A Bose QuietComfort 45 vs Bose 700 face-off will help you choose between two of the best noise-cancelling headphones.
That's because Bose is the king of active noise cancellation. That isn’t up for debate. What is up for debate is the brand’s No. 1 noise-cancelling model.
Is it the flagship Bose 700, which continues to rank highly on several best noise-cancelling headphones lists? Or is it the all-new Bose QuietComfort 45, the sequel to one of the market’s most beloved headphones, the QuietComfort 35 II?
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Industry-leading ANC, dynamic sound, adaptive listening modes, smart features, strong connectivity, and expensive price tags are what come with either set of Bose cans. Depending on your needs and budget, you may find one more accommodating than the other.
After a week of testing, we're ready to share our expert opinions on these two noise-cancelling giants and crown a true winner. Here is our full Bose QuietComfort 45 vs Bose 700 breakdown.
Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose 700: Specs compared
|Bose QuietComfort 45||Bose 700|
|Price (MSRP)||$329.99||$399.99; $429.95 (with charging case)|
|Size||7.25 x 6 x 3 inches||8 x 6.5 x 2 inches|
|Weight||8.5 ounces||8.95 ounces|
|Battery life||24 hours (ANC on)||20 hours (ANC on)|
|Processor||Not stated||Not stated|
|Special features||Active noise cancellation, transparency mode, Bluetooth 5.1, smart controls, digital assistant support, Self Voice mode, multipoint technology, SimpleSync||Adjustable active noise cancellation, transparency mode, equalizer settings, smart controls, digital assistant support, Self Voice Mode, multipoint technology|
Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose 700: Price and value
Bose products don’t come cheap, so be prepared to drop a few hundred dollars no matter which you choose. As for the cheaper option, that would be the QuietComfort 45, which, surprisingly, launched at a lower MSRP than its predecessors: $329. It is available in two colors: Black and Smoke White.
The 700 originally hit store shelves with a $399 price tag, but it is currently available for $379. You can purchase it in four colors: Black, Luxe Silver, Soapstone, and a limited-edition Black/Copper version with bundled charging case ($449.95).
We’ve seen the 700 on sale many times, even going for as low as $229.95, and it’s likely to be part of this year’s Black Friday deals. With the QuietComfort 45 fresh on the scene, don’t anticipate a discount anytime soon. Either way, the price points for these two models are warranted when factoring in overall performance.
Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose 700: Design
Bose put serious thought into the 700’s design and came up with a contemporary look that is next level. The unibody appearance, which looks like it was molded from one piece of metal, is beautiful. You won’t even find one screw or piece of threading exposed. More striking are the integrated extenders that are placed on a tracking system to seamlessly adjust length. Even basic details like the fully padded headband, laser-etched logo, and mic placements are eye-catching. Our only complaint is that the headphones don’t fold up.
The QuietComfort 45 looks no different than the QuietComfort 35 II. It’s basically the same collapsible, minimalist design, but with few changes. The pivot points have metal hinges to give these headphones a more durable feel. More mics were stuffed into the earcups, as seen with the multiple dimples on each side. Notice the headband padding is now covered in leather instead of suede. The most obvious alteration revolves around the logo, which is no longer debossed or reflective — instead, it is laser etched.
Winner: Bose 700
Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose 700: Comfort
You can expect great comfort from either set of headphones, but we find the QuietComfort 45 to be the more pleasant wear. It benefits from a lighter weight, which you’ll feel when comparing both models in hand, plus the padding is gentle atop the skull and ears. The pliable frame allows for extra wiggle room when worn at tight settings, though you’ll want to adjust the extenders properly to achieve optimal fit.
The 700 is very cozy. Adjusting the extenders is a super smooth task, thanks to the unique track system that lets them easily glide up and down. The headband also does a fine job of forming to the skull for a secure fit. You just need to deal with the strong clamp force on the ears, which becomes fatiguing after 2 hours of use.
Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose 700: Controls
The 700 wins this round for completing the functional trifecta: responsive touch controls, physical buttons, and on-ear detection. Using tap and swipe gestures on the touch panel (only on the right earcup) makes playback and call management such a breeze to operate. The buttons are easy to locate and pressing them produces a nice click to reassure users of commands being met. Motion detection is on point, with the headphones automatically pausing content when removed from the head. The only thing more reliable than the controls is digital assistance. Siri, Google Assistant, Bixby, and Alexa all operate well. You can even use the Alexa wake-word function to activate Amazon’s AI bot hands-free.
Bose left the controls untouched on the QuietComfort 45, assigning the same button layout and functions as the previous version. The only difference is that the Action Button on the left ear cup is reserved solely for switching ANC modes; no longer can the digital assistant be assigned to it.
Each pair of headphones produces solid tactility and executes commands in a timely manner, but the lack of touch controls and motion detection works against the QuietComfort 45.
Winner: Bose 700
Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose 700: Active noise cancellation
Only an engineer or true audiophile can tell the differences in ANC performance between the QuietComfort 45 and 700. Based on hardware, as well as our experiences with both models, we give this round to the 700. Bose equipped the 700 with eight mics, six of which are used for noise cancellation, and revamped their adaptive microphone technology to give these headphones 11 levels of ANC.
Turning on the feature at max level blocks out close to 90 percent of ambient noises around you, while minimizing high frequencies to the point that they sound like background effects on songs.
A few of our writers have tested the 700 in numerous settings, including at home, in the office, riding public transportation, and on airplanes, with the consensus being that they enjoyed distraction-free listening. As a father to an infant boy, I can attest to the 700’s noise-cancelling prowess, as the technology muted most of his cries during work hours.
Two modes are programmed into the QuietComfort 45: Quiet and Aware. The former acts as the standard ANC mode and shows that it can handle just as much ambient noise as its premium sibling. Low and mid frequencies went unnoticed, along with a handful of high-frequency sounds that transpired a block away. These headphones kept me focused every day during work hours, granted the occasional baby scream crept into the soundscape. There is no option to adjust ANC, nor does the QuietComfort 45 have two ANC modes (Low and High) available like the QuietComfort 35 II.
The ambient-listening modes on these models are equally superb. Lowering the ANC levels on the 700 will open the mics to let in more sounds. Four of those mics amplify vocals when you're speaking, which helps when sparking conversations with friends or the barista at a coffee shop. Aware mode on the QuietComfort 45 is just as effective for increasing environmental awareness; ambient noises sound distinctive and less harsh.
Winner: Bose 700
Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose 700: Audio quality
For the record, there are several noise-cancelling headphones that have a stronger, more refined sonic presence than either of these options. That doesn’t make the QuietComfort 45 or 700 any less valuable, because Bose engineered them to deliver clean, detailed sound with punchy bass.
The 700 has a natural soundstage and the addition of a customizable EQ with presets via companion app allows listeners to fine-tune audio to their ears. Lows are given priority when it comes to frequency range, but mids and highs aren’t left behind either. Vocals are pronounced, while brass and string instruments are reproduced well. Video content also sounds great despite noticeable lag when streaming from YouTube.
The QuietComfort 45 is geared towards bass heads, boasting a warm-heavy soundstage that pumps out rich, oomph-filled lows. If you’re thinking that mids and highs get no love, guess again. Bose combined proprietary TriPort acoustic architecture with a volume-optimized Active EQ to produce greater frequency response, so you can hear music in full, distortion-free. Not all tracks sound smooth, specifically orchestral recordings, which the QuietComfort 45 seems to struggle with, depending on the record. It’s a shame, too, that there is no way to tweak audio to one’s liking, but we’re hoping Bose adds EQ support in a future update.
Winner: Bose 700
Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose 700: Apps and special features
Both models are compatible with the Bose Music app and share several of the same basic functions. These include a music player, volume slider, standby timer, battery level indicators, digital assistant selection, toggle controls, and firmware updates. Each one comes with its own set of special perks, but the 700 has more to play with.
