Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700: Which are the best noise-cancelers?

This Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700 face-off compares the company's top noise cancelers to tell you everything you need to know if you're shopping for the best noise-cancelling headphones money can buy.

While the Bose 700 headphones have been around since 2019, they've managed to hold their own despite strong competition from big-name rivals, and it's a testament to Bose's noise canceling tech that the 700s retained the top spot for so long.  

As the flagship successor, the all-new QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are masterfully engineered and boast plenty of upgrades in a new sleek design with intuitive touch controls. They come with a price increase, though, and are among the priciest options in the category. The cost hike for the new flagship helps make the older Bose 700 a great alternative option, particularly when you consider that they're still on sale at plenty of retailers where they're being discounted in some spectacular early Black Friday headphone deals

Whether you’re a Bose fan or a casual consumer wanting the most effective tech to silence the world around you, both models will get the job done to outstanding standards. To find out which model is the best for your needs, my Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700 face-off below has all the answers. Read on to find out which ANC titan comes out on top.

Bose QC Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700

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Bose QC Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700: Specs compared

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Header Cell - Column 0 Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Bose 700
Price$429 / £449 / AU$649$379 / £349 / AU$599
Size7.7 x 2.0 x 5.5 inches8 x 6.5 x 2 inches
Weight8.9 ounces8.9 ounces
Battery life (rated)24 hours (18 hours w/ Immersive Audio)20 hours (ANC enabled)
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3 with SBC, AAC, LE, and aptX Adaptive supportBluetooth 5.0 with SBC, AAC
Special featuresAdaptive ANC, ambient listening mode, aptX Adaptive, Bluetooth 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 Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700: Price and Availability

Bose QC Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700 showing review models and packaging

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The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are available to buy now for $429 at the Bose store as well as online retailers including AmazonBest Buy, and Walmart. The new Ultra Headphones are available in black and white smoke color options. 

The Bose 700 headphones typically sell for $379. They are currently being discounted to $299 at the Bose store and online retailers including Amazon. They're available in black and luxe silver options. 

Although the price hike for the Ultra Headphones feels excessive in the current world economic climate — it's higher than the awesome Sony WH-1000XM5 — the high-level performance on offer makes them a justifiable purchase. However, if you're less bothered by new features and just seek first class noise-canceling, then the discounted price on the Bose 700 make them the more attractively priced Bose model right now.

Winner: Bose 700

Bose QC Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700: Design

Bose QC Ultra headphones with carry case

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The new Bose Ultra Headphones appear to take design cues from rival models to create a chic and well-crafted headphone. Their superior craftsmanship, blending the 700’s sharp-looking aesthetics with the QC series’ pleasant wearable design, adds twistable and foldable earcups. 

The headband is more substantial and has softer padding. The sturdy aluminum frame allows the earcups to slide out or retract to get the right fit, while the premium leather wraps around the headband and earcups provide impressive long-term comfort. Even the bundled carrying case has gotten a facelift, featuring cutouts to collapse and stow the Ultra Headphones securely when on the move.

image showing Bose 700 headphones with closed MacBook Pro

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Despite being several years old, the Bose 700 still have plenty of modern flair, highlighted by a gorgeous unibody design and sleek aesthetics. Earcup padding feels just as soft and sits on the ears without applying unwanted pressure. Both models have identical weights and are incredibly light for noise-canceling headphones. 

The clamping force on the Bose 700 was slightly more noticeable in my tests, but this was only really an issue when worn for several hours at a time. Overall, I preferred the Bose QC Ultra Headphones for longer listening.

Winner: Bose QC Ultra Headphones

Bose QC Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700: Controls

Bose QC Ultra control buttons

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Physical buttons and voice activation are part of both models. Tactility is responsive and solid, ensuring all intended commands are properly executed. Advanced mic arrays give both models excellent speech recognition and vocal capture when using the digital assistant. Firing up Alexa or Google Assistant with their wake-word phrase was instantaneous, and voice commands were addressed as quickly as they were received.

Touch controls are on the right earcup for both models to navigate playback commands. Wear detection is only available on the QC Ultra. Although you can also control the volume on the Bose 700, a new volume control strip on the right earcup of the Ultra feels more accurate via slide gestures, and is a great addition. 

Winner: Bose QC Ultra Headphones

Bose QC Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700: Sound quality

Bose QC Ultra Headphones worn by reviewer Alex Bracetti

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Immersive Audio is the headline feature of the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones. The universal spatialized audio is made possible by proprietary digital signal processing software, so whatever music source or streaming platform you use, you'll benefit from immersive listening on Bose's newest flagship.

Immersive Audio gave a phenomenal first impression. With the "Still" setting, I felt like I was listening to live music. Sounds appeared to have more space around them and felt like they wrapped around my head. I wouldn't say that it always felt entirely natural, and some elements of music that I know well were less prominent with Immersive Audio enabled. But it gave an impressive sense of spaciousness that stays anchored to a fixed point no matter where I moved my head. The "Motion" setting delivers the same dynamic listening experience while on the go but keeps the immersive sound experience equally balanced to the same level in each earcup. 

