those headphones when I want to make sure I remove bright noises from the environment, like airplanes.

Otherwise, at home (which is 100% of my time because of the lockdown) I use speakers (same for showers, using speakers). Then office environment I usually have my in-ear headphones that have superior bass compared to my headphones and I can wear them for the full day without feeling anything on the top of my head or my ears.

ornornor said 2 months ago:

> Don't!

I wish! But I have the pleasure of working in an "open office"... I have to wear headphones (or 3M construction earmuffs/PPE when I don't want music) just so I can hear myself think in the middle of all the chatter.

diggan said 2 months ago:

Yeah, I feel you. Try getting some in-ear headphones or similar, that doesn't wrap around your entire ear. Switching between in-ear and headphones makes the problem go away for me (I also normally spend a lot of time in a office room with 10 other people from different departments, all together, so noisy environment)

basejumping said 2 months ago:

I have the QC35 and besides the noise cancelling they are crap. The bluetooth drops off when I'm sometimes only 8m away, the battery life is low, but the most annoying thing for me is the multi devices connectivity. They will connect to both my iphone and mac at the same time, but never in the way I intended to. A lot of times I need to turn off the bluetooth on the iphone, or turn the phones on and off several times, or desperately try to connect/disconnect the phones to the mac, do this a few times a day and see how it feels. There is no option on the phones to switch between devices, or even to stop multi connectivity, the phones know better and will connect to the device which is 'closest'. Good luck when you sit at the desk with the laptop and the phone on it. The only way is to use the Bose supplied app, which is full of dark UX patterns. Every time it asks me to create a Bose account, to connect my other social accounts, etc. And it doesn't even solve anything, do I really need to open my iphone and open the Bose app to turn off a connected device every time I start the headphones?

By comparison my Beats solo are much better, for range battery and connectivity, but they don't have noise cancelling.

beeforpork said 2 months ago:

Except that I never payed any attention to bluetooth range, it's the opposite experience here.

I have the QC35-II and never had problems, neither with battery life nor with bluetooth. In fact, given that it seems like no device ever gets bluetooth protocol right, it surprised me that the headphones do exactly what I want: connect to two devices at once (laptop and phone). So I can play music on the laptop and when someone calls, the headphones seamlessly switch to the phone, and when I hang up, they switch back to the music from the laptop. Also reconnecting works without anything to complain about. I am also switching back and forth between two locations, meaning two laptops and two phones, and the only thing that is mildly annoying is that when switching the desk, it takes a little longer to reconnect to the other set of devices again. But it does work.

What would be cool is three devices served at once (laptop, land line phone, mobile phone).

I am not using the Bose app at all.

But what is annoying is that they don't charge and work at the same time. Frankly, I was pissed when I found that out. WTF, there are integrated USB charger/voltage regulator circuits readily available that do that for you. Probably it's due to heat dissipation problems as always so they might have artifically disabled this to avoid at all cost headphones bursting into flames on people's heads.

rconti said 2 months ago:

The QC35 was the first product that made me realize Bluetooth had turned a corner. The way my calls could transition from QC to my car when I start it, back to the headphones, seamlessly, we a revelation. As was the time I walked to the bathroom without my phone, and my music kept playing, 30-40ft through tile walls.

I'm very, very happy with the BT performance of my AirPods as well.

I bought some Outdoor Chips 2.0 snow sports earpieces for my ski helmet a few years back, and they took me back to the bad old days of bluetooth; static and cutting out when you dare turn your head the wrong way or put your phone in the wrong pocket. They went back to REI, and were replaced by Sena Snowtalk which works the way that modern BT stuff (cars, Bose, Apple, etc) works.

basejumping said 2 months ago:

I have the QC35-II as well. I've now disabled it on my phone, and hopefully it will only connect to the computer. I wish they would have put a physical button and let me cycle through the connected devices. But no, I don't know what they've thought, that the headphones will guess my intention? The reason I have it on my phone is that because of the poor bluetooth range I will keep the phone in my pocket and stream to the headphones when I walk through the house, but when I come back to the computer I need to hassle again to switch the connection.

liendolucas said 2 months ago:

> I have the QC35 and besides the noise cancelling they are crap. This is the main reason why I have never bought a Bose product before (and probably never will). I've heard this assertion way too many times about Bose headphones, that besides noise cancelling they are average (if not worse) headphones overall and of course way too overpriced. I've switched to ear monitors and to be honest that turns out to be a good enough noise cancelling solution at least for me (provided that you get a good fit). I tend to just use wired headphones as you get rid of the potential issues that you mention: bluetooth and battery. Hope that good headphones companies keep manufacturing wired headphones in 10, 20 or 50 years time but I see that hard as laptops and phones are slowly deprecating the beloved jack connector.

jnurmine said 2 months ago:

Strange, I've used QC35 II so far with three different phones and one tablet, all Android, no problems whatsoever with Bluetooth. Turn on BT in the device, click the BT button on the headset to cycle the device. That's basically it.

EDIT: I turn off BT in all but one device!

I don't use the Bose app for anything. The only time was to update the firmware and re-enable the noise cancellation button, which somehow vanished.

As for range one can't expect much more with Bluetooth, especially indoors.

If you meant QC35 II and not QC35, could your issue be something in the Mac and/or iPhone and not the headphones?

floriferous said 2 months ago:

I have the exact same experience, switched to airpods for my phone, and bose for my computer.

Their Bluetooth setup is abysmal ! Hate using these QC 35 for that reason.

abcd_f said 2 months ago:

On one hand we have this.

On the other hand we have genuine Bose replacement cushions that start to flake out not two years after very light use. Not aftermarket, but their own ridiculously expensive units bought directly from them. I have no explanation for this except for it being due to planned obsolescence practices. So they can publish as many reports (that tested a whooping 10 returned units!), but it doesn't undo the ill will created by their products falling apart on schedule. Caveat emptor and all that.

snowwolf said 2 months ago:

It cost me £25 for replacement cushions which they fitted for me in store. https://www.bose.co.uk/en_gb/products/headphones/headphone_a...

Which I had to replace after 2 years of weekday daily use of 3-4 hours a day.

I’m not sure I class that as ridiculously expensive.

sudosysgen said 2 months ago:

I have bought 3$ cushions including fragile velours ones that lasted over 3 years of heavy use without a problem.

said 2 months ago:
rmoriz said 2 months ago:

I can confirm this. Looks like an ingredient of the plastic/fake leather part is deteriorating pretty much exactly at the 2 years mark. Mine was idling one year after some months of use and then started to fell apart, the prior QC15 was then heavily used when its ear pads started to crisp after 2 years.

jimmyswimmy said 2 months ago:

Amazingly, this happens even if you don't touch them. I bought a pair and misplaced them in my house. Around 18 months later I found them, unwrapped them and found the pleather coming apart. Seems like the very definition of a manufacturing defect. I won't be buying Bose again!

said 2 months ago:
chenglou said 2 months ago:

I’ve had nothing but positive customer experiences from Bose (5 times, from 2-3 different shops). I’ve made a note to voice this feedback the last time they served me. Now I did =)

I no longer use the earphones, but I can vouch for them.

Mandatum said 2 months ago:

I bought 2x QC30's (in-ear), first and second generation.

First I had to replace because it stopped charging after 10 months. I used them single every day, and I loved them. They were my first pair of active noise cancelling anything, and they completely changed my anxiety levels at work.

I remember thinking to myself 2 days after sending them back to Bose to be looked at, that I was so much more stressed without them.

I was sent a refurbished pair with new earplugs in the box 5 days later. This is almost unheard of in Australia.

That pair has been going strong for the past year, they get used when I travel long-haul - I carry them as backup.

My second pair I bought because my workplace let me expense up to $250 on headphones, they had some damage which Bose was kind enough to offer replacement for free, but now that COVID hit I've been unable to send them in for replacement. Luckily I have my backup!

dartdartdart said 2 months ago:

Nah they hold out on innovation until it's too late. They've had the NC crown for so long they fell complacent and Sony took their crown easily. Sony's XM3 is so, so far ahead. Just compare the feature sets and you'll see that Sony fits more for less (albeit the mic is had and USB c input is missing).

tillcarlos said 2 months ago:

A year after the Sonys came out they made the NCH 700, which beat the sonys in microphone performance.

I could even chew or wash my hands or sit in a noisy cafe without the other people in the call hearing it.

The audio quality might be better with the Sonys, but at least they answered to the Sonys in a timely way. I had no bad experience with those yet and used them for almost a year already. No idea about customer support.

I know this thread is about the QC model, but I wanted to throw this in here. IMHO bose is not behind at all.

dartdartdart said 2 months ago:

The 700 model is in my opinion a QC35 II wrapped up in a pretty package with more microphones put in and a artificially high price tag to be exclusive. I recommend you pull up the the product pages for both and compare side by side.

Sony put their efforts into producing custom chips that could upscale low res audio, they created the LDAC codec, put in chips that can detect your environment and adjust ANC accordingly, they have airplane pressure neutralization. Mind you this is all a year before the 700s came out and can be found for half the price of the 700s. They've also come out with numerous other ANC headphones since then at lower price points.

