The Bose Quiet Comfort 2
headphones are the best performing of the various different
models tested to date, although their excellent performance is
offset with a few niggling design issues that are not well
Bose Corp had kindly made a
review copy of their earlier Quiet Comfort headphones available
to me, and my review of these
headphones was mixed in its praise. Pleasingly, most of the
problems I pointed out in that review (all of which Bose
disputed at the time!) have been addressed in these new QC2
But perhaps because my review
was not ridiculously positive, and notwithstanding this series
coming top of Google keyword searches and having hundreds of
visitors every day, Bose declined to make a review set of their
new QC2 headphones available. This made me very doubtful that
their new headphones were materially better than the earlier
A reader kindly loaned me a
pair so I could bring you the review that Bose did not want me to write.
And then Magellan's kindly sent me a pair so I have them as an
ongoing reference for other comparative reviews.
Update : See also the
review of the new Bose Quiet Comfort 3 headphones here.
Further Update : Now
replaced/superseded by the
Comfort 15 headphones.
What You Get
The $300 headphones are
packed into a sturdy box for shipping, and come complete with
the single AAA battery they need.
With the headphones comes a
helpful eight (!) language instruction book, quick start guide,
and warranty card.
A connector cord to connect
the headphones to any music source is provided, along with an
extension cord and two adapter plugs - a double pronged one for
airlines and a 1/4" for home stereo systems. All plugs are
Lastly, a lovely semi-hardsided
but reasonably sized carry case is also provided. The
carry case has loops for a strap, which is also provided.
Inside the carry case are
two velcro attached pockets. One, with a clear plastic
window, is for carrying business cards, and contains ten of what
Bose describe as 'Courtesy Cards'. These cards are
miniature ads for the Quiet Comfort 2 and contact details for
Bose around the world. It is clever of Bose to make it
easy for their customers to become unpaid sales reps, too.
The other pocket has a mesh front and zip closure, and is
intended for carrying spare batteries, the adapters and
There are a couple of
moulded protrusions to gently hold the headphones in place
inside the carry case.
The headphones come with a
one year warranty, and a 30 day money back guarantee.
All in all, this is a very
complete range of quality items included with the headphones.
The headphones look similar
to the earlier Quiet Comfort model, but in the new QC2 design,
the ear cups can rotate a full 90° enabling them to lie flat,
taking up much less space when stored in their much smaller
protective carry bag that is now sized not much larger than a CD
The headphones weigh almost
7 ounces, and when stored in their protective bag with cords and
adapters, the total carry weight rises to 13 ounces.
Unlike some of the other 'on
the ear' type products, these are of an 'over the ear' design.
This is a superior design for noise reducing headphones for two
The over-the-ear design
provides a complete physical barrier that passively reduces
all external sounds much better than an on-the-ear design
Most people find the
over-the-ear design is more comfortable for long periods of
wearing the headphones (such as on a lengthy international
The actual size of the ear
cup seems to be identical to the Plane Quiet ear cups, and
indeed the headphones generally look very similar to the Plane
Quiet headphones. There is a slightly different design to the
tilt/swivel mechanism which puts the padded head band in a
slightly different position on one's head, and the headphones
seemed to be very slightly more comfortable than the Plane
Quiets, and perhaps slightly more effective at immediately
sealing around the ears to passively block out some of the
The headphones have all the
electronics built into the earcups, and the battery (a single
AAA battery is needed) is housed inside the right earcup.
The battery compartment is
discreetly hidden; indeed, some months after I last used the
headphones, I went to use them again and decided to replace the
battery. I couldn't remember and couldn't work out
where/how to get at the battery!
The only control on the
headphones is an on/off switch. There is no volume control at
all. There is an input level switch, but it is inconveniently
hidden on part of the connector cord that becomes inaccessible
once plugged into the headphones. This was poorly thought
Cords and Connectors
The connector cord is not
hard wired in to the headphones, but instead can be plugged in
if needed. If you are just using the headphones to quieten
ambient noise, then you don't need to have an unwanted cord
hanging down from the headphones. This is a good thing.
But, if you do want to
connect the headphones to any type of sound source, you need to
find the special connector cable (it uses a nonstandard plug so
you can't use any typical stereo extension cord) to connect
between the headphones and the music source. And, depending on
the plug on the music source, you might need to also find one of
the two adapter plugs also supplied.
