Bose is well known for its noise-cancelling prowess. In 2023, the audio giant laid down its marker, big time, with an overhaul of its headphone and earbud line-up.
We’ve said goodbye to the much-loved Bose 700 but welcomed the outstanding Ultra series, which comes in the form of over-ear headphones and earbuds.
There’s another new entrant, though – the Bose QuietComfort. Price-wise, these cans sit below the QuietComfort Ultra, but above the infamously brilliant all-rounders, the Bose QC45.
The problem? The QuietComfort look identical to the QC45, save for a new colour option and talk of improved sound. The fact that, at the time of writing, Bose is selling both pairs of headphones on its website further adds to the confusion.
Thankfully for you, I’ve worked out what’s going on. Whether you’re an audio aficionado wanting some guidance or you’re new to the headphone game, this is the Bose QC45 review to read.
What’s the same between Bose QuietComfort Headphones vs Bose QC45?
Pick up a pair of QuietComfort and a pair of QC45 (to which I’ll refer to them from here on) and you’d be forgiven for assuming that Bose hasn’t done much in the two years that have passed since the latter’s launch.
They are the same weight and have the exact same dimensions as one another. They also have the same control layout and number of buttons (yay to no touch controls, Bose!) and the fit, finish, and comfort is identical (i.e. great!).
Both headphones have Bluetooth 5.1 with SBC and AAC codec compatibility and multipoint connectivity. From what I can tell, the mics and drivers also remain unchanged in the QuietComfort. Even the case is the same, bar one slight tweak to the Bose logo, which is now visibly coloured, as opposed to gloss black.
As I mentioned earlier, at first glance, these are the exact same pair of headphones.
There are some differences, though.
What’s different about Bose QuietComfort Headphones vs Bose QC45?
Let’s start with the price. The QuietComfort retail for £349.95, whereas the QC45 are priced at £319.95 (although, at the time of writing, there are some very tasty discounts available on both pairs).
That £30 difference nets you two hours extra battery life on the QuietComfort (24 hours vs 22 hours), although both pairs share the same 2.5-hour total charge time and 15-minute-for-three-hour quick charge.
The black and white colour options remain for the QuietComfort, but there’s a new ‘Cypress Green’ shade, which Bose sent me and which I think looks rather splendid. It’s just a shame the case doesn’t match that colour (it’s black).
There’s a slight visual difference in the design of the QuietComfort, too, which have an embossed logo as opposed to the ‘painted’ logo on the QC45. It’s a subtle difference, but it does make the new headphones look a touch more premium.
Lastly, the QuietComfort come with an audio cable which features a built-in mic. I’ve not tested it, but others have, and word on the street is that it provides the best calling mic quality when you’re in a busy environment, which is nice.
Let’s move on to the big difference, though.
Sound and noise cancelling comparison
This is really simple: the QuietComfort headphones sound much better than the QC45.
The QC45 aren’t a bad-sounding pair of headphones at all, but the QuietComfort have clearly benefitted from some serious DSP upgrades and have, essentially, ‘fixed’ the sound of their predecessor.
The QuietComfort are a full-bodied, confident-sounding pair of headphones. The bottom end has been satisfyingly boosted, and the top end has been brought under control. By comparison, the QC45 sound harsh, thin, and a bit tiresome after a while.
The QuiteComfort aren’t as premium sounding as the QuietComfort Ultra, but they’re significantly cheaper – and you can fix anything you don’t like about the sound in Bose’s fantastic app.
When it comes to active noise cancelling (ANC), there’s no discernible difference between the QuietComfort and the QC45. They both do a great job of dampening the outside world in a variety of scenarios. The QuietComfort steps things up a gear by introducing the custom ANC modes I first discovered with the QuietComfort Ultra.
For the uninitiated, this is where you can create your own custom ANC profiles with names of your choice. The amount of ANC applied can be tweaked via a slider, and you can enable the Wind Block feature if you think the mode demands it. It’s not a huge upgrade in the ANC capabilities of these cans, but it’s a welcome one.
As for the aware mode, it is also identical on both models. That’s to say, it is adequate for taking calls and being aware of your surroundings, but it isn’t on a par with the QuietComfort Ultra.
The conclusion one must draw from the battle of the QuietComfort versus the QC45 is a simple one. If you own a pair of the latter and are wondering if you should upgrade, you’ll fall into one of two camps.
The first is the user who loves their QC45 and has no issues with them. If that’s you, don’t bother spending any more money. The upgrade in sound quality will only make itself known if you try a pair of QuietComfort. Which you probably won’t. You shouldn’t.
The second is the user who has always had a niggling doubt about the QC45 sound. If that’s you, and you have the budget, the switch to the new version is massively worth it – you won’t feel shortchanged.
If you’re new to the world of Bose headphones and want a great allrounder with sound that has been significantly upgraded from the previous version, you cannot go wrong with the QuietComfort.
The OG kings of everyday noise-cancelling cans have been fully revitalised.
Before you go
Q. Are Bose Quiet Comforts worth it?
The short answer is yes. For half the price of AirPods Max, you get excellent noise-cancelling with the option to personalise it to your tastes. The sound quality on the QueitComforts is also much improved compared tom the Bose QC45s.
Q. What’s the difference between Bose QC45 and QC45 SE?
The main difference is the softshell carry case that comes with the QC45 SEs.
Q. How much do Bose QuietComfort headphones weigh?
Bose QuietComfort headphones weigh 235 grams.
Q. How to pair Bose QuietComfort headphones?
Open the Bluetooth menu on your smartphone and turn Bluetooth on. On your Bose headphones, slide the button on the back of the right earcup across until the blue light starts to flash. After a few seconds, your headphones will appear in your phone’s Bluetooth menu. Tap on the headphones on your phone and they will automatically connect.
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