Bose may look prettier to some, but Sony is probably 4 years ahead of the game in terms of features, cost at scale, and product offerings in the space.

hnhg said 2 months ago:

Except you can't connect to 2 devices simultaneously with the XM3s meaning that many of us got the Bose instead ;)

jmiserez said 2 months ago:

>they have airplane pressure neutralization

I could not hear any difference at all on my last flight, comparing 1.0atm ground calibration vs 0.9atm in-flight calibration. The effect must be rather small.

said 2 months ago:
blub said 2 months ago:

This is the same company that was spying on what their customers are listening to. Their headphones (I think it was the NC ones) require an app for configuration and that was uploading track names to their servers.

Hnrobert42 said 2 months ago:

You can delete the app after doing firmware upgrades. Of course, the monitoring should have been opt in, but at least it is not required.

devy said 2 months ago:

I have owned 3 pairs Boss QC noise-cancellation headphones (QC15, QC25 and QC35). While they are generally considered to be a reputable brand, and their software/firmware might be the best, their hardware design is NOT.

I noticed that their QC15/25 has a major flaws on the battery compartment design cause its wiring prone to wire fatigue and as a result it will inevitably end up with a broken side. This is very well known in the community.[1][2][3]

And after warranty expires(usually 1-2 years), Boss charges you $100 for a refurbished replacement (required that you sent your broken headphone back to Boss before you get your replacement) instead of just fixing yours (which should be much cheaper). Highway robbery!

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0u2GBBZbAyQ

[2]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qlb094awkoo

[3]: https://www.ifixit.com/Answers/View/10706/How+to+fix+power+t...

throwaway_pdp09 said 2 months ago:

First thing I do with a hagiography like this is look at the poster's profile. 1 comment ever, and voted to the top.

pdpi said 2 months ago:

I had two sets of QC20i break on me in the exact same way (the glue on one of the earbuds failed and the earbud just split open). First was in warranty and they replaced it no questions asked. Second was just out of warranty and they wanted £150 for a replacement set.

I'm not paying £150 for something that's failed twice in the exact same way, so I bought some Shure monitors instead. The passive reduction on these is as good as, maybe better than, the active cancellation of the Boses, and sound quality is way better.

ss3000 said 2 months ago:

I too swear by my Shures. I've tried quite a few NC headphones/earphones over the years but they've all had issues with distortion, wind noises, etc to some degree, whereas my Shures can passively cut out just as much noise as the best of them while never introducing weird artifacts that break immersion and take me out of the music.

I just wish they'd release a fully wireless version with the same comfort and fit (not the replacement cable+dongle thing they currently have).

ycombonator said 2 months ago:

Your wish granted. Shure Aonic 50 released 5 days ago ! https://www.shure.com/en-US/products/headphones/aonic50

KingFelix said 2 months ago:

They are pretty amazing. I got a pair from the Amazon re:mars conference. I would have never spent that amount of money on headphones, must have for travels. So good

dannyw said 2 months ago:

They released a product on Kickstarter that had various connection issues and batteries. They tried to fix it, but when it appeared mechanical instead of software, they posted a honest response, offered and encouraged everyone a full refund.

m1sta_ said 2 months ago:

I've owned a number of Bose products and have found every one to be void of disappointment. Great company.

JorgeGT said 2 months ago:

As a researcher in acoustics (another field though) this post illustrates beautifully the difficulties of the field: how each of us feels different about sound (psychoacoustics), how even minute mechanical details have a noticeable impact on acoustic performance...

FWIW I can confirm that this post shows great expertise in acoustic engineering, from the focus on the customer interviews/fieldwork (it is still very difficult to predict through synthetic tests in the lab how actual human will rate sounds) to the paired acoustic tests (we suck at comparing more than two sounds, we need pairing like in the ophthalmologist), the use of a critical listener, etc.

gen220 said 2 months ago:

I’ve been on a tour of the Bose Mountain facilities in the last 5 years (knew somebody who worked there in the experimental electronics space), and I can confirm that, on the inside, they are absolutely meticulous with their acoustic engineering and testing, more than anything I’ve seen before. They really treat it like rocket science.

There were sound rooms built to simulate a variety of real world environments, complete with realistic RF interference. They could test other equipment alongside their own, to be confident that they were producing real value for their customers. They’re pretty secretive so I won’t go into more details out of respect, but it was very cool and definitely made me a loyal customer.

All that aside, like you said the psychoacoustics thing is very real, and knowing them, they’re probably working on it.

gerardbeckerleg said 2 months ago:

I agree it is very thorough, what is really strange from my experience with the QC35 is that they haven’t found any problem. The noise cancellation in my earphones was working perfectly, performed the upgrade, and now I can hear the person next to me typing when I couldn’t before. 100% there is a problem with the firmware update no idea how they couldn’t find it with that amount of testing.

gerardbeckerleg said 2 months ago:

Doing a bit more digging, it looks like the report from Bose is testing the wrong issue. They tested 4.1.3 to 4.5.2 where as the issue is from 2.x.x and 3.x.x update to 4.5.2.


mlvljr said 2 months ago:


matsemann said 2 months ago:

Maybe the person got a new keyboard? Maybe you just didn't notice it before but now that you've started thinking about it it's impossible not to notice?

There can be a thousand factors, and these 20 objective tests are easier to trust than subjective listeners.

gerardbeckerleg said 2 months ago:

Very true, which is why I chose to respond to this thread in particular as the OP was highlighting the difficulty in testing acoustic performance and praising the expertise of the engineers and I really do appreciate the task at hand.

If I was reading this thread without experiencing it for myself I would be saying the exact same thing. Unfortunately for me (and lots of others according to the Bose forums) my subjective experience is the complete opposite of the outcome of these tests.

Luckily it is looking like they tested the wrong upgrade path which is reassuring as I have no idea how I could refute the tests otherwise.

s_gourichon said 2 months ago:

Interesting. The report says they tested airplane noise, which spreads on a wide spectrum of frequencies but is a continuous noise. A keyboard noise is very different : short bursts. Maybe there is a regression in that case, which the method in their report would not spot.

nickkell said 2 months ago:

I started started hearing loud typing and realised I was using the headset's microphone!

said 2 months ago:
skizm said 2 months ago:

Why do the newer versions of these have to have freaking Alexa bundled with them. It's like a giant skid mark on an otherwise premium product. Bose does have the best noise cancelling functionality, but I'm simply never going to buy anything with Alexa, Cortana, or whatever Google's version of a voice assistant is paired to it. I deal with Siri crapware because Apple's incentives are slightly better aligned than these other advertising companies, but even that I hate and would get rid of in an instant if possible.

tomaha said 2 months ago:

It's only marketing. There is no integrated assistant. It's a plain old button that can be used to activate one of these useless voice assistants on your phone because some people like it. If you're like me, you can use it as an extra control to modify noise cancellation.

usmannk said 2 months ago:

Yeah, you can change the functionality of the button via the Bose app. However, the Bose app is awful.

matheusmoreira said 2 months ago:

How does the Bose app talk to the device? Wireshark can probably be used to analyze it. Writing a simple free software replacement for the bad app could be a fun project and the result will no doubt be much better than their proprietary software.

deivid said 2 months ago:

I have, at [1], though this is literally the first time I dabble in android apps, so quality is alpha at best. I use it frequently ant works for me though.

[1] https://github.com/DavidVentura/Bose_QC35_Android

sigstoat said 2 months ago:

> How does the Bose app talk to the device?

what options can there possibly be? it uses bluetooth.

> Wireshark can probably be used to analyze it.

bluetooth has reasonable security built in. bose products make use of it.

fulafel said 2 months ago:

There's a lot of protocols you can run over Bluetooth.

The BT dump tool can be run on the bluetooth device (eg laptop, phone) and so get access to the negotiated crypto keys oe cleartext version of the comms.

chrismeller said 2 months ago:

Sure, it’s less than ideal, but come on. There are far worse apps and it’s required to update the firmware. At least on iOS you’re also prompted to install it when you connect to the headphones for the first time anyway, so I would imagine adoption is pretty high.

usmannk said 2 months ago:

I don't mean "it's not a high tech native experience with dark mode". I mean the app works poorly, all the time, and gets in the way of actually using the headphones. For example: whenever my headphones are paired with both my phone and laptop (because the app allows for two devices to be paired at once??) I have to manually disable my laptop in the app to listen to phone audio, the "drag down to connect" interface rarely works properly, etc. It really is a very poor experience when compared to BT headphones that don't require an app to manage their state.

m463 said 2 months ago:

Gah, then you have to run an app!

said 2 months ago:
skizm said 2 months ago:

You can politely ask Bose to disable Alexa the same way you can ask Facebook to "delete" your account. They disable the functionality you have access to while still collecting all the data they normally would and having remote access to turn on the microphone and listen in whenever they want without letting you know about it.

maccard said 2 months ago:

you're already buying a set of noise cancelling headphones with an integrated microphone from them. if you're afraid of Bose remotely activating the microphone, that risk exists without the Alexa functionality. Even if the headphones didn't have a usable microphone, they're noise cancelling, meaning they have a microphone for that purpose.

skizm said 2 months ago:

Bose is not an advertising company. They have (had?) less incentive to collect my data. Amazon on the other hand peppers the market with tons of low cost shitware devices that have Alexa integrated in for no reason other than to harvest ambient sound data for Advertising purposes. The fact that Bose is partnered with Amazon makes it less likely I'll buy any of their products now, even without the Alexa since I now know they're cool selling user data (or at least cool accepting money to add Amazon/Google's crapware apps in their otherwise nice hardware).

m463 said 2 months ago:

That's funny because amazon does something similar with your browsing history.

