When shopping for a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, two of the most popular (and practically perfect) choices are the Bose 700 and Bose QuietComfort 35 II.
The iconic American audio brand has long been a leader when it comes to active noise cancellation; its QC35 II headphones were our top pick for the best noise-cancelling headphones—until they were unseated by the Bose 700, which boasts an updated design, stronger ANC, unique controls, and several new features. But, the QC35 II's are about $100 less than the Bose 700, making them more affordable, and these older cans have a few things you can't find on the newer model.
So, which Bose model should you buy? Check out the rest of our Bose 700 vs Bose QuietComfort 35 II comparison to see which pair of noise-canceller is best for you.
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Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Spec compared
|Bose 700||Bose QC35 II|
|Price||$399.99; $429.95 (with charging case)||$299.99|
|Size||8 x 6.5 x 2 inches||7.1 x 6.7 x 3.2 inches|
|Weight||8.95 ounces||8.2 ounces|
|Battery life||20 hours (NC on)||20 hours (NC on); 40 hours (NC off)|
|Special features||Active noise cancellation, transparency mode, adjustable ANC and EQ, smart controls, tri-digital assistant support, multipoint technology||Active noise cancellation, transparency mode, smart controls, audio sharing, tri-digital assistant support, multipoint technology|
Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Price and value
Considering the differences between the two, you would be remiss to pass on the Bose 700, even if it is more expensive. The circuitry in these cans alone justifies the high price. The Bose 700 is available for $399.95 (currently on sale for $379.99) and comes in four sharp colors: Black, Luxe Silver, Soapstone, and Triple Midnight.
On the other hand, the QC35 II offers a lot of performance at $100 less, making the purchase slightly more enticing. Color options include Black, Silver, Midnight Blue, Rose Gold, and Triple Midnight.
Winner: Bose QC35 II
Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Design
Fashion or function? That is the big decision you're making here. The Bose 700 is beautifully built and has a classy, ultramodern look, while the QC35 II remains a handsome model with an identical shine factor, but also better portability. It’s all about your preference.
The 700 is constructed of sturdy stainless steel and soft-touch plastic. Bose gave the extenders a very avant-garde design, placing them on the outside of the ear cups, although the track holding both pieces together feels flimsy. I appreciate the way the flattened buttons complement the cans' sleek form. Although the ear cups do swivel so you can fit the headphones into the carrying case, they don't fold down for compact storage.
The QC35 II might not look as sexy as its successor, but it's still a fashionable set of cans suited for business class. Its corrosion-resistant stainless steel and glass-filled nylon are an upgrade from the plastic used on the first-gen version. Bose fans will also admire the reflective brand logo on each ear cup. More important, the QC35 II does fold down, and is easier to stow away.
The color options are one of the QC35 II's biggest strengths. The headphones are part of Bose's customization program, which allows owners to create their own colorway; the 700 has yet to be added to this program. All of the standard colors are easy on the eyes. The 700 also comes in most of the same colors, though it introduces an all-new Soapstone version that is a cool mix of white and rose gold to pair with your new iPhone 12.
Winner: Bose 700
Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Comfort and fit
Despite its heavier frame (9 ounces), the 700 is lighter than most in-class models and rests comfortably on the head. Wearing them for 2 to 3 hours a day was a pleasant experience.
The memory foam ear cups feel plush, and the cushioning on the underside of the headband easily conforms to the skull to achieve a relaxed fit. Bose also did a great job with weight distribution, as the headphones remain stable on the head. The extenders also have a natural feel of movement that adds to the 700's superior comfort.
The QC35 II shares many of these positives, but it has a looser fit. Unless you have a small head and you set the extenders at a secure setting, the headphones will slip off, especially when you're rushing through crowds. Other than that, they feel gentle on the ears and head, and you can wear them for hours without feeling fatigued.
Winner: Bose 700
Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Controls
After a year of testing, I still consider the 700’s touch panel to be one of the most intuitive and responsive out there. The ability to use slide gestures up and down (to control the volume) and left to right (to skip forward or back) for music playback on the panel is convenient when you're on the go, as is the ability to perform tap gestures like double-tap (to play/pause/answer) and tap and hold (to decline calls).
The physical buttons have great tactility and are simple to operate. You use the lone button on the right ear cup to cycle through ANC levels. The button on the top of the left ear cup is for the power and pairing, and the one on the bottom enables the digital assistant.
