Wireless earbuds are all the rage these days. Apple’s Airpods kicked off a wave of high-end, high-quality earbuds, and the rest of the market has dived in to keep up. But earbuds aren’t for everyone. Some prefer the old-school over-ear or “full size” headphones for a number of reasons: Over-ear headphones tend to be more comfortable and cause less ear canal fatigue than earbuds. They also tend to have better passive noise isolation (physical sound blocking thanks to padding) than earbuds, though this varies from brand to brand. Couple noise isolation with digital noise cancelling and you can work or listen undisturbed. The Bose QC45 headphones are billed as wireless over-ear headphones that take things like noise-canceling and a comfortable fit seriously. They’re built not to be too heavy (240 grams), and the weight of the headphones is distributed so that there’s no fatigue after long listening sessions.
Bose QC45 wireless headphones review
The Quiet Comfort 45s are made with a buttery soft synthetic leather on the earcups and the band, and Bose claims they have minimal clamping force, so you shouldn’t feel them pushing in on your ears—I can say this is true; they hold fast without feeling like a vise. Bose says these are impact-resistant to avoid the headband snapping or the earcups twisting too far. All of the pivot points are made with cast-metal hinges for durability.
They come in two colors, that are essentially black and white with fancier names, with subtle logo-ing and zero bling. As the headphones are wireless, no cords or wires are getting in the way, so you’ll have a smooth, clean look while wearing these, either around your neck or on your ears. Over-ear headphones are always noticeable, but the Quiet Comfort 45s are sleek enough that you won’t feel like they’re drawing attention; they make excellent headphones for a professional setting.
Features of Bose QC45: Noise Cancelling & Aware Mode
The main claim to fame of the Quiet Comfort 45s is their noise canceling. The headphones offer both a ‘Quiet Mode’ and an ‘Aware Mode’. Let’s dig in:
While in Quiet mode, the headphones activate their digital Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) to remove outside noise while retaining the full range of audio on the inside.
There are a total of six microphones on the QC45s, which listen for outside noise then use a canceling soundwave to essentially cancel out outside sounds via the ANC system. The headphones do a great job removing things like low and droning air-conditioner/heater noise, and plane or train engines. Things like tapping or distant banging are also well muted, though I did notice things like voices or a nearby TV were not as effectively eliminated if you don’t have other audio playing inside your headphones. At this price point I was definitely expecting out of this world noise cancelling (and my current barometer and one to beat is AirPods Max, which, even without music playing block out every single sound) but these fall a tiny bit short.
The Aware Mode cuts the noise-canceling to allow outside sounds in while still regulating them. This will enable you to hear loudspeaker announcements or traffic in situations where it’s unsafe or undesirable to block out all noise, and Aware Mode doesn’t give things a weird tinny sound like some headphones can. By the way, you won’t be able to adjust the level of noise-canceling like you can on some other headphones, so it’s either full Quiet or full Aware.
Sound Quality: Bose QC45
The first thing I noticed about these headphones is that the bss is amazing. Rich and resonant, strong and vibrant, you can totally get your groove on with these headphones around your melon. Sound quality is outstandingly well balanced, though there might be a wee lean towards that low end. Even at higher volumes, there’s no distortion, no buzz and no rasp. Voices sound clear and crisp and overall the Bose Quiet Comfort 45s are a joy to listen to, and will surely please even discerning audiophiles.
Buttons & controls
There are buttons on each earcup to handle common tasks, and some have multiple functions depending on whether you give one, two, or three presses or hold the button. The left earcup handles changing the ANC mode from Quiet to Aware, mutes calls, and brings up the voice assistant. There are three buttons on the right earcup, and they’re used to raise and lower volume, play/pause, answer/decline or end calls, and change tracks.
I will note there’s no auto-pause feature in these headphones which I think is a bit of an oversight. Auto-pause will pause your audio we. You remove the headphones and is becoming a common feature, so I’m a bit surprised not to see it here.
The headphones use Bluetooth 5.1, and Bose says they have a strong connection within nine metres of the device. I tested this out by wandering around my house with headphones on and leaving my phone behind, and I can say that despite distance and walls between my headphones and my phone, there was zero breakup or dropouts.
Stay connected to two devices with Bose Quiet Comfort 45
You can also pair two different devices to the Quick Comfort 45s but unlike other headphones, you’ll be connected to both devices simultaneously, with no need to use your phone or device’s Bluetooth menu to reconnect or switch between them. This is great for being connected to both your phone and laptop at the same time.
Bose Music app
To access most of the features of the Quiet Comfort 45s, you’ll need to download the Bose Music app. Oddly, there are no equalizer settings in the app, as the headphones adjust the EQ based on the volume of the music. This might be something Bose adds down the line, but it’s a bit of a puzzling exclusion. There aren’t a lot of exciting features in the app; it does seem like a bit of an afterthought, or perhaps a way for Bose to gather customer info and handle any tech updates.
Making phone calls with Bose QC45
An essential aspect of any earbud/headphone setup these days is their ability to handle phone calls, both hearing and speaking. It all comes down to the microphones’ quality and, most importantly, how well the headphones manage outside noise. As the onboard Bose ANC is strong, it comes as no surprise that calls are clear, and little outside noise is transferred to the other caller. You’ll have no trouble making or receiving calls with the Quiet Comfort 45s.
Battery life & charging
The headphones are charged using an included USB-C cable, and a 15-minute quick charge will give you three hours of listening time. A full charge should last over 24 hours at higher volumes and longer if you tend to listen at lower levels; this is a pretty decent battery life and should last you days and days. The fact that the QC45s use Bluetooth 5.1 means the battery will last is longer. There’s also an audio cable included that essentially puts you in a “wired mode,” where the headphones will be powered by whichever device you’re plugged into.
Overall review: Bose QC45 over ear headphones
Overall the Bose QC45 over ear headphones are an outstandiong pair of headphones; the fit, comfort and sound quality are all top notch. When it comes to downsides, at this price point it would be nice if it had auto-pause, and maybe even a bit more battery life if I’m being greedy. And while the noise cancelling gets a 8/10, for this price I want 11/10 and the best noise cancelling ever.
Even so these are great sounding headphones that will please the vast majority of listeners. They sell for about $379CAD/$279USD.
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