You can turn off browsing history but the button says "hide" not "delete".

tomaskafka said 2 months ago:

Does a right to use Alexa come without a requirement to send data to Amazon? I'm not sure.

jedieaston said 2 months ago:

You can use the headphones without the Bose app, and if you really need to configure something, download it, configure, and delete. The assistant integration is totally opt-in

zionic said 2 months ago:

I ran into this trying to get a smart thermostat. Nest is problematic right off the bat because Google, and their main competitor Ecobee comes with an onboard mic + alexa. Luckily I found an engineer who posted a comment/review mentioning the alexa mic can be unhooked inside the phillips-screw-accessible rear housing in <30 seconds... so that made it an instant buy. The idea of an always-listing wifi thermostat in my house is incredibly creepy.

This happened again with the LG CX, surprise! It has a mic for alexa too! Luckily it's only on the remote. Guess which little dot is getting a tiny bead of epoxy first thing?

jjoonathan said 2 months ago:

My expectation would have been that a dot of epoxy would drop the sound level by 10-20dB, which wouldn't do much to prevent listening. Does it work better than that or is this a "something is better than nothing" type compromise?

cjensen said 2 months ago:

Ecobee now sells the "ecobee lite" which has no Alexa and no microphone.

pkulak said 2 months ago:

You're not the only one. I've been buying the last version without Alexa used for about a year now, and prices are going up, not down.

said 2 months ago:
stormbeta said 2 months ago:

While this is great news for my QC 35's, the newer Bose 700's have me extremely worried for the future of their devices.

Anyone who puts non-tactile touch controls on _headphones_ shouldn't be allowed to design electronics interfaces ever again.

The QC35 had it right with physical controls.

anarazel said 2 months ago:

> Anyone who puts non-tactile touch controls on _headphones_ shouldn't be allowed to design electronics interfaces ever again.

My QC35's died - probably not Bose's fault. Too old to be repaired, apparently. Got the 700's. And I seriously regret it. The fact that it's hard to get the "gestures" right is one thing. What's worse is that the controls trigger spuriously all the damn time.

They also semi-regularly just hang, make a somewhat high-pitched sound, and reboot. They regularly announce "bluetooth off", just after the announcement that a device disconnected. With multiple connected devices there's constant problems with only one of those being audible. Changes which.

tkorri said 2 months ago:

The physical buttons was the exact reason why I bought a pair of QC 35 II's even though Sony WH-1000XM3's were available and Bose QC700 had just been introduced.

I own a pair of Monster iSport Freedom 2's which have a touch control for volume and skipping, and oh boy is touch control a bad idea on headphones. For example when wearing the headphones under a hood, while outside in the rain, it sometimes registers rain as a touch action, so your volume or song changes suddenly. Also the touch control accurancy isn't very stellar indoor either.

So based on my experience, I gladly take physical buttons over touch controls, since for me touch controls are more like a gimmick than good usability.

jiofih said 2 months ago:

Did you actually try the Sony’s? That (rain activating touch) doesn’t happen. You can’t take your experience with a completely different product as universal truth.

tkorri said 2 months ago:

Yes, I've used the Sony's for a couple of hours, but I've never owned a pair. Couple of my colleagues have them and they seem to be happy with them.

My biggest issue with touch control is the user experience. That is, when it works flawlessly it's as good as physical buttons, but I rarely experience the same level of reliability with touch as with buttons.

If you have the Sony's and you're happy with them, then good for you. They're good headphones, just not the best ones for me.

originalvichy said 2 months ago:

As a person who lives in a cold country I got annoyed by the 1000XM3 touch controls pretty quickly. I am however happy to report that a year after the release you can update the firmware and disable touch controls.

tkorri said 2 months ago:

Actually, before buying my Bose headphones I seriously looked at the Sony's. I even googled for a way to disable the touch control on them. But the only thing I found was a video on YouTube for the previous model, which showed how to disassemble the headphones and disconnect a wire to achieve this.

But good for Sony for giving that choice to the user via a firmware update.

joshvm said 2 months ago:

Yep, I have the Sony WH-1000XM3s. They're fantastic headphones - really impressive given how awful the ANC was on a previous set of Sony headphones I had (MDR-ZX770BN).

However, the touch interface is bad. Swiping up/down is often confused for left/right, which is probably me swiping the wrong way, but it's not a natural motion. If I take the headphones off and put them around my neck, my chin often activates the headphones by mistake.

That said, I picked them up at an airport. I wore them with a mask on a 10 hour flight and I've never slept so well on a plane. That alone was worth the price and I can suffer the touch controls for now.

jrockway said 2 months ago:

I also have those headphones and I was super weirded out by the touch controls initially, but have found in practice that they are great. I think this is the one time ever that touch controls are better than physical buttons, in fact.

zaidf said 2 months ago:

I think QC 35s are better than 700s. The 700s are less portable (can’t fold and put it in my jacket) and contrary to how Bose positions it (that they’re more modern), they look more like call center headphones.

DevoidSimo said 2 months ago:

I'm not sure what those controls are like, but I've got some sennheiser PXC550s. They have a touch pad which is used for controls. All controls are either a tap on a wide area (the whole earpiece) or a swipe. This is both easy to do and intuitive. i.e. up/down for volume, foward/back for track selection. Done well I don't think not having a button is an issue.

josteink said 2 months ago:

> the newer Bose 700's have me extremely worried for the future of their devices

As another negative anecdote I was gifted one, and simply had to return it.

The acoustic performance was really just underwhelming.

I went back to my Beterdynamic DT-770 headset at a third of the price, and it sounds immensely better. It’s a night and day difference.

jmiserez said 2 months ago:

That was also the case with the QC25/35. With a proper amp the DT-770s sound better than almost any NC bluetooth headphones, it's a different category. That said, I'd recommend you give the Sony WH-1000XM2/3 a listen. They're not perfect, but the sound is much closer to the DT-770.

macleginn said 2 months ago:

I switched from QC 25 to DT-770 recently for similar reasons. DT-770 are also immensely more comfortable.

m463 said 2 months ago:

I had an older Dell monitor with those touch-sensitive buttons and the one I recently bought has buttons.

So much more wonderful.

That said, Dell's button user interface sucks. The "user configurable buttons" revert at inopportune times. I set button 1 to select DP and button 2 to select HDMI. When I'm shutting down the HDMI system and the DP system is asleep, I frequently find myself in a scroll-up-down menu selecting an input.

What I think is that at hardware manufacturers the culture favors hardware design (think no-moving-parts buttons). Or maybe the good UI people are working at companies or departments where there is plenty of work to do, like frequent app redesign.

andreareina said 2 months ago:

Physical controls are exactly why I went with my current pair of headphones over the other ones available. It meant giving up active noise cancellation, but fortunately the passive reduction is enough for my purposes.

jiofih said 2 months ago:

The Sony WH has touch controls and they work quite well.

said 2 months ago:
SlowRobotAhead said 2 months ago:

I have the 700s, the important controls are buttons. The capacitive interface is for mute, vol up/down, and next song, it’s not my first choice but really it works fine.

This is a non-issue.

Edit: lol; my opinions from months of first hand everyday use are wrong, and should be echo chamber hidden by people who have never used the product.

anarazel said 2 months ago:

I find pause/play to be super unreliable. Triggers accidentally (even just a warm sweater sometimes is enough), and other times not at all.

Not really important, but standing around and tapping on my headphone to trying and failing to pause the podcast I'm listening to feels pretty idiotic.

Edit: Have them since early October

stormbeta said 2 months ago:

Capacitive controls have zero place on any headphones, let alone ones as expensive as these. The fact that you're willing to live with it doesn't mean it's not still a terrible design.

And I consider all of those buttons to be pretty important - I use all of them regularly, including when I'm not right next to my phone.

I just hope the 700's are an aberration, and that Bose goes back to a more practical design next time.

ddoolin said 2 months ago:

Why not? I have had this pair for months and the touch controls work great. They could be physical buttons, but they aren't, and they still function near-perfect for me. I think you should give more reasons beyond just saying it's bad. I know most commenters on HN have a physical button fetish and in some cases it's probably warranted but not always.

SlowRobotAhead said 2 months ago:

> The fact that you're willing to live with it doesn't mean it's not still a terrible design.

Typical HN smugness.

One person who actually has the product, has used it for months, and has themselves designed capacitive gesture button circuits then went back to traditional buttons - says “they aren’t that bad, work fine”...

And a trove of people who have never used the product downvote and tell them they are wrong.


No; it’s not a terrible design. I’ve maybe twice had to repeat a gesture. It’s drag up/down for volume, tap for mute, and drag forward for skip song. It works fine. Where the hell do you get the opinion it’s a terrible design if you’ve never used them?

Dylan16807 said 2 months ago:

They're not calling you wrong about your experience with the product. They are listening to you say "not that bad", and taking it as completely true. Then they are saying that "not that bad" is unacceptable in a product this expensive.

Or by slight analogy: You rate a product 4 out of 5 stars. If someone that hasn't used the product insists on a different rating, they're being smug and part of the negative trove you've described. But if someone just says "4 out of 5? Not good enough when other models are 5 out of 5." there is nothing wrong with that.

SlowRobotAhead said 2 months ago:

That’s a wildly inaccurate way to read my post. I rate the 700s as 5 out of 5.

Dylan16807 said 2 months ago:

"not that bad" is still saying they're worse than normal buttons, even though it's a tiny amount, right?

