Bose Headphones 700 Wireless Headphones [ Review 2022 ] : The King of Noise Reduction Returns

The days when Bose ruled the world of noise-cancelling headphones are long gone. 

Bose Headphones 700 Wireless Headphones [ Review 2022 ] : The King of Noise Reduction Returns

To stay in the race against fierce competition, the manufacturer launches the Headphones 700. A worthy successor for the very eminent QC 35.

Bose Headphones 700 Wireless Headphones Overview

The Headphones 700 is the second set of active noise-canceling wireless headphones to be launched by Bose, following the QuietComfort 35 launched three years earlier - and with the exception of an extremely minor revision of the QC35 II. By abandoning the venerable "QuietComfort" brand, it inaugurates a new line of mobile audio products, which will also welcome in 2020 the Earbuds 500 and Earbuds 700 true wireless headphones, respectively without and with active noise reduction.

The Headphones 700 is available since the summer of 2019 at a guide price of $ 399.95. Note that it does not replace - at least, not immediately - the QC35 II, which remains in the catalog of the manufacturer with an indicative price slightly revised downward (299.95 $).

Bose Headphones 700 Wireless Headphones Ergonomics

If there is one point on which the Headphones 700 is a real revolution compared to the QC35, it is the design. Its sleek lines are a far cry from the "functional" and all-plastic design of its predecessor. But don't let appearances fool you: the back of the earpieces is not made of aluminum, but of imitation aluminum plastic; only the headband is really made of metal. This plastic is, however, of excellent workmanship, and its use was probably necessary to keep the weight as light as possible. In fact, at 250g on the scale, the Headphones 700 is barely heavier than the QC35 (240g), and less than the Sony WH-1000XM3 (255g).

As is almost always the case with Bose, the Headphones 700 is an extremely comfortable headset to wear - but it must be admitted that it does not reach the masterly level of the QC35 in this respect, and that a few minor sacrifices have been made in the name of looks. In particular, the thinness of the headband makes it less easily forgotten on the skull, even if it remains far from creating a real discomfort. We can also note the slightly less deep earpieces, which make that the auricles can be slightly in contact with the grids of the speakers, according to the morphology of each one.
Finally, the new design also has repercussions on the size, since the Headphones 700 is not foldable, and that it thus takes appreciably more space when it is stored in its semi-rigid case.
There is another element on which the newborn of Bose succumbs to the fashion of the moment: the tactile controls, grouped on the front half of the back of the right earpiece. The gestures are very classic - double tap for play/pause/answer, swipe up or down for volume control, forward or backward for navigation between tracks. One might fear that the small surface area would be a source of frustration on a daily basis, but it's not: it falls very naturally under the fingertips, and you get used to it in no time. What's more, command detection is remarkably reliable and fast. One can argue that it's still not as intuitive as good old-fashioned mechanical buttons, but it's getting very close.

Speaking of which, there are still three mechanical buttons left on the headset, one dedicated to Bluetooth on/off/pairing, another to adjusting the active noise reduction, and the last to calling a voice assistant (the headset is natively compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa on all platforms, and with Siri on iOS). By the way, it is one of the only headsets on the market, along with the recent Jabra Elite 85h, to allow both the adjustment of noise reduction and the call of an assistant, rather than having to choose between one or the other of these features!

The Headphones 700 works in tandem with the Bose Music mobile app

Available on iOS and Android. It allows you to fine-tune the noise reduction level (11 levels available), configure the voice assistant, change the language of the voice announcements, the time of inactivity before the automatic sleep, manage the Bluetooth pairings in memory in the headset ... and even choose the amount of audio feedback you want to have during a voice communication, to better hear your own voice when you speak. It's hard to beat that. But all of this is unfortunately marred by a small but annoying detail: the application has the audacity to refuse to launch until the user creates a Bose account with a valid email address - which has absolutely no reason to be functional. At a time when privacy issues are finally starting to be given the place they deserve in the digital space, the approach seems extremely crude...

However, let's get back to more positive things by mentioning the Bluetooth connectivity which, as always with Bose, is one of the best in existence. Not only capable of multipoint connection to two sources simultaneously - for example a computer and a smartphone -, the Headphones 700 is also able to automatically establish this multipoint connection each time it is switched on, and to take care of the management of the broadcasted stream, priority being systematically given to the device receiving a call, or on which a music has just been launched. Quite royal... even if, there too, it is necessary to note a small regression compared to the QC 35, which can connect to 3 sources simultaneously!

As for the broadcast latency, it is 190 ms; a rather high value in absolute terms, but it must be put into perspective by the fact that the headset manages to offer automatic compensation with most of the current video playback applications (Netflix, YouTube, Facebook...). We are therefore rarely bothered by any sound/picture lag.