The QC35 II keeps its functionality simple with a three-button module on the right ear cup to manage calls and playback. Bose is also one of the first audio brands to integrate a dedicated Google Assistant button. A power/pairing switch is located on the front of the right ear cup, and it produces a nice recoil effect when pushed. The learning curve here is elementary, but the 700 is just more exotic.
Both pair of headphones grant access to all three major digital assistants: Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa. You can use a voice command to trigger Alexa. The 700 handled speech recognition much better than the QC35 II, accounting for every syllable. I was particularly impressed by how fast Google Assistant responded to my inquiries. It was also useful to have notifications (e.g. Gmail, Facebook and incoming calls) available at the touch of a button. The QC35 II operates similarly, but voice commands are not as fluid as they are on the 700.
Winner: Bose 700
Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Active noise cancellation
Comparing the noise cancellation in the Bose 700 and Bose QC35 II may seem unfair, but that’s only because of the numerous upgrades Bose integrated into the latest flagship model. The company revamped its adaptive microphone technology for the 700, giving the headphones a major advantage over their predecessor.
Underneath the 700's svelte design are eight mics, six of which are designed to hush your surroundings, and they perform incredibly well. It took several loud, simultaneous distractions to disrupt my Spotify vibes. The 700 couldn't completely mute the noise from a nearby construction site with dump trucks speeding over potholes, but the rest of the racket went unnoticed. I didn't hear a peep when commuting on the train during rush hour or when blasting my living room speakers with Avengers: Endgame playing in the background. Notably, the 700 blocked all that noise with the ANC adjuster at Level 8 (the highest setting is 10) via the mobile app.
When it launched, the QC35 II demonstrated industry-leading noise cancellation, and doesn’t disappoint to this day. I will always appreciate the headphones' ability to drown out airplane engines and provide solitude for listening to music at home. Nevertheless, after testing both models, I noticed that the QC35 II lets in certain high-frequency noises, like air horns and police sirens, into the soundstage. These sounds won't throw you completely off-track, but I preferred the 700 for the task.
Both sets of headphones also have an ambient listening mode, which lets you remain aware of your environment when listening to music. The 700's extra mics, primarily the four that work together to amplify vocals when you're speaking, helped me communicate clearly with my barista without having to take off the headphones. I managed to eavesdrop on my wife’s Zoom work chats on occasion, too. On the QC35 II, this feature isn't as polished and created muffled dialogue.
Winner: Bose 700
Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Audio quality
Bose headphones won't give you the loudest, boom-filled sonics that the Sony WH-1000xM4 or Jabra Elite 85 offer. Instead, you get well-balanced, spacious sound that gives life to detailed lows, mids, and highs. The 700 and the QC35 II are prime examples of this, but surprisingly, I found the QC35 II has a more finely tuned soundstage.
Bass has more kick on the QC35 II, which made listening to hip-hop and rock tracks joyous. Even with more thump coming out of the drivers, these cans delivered great instrument separation, placing the spotlight on background instruments. You'll also get a great feel for ambiance when playing live recordings. Listening to Nirvana's MTV Unplugged album, I felt near-total immersion, as though I were in the audience.
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The 700's soundstage is great too and lends itself well to many music genres, but you need to be selective with what you play. Melodic tracks, like The Dream's "Fancy," sounded airy and crisp, allowing the serene production to flourish. To enjoy punchy sonics, you need songs with serious bass content, such as Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" or Kanye West's "Monster," because Bose toned down the low end on these cans. In addition, I noticed hissing in Spotify songs and a minor lag on YouTube videos.
Regarding auxiliary cable, performance is equally fine, though neither set of headphones shows much need for wired listening. The QC35 II maintains its bass and volume, whereas the 700 takes a slight dip in both areas.
Winner: Bose QC35 II
Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Apps and special features
Bose already had a free mobile app, Bose Connect, for its current lineup of audio products, including the QC35 II. So, I was taken aback after seeing the company launched a new app, called Bose Music, made specifically for the 700. But I’m not complaining, as the free Bose Music app has a sleeker interface and more features that enhance the listening experience.
