Bose QuietComfort Headphones vs. Bose 700: Which should you buy?

It has been more than 3 years since the Bose 700 hit store shelves, which is a pretty long stretch for a pair of noise canceling headphones. More surprisingly though, is that they've manged to maintain their position at the top of the best noise-cancelling headphones money can buy, fighting off all challengers with their world-class ANC performance. 

Adjustable active noise cancellation with rich, clean audio and superior call quality in a modern design are hallmarks that very few rivals have matched. But with the arrival of Bose’s latest flagship model, the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, it’s looking increasingly likely that the 700 will soon be retired. In the meantime, though, they're still available from the Bose store and online retailers offering hefty discounts in early Black Friday headphone deals.

Although the price drops are attractive, the Bose 700 have another new arrival to contend with. The quietly released QuietComfort Headphones are the replacement for the QC45, and come with adaptive ANC, enhanced sound, and longer battery.  

A certified classic versus a revamped entry that improves on their universally acclaimed predecessors…Bose doesn’t make the selection process easy. Want to know which is the better purchase? My Bose QuietComfort Headphones and Bose 700 comparison has the answer.

Listing image for Bose QuietComfort Headphones vs. Bose 700

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Bose QC Headphones vs. Bose 700: Specs compared

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Header Cell - Column 0 Bose QuietComfort HeadphonesBose 700
Price$349 / £349 / AU$649$379 / £349 / AU$599
Size‎6.18 x 3.15 x 7.68 inches8 x 6.5 x 2 inches
Weight7.8 ounces8.95 ounces
Battery life (rated)24 hours20 hours
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.1 with SBC, AACBluetooth 5.0 with SBC, AAC
Special featuresAdaptive ANC, ambient listening mode, multipoint, customizable sound, quick charging, Immersive Audio with headtracking (universal), SimpleSync, touch volume controls, voice activationTransparency mode, adjustable ANC, smart controls, tri-digital assistant support, multipoint technology, Bose AR-enabled

Bose QC Headphones vs. Bose 700: Price & availability

The QuiteComfort Headphones arrive at $349, which is $20 more than the QuietComfort 45. The Bose 700 originally launched at $379, but have seen numerous markdowns over the past months and are bound to be part of this year’s best Black Friday deals. The 700’s current sale price is $299 at Amazon, but we saw them drop to $269 during last year's seasonal sales.

Winner: Bose 700

Bose QC Headphones vs. Bose 700: Design

Bose QuietComfort Headphones folded up

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I only have one knock against the 700 and it’s that they don’t collapse for convenient portability like most other wireless cans. Besides that, they’re a modern work of art. The unibody frame with no visible screws or threading makes for a fascinating observation. Bose set up the extenders on an adjustable tracking system placed outside of each earcup for seamless adjustment. The plastic and stainless-steel construction feels upscale, while the soft-touch leather earcups and headband provide pleasant comfort. Even the carrying case shows flashes of creativity, being one of the first to have a tiny pocket with magnetic lid for housing accessories. 

The QC Headphones nowhere near match the 700’s state-of-the-art craftsmanship. They bear the same aesthetics and silhouette as the QC45, which doesn’t make them unattractive, but less innovative. The minimalist design with all-bold colorways and embossed branding looks chic. We also love the Cypress Green version, which is Bose’s coolest color option since introducing Midnight Blue. The flimsy build quality and soft leather make for a super-comfy wear. 

Winner: Bose 700

Bose QC Headphones vs. Bose 700: Controls

Bose QC Headphones alongside Bose 700 on a wooden background

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The QC Headphones have physical controls and digital assistance with voice activation, while the 700 come with the same, plus touch controls and wear detection. Everything runs smoothly on both models. Tactile feedback was positive for ensuring users of intended commands being met. Siri and Google Assistant operated well and showcased prominent speech recognition for accurate voice command results. Alexa and Google Assistant voice activation were also spot-on. 

However, the 700’s immaculate touch accuracy is the differentiator; swipe gestures for playback and volume are highly responsive.

Winner: Bose 700

Bose QC Headphones vs. Bose 700: Sound quality

Bose 700 headphones with control app displayed on mobile device

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The 700 delivered impressive sonics at the time of launch. They’re still great-sounding headphones, but don’t hold up well against newer releases. Frequency range is crisp and well balanced, though the low end, while punchy, lacks the oomph present in past Bose releases. Listening in wired mode brings bass and volume down a notch.