There seem to be two
distinct schools of thought - one advocates having everything
hard wired into the headphones (like the Plane Quiets) and the
other prefers everything modular. Which is best?
Having occasionally left a
cord or connector behind, I prefer the PQ approach to having
everything inseparable from everything else - you'll never find
yourself having forgotten anything with the PQs. Murphy's Law
(and the disorienting effects of jet lag, drinks on planes (!)
and unfamiliar hotel rooms being what they are, the occasional
loss of something essential with the QC2 approach is almost
inevitable (I say this after having myself occasionally
lost/forgotten essential connectors!). And with the Bose
connector using a unique type of plug, if you lose or break the
supplied connector while on a trip, you'll be unable to use the
headphones for listening to anything until you're able to order
and receive a replacement from the Bose factory.
The connecting cable is also
difficult to plug in or out of the headphones. Not only do you
have to take the headphones off your head, but to remove the
cable, you either need to be able to use a fingernail to pry the
connector out, or else pull the connector out by its cord - this
being a very bad thing to do and something that is likely to
quickly result in a broken wire.
The noise quietening offered
by these headphones is without a doubt the best of any
headphones I've yet tested (update Feb05 : The new
headphones now offer almost identical noise cancelling
capabilities, and for $100 less). They are appreciably better
than the earlier model Quiet Comfort and also better than the
Plane Quiet range of headphones, particularly in lower frequency rumbles
(eg from air conditioning fan motors, hard disk drive motors,
and much of the background noise on a plane).
The earlier model had an
annoying amount of clearly audible electronics hiss. Although,
at the time, Bose said this was unavoidable, they have improved
this greatly and the hiss present in the new model headphones is
very much less and not nearly so objectionable. The hiss level
is now better than in the
Plane Quiet headphones and very much better than in the Solitude.
In terms of playing music,
the 'high/low' setting didn't seem to make a very big difference
to the input level, although with the setting on 'high' some
sort of strange electronic interference noise from my computer
became much more strongly present rather than on the 'low'
There was no separate volume
control, but most of the time, an extra volume control is
largely unnecessary because almost always whatever music source
you are using has its own volume control.
Sound quality was excellent
and more than adequate for the type of playback sources and
environments in which they are likely to be used in. Is the
sound quality better than the Plane Quiets? Some other readers
think so, and perhaps they are correct. Does this matter? Well,
if you can hear the difference in sound quality between an MP3
sampled at 192 kb/sec and one sampled at 256 kb/sec, then maybe
you will also appreciate the possible improvement in sound
quality that these headphones might offer. But if you usually
record your MP3s at 128kb/sec and are perfectly happy, and if
you can't tell the difference between 192 and 256 kb/sec, then
it is hard to justify the extra cost of the QC2 headphones based
on their better audio fidelity.
Like their predecessor, the
Quiet Comfort 2 does not have a 'pass-through' mode. If the
battery dies, then (unlike the Plane Quiets) you can't use them
just as ordinary headphones without the noise reducing feature.
Typical battery life is quoted at 35 hours. For this reason, you
should always travel with a spare battery.
Which Headphones Should You
The new Bose Quiet Comfort 2
headphones ($299) are better than all other products, but are
also $100 more expensive than the closest competitor (the
and almost five times - $250 - more than the
Plane Quiet NC6 headphones. If money is no object,
you'll of course choose Bose. But if you have a more
real-world approach to cost and value, you should think
carefully about your other choices.
Should you pay this much
extra for the small improvement in performance they offer?
Only you can answer that question!
Where to Buy
Bose headphones are
available at a number of different stores and online retailers,
as well as direct from Bose.
Bose is very strict about
its pricing, and no-one can ever discount Bose. This means
all stores sell them for the same $299 price point.
The new Bose Quiet Comfort 2
headphones are the best performing of the ten different types
of noise reducing headphones I've used, and are a major
improvement over the earlier model Quiet Comfort headphones.
They are also the most
expensive. Many people might choose to buy the much lower priced
and almost as good Plane Quiet
headphones, but those who insist on absolutely the best will
be very pleased with their $299 purchase.
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12 Sep 2003, last update
28 May 2011
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.