You can manually adjust the ANC and set up your three preferred levels, plus the latest software update introduces an adjustable EQ to fine-tune bass, mids and treble. Other notable features include a power-saver function, playback/volume controls, the voice assistant selection and Self Voice mode to manually adjust how loud your voice sounds on calls. All of these functions worked properly, and I really loved how the app made it simple to connect the headphones.
Bose Connect has its own set of useful options, including High and Low noise-cancellation options and a Music Share feature (available only on the QC35 series) to hear music on two sets of Bose wireless headphones. A Standby Timer and the ability to swap out Action Button commands are still available.
I've tested a number of Bluetooth 5.0 headphones, but I can't recall any that have offered such instantaneous connectivity as the 700. It was a breeze to link these cans to my MacBook Pro and the Google Pixel 3XL at the same time by pressing the Pair Mode button. More impressive was the multipoint technology, which allowed pairing to two devices simultaneously; this is also available on the QC35 II and works well. I was playing iTunes on my laptop and controlling playback through the Bose Music player, hiccup-free, and at a solid range (35 feet). The QC35 II operates on the outdated Bluetooth 4.1, but it still provides a strong connection between devices and a quality range of up to 32 feet.
Winner: Bose 700
Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Call quality
Bose headphones are known for their great call quality. Thanks to Bose's updated mic system, the 700 stands out as the company's best headset for calls. Four of the eight mics block out ambient noises while also amplifying your vocals during calls. When I used the 700 for a call with my parents, the sound was so loud and clear that they thought I was speaking directly from my phone. Even when I was talking in crowded areas, like a corner in midtown Manhattan and a busy tavern, the calls were audible on both ends.
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I've always appreciated the QC35 II's ability to quiet background noise on calls in rowdy environments. If only it offered better wind resistance. Callers often complained that my voice sounded muffled when I was chatting in drafty conditions.
Winner: Bose 700
Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Battery life
Bose programmed the 700 and the QC35 II with the same battery life: 20 hours with the ANC on. The two sets of headphones performed similarly on a full charge, giving me about 17.5 to 18 hours of use with noise cancellation enabled. That was enough for me to get a full week of Spotify streaming and some cross-country in-flight entertainment.
In my use, the QC35II often surpassed its advertised battery life, getting up to 22 hours of use on a charge. The headphones also allow for up to 40 hours of wireless listening with the ANC on, whereas the 700 remains at a 20-hour max regardless of the ANC's level, according to Bose. Moreover, I wasn't thrilled about the 700 coming charged at only 30% out of the box; I recall the QC35 II being about 70% upon first use.
In addition, the battery-life indicators for the 700 were inconsistent during my initial testing. Several times, I received notifications stating the headphones were at 0%, while the mobile app suggested there were 6.5 hours of play time left. It’s not a situation I have encountered when downloading the latest firmware update, but still worth noting.
Bose does sell a charging case for the 700 as a bundle ($450) or separately ($80) to provide 40 additional hours of use. FYI: The case doesn’t come charged.
One major difference between the two models is the charging connections. The 700 uses a USB-C port, whereas the QC35 II has a micro-USB port. Fast charging is available on both models, but the 700s gets more charge within a 15-minute frame: 3.5 hours versus 2.5 hours on the QC35 II.
Winner: Bose QC35 II
Overall Winner: Bose 700
The Bose 700 headphones are the truth, setting a new standard for active noise cancellation with 11 adjustable levels to effortlessly silence rumblings across the frequency spectrum. Access to an all-new app with awesome features is a major bonus, plus the possibility of more features via future firmware updates is promising. Advantages in call quality and comfort also deserve recognition.
|Bose 700||Bose QC35 II|
|Price and value (5)||4||5|
|Active Noise Cancellation (25)||25||23|
|Audio quality (20)||17||18|
|Apps and Special Features (15)||13||11|
|Call Quality (5)||5||4|
|Battery Life (10)||6||8|
The QC35 II is still a top performer, but it was only a matter of time before Bose outdid itself and released a superior noise canceller. These cans are still a great starter for newbies who are curious about noise-cancelling headphones. They are also a slightly cheaper alternative with great sound and battery life to match their strong ANC performance.
If you already own the QC35 II, I don't believe you need to upgrade immediately. But if you're a noise-cancelling lover who wants to make the switch to Bose or you have the cash to splurge on the best, you won't find a better option than the Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700.