Bose made some DSP changes to the QC Headphones that elevate their sound. Expect deeper bass and more natural sound when listening to music on streaming platforms. The hi-fi presentation on Tidal was more dynamic, highlighted by greater clarity and definition. These headphones use the same Active EQ and proprietary TriPort acoustic structure found in the 700 that automatically calibrate sound and enlarge acoustic presence. You can also customize sound via EQ in the Bose Music app by adjusting bass, midrange or treble, just like the 700.

Winner: Bose QC Headphones

Bose QC Headphones vs. Bose 700: ANC

Reviewer testing ANC performance on QC Headphones outside

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ANC on the QC Headphones is no different than the QC45, which is terrific. Quiet mode blocks out up to 90% of unwanted noises. Many low and mid-frequency sounds went unnoticed, specifically droning noises from AC units and vehicle engines. Common indoor and outdoor distractions were silenced, from construction to kitchen appliances to talkative siblings. Some high-frequency sounds (e.g., crying babies, whistles) crept onto the soundstage. Quiet mode was fantastic for increasing environmental awareness in different surroundings. Also, there are several other modes in the companion app that let you assign ANC between 10 levels and enable the Wind Block setting to increase wind resistance.

The 700 are older, but deliver stronger ANC performance, canceling between 90 and 95% of incidental sounds. I’ve tested these headphones in numerous settings over the years and have never been interrupted when set to max level. These are the first Bose noise-canceling headphones to have adjustable ANC, granting full control over how much external sound you want to block out or let in. Setting them to level 1 enables transparency mode, which captures a lot of ambient noise, and clearly. Wind resistance is also mighty right out of the box, keeping harsh sounds from ruining calls and Spotify listening sessions. 

Winner: Bose 700

Bose QC Headphones vs. Bose 700: Call quality

Reviewer testing Bose 700 call quality

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The Bose 700 are the best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls. While it’s a shame that several newer models in Bose’s portfolio have yet to achieve the same call quality, it’s also a testament to the 700’s longevity and masterful engineering. Standard calls and FaceTime chats sounded pristine, with vocals being loud, clear, and well-articulated. ANC kept background interference to a minimum. Wind resistance was strong as well and reduced harsh sounds in gusty conditions.

The QC Headphones are a better calling headset than the QC45, but they fall a few levels short of the 700. I enjoyed several convos with clients and family members, though it required being indoors with silent backdrops. Using the QC Headphones outside for voice calling was fine for the most part, except that several high-pitched noises entered my chats.

The one benefit that both models offer is Self Voice to increase vocal volume on calls. 

Winner: Bose 700

Bose QC Headphones vs. Bose 700: Connectivity

Bose QuietComfort Headphones worn by reviewer Alex Bracetti

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Contrary to their older Bluetooth protocols, the 700 (Bluetooth 5.0) and QC Headphones (Bluetooth 5.1) produce reliable and speedy connectivity with lengthy range (up to 50 feet). They also come with multipoint technology to pair to two devices simultaneously, though the QC Headphones have a toggle to switch to single point connection.

Winner: Bose QC Headphones

Bose QC Headphones vs. Bose 700: Battery life

Bose QuietComfort Headphones with Bose 700

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Another area where the QC Headphones have the 700 beat is battery life. A full charge gives these next-gen cans 24 hours of ANC playtime, while a 15-minute quick charge generates 4 hours of listening time. The 700 are capped at 20 hours and require a 15-minute charge to gain 3.5 hours of listening time.

Winner: Bose QC Headphones

Bose QC Headphones vs. Bose 700: Verdict

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Header Cell - Column 0 Bose QuietComfort HeadphonesBose 700
Price and value (5)45
Design (15)1114
Controls (10)89
Sound quality (25)2221
Active noise cancelation (20)1820
Call quality (10)810
Connectivity (5)43
Battery life (10)87
Total score (100)8389

Although our Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700 face-off shows that the Bose 700 has now been overtaken by the new flagship as the best noise-canceling headphones, their ANC technology continues to perform at the highest level, and call quality is second to none. Flawless touch and voice controls also make the 700 a solid buy even if they are an older model.

As the successor to the QC45, the QC Headphones are a surprisingly great option. ANC is just as effective as their predecessor, and the DSP changes add more depth to music streaming sessions. The uptick in battery life is greatly appreciated as well. They have the specs to compete with the market’s top noise-cancelers.

However, the 700’s design and noise cancelation, along with the significant price drop, make them something of a bargain purchase right now.

Winner: Bose 700

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Alex Bracetti

A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.