Not only does the 700 give you a slider to adjust noise cancellation, but there is also the option to save three preferred ANC levels that can be selected and cycled through on the headphones. The Self Voice setting is great for adjusting how loud your voice sounds on calls. A new update brings an EQ into the mix to fiddle with bass, mids, or treble. Four presets (Bass Boost, Bass Reducer, Treble Boost, Treble Reducer) were also added, along with Spotify Tap functionality that can be assigned to the Shortcut button.
What’s available on the QuietComfort 45? That would be the aforementioned Self Voice and SimpleSync, a new Bose feature for connecting these headphones to a Bose Smart Soundbar. The purpose of it is to have the QuietComfort 45 double as a remote, giving users independent volume controls so they can raise, lower, or mute sound when streaming sound from a television. It’s a neat feature, though we question how often the average consumer will use it.
These are some of the best wireless headphones for connectivity as well. While the 700 operates on Bluetooth 5.0 and maintains a decent max range of 35 feet, the QuietComfort 45 is running on Bluetooth 5.1 and achieves up to 50 feet of wireless listening before any dropout occurs.
Winner: Bose 700
Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose 700: Call quality
There are reasons why we have the Bose 700 listed as the best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls. Six of its eight mics are used to produce exceptional clarity and cancel the noise around you at the highest level possible. Wind resistance is strong, decreasing whisking effects when walking by speeding cars or in gusty conditions. In addition, the Self Voice setting is clutch for hearing conversations fully when in rowdy areas. It is still our go-to headset for phone and FaceTime calls on Android and iOS devices.
We’re also fond of the QuietComfort 45 for voice and video calls, though it is a step down from its predecessors. You’ll get loud, crisp results, as well as some nice noise reduction, but the call quality takes a hit when the wind comes into the equation.
Winner: Bose 700
Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Bose 700: Battery life
Bose finally managed to increase the battery life on their noise-cancelling headphones. The QuietComfort 45 is rated at 24 hours with ANC on. What is playtime with ANC off? See, here’s the thing… you can’t disable the feature. Bose claims that ANC is never truly off, so being in Quiet or Aware mode drains juice no matter what. At least you’re given more playtime to work with, along with quick charging that nets you 3 hours of use on a 15-minute charge.
The 700 provides 20 hours of listening time with ANC on, and like its newer sibling, there is no way to disable the feature. At one point, a charging case was sold for the 700 that gave users 40 additional hours, but it looks like Bose discontinued the product. If there is one redeeming quality about the 700’s battery life, it’s that the quick-charging technology is stronger: a 15-minute charge equates to 3.5 hours of use.
Winner: Bose QuietComfort 45
Overall Winner: Bose 700
While the QuietComfort 45 is an excellent upgrade for the QuietComfort series, it still falls short of beating Bose’s flagship entry, the almighty 700.
Everything from the customizable sound to the remarkable call quality to the svelte design makes these headphones stunning. However, it’s the best-in-class ANC that places the 700 in a league of its own, eliminating external sounds at such a high level and in a way that no other model can match, including Bose’s latest noise-canceller.
Battery life remains its one glaring flaw, but it could be a whole lot worse, like Microsoft-Surface-Headphones-16-hours worse.
|Bose QuietComfort 45||Bose 700|
|Price and value (5)||4||4|
|Active Noise Cancellation (25)||24||25|
|Audio quality (20)||17||18|
|Apps and Special Features (15)||11||12|
|Call Quality (5)||4||5|
|Battery Life (10)||7||6|
Coming in a close second is an accomplishment that shouldn’t go unnoticed when discussing the QuietComfort 45. Any major modifications that these cans received are skin deep and improve performance well enough to make them a worthy pickup, especially for fans of the QuietComfort 35 II.
ANC isn’t that far behind from the 700, and the warm, boomy soundstage complements contemporary music genres. The boost in battery life is appreciated as well. Had it not been for the lack of extra features and slight dip in call quality, there may have been a new heir to the Bose throne.
- More: Bose QuietComfort 45 vs. Sony WH-1000XM4: Which should you buy?