Bose QuietComfort 25 QC25 Acoustic Noise Canceling Headphones Review




The Bose QuietComfort 25 active acoustic noise cancelling headphones are a revised and improved version of the QC15 phones, and while these likely cost more than practically any other consumer grade around-ear headphone, you’ll get what you pay for in the QC25s.  We sampled these at a nearby Sam’s Club store, and found their music reproduction quite convincing with rich-but-not-boomy bass, flowing mid range, and well-reproduced treble.

Also, as expected, these QC-25 earphones, like their predecessor, actively cancel surrounding noise, astonishingly well.  They’re far more effective than the simpler passive noise cancelling earphones of the 1980s and 1990s.   The really reduced and in many cases, eliminated the ambient sounds at the warehouse club, including fork lifts roaring and honking around, exhaust fans whirring, televisions playing, and people talking.  The best example of active noise control we’ve ever tested since the QC15s, this Quiet Comfort 25 headset incorporates ambient noise sensing microphones both inside and outside of each earphone element, which means that they require battery power; a single AAA cell which lasts many hours.

 

QC-25 Advantages, Pros, Benefits, and Features

  • Bose Active EQ and Triport technologies.  Improved sound and external noise quieting as compared to the QC15 earlier QC model.
  • Choice of two colors.  The QC25 phones come in either black or a white and brown model.
  • Closed air design.  With the exception of the ports, this QuietComfort offering features a by-in-large, all-closed back, that helps not only keep unwanted ambient noise away from the eardrum, but also keeps the music inside.  Unless you play your music at top volume, any escaping sound is very low, and probably won’t be heard by neighboring workers or travelers.
  • No sense of ear pressure noted.  Some reviewers state that they feel a sort of pressure on their eardrums when wearing these headphones in particularly noisy environments; a situation in which the QC25 phones must produce lots of anti-noise in order to cancel out the external noise.  However, we experienced none of this, even with product pallets being unloaded behind us while listening.
  • Plenty of volume.  Abundant dynamic range.  The circuitry and drivers inside can play at ear-splitting volumes if that’s what you want.  However, consider that if played too loudly over the long-term, the user’s manual warns of potential ear damage. But nonetheless, if high volume is still your desire, you’ll get it in the Bose QuietComfort 25 headphones.
  • Detachable cord. The removable cable with the 3.5mm plug fits today’s most popular mobile devices, and is easily replaced if lost or damaged.  This flexible cable works well on Apple and Apple compatible players and phones, as well as for CD, DVD, and other such non-mobile players.
  • Remote and microphone included.  This cord contains a microphone and remote volume control.  So you can answer calls on your iPhone, hands free using the QC-25.
  • Designed to work well with apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod mobile devices. They also work awesomely on Android tablets and phones as well.
  • Comfortable enough to wear while sleeping.  If you ride buses, trains, or are a frequent flyer, you’ll appreciate the active noise cancelling attributes, even when not actually listening to music.  We wore them while playing nothing, but with the power switch turned on.  These earphones function as well to reduce ambient sounds (like snoring and white noise that you find on airplanes) as a decent pair of beeswax earplugs.  They still drain the battery though, any time they’re turned on, even with no audio playing.  Like the QC15s, the QC25s work best in bed when you sleep on your back.  Uncomfortable though, if you sleep on your side.
  • Optional snap-on Bluetooth adapter.  While these headphones are not wireless by default, you can convert them into a Bluetooth headset with an optional Bluetooth adapter device.  Such devices plug into the input port on the headphones normally occupied by the cord.  With the adapter, the QC25 becomes a wireless and cordless set of Bluetooth headphones.  Nice!
  • Zippered Carrying case.  The QC25 phones fold and collapse into a compact shape that fits into the included nautilus-shaped storage case.  We found the case sufficiently compact for this type of headphone.
  • LED pilot lamp.  Glows solid green when the QC25 is powered on, and is easily seen from a distance, to help you avert accidently leaving them on, and running down the AAA battery.    The lamp flashes when battery is approaching end-of-life.
  • No bigger or heavier than non noise cancelling units.  Lightweight.  In spite of the battery and additional circuitry for cancellation of ambient noise, the QC-25 unit seems no more imposing on head and ears than the numerous passive closed ear headphones we’ve sampled.
  • Economical battery.  As mentioned, the QC25 headphone is powered by a single AAA battery, which can last up to 35 hours, according to Bose.
  • Deep, soft ear cups.  The Bose ear cushions, completely surround each ear, with enough depth to prevent the back of the can (the speaker) from touching the ear.  They’re flexible enough that they molded themselves around our eyeglasses (the temple pieces), without noticeable loss of fidelity or noise reduction effectiveness, and create an effective noise barrier to both outside noises coming in, and inside program sounds leaking out.
  • No amplifier hiss.  Even without music playing, we heard no amplifier noise, hums, hisses, or other audio processing artifacts.  Yet turning them off while listening to “the quiet” raised the noise level considerably.
  • Impressive fidelity.  Though other noise cancelling headphones often suffer from fidelity loss, due to their inferior noise cancelling circuitry, we noted no such loss in the QC-25 earphones. Bose has indeed overcome these perennial drawbacks of typical active noise canceling headphones in this offering.
  • Better surrounding noise detection.  The QC-25 features at least two microphones in each ear unit; one senses external noises directly (there’s a grill-covered opening on the back of each driver), as well as mics inside the driver case, closer to your ear.  This improves cancellation of higher frequency noises.  We could tell that noise cancellation worked well, by stopping the music, and then covering the noise sensing microphones with a finger.  As we covered more and more of the mic’s grill, we observed the external noise we heard increase.
  • Both low and high frequency external noises suppressed.  The QC-25 phones are constructed with superior noise isolation as the goal, and their active noise cancellation circuitry augments that in a huge way.  We observed more bass frequency noise reduction than were the higher frequency “S” sounds from people talking nearby.  Still though, ALL external noise frequencies are impressively lowered; especially with the phones operating.
  • Compatible with today’s mobile audio sources.  The 3.5mm plug with remote ring, fits most popular mobile players and phones, including Blackberry, iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, as well as Android devices from Samsung, Google, Amazon, et al.  It also fits portable MP3, AAC, CD, and DVD players, home theater systems and stereos, computers, and tablets.
  • Can still listen when battery fails.  Be sure to carry some replacement AAA cells with you for the QC25, for continued active noise reduction.  Without a fresh battery, you will lose any active noise suppression. However, unlike the QC15,  you’ll still be able to listen to you music.
  • Airline audio adapter.  Allows you to plug into provided audio sources built into many of today’s commercial airplanes.
  • Level LO / HI switch.  Functions as an audio attenuator, that allows you to lower the output volume when listening to airplane audio sources, whose volume may be too high for your liking.
  • Replacement parts available.  You may purchase genuine Bose replacement cables, ear cushions, adapters, and extension cables directly from Bose.  See the official product web page for details.  We provide that link below.
  • Easy cleanup.  Periodically wipe the phones with a damp cloth and tap around the ear cups should they develop depressions after prolonged listening sessions. Wipe outer areas of the QC-15, including the cushions, with a mild dishwashing detergent, mixed with water when the phones become heavily soiled or oily.
  • Affordable for serious music listeners.  The QC25 costs roughly $300 US, although for the best price, we suggest checking out online resellers and second-hand sites like Amazon and eBay.  WE found them as lost as $150.  However be careful paying too little, as the headphones you buy might be fake.  Buyer beware of exceedingly low prices.