You giving the overall product a 5/5 isn't the point I was trying to make. I was talking about your rating in the button category, sorry if that wasn't clear, and it was just an example number.

Sargos said 2 months ago:

>The capacitive interface is for mute, vol up/down, and next song

As a user of bluetooth headphones I am really struggling to think of a button not on that list that is important. The only thing that's really coming to mind is pause but maybe that's what you mean by mute?

Those are literally the most essential buttons and by definition you are mostly going to be touching them when the headphones are on your head where you can't physically see the buttons. This is not a great experience.

SlowRobotAhead said 2 months ago:

A. It already works well; it’s not important to bitch about capacitive buttons for the four motions that work. ESP when you don’t own the product and have actually used them. I don’t like capacitive buttons, but these are fine.

B. There is nothing you can’t do here with the phone itself. Volume up and down can be done without even looking at the phone. There is nothing that will stop you from enjoying the product even if you for some reason just refuse to accept the capacitive buttons aren’t trash.

asdfasgasdgasdg said 2 months ago:

What are the important controls on headphones if not volume and song skipping? Those are the ones I use the most.

SlowRobotAhead said 2 months ago:

Important as in “can I turn them on and have them work”. Everything vital is a button, four things that can be done with the phone can be done with touch.

Have you actually had a problem with the Bose capacitive gestures? Because I haven’t.

asdfasgasdgasdg said 2 months ago:

I don't own these headphones. I'm just reacting to your assertion that volume controls aren't important, which doesn't match my experience with my own headphones. (All my headphone buttons are hard buttons.)

SlowRobotAhead said 2 months ago:

> I don't own these headphones.

You and everyone else disagreeing with me. “Important” as I in “I can use them all day without ever using a gesture control”.

How are you going to disagree with me having never touched the product? You literally NEVER need to use the capacitive controls, all the VITAL things are buttons. Does that wording work better for you?

asdfasgasdgasdg said 2 months ago:

> How are you going to disagree with me having never touched the product?

You claimed that volume and skip controls weren't important ("the important controls are buttons ... capacitive interface is for ... vol up/down ..." implies volume controls aren't important). That is what I disagreed with. I don't need to have used a particular pair of headphones to know that volume and skip are important controls for me. Same way I don't need to have used a particular keyboard to know I value having an "e" key.

dvirsky said 2 months ago:

Been using the 700 since they came out, I actually really like the touch interface. Skipping is a bit iffy but volume and pause work well, and it's very handy when I'm working out or doing the dishes, and I don't need to fiddle around with buttons.

SlowRobotAhead said 2 months ago:

I’m blown away with how many people here haven’t used them and are telling me I’m wrong that the capacitive are optional and do work just fine.

disillusioned said 2 months ago:

My goodness. I've been following this issue, and avoiding upgrading my firmware, for about two years now. But this is so incredibly thorough and shows just how seriously they took these concerns, and validating, or invalidating them.

They really dug deep here, and I respect them all the more for it. I've had really good experiences with Bose products, even though they're priced at a slight premium. They're just VERY high quality.

hackerbabz said 2 months ago:

Silly question, but how the heck do you update the firmware? I have QC35 and I never realized they could be updated. Do I need to use the app? If I just never use the app am I safe from this bug?

frereubu said 2 months ago:

Yes, you use the app to upgrade the firmware.

ncmncm said 2 months ago:

Like you have to install the app just to turn noise cancellation on and off? And if you install it, they milk personal details out of your phone?

Or is that a different model?

I would never, ever buy headphones that need an app, for any purpose.

frereubu said 2 months ago:

They hide the setting not to harvest your data in the privacy policy - you can use the app, make sure you turn off tracking, upgrade the firmware, then delete the app. It makes sense that you need some kind of app to upgrade the firmware. The only thing that is in the app that you can't do from the headphones is the level of noise cancelling, but that doesn't bother me because I always have it set to max.

dlgeek said 2 months ago:

Huh? Pressing the button on the left side cycles NC levels for me with a voice saying "Noise cancellation high / low /off" for me.

If you have that mapped to alexa/ok google/etc, there's some other button combo to hit to cycle the NC level, but totally doable in hardware. (Though, changing the mapping DOES require the app).

frereubu said 2 months ago:

I don't have a button on the left side, just volume up, stop / start, volume down on the right. Perhaps we're talking about different iterations of the QC35?

Swenrekcah said 2 months ago:

I agree with you, but for now at least it seems manufacturers don’t yet dare make the app a requirement. I have the QC35 and my SO has the QC35II and we deliberately didn’t install the app. So far no problem.

However I suspect there will be a push for app-dependent headphones in the near future, I can only hope it will fail.

huseyinkeles said 2 months ago:

You don’t -need- the app to use the headphones. It’s just useful for some extra functionality and upgrading the firmware.

hackerbabz said 2 months ago:

Has there been any significant improvement due to firmware? I’ve never updated. Am I now safe from this bug?

heeen2 said 2 months ago:

They also have a Windows app to do it

jjoonathan said 2 months ago:

SelfVoice is the problem.

> In several conversations with customers, there was some confusion about noise cancellation function during a phone call or other Bluetooth HFP connection.

Yeah, because having multiple bluetooth profiles, one of which has good cancellation and one of which doesn't due to SelfVoice is disastrous UX.

Anything that perturbs the bluetooth settings on sound-producing devices and switches the default connected endpoint is going to trigger a severe degradation of the headphones' noise cancellation and noise floor. There is no light, or button, or obvious cue to indicate that the device is in a special state. Fixing the problem requires understanding this weird, hidden behavior (strike one) and dealing with bluetooth settings (strike two) on a device that isn't the headphone (strike three).

I am very happy to hear that they are doing something about it, because Windows has recently started clearing my repeated efforts to disable the SelfVoice endpoint. Even though I understand the problem completely (which is always the biggest hurdle) dealing with it has recently become a severe enough hassle that I've been considering ditching the Bose on account of it.

IceDane said 2 months ago:

I bought the QC35-IIs through my works tech budget and was very disappointed to find out how they worked wrt. there being two different voice profiles, where one profile uses this selfvoice thing and has no ANC. This is particularly shite when trying to use it to play games while talking to friends on discord.

Am I understanding you correctly that it's possible to somehow disable this feature or something? If so, can you share?

jjoonathan said 2 months ago:

Yeah. Navigate to: Windows Key search > "Sound Settings" > Output > Manage Sound Devices

The "Manage sound devices" panel should show a list of "Output devices" and a list of "Input devices." Click on one to disclose a Test button and a Disable button. You should see your headphones show up twice in the "Output devices" menu. Testing one of them will result in a clean sound, the other will result in shit sound (due to SelfVoice). Press "Disable" on the one with shit sound.

Then do it again next time Windows Update runs and clears your user settings, and again, and again, because apparently clearing settings to default is something that Windows Update does now (I've seen it in other places too).

Dylan16807 said 2 months ago:

Specifically, the big named releases every six* months, the ones that make a new windows folder, wipe and reinstall all audio devices.

* They're possibly moving to having only the Spring updates do this.

zneveu said 2 months ago:

Note: this isn't just a Bose thing. Bluetooth has separate profiles built in for phone calls/two way audio and one way audio. Because of bandwidth limitations, quality is essentially cut in half while using two way audio. While self-voice can add back some external noise, the bulk of the audio quality loss is built into the Bluetooth spec.

noncoml said 2 months ago:

Ah.. QC35 I and QC35 II, the headphones that won't turn off, but Bose refuses to make it right for the users:


Note, the "solution" is buy new headphones if yours are our out of warranty.


ProfessorLayton said 2 months ago:

Ah, I've recently discovered that the on/off switch on my QC35II is actually not a hardware off switch at all. My headphones refused to turn off once, which I believe was triggered by being connected to two devices at once, one of which was trying to use the mic.

The "solution" was to unpair everything and to make sure to only connect to one device at a time. I really wish the switch actually just disconnected the power.

Other than that they've been pretty solid so far.

mickelsen said 2 months ago:

I have the same model, but mine does behave like an on/off button, being enough to solve that problem you had (no sound because some device other is paired) Maybe it's something about a firmware upgrade? I remember there was one in 2018 that enabled an auto turn-off feature past a certain time with no use. I didn't update mine with that or any of the newer ones, so if I forget to turn them off manually they just keep consuming battery.

itchynosedev said 2 months ago:

A year or so ago I had an issue with my one year old pair of headphones (QC35 II). They wouldn't turn properly on anymore (light goes on, but no sound). Reached out to the support. They asked to do basic troubleshooting. After everything failed, they sent a free replacement. They did ask to send the faulty pair back, however. Can't complain about that.

herecomestracer said 2 months ago:

Impressive report, however their customer support is terrible for such premium products. Have bought 3 sets of headphones over the last 6 years (2xQC25 and 1xQC35).

Each pair of headphones starts to have audio issues right after the 2 year mark, usually resulting in the total loss of audio in one ear, and their support channels will only advise you to buy a new pair.

Have switched to the competitor - Sony WH-1000XM3. So far so good.

But really disappointed by the quality and longevity of Bose's premium products.

Won't buy again, and for such a serious issue to take this much effort for Bose to allow firmware downgrades just confirms that for me.

asd4 said 2 months ago:

I switched from Bose to Sony and haven't looked back. The capacitive controls on the headphones are crap but I never really use them so it's not a big issue for me. Rock solid for music and getting work done.

pimeys said 2 months ago:

From the comments I see the QC35 is not very durable pair of headphones. I would understand if the price tag would be under 100 euros, but the QC35's are quite expensive. And if they last only a couple of years, I wouldn't count that progress at all!