The autonomy of the Bose  Headphones 700 

Was established during our measurement at 20 h 30 min, thus exceeding by a hair the 20 hours promised by the manufacturer. This is certainly less than the 23 to 30 hours offered by the Sony WH-1000XM3 - and let's not even talk about the 36 hours achieved by the Jabra Elite 85h; but as long as the device is capable of accompanying us on a charge for more than a whole day, or even for the entirety of any long-haul flight, it goes without saying that this does not make any really noticeable difference in use. A very nice touch is that the mobile application and the voice announcements do not communicate the remaining charge as a percentage, but in terms of actual usage time, according to estimates that we think are perfectly reliable.

Finally, let's finish this ergonomic section with what turns out to be one of the Headphones 700's most remarkable strengths: its voice communication microphones. When used as a hands-free kit, the Bose headset manages to deliver a clear and perfectly intelligible voice in almost all circumstances. In the second of the two examples below, we tried to use the headset in the most difficult conditions imaginable: on the sidewalk of a major Parisian avenue, near an intersection, when the traffic lights have just turned green... and you can barely hear the background noise under the captured speech. Great art.

Bose Headphones 700 Wireless Headphones Audio

As much as the Headphones 700's appearances shake up Bose's aesthetic habits, its audio performance on the other hand seems to stem from a very conservative approach. Indeed, we can easily recognize the American manufacturer's signature sound, with a restitution very close to that of the QC35 - which does not exclude some subtle but significant evolutions.

We find here a rather obvious W profile, with a rather generous low register - but without any unreasonableness -, and above all a significant emphasis on the midrange around 2 kHz. The latter was already present on the QC35, but it is even more pronounced here, which may not be to everyone's taste. Firstly, it gives the sound a very sharp and incisive character, which can be a bit tiring for the eardrums in the long run, especially if you like to listen to your music at high volume. Secondly, because this spectral region corresponds to what is sometimes called the presence zone, this profile can give the sensation that all the sound sources are placed very close to the listener. This has an obvious impact on the perception of stereophony, which seems a bit compact - especially in acoustic music, which is inherently very rich in midrange.

All this being said, it should also be noted that the prominence of this zone is associated with the very good precision of the mids and highs, with a very beneficial effect on the definition and richness of the timbre of voices in particular, and of midrange sounds in general. After a few hours of use of the headphones, just enough time for our hearing to get used to this specific sound, the impression of aggressiveness fades away, and our attention can then be focused on the superb clarity with which the articulations and intonations show through. This enthusiasm continues in the very high frequencies: we are still far from the wonderfully chiseled extreme high frequencies produced by the Sony WH-1000XM3, but the micro-details and room effects are deployed with a commendable accuracy - and are completely rid of this "chemical" character which was the biggest reproach we had to make of the QC35.

On the other hand, the venerable elder has a slight advantage over its little brother when it comes to bass reproduction, due to a slightly reduced reactivity on the Headphones 700. Strangely enough, this is especially noticeable on the attacks, and not on the transients of extinction, which are remarkably fast - the exact opposite of what we are used to on mobile headphones! In concrete terms, prolonged bass effects (such as a thunderclap or a long resonant symphonic bass drum) suffer from a slight lack of explosiveness, whereas a short effect (such as a gunshot or a very dry electronic kick) will be reproduced with all the vigor that should be its own.

In the end, the Headphones 700 offers a sound reproduction that is neither better nor worse than that of the QC35, but simply with different strengths and weaknesses. While the old one has a more homogeneous bass and a slightly better overall balance, the young one has more precise and transparent timbres and much clearer highs. It is up to each one to determine where his preference lies.

It should be noted that the sound produced by the Headphones 700 is invariant depending on whether the headphones are used in Bluetooth or active wired mode (headphones on), and whatever the selected noise reduction intensity. On the other hand, when using the headphones in passive wired mode (headphones off), things deteriorate violently, as shown in the measurement above: you simply have the impression of hearing the sound through a megaphone. On the bright side, it's better than having no sound at all when the battery runs out.

Bose Headphones 700 Wireless Headphones Conclusion

Finally, let's conclude with the active noise reduction, which also holds absolutely no surprises for us: it is once again extremely similar to that offered by the QC35. Although our measurement seems to place the latter slightly above the Headphones 700, the very slight difference can probably be explained by the manufacturing variance specific to the examples we used, and is not perceptible in real use. The Headphones 700 is therefore unsurprisingly one of the best active noise cancellers available on the market. It is, however, a little below the Sony WH-1000XM3, which is able to reduce human voices better thanks to its extra dB of attenuation between 1 and 3 kHz. This detail may be important for people who want to use their headphones at work in an open space.

Despite its completely changed design, the Headphones 700 represents, in essence, a change in continuity for Bose

Neither really better nor worse than the QC35 (and by extension the QC35 II), very close to the latter in its sound and noise reduction, it simply offers different compromises: on the one hand a slightly less royal comfort, on the other hand a clearer and more transparent audio restitution... 

This is enough to make it one of the best wireless headsets on the market - and one that will be a favorite among phone addicts, thanks to the amazing quality of its hands-free kit.

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