 

QC-25 Problems, Cons, Disadvantages, and Concerns

  • High price.  At around $300 for a new pair, the QC-25 make up a decidedly non trivial purchase.  Although their overall quality likely justifies three c-notes, these are not intended for kids or novice listeners.  We suggest that you make sure your tastes and needs have grown into these phones before buying them.
  • Battery operated.  Under typical operation, the single AAA battery lasts approximately 35 hours.  Just don’t forget to turn off the QC-25 when you’re finished listening.  Easy to neglect, since the earphones make no perceptible noise of their own while operating.  Alkaline and nickel metal hydride (NiMh) cells are recommended.  No AC adapter facility however.  These phones provide only the means to be powered by some sort of AAA battery.
  • No battery charging provision.  Surprised that Bose designed neither wireless nor USB charge facilities into the QC-25, given its Porsche-like class.  However, even the longest lasting triple-A alkaline batteries cost well under a dollar each currently.  So paying for a new battery every so often would likely be less of an imposition than actually charging them; especially if you operate these earphones often, for long hours.
  • Ear cushions encourage sweaty ears.  Given the closed air design of the QC-25, an unfortunate drawback is that while wearing, you get little to no air moving around your ears to keep them cool.  The result, is perspiration, that can quickly soil the ear cushions.  So we recommend wiping the ear cups after each long use.
  • So effective that they might create hazards.  The noise cancelling feature works so well, that even with your music set to lower volumes, you’ll probably not hear someone approaching from the rear.  You may not even hear when they call your name.  These earphones also seriously reduce traffic noises, sirens, and other warning sounds that you’re likely to encounter while driving or walking.  Thus we recommend not using the QC-25 headphones when operating motor vehicles, and walking near busy streets.

 

Our Rating

Given that this is the 4th generation of the Bose noise canceling headphones product line, the rudimentary parts of the circuitry and case design first appeared some years back, and have been revised at least three more times since then, to create an awesomely exceptional pair of noise lowering headphones. The QC-25 continues the progression of decades of research and development, based on tried and true audio reproduction principles coupled with active noise cancelling techniques.  We find all parts durable, easily cleaned, and of superior grade construction.  While we’d prefer waiting to buy a refurbished set in order to avoid the high-end retail price of nearly $300, we see this price as the only major disqualifying factor of the QC25.  Even if you don’t fly much, the high-grade active noise cancelling performance means that you’ll likely need to listen at lower volume levels, as you’ll hear less outside noise to overcome by turning the volume up. We therefore, rate this audio accessory product at 96 out of 100.  To Bose: Take a hundred dollars off the MSRP, and you’ll get a perfect score.

 

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References

Revision History

  • 2017-02-09: Originally published.