There are great headphone manufacturers, such as Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic, Focal and Grado, who make excellent studio level headphones that can easily last for decades in use, delivering that beautiful sound and feeling comfortable in daily office use.

I think the biggest problem is having Bluetooth in your headphones, which then requires a battery that is not easily replaced, and requires software and technology that either has bugs or degrades in a faster manner. I'd suggest while sitting in front of your computer, to use a corded pair of quality headphones and keep using them for years to come. Less waste, less money spent, better sound.

I've had Beyerdynamic's dt-880 model since 2003. I could still use them in the office, but them being open I replaced them with the dt-1770 pro model to not annoy my colleagues that much. Brought the 880's home and now with the lockdowns I'm again using them daily while writing software. Just replace the ear pads every five years, clean the drivers with pressurized air and you're ready to go.

qppo said 2 months ago:

The 880s aren't wireless, active noise cancelling cans and aren't relevant in this context.

The brands you list have fine build quality, classic headphones based on the same physics and materials dating back about 50 years. They sound great, but they're not particularly novel, nor are they the same kind of product that is discussed here.

pimeys said 2 months ago:

Exactly! But the 1770 pro blocks enough noise to be used in a noisy studio and office space. No need for active noise cancellation or software to get a perfect bubble for your own thoughts.

What I tried to say here is that maybe we're not witnessing progress with headphones such as the QC35. That maybe buying an expensive pair of headphones that needs to be replaced in every few years and which provide a subpar audio quality is not really that great.

I understand the noise cancellation aspect in certain settings though. I own a pair of QC35's only for commuting. They work great for that, and the mediocre sound quality doesn't really bother me when I'm on the go. But the more I'm using them the more I'm getting worried are they going to be waste soon and if so, should I buy a new pair to replace them.

josteink said 2 months ago:

> The 880s aren't wireless, active noise cancelling cans and aren't relevant in this context.

Of course they are.

If they provide a substantially better listening experience, at a lower cost and with passive noise-damping and less use of technology prone to failure, that makes them 110% relevant to the discussion at hand.

lethologica said 2 months ago:

No, they’re not. The marketing on the companies own site even agrees they aren’t noise canceling.

“The semi-open headphones attenuate ambient noise, but do not exclude it completely”


These are very different products.

josteink said 2 months ago:

Sorry. My bad.

My experience are with the 770s[1], which are closed and has amazingly good passive noise damping. I don’t miss ANC one bit.

[1] https://europe.beyerdynamic.com/dt-770-pro.html

rconti said 2 months ago:

And one reason they "last" is because they're not subject to the same use profile (eg, traveling) that the wireless ANC models typically are.

mritun said 2 months ago:

I had QC15 for over 7 years and QC35m2 now over 3. Both used and abused because I don’t really care about the case. Never broke anything in them.

Eventually lost the QC15 and upgraded to QC35 - a decision I never regretted even though I fly way less now and use $600 audiophile headphones. Fantastic headphone - research the analytical tests, the QC has almost flat response and the noise cancellation makes it very pleasing to listen to. YMMV.

jjayjay said 2 months ago:

Did you question those people what their lifestyle is like. Does it correlate to why their headphones broke so easily?

I use them in the office and on flights only. The only thing I did was replace the foam cups in 2019 due to [expected] wear. No problems with them at all ever. I've had mine since 2016.

Same story for a colleague I've known for 8 years.

pimeys said 2 months ago:

I'll come here in 30 years to tell are the Boses still working.

okasaki said 2 months ago:

I had Grado headphones and while the sound quality was good, they failed very quickly in several ways (first one speaker stopped working, then the foam earcup fell off, then they just fell apart). The worst built headphones I've ever used, probably worse than the cheapest headphones you can buy.

pimeys said 2 months ago:

Let me take Grado off the list then. The Beyers and Sennheisers, at least the studio models are very durable.

jmcgough said 2 months ago:

I bought QC 35's a year ago and wish I had sooner. They're very well designed, and reading this makes me respect Bose even more. This is why their brand name is still so trusted.

cheez said 2 months ago:

best headphones I've owned, buy them for everyone who asks lol

rconti said 2 months ago:

I bought mine after demoing at Best Buy. I was comparing them to the Sennheiser Momentum (forget which number) and one other headphone that I forget. The QC35 were the last ones I put on. They were immediately head and shoulders above the others just in terms of comfort. They were so light they virtually disappeared on my head and ears. Amazingly, the sound quality was almost irrelevant, although they were my favorite in that regard as well. (I've heard the Sonys might have slightly better ANC, but most of the competitive models are fairly similar which each having one area they're slightly better than the others).

The only thing I felt I was giving up in the Bose is in power. When I demo'd them, I ran them up as loud as I wanted to go. Then I tried to go one notch higher, and found I was already at the top.

Over the years, I've found the exact same thing. They go exactly as loud as I want and no louder. Every once in awhile, I try to push it a bit more, and find I'm already at the top.

Impressively, they never clip, and the bass is always "just enough". But I'm sure for some folks that won't be quite enough.

jmcgough said 2 months ago:

I have studio cans for music, but these are my dailies. They're so convenient for taking calls and make open offices much more bearable.

cheez said 2 months ago:

Of course, I'm talking for plebs :-)

ninkendo said 2 months ago:

You must never use them to make calls. (The audio quality is absolutely awful when in Self Voice mode, which is enabled for anything that uses the mic, and you can’t disable it.)

e40 said 2 months ago:

I've used for calls on Android and not iOS since 2016. While walking to/from work. With lots of traffic noise. Sometimes people don't even know I'm walking, they are that good. QC35's here.

The only thing that gets me is wind. Wind is wicked bad for calls. Even for music. The wind makes a very loud sound when it hits the over-the-ear cups from the rear. I've taken to wearing a hoodie when I walk in wind, and that solves it. Mostly. Walking with a hoodie when it's not really cold is not fun, as I get really hot.

ninkendo said 2 months ago:

I’m not talking about how you sound on the other end, I’m talking about how the audio quality drops to another profile whenever the mic is active, and that profile has the sound quality of a POTS phone connection from the 90s.

Steps to reproduce:

-listen to music

-make a call at the same time (such that the mic is active)

-the music you were listening to now sounds like you’re hearing it through an old telephone, with the quality you would expect from hearing some “on hold” music.

This sounds contrived (why would you listen to music and make a phone call at the same time?) but in reality each of these modes is a separate Bluetooth profile, and the latter of the two is used whenever the mic is active (for me... that’s across iOS, macOS and Windows. I’ve not tried it on android.) So, if you’re ever using software that holds the mic open, you basically can’t use the QC35’s for any high fidelity audio.

ebg13 said 2 months ago:

> The only thing that gets me is wind. Wind is wicked bad for calls. Even for music. The wind makes a very loud sound when it hits the over-the-ear cups from the rear.

Switch from High to Low cancellation mode in wind and the static pops should go away.

rkagerer said 2 months ago:

The degree of investigation is impressive and I commend Bose on this!

However, it does sound like they had a number of issues or regressions in prior versions of the firmware (eg. an update made some units connect to the wrong Bluetooth profile). I hope this demonstrates business reasons why it's important to get your product code right every release. Had they maintained a better reputation for competent product updates, it's unlikely user skepticism would have ballooned this into such a big deal.

Lammy said 2 months ago:

"An important piece of feedback we’ve received from the community during this discussion is that you want the ability to downgrade the firmware on your Bose QC35 product. Today, we’re re-introducing the ability to downgrade firmware QC35 II to 4.3.6 and QC35 series 1 to 2.5.5 via the Bose BTU site for a limited time."

A limited time? Why? How limited?

hnarn said 2 months ago:

A better question is why they are letting customers do this at all since the whole article proves that there is no point in downgrading. It seems to only add additional confusion if you ask me, and plays in the hands of customers who claim that there's something wrong with the software even now that Bose has proven beyond all doubt that there is not.

gilgoomesh said 2 months ago:

My guess: loud, obnoxious, forum participants who won't stop brigading about it. Providing the downgrade – while technologically pointless – will rob those forum participants of their bluster (although they'll probably claim the downgrade is a lie or some other conspiracy).

hnarn said 2 months ago:

I agree with your guess, what I don't understand is why they would play along with this type of delusion. It's not going to accomplish anything apart from making these people more convinced in the face of opposing evidence that they were right all along.

Faark said 2 months ago:

It also gives users the trust of being able to run their preferred firmware on the hardware they own. Then they don't have to avoid upgrading as seen in e.g. this other HN comment [0].

I totally understand dev's wanting their customers to run the latest version for a number of reasons. And it being hard or even impossible for e.g. online services to keep older versions available. It's totally reasonable to have the default setup auto update or strongly push the latest version. But a motivated user wanting to run a specific version should have the ability to do so. Especially when we are talking about hardware.