Bose QC Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700 side-by-side on a bench

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Bass levels appear to be slightly stronger when either of the Immersive Audio modes are selected. This may be intentional as it helps to draw you in to using the mode, but the Off setting feels far more natural in terms of stereo soundstage even if the bass sounds leaner. The Immersive Audio settings are fun and the sonic presentations are livelier than what you’ll hear from Apple or Sony’s spatial audio, too. Not to mention the QC Ultra’s headtracking is spectacularly accurate with zero latency.

Sounds appeared to have more space around them and felt like they wrapped around my head.

Unlike the Bose 700, the QC Ultra Headphones have CustomTune technology to fine-tune audio based on the unique properties of your ear. On top of that, they support aptX Adaptive for Bluetooth playback that’s dynamically scaled to increase the data rate from 279kpbs to 420kbps.

Bose's signature sound balance has a richness and warmth that's very pleasant, but I found I needed to adjust the EQ for a better balance on the QC Ultra. Listening to orchestral and acoustic tracks I know well, I found that certain mid frequencies were less prominent than I'm used to hearing and don't allow audiophiles like myself to hear right into every stand of the recording mix.

I’m a fan of the Bose 700’s sound quality as well, which is mostly warm and delivers fairly balanced results, but the default setting sounds a little too bright in the upper registers for my ears.

The clean vocals on Oh Wonder's “Livewire” were pleasant to hear, though the bass didn’t have the usual depth I know this track to have and didn't blow me away. There's no Immersive Audio or aptX Adaptive support on the Bose 700.  

Winner: Bose QC Ultra Headphones  

Bose QC Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700: Active noise canceling

Bose QC Ultra Headphones with packaging and carry case

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95% of unwanted sounds were silenced during my testing of the the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones.

There's no doubt about it, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones have the best noise-canceling performance I've encountered. Set to Max, I could barely hear anything of what was going on around me and I'd say that nearly 95% of unwanted sounds were silenced during my testing. They completely silenced the world around me to the point where I couldn't hear anyone in the office. My keyboard taps were non-existent, as was the sound of the kitchen faucet when I turned it on to top up a glass with cold water. Any blaring noises that caught my attention sounded like background effects on songs. 

Bose’s Aware listening was just as gratifying for situational awareness. Ambient sounds and conversations sounded real, not simply recreated via the headphone microphones. 

Bose 700 worn by female

Like the Ultra Headphones, noise canceling is enabled permanently on the Bose 700 along with 10 levels of noise cancelation that can be adjusted to control the amount of noise entering the soundstage. It’s a winning combination that makes chatter from fellow passengers on my work commutes and noisy office co-workers almost nonexistent, but the Bose Ultra Headphones take ANC to the next level.

Winner: Bose QC Ultra Headphones   

Bose QC Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700: Call quality

Bose 700 worn by reviewer testing call quality

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Sadly, the QC Ultra Headphones didn't outperform the Bose 700 in terms of voice calling quality. That may sound shocking given the QC Ultra’s flagship status and price, but that doesn’t make them an inferior calling headset. They performed well with wireless video and voice calls, eliminating background noise, but some high-frequency sounds and wind did enter conversations.

The Bose 700 continue to be the best calling headset for working from home for multiple reasons. The advanced mic system not only makes the speaker’s voice loud and clear during chats, but also does a fantastic job of filtering out unwanted noises and performed very well in gusty conditions.

Winner: Bose 700

Bose QC Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700: Battery life

Bose says the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones gives listeners 4 hours more battery life than the Bose 700, meaning you should get 24 hours of continuous listening on a full charge. That said, enabling Immersive Audio brings that estimate down to 18 hours. Although I haven't managed to deplete the battery in the few days that I've been testing the new flagship headphones, the stats suggest they aren't likely to be the best headphones for battery life. Near rivals like the  Sony WH-1000XM5 last up to 30 hours with ANC turned on, and the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless gives up to 60 hours of ANC playback.

Quick charging on both QC Ultra and 700 nets 3 hours or 3.5 hours respectively from a 15-minute quick charge.

Winner: Bose QC Ultra Headphones

Bose QC Ultra Headphones vs. Bose 700: Verdict

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Header Cell - Column 0 Bose QuietComfort Ultra HeadphonesBose 700
Price and value (5)45
Design (15)1312
Controls (10)108
Sound quality (25)2320
Active noise cancelation (20)2018
Call quality (10)810
Connectivity (5)54
Battery life (10)87
Total score (100)9184

While $429 certainly isn't cheap, with better styling, features, and functionality than their predecessor, the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are seriously impressive. The bigger and smarter mic array with customizable settings push the Ultra's ANC performance to the max, and they're as close to perfect as you’re going to get in the noise-canceling headphones category.

The Bose 700 are still a great choice of course, and a bargain buy at a discounted price. These svelte-looking headphones are engineered to reduce ambient sounds effectively, while delivering great (but not stellar) sound and functionality.

Winner: Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

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Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.