Yes, some users will be idiots and cause support work. But if the companies behavior indicates no one using the product can be trusted to not act like an unreasonable idiot, it's not a big stretch that customers will think the same about the producer.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22783345

draugadrotten said 2 months ago:

On the other hand, it makes a good impression on people like me. I have stayed away from the update due to the forum posts, and I very much think that this in-depth investigation from Bose could be the deciding factor for my next purchase as well. That they both investigate AND let people downgrade returns my confidence in the premium quality of the product. Good PR stunt or good customer care? What's the difference! I am happy. My firmware upgrade went well, by the way. Sounds as good as ever, possibly better with a more caramel flavoured sound in the high notes?

e40 said 2 months ago:

Also, I'm a little confused why I have 3.0.3 firmware on my QC35's and it says there is no update. I'm happy to stay on 3.0.3, since it's works for me, but it's odd. Used the app not the BTU site to check.

knorker said 2 months ago:

> We are exploring options to allow you to modify how [self voice] works via the Bose Connect app

Yes, please! Shut that fucking thing OFF. The only time I use the cable is because it doesn't have this terrible feature.

Especially when I connect to something like an amateur radio there's zero reason to ruin the sound by mistaking listening to amateur radio as some sort of "call".

jiofih said 2 months ago:

Wait, isn’t that feature only activated when you join a phone call? Why would it be activated for “amateur radio”?

knorker said 2 months ago:

I don't know. Maybe the radios are using the "phone call" feature to relay the audio. Maybe they have to, in order for the mic to work if you transmit, without delay.

I've not tried transmitting, because listening is so bad, thanks to this feature.

Erwin said 2 months ago:

The founder, professor Bose, had quite an interesting career and background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amar_Bose

> His father was an Indian freedom revolutionary[4] who, having been imprisoned for his political activities, fled Bengal in the 1920s in order to avoid further persecution by the British colonial police.

> In 2011, Bose donated a majority of the company's non-voting shares to MIT on the condition that the shares never be sold.

MengerSponge said 2 months ago:

This is a great episode about Bose's life and gift: https://www.20k.org/episodes/thegift

totalZero said 2 months ago:

I have purchased five or six different pairs of Bose noise-cancelling headphones, but I will never buy another product from them again until they allow customers to revert firmware.

I updated the firmware on my QC35s a couple of years ago, and the ANC got worse. Like, maybe 6 decibels or so worse, with strange white noise. I wrote to them explaining the problem and asked how to revert firmware, and they said it wasn't permitted and instructed me to "turn the device off and on" or something like that as a way to pretend to address the issue and make me go away.

I have only owned two products whose manufacturers refused to solve the problem when a new release of software or firmware ruined the user experience. The first was my Google Nexus 6P that boot-looped itself to death upon startup after an Android upgrade, and the second was my pair of QC35s.

Since then, I don't trust Bose's updates and refuse to update any of my other devices made by them.

tambre said 2 months ago:

> until they allow customers to revert firmware.

In this post they're adding an option to do this. Albeit only to a single earlier firmware.

nreilly said 2 months ago:

That's a fantastic way of showing a company is listening to customer feedback and acting upon it, even if there doesn't seem to be anything wrong.

Apple (and many other companies) could learn something from this transparency.

cityzen said 2 months ago:

Before people start fawning over Bose's handling of this, don't forget they're just like every other data mining company: https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/consumer-pro...

canada_dry said 2 months ago:

Good point. And, people who care about privacy shouldn't be too excited about having built-in Siri/Google/Alexa integration either.

cityzen said 2 months ago:

Fortunately costco had/has the old version before they sold their souls to Bezos. Why people want Amazon listening to anything is beyond me.

avalys said 2 months ago:

So what? How does this harm me?

spike021 said 2 months ago:

I was fortunate enough to get an expensed pair of QC 35 I's at a previous job. This was a little over 3 years ago now. Never had any of the described issues. Even now they feel and sound great. Battery life may be starting to degrade, which is disappointing since I don't believe there's a way to replace it myself, and Bose probably doesn't offer any service to do it either.

eyegor said 2 months ago:

If you're on hn, you might not be opposed to replacing the battery yourself. Here's a teardown that exposes it [0]. It may be difficult to source a replacement battery, I would check aliexpress/ebay (usually better than mouser/digikey for these). At minimum, you would need some tiny screwdrivers and a soldering iron (battery wires soldered directly to board).

[0] https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Bose+QuietComfort+35+PARTIAL...

awaythrower said 2 months ago:

It requires finding a supplier who has the exact or comparable part. Joe's has them although they're used but they do have long lives.

lstamour said 2 months ago:

I still have brand loyalty to Bose after almost a decade of trade-ins at a discounted price every 2.5 years or so. It’s too bad that around 2017 they stopped the trade-in program. The old QC 15s still had one of the nicest “fits” for me, and the 25s were pretty good too. But I wouldn’t want to have to keep swapping out AAA batteries or having to carry batteries with me in the case. I did like the old case design better than the new one, seemed flatter somehow. But the 35s going Bluetooth was a game changer for me, especially in connecting two devices at a time. Only thing missing is a USB C port so I don’t have to worry about plugging it in the wrong way to charge at night...

Marsymars said 2 months ago:

I exclusively use the QC25 at my office desk, and much prefer swapping AAA batteries over having a lithium battery that where the replacement isn't manufacturer-supported.

ncmncm said 2 months ago:

This strikes me as a terrible history. I would never go back after such experience.

lstamour said 2 months ago:

Well, the QC 15 was perfect for me for a number of years, as long as I had AAA batteries. And while every new version after had some kind of trade off to it, the QC series has overall been quite reliable, with removable cords, etc. The Bluetooth version added a lot of complexity, but when it works well, it’s magic. And it works more often than it doesn’t, I just tend to notice the Bluetooth stack bugs more when they occur. Similarly I had to replace a number of QC 15 and 25 cords over the years as they inevitably went bad due to prolonged use and abuse, as it were. The Bose store historically made it very easy to get spare parts and service, though I presume that’s changed somewhat today...

awaythrower said 2 months ago:

Your assumption is wrong. You can buy replacement batteries that are pulled from good products, unfortunately there are no new parts.


nodamage said 2 months ago:

Wonder if they're doing anything similar with the "headphones randomly powering on even though the switch is turned off" issue?

xur17 said 2 months ago:

I had this issue with the QC 35 version 1, and they shipped me replacement headphones for free.

chewxy said 2 months ago:

Wow, I am amazed at the level of care. I currently use a QC25, and did not update to 35 because I am not happy about the Siri/Google/Alexa integration. Still, I am definitely floored by the amount of care Bose provides on their product.

I guess my next set of headphones will still be from Bose.

funkaster said 2 months ago:

I used to have the QC25 until they disappeared from my desk at work. Got the new 700 and holly cow, those are great headphones. I don’t even use the app/any integration, just regular bt headphones and they work just great: I can have up to two devices connected simultaneously and switching from one to the other is seamless. I also really like how they work both wireless and there’s a wired option as well (they even include the cable). I’m really happy with the upgrade.

stormbeta said 2 months ago:

I have the QC35's, and the voice assistant integration is, as expected, gimmicky and not very useful.

However, you can change the button to control noise cancellation level instead, and that's actually very useful since "high" doesn't handle wind well when I'm outside, while "low" does.

bdcravens said 2 months ago:

Note that integration is in the QC 35 Series II - they aren't present in the original QC 35. They of course don't sell those new anymore, but you may be able to find them on Amazon on eBay. I had both the 25 and 35, and consider the 35 a great upgrade.

lxe said 2 months ago:

The fact that they reintroduced the ability to downgrade the firmware is very refreshing. Hope more companies will follow suit.

ojagodzinski said 2 months ago:

only to one specific version. This is not what community was hoping for.

jiofih said 2 months ago:

Why would you want to downgrade to a different version now that it’s clear there is no difference in NC?

rdudek said 2 months ago:

I'm thinking about picking up the QC 35's series 2 or the Sony WH-1000MX3's. Any recommendations? Can either of those turn off the noise canceling tech? I'm not a big fan of noise canceling technologies, I'm just looking for a quality sounding wireless headset to pair with my iphone.

jiggawatts said 2 months ago:

I got the WH-1000MX3 for travel. It makes the otherwise oppressive cabin noise of airplanes bearable. I've had other noise-cancelling headphones before, but none that were capable of making a long flight tolerable.

On a recent flight I only found out that there was some kid crying to whole way at the end of the flight when I took the headphones off.

But its sound quality in general is nothing like a good pair of headphones. I also have the Sennheiser HD-800 and it's a totally different league, but only in a quiet room. My perception of its quality improved when I moved to a quieter apartment with no road noise coming in from outside.

eyegor said 2 months ago:

They're similar, but I'd say the noise cancelation is a bit better on the sonys. I also prefer the tuning on the sonys, but that's a matter of taste. (I don't own a pair of qc35, but I did swap with a friend for a plane ride). I don't know about the qc35, but on mx3s you can turn on/off the nc features, or cup your hand over the speakers to temporarily pause them. They also have a pretty good bluetooth low energy implementation which makes them last more than 14 hours, but I haven't ever let them fully run down so I don't know the true battery life.

fyfy18 said 2 months ago:

I have a two year old (set of?) MDR-1000X (the previous model) and the battery is still working fine. I usually have them on for 6 hours a day - with NC as it comes on by default, and I forget to turn it off - and only charge them once a week.

visarga said 2 months ago:

I have both Sony WH-1000MX3 and the much cheaper Sony MDRXB950N1B, and I prefer the latter for it's rendering of bass sounds. MX3 has better noise canceling but listening to electronic music with heavy base on the 950's is so much more fulfilling, feels like being at a concert. Maybe I am just a bass freak.

stagas said 2 months ago:

Definitely the Sony's, by far.

SlowRobotAhead said 2 months ago:

I owned Sonys. The make or break feature to me is the noise canceling, and the Bose 700 just murdered them, it wasn’t even a fair fight. I had a screaming baby in my arms with a tiny bit of music and could only feel the vibration of baby’s screams. The 700s are hands down industry best. I tried them all.

dartdartdart said 2 months ago:

I actually find the Sonys to have the better ANC. They have some additional sensor to adjust the frequencies that they filter on depending on if you're walking, waiting etc. All for almost $200 less than the Bose.

I'll level with you, 700s have the best microphone in the this class. But sound, ease of use, features, and sound quality goes to the Sony, not to mention than the Sony's can be found on sale for half the price of the the Bose.

If you're a big user of wireless, Bose doesn't support LDAC which is arguably the best codec for sound quality wirelessly.

Right now in the audio community, Sonys are the the consensus recommendation unless you expect to take many calls on them.

SlowRobotAhead said 2 months ago:

> Right now in the audio community, Sonys are the the consensus recommendation unless you expect to take many calls on them.

Ok, but I bought both and returned the Sonys because “the consensus” was wrong imo. I have first hand knowledge with both. I paid $275 for the Bose 700s.

Maybe my first hand experience is wrong.

eyegor said 2 months ago:

Active noise canceling has no way to deal with complex high pitched noise, such as a baby crying. Maybe in the future someone will reach that point but for now it's only good for predictable, and especially low frequency, noise.

SlowRobotAhead said 2 months ago:

Do you own the 700s? Because I can tell you without a doubt there is noise canceling on the entire range, not as great as killing engine noise, but the difference between 10, 5, OFF is noticeable everywhere. In my example I had music on, but what the noise canceling does is allow for a very low volume of music vs trying to down everything out. I encourage you to try and put a newborn to sleep if you don’t think the crying can be predictable.

eyegor said 2 months ago:

I haven't specifically used the 700s but I have tried tons of different nc implementations. And by predictable, I mean "a milliwatt chip can record, analyze, and reproduce an inverted signal in real time". What sounds predictable to a human ear can be awfully complicated when you actually look at the signal on a frequency plot. Audio engineering is hard. There aren't many things that active nc can handle well without horrible distortions. I haven't heard any audio tech that has tried to deal with complex signals due to this effect, which isn't really acceptable in headphones. It turns into a weird digital sounding blips randomly interspersed, occasionally canceling things out.

SlowRobotAhead said 2 months ago:

Ok, so just to recap; we have my first hand anecdote of compairing the hot Sony to the hot Bose, and to you telling me I’m wrong and I must be wrong because despite you having never touched the Bose 700, “it’s a technology”. Ok, just wanted to make sure I had that right.

omegabravo said 2 months ago:

you can control the QC35 ANC with the app. The QC35 II's allow you to do it with a button on the headphones.

I turn it off sometimes as it can be disorienting to me at times.


quicklime said 2 months ago:

If you care about privacy, you might not want that app installed on your phone. It's been covered on HN before, but the app sends information about what you're listening to back to Bose.

Vinnl said 2 months ago:

The one annnoying thing is that, while they generally work well without the app, there's one button that can function as either:

- activate Google Assistant or Siri

- disable noise cancelling

Given that I don't have the app, I can't use the former anyway. However, to set up the button for the latter functionality, I have to use the app.

In other words, I can't turn off noise cancelling, and have a useless button on my headphones.

joshvm said 2 months ago:

The WH-1000MX3 has a variety of noise cancelling modes (including off). You can set it in the app or you can have it automatically adjust the profile based on where it thinks you are. The profiles are things like transit, walking, etc. While you can turn of ANC with a button, you do need the app to adjust anything else.

willtim said 2 months ago:

The Sony's have +5db of exaggerated bass that cannot be EQ'd out on the headphones when using LDAC. Without EQ, I find them completely unlistenable for jazz or classical music. I kept them as I only use them with one device (so EQ is practical) and the NC is very good.

foobarbazetc said 2 months ago:

Sony. Not even close.

foobarbazetc said 2 months ago:

MX4’s are coming soon. Or were, before Covid-19.

teruakohatu said 2 months ago:

The MX3s are so good, and the price is low because of the upcoming MX4s, I wouldn't wait to pay more for the next generation.

dartdartdart said 2 months ago:

XM4 are rumored to come at least in September of 2020 since the XM3 are not listed on the IFA website, but other Sony products have been listed.

I really hope they decide on launching since everybody thought they were launching September 2019 :(

chaps said 2 months ago:

It's very easy to accidentally touch the controls on the Sony's and accidentally pause/skip your music. They were nice, but that was such a frustrating feature.

eyegor said 2 months ago:

Wow, I've only had the opposite experience. Having to do a gesture twice because it missed my first attempt. I've certainly never thought it was too sensitive. I wonder if there was a firmware update which tweaked that. I only got a pair in early-mid 2019 and updated the firmware immediately.

dexterdog said 2 months ago:

Not me. I try to change the volume and at least one quarter of the time it restarts the track. I love these for sound and comfort, but the touch interface is not good.

eyegor said 2 months ago:

I just reread your comment, and I think you should look at other options if you don't care about noise canceling. Pretty much all NC headphones sacrifice a lot to make the NC work well, so they don't sound fantastic. As for recommending general wireless closed back headphones, that depends a lot on what your tone preferences are. The pair I have that most of my non-headphone-geek friends prefer are the vmoda crossfades. Specifically I have the crossfade 1, but there have been a couple of newer versions since then which I haven't tried.

teruakohatu said 2 months ago:

If you don't want noise cancelling the Sonys are very comfortable, usb-c charging Bluetooth headphones with average audio quality.

You can turn noise cancelling off and there are also a number of settings for the noise cancelling.

Overall they are great and I moved to Sony from Bose. But if I didn't want noise cancelling I would probably look elsewhere for better sounding headphones.

nvarsj said 2 months ago:

Audio "issues" are incredibly subjective. The placebo effect is so strong with audio, which has led to an entire industry of snake oil and hyper subjective audio comments (like many seen in the replies here). Unless you blind A/B test, it is very hard to discern audio differences unless you have been professionally trained. Your ears and perception are most likely lying to you, especially with something as subtle as noice cancellation. I definitely sympathize with Bose here, it is hard to convince people with science when it comes to audio, unfortunately.

ripvanwinkle said 2 months ago:

For what its worth my QC35 right headset stopped working just a month past the 12 month warranty and I had no luck getting the issue redressed.

That's a rather early failure for ~350$ of hardware.

DoofusOfDeath said 2 months ago:

Assuming that the report isn't subtly misrepresenting the situation in some way, that's a fantastic job. It adds to my confidence in the hardware/firmware quality of their product.

I do however have lingering concerns about their spyware [0]. Does anyone know if that's been addressed?

[0] https://fortune.com/2017/04/19/bose-headphones-privacy/

DoofusOfDeath said 2 months ago:

Update: I think my question is partially answered here [1]. They seem to want far more information that I'm interested in sharing with them.

[1] https://www.bose.com/en_us/legal/privacy_policy.html

kevindong said 2 months ago:

For what it's worth, several of Bose's customers are continuing to refuse to believe this report's conclusion (in several instances, in an aggressively rude/accusatory way).


snvzz said 2 months ago:

Full disclosure: My primary set is Sennheiser HD600, which I use a lot and love. Excellent sound objectively and subjectively. Worth every cent, despite being available since 1997. They benefit a lot from a headphone amp but still do a decent job without. They are made to last, and should an accident ever break a piece, all parts are replaceable individually without the need for tools. I've had them for several years and they're as good as new.

I have tested QC35 before, on a loan from a coworker. The FR is very good, but the distortion is horrendous. Measurements made on the set confirm by reviewers do confirm my impressions were spot on. Apparently the reason the FR is good is because they have a builtin DSP doing EQ.

When I heard the price, for such bad sounding headphones, I thought about them as a scam. Later, I learned they don't just distort a lot, but are also not made to last. Brand loyalty is high, and the money BOSE spends in marketing plays no small role on this. BOSE devices are expensive and those who buy them get associate the price with quality. When they break, they just buy BOSE again.

ProZsolt said 2 months ago:

I own a Sennheiser HD600 and a Bose QC25. They don't race in the same league. The HD600 has better sound quality hands down and I try to use it whenever I can. Where the QC25 shines is the noise canceling. I fly a lot and during a transatlantic flight, Bose is a godsend. It blocks out the engine noise very effectively. I can listen to music, podcasts, videos without cranking up the volume to max. Sometimes I use it in the office to block out office noises. Every other situation the HD600 is better.

aortega said 2 months ago:

I have a QC 35, and I have experienced some of the degrading of sound isolation. After some research I discovered than the pads account for much of it, and they degrade rather quickly, but not faster than any other headphone and I have very expensive headphones. My Sennheiser 650 is >400 usd and is on his third pair of pads.

The QC35 is so great that I developed ear problems for using them too much. So be careful with that.

hellofunk said 2 months ago:

What kind of ear problems? That could refer to any of several very different problems.

dannyw said 2 months ago:

Has anyone personally encountered this problem? Do you believe in this report? Do you think something is missing?

For me, I quite like Bose products because their bluetooth pairing and connectivity seem to be significantly better than what I can get from cheaper brands like Taotronics, etc. I have always found products to be well built, even for full-plastic devices that are subject to more wear and tear than they deserve.

medion said 2 months ago:

Yes I have - and I had no idea about the issue or controversy until after the update.

I was in bed one night playing with the Bose app on my iPhone. It prompted me to do a Firmware update - I use these headphones A LOT - at the time I was wearing them for 6-8 hours a day for weeks on end and was very 'in tune' to their abilities.

It was very quiet in bed, I'd been wearing them while reading a book for an hour before - I did the firmware upgrade and immediately noticed a difference when they rebooted. I was very confused and started playing with settings etc. I then Googled the issue and realised how widespread it was...

The report linked is super interesting, but, I trust my own ears as a musician and I know something changed with the headphones 100%.

cgearhart said 2 months ago:

I don’t know if it was _this_ problem, but I had an issue after firmware update this week. I have had the QC35 II headphones since 2017, and I love them. I also never update software unless something is broken—I don’t care about new features, I just want things to keep working. This past week I had to launch the Bose app to reconnect my phone to the QC35’s and it suggested a firmware update. I very rarely launch the app, so I let it proceed. They became _completely_ unusable after the update. The audio quality was awful, and noise cancelling virtually disappeared.

I was able to determine that the problem was the QC35 microphone was stuck “on”, so it was attenuating the audio and amplifying ambient noise. I’ve had similar problems before with other Bluetooth devices and suspected that the firmware change caused them to identify or connect to the wrong Bluetooth device profile.

Fortunately, restarting my phone resolved the problem. I don’t know why that worked, and I don’t know whether it was the phones fault or the headphones fault. It just affirmed my reasons for avoiding software updates.

wingerlang said 2 months ago:

I've had this issue (and posted about it with several people chiming in). I tend to toggle manually the input back to the macbook and it usually works. Kinda annoying though.

said 2 months ago:
heelix said 2 months ago:

There was a time where I likely spent more time on an airplane than some pilots. For years, I used their older QC3 all day long.. traveling and working. At some point, well past any warranty, they started to make a popping sound. They essentially just swapped it out for free.

I picked up a pair of the A20 aviation headsets, just before they announced the Bluetooth update. (I also fly, but when I do they are the bug smashers, not the commercial ones) They turned around and cross shipped a new module for my headset free of charge.

I did end up replacing the older QC3's with one of the QC35 wireless headsets. Nothing but positive things to say about their kit. For the most part, it has been used hard and worked flawlessly. When I have had an issue - they took really good care of me. Would reccomend.

(With the QC35, I've really not needed to do anything with them. They just connected to my Linux box and Andriod tables OOTB.)

stagas said 2 months ago:

And what about their planned obsolescence strategy like the right ear simultaneously[0] stop working on everybody's QC25s with no replacement or repair option?

[0]: https://community.bose.com/t5/In-Ear-Headphones/Right-ear-st...

canada_dry said 2 months ago:

> ..."The right side stopped working in April 2018. I got them replaced and the operator gave me "one time only exception" to the replacement fee"...

So, for folks suggesting Apple et al follow Bose's lead, it's clear they all follow the same play book i.e. a design flaw isn't their problem the moment the warranty is up.

I'm someone who will escalate and put in the effort to be righted when a company does wrong, but it would sure be nice if companies didn't outright lie, coverup or have hidden warranties/"you're an exception" when they screw up!

diebeforei485 said 2 months ago:

Apple's AirPods Pro have a similar issue where a firmware update nerfed the noise-cancelling[1]. Apple stopped pushing the update, but I'm been stuck with this bad firmware for nearly four months now.

The firmware updates are installed silently in the background while AirPods are charging, so I didn't have any choice in the matter.

FWIW - I agree with installing updates automatically silently in the background because it solves a ton of issues for both developers and 99% of users. But the developers must thoroughly test the performance in real-world prior to pushing updates to users AND offer a way to downgrade.

1. https://9to5mac.com/2020/01/18/airpods-pro-noise-cancellatio...

motohagiography said 2 months ago:

Product management master class right there.

jopsen said 2 months ago:

I noticed other threads complained about lack of CHANGELOG for firmware updates.

I don't know what they have that they think is so secret, that thry can't tell us what bugs were fixed.

As an engineer I dislike this lack of transparency.

On the other hand these headphones mostly just work, apart from a few annoyance with reconnect time, etc.

hobs said 2 months ago:

Their soundsports on the other hand are just bad at connecting to a bluetooth device and staying in sync at >1.5m distance.

I've tried it with 4 different phones now, and they just cut out every time.

Bose has been kind enough to exchange several pairs at no cost and hassle, but its not a problem with one of them, its all of them

m3h said 2 months ago:

Same here. Suffering with Soundsport Free since I got them. They frequently disconnect even when I'm near my phone. Also, the audio/video lag issue is a total deal breaker. Bose seems to be the only one who has such issues.

hobs said 2 months ago:

For what its worth I have also seen the same behavior with Jabra wireless headphones, they might use the same chip/stack under the hood though.

dahdum said 2 months ago:

Maybe I’m unlucky, but even keeping my QC25s in the case when not wearing them, I had two fail due to internal hardware issues just past warranty. Support was a joke. I’d have felt like a fool the next time so I switched to Sony’s line, zero issues in the last 4 years and I’ve traveled twice as much.

exabrial said 2 months ago:

Now THAT is how you do a root cause analysis. I don't own a pair of these headphones, but I'm sending this out to my coworkers as an example of thorough work. Very very well done!

Ironically... also looking at purchasing their product

crazygringo said 2 months ago:

This is fascinating.

Seems almost a little overkill, but if their reputation is at stake then you want to make sure.

Now I just wish there were a similar investigation into the AirPods Pro update -- some people swearing it massively impaired the noise reduction, other people saying there's no difference and some tiny subset of people are always going to be imagining things (or taking a different train or working in a new office, like this article).

At least the idea of being able to downgrade firmware ought to put people's minds at ease... but I can also see why technically that might be annoying to implement.

tiew9Vii said 2 months ago:

Bose have had a few bad software updates historically. My sound bar lost its bass in an early update which they eventually resolved, also they made some promises about airplay 2 which never happened on some devices. Privacy policy + devices phoning home is questionable.

QC35’s are a major seller for them so it’s good to see the effort going in to investigating the issue. Hopefully the effort gone in to investigating carries through to better software in general so it’s easy for them to verify what’s changed and also better release procedures again so they can reduce the post release debugging they had to do here.

ornornor said 2 months ago:

This is amazing! It's really nice to see how much Bose cares. Contrast that with Apple for instance: they are both selling products on which they emphasize quality and craftsmanship at above market prices. Yet Apple never ever acknowledges QA issues until a few years after the product is out, and does all it can to pretend everything is fine. Really impressed by Bose. I would seriously consider purchasing their headphones if active noise cancellation didn't make me feel like my nose is all congested and didn't give me a headache.

Schwolop said 2 months ago:

There's a potential systemic bias involved in this that the report does not consider (unsurprisingly). What if the particular firmware caused hearing damage that now causes these users to think the noise-cancelling performance has deteriorated? I have no reason to think this is the case, but wow, what a confounder to have to deal with!

locusofself said 2 months ago:

I love my QC35 headphones except one thing- the bluetooth range is very small, like 20 feet? AirPods go much farther from my phone/laptop without breaking up. If I just cup my hands over the outside of the right headphone, the signal cuts out. Or if I hold my phone in my left hand while walking, it cuts out some times. Sounds great as long as my phone is close enough though.

neycoda said 2 months ago:

"our full engineering analysis determined that the degradation in all cases was the result of hardware related issues with earcushions, aftermarket parts, or mechanical integrity"

Specifically, damage caused by the customer from use or misuse, or buying inadequate replacement parts from 3rd party manufacturers.

Fiahil said 2 months ago:

I had to replace the ear cushion 6 month ago, and I couldn't find Bose's original replacement parts. I noticed the ANR perfs dropped a little bit after the replacement - something similar to what they described in the article.

Is Bose selling original ear cushions somewhere ?

mav3rick said 2 months ago:

They sell it on their website (in the US). You can also call them to place an order .

beams_of_light said 2 months ago:

I have a pair of QC 35s which I can only use low/no NC on due to vertigo issues with "high" mode. Looks like Bose has done an extremely impressive job of fleshing out the problem. Well done.

7ewis said 2 months ago:

So is the general consensus that we can safely update now?

Honestly I'm not great at noticing sound quality differences, unless there's a huge difference. But this one seemed to affect so many people I stayed away.

jacquesm said 2 months ago:

Has there been any effort at making an open source version of these noise cancelling headphones? It would seem to make for a pretty neat project.

markdown said 2 months ago:

Unrelated to this, the Bose aviation headset has been sold out and unavailable in most of the world for about a year now.

phonon said 2 months ago:
markdown said 2 months ago:

Holy cow, they're back! I just checked stores in my part of the world. The proflight has been out for ages, both online and in stores all over Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. I've been searching since early last year.

ncmncm said 2 months ago:

All the pro pilots I know use Sennheisers, and nothing but Sennheisers, hands down.

markdown said 2 months ago:

All the pro pilots I know use Bose, and nothing but Bose, hands down.

ncmncm said 2 months ago:

"No true pro..."

kim0 said 2 months ago:

While we're at it, any recommendations for having phone calls in noisy environments?

kim0 said 2 months ago:

Preferably true wireless ones

hank_z said 2 months ago:

I hope all companies in this world will care customers like Bose does.

iandanforth said 2 months ago:


But damn they spent a lot of time to get to that conclusion.

McTossOut said 2 months ago:

If only everyone was always this responsive.