The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 ($400) are the company’s new flagship noise-canceling headphones, stealing that mantel from the QuietComfort 35 II ($349). They represent a pretty big change for Bose. Not only do they look drastically different from any of Bose’s headphones (some would argue that a design makeover has been long overdue), but they also can do some pretty different things.
Thanks to a new digital signal processor, completely new audio drivers, and new eight-microphone system, the Headphones 700 have an all-new transparency mode. Plus they’ve been engineered to make phone calls, for both you and the person on the other line, sound as clear as possible. The Headphones 700 have adopted other modern features, like on-earcup swipe controls, USB-C charging and Bluetooth 5.0, which the QuietComfort 35 II still lack. That said, these improvements/differences come at a price – which is $400.
A note on the name: The long name of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 has resulted in many reviews calling the headphones by different names. I’ve seen them be called the Bose 700, the Bose NC700 and the Bose Headphones 700. Bose’s website even occationally calls them the Bose “Smart” Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. For the remainder of this review, we’ll be referring to them as the Headphones 700.
The Good: Bose’s line of QuietComfort headphones have always been known for two things: 1) being great for travel because they are exceptionally lightweight and comfortable, and 2) being exceptionally good at blocking out the noise. And while the Headphones 700 technically aren’t QuietComfort’s, they certainly take after that line’s best features. Even with the redesign, the Headphones 700s are extremely lightweight and comfortable, especially with the new cushioned headband, and I’m guessing most people will be able to wear them for hours without any ear fatigue. The noise-canceling is maybe even a bit better than the QuietComfort 35 II, which is already great.
A major selling point of these headphones is the way they perform when taking phone calls – any business traveler or somebody who spends a lot of time on the phone while wearing headphones will absolutely love these. It’s true that there are a number of wireless over-ear headphones that can do call clarity pretty well, but the Bose Headphones 700 are on another level; they’re especially good in noisy environments, like a Starbucks in the morning or in Penn Station at rush hour. The secret is its beamform-array of microphones, which is able to separate your voice from the noise around, no matter how loud, and make sure you sound great to whomever you’re talking to. They might not even be able to tell you’re in a noisy environment.
Its advanced microphones are able to create a transparency mode — Bose calls it a “conversation mode” – that’s unlike any other. When you hold down the noise-cancellation button on the left earcup, it pauses the audio, turns off the noise-cancellation and amplifies the ambient noise around you. It’s neat because if somebody quickly comes up and talks to you, you can hold the button down and your conversation will sound as if you weren’t wearing any headphones. Your voice doesn’t sound different, even to you, where other headphones can make your voice sound muffled or Darth Vader-esque.
Another great thing with the Headphones 700 is that unlike previous Bose headphones, they can connect to two devices at the same time. For instance, you can be listening to audio on your laptop and then when you get a call on your smartphone, the music will automatically stop and you can answer (or decline) the call with a quick tap on the headphones.
Who It’s For: Anybody who wants wireless headphones with arguably the best noise cancellation. They’re great headphones for frequent travelers because they’re lightweight and comfortable. But really these are the perfect headphones for business professionals know spend a lot of time on the phone while wearing headphones.
Watch Out For: The Bose Headphones 700 have so much “good” going for them that, oddly, pointing out the negative things were actually pretty easy. If you don’t like having swipe controls on the earcups, because maybe you tend to touch or adjust your headphones quite often, you might get frustrated by these. The Headphones 700’s rigid headband prevents them from folding as compactly as the QuietComfort 35 II, so even though they fold flat, you probably won’t find them as packable. And they are expensive; at $400, the Headphones 700 are definitely in the premium bracket for noise-canceling headphones.
Alternatives: The Sony WH-1000M3 ($349) and the Bose QuietComfort 35 II ($349) are the two most main competitors to the Headphones 700. Both are more affordable and both have noise-canceling abilities of both are near the same level. The Sony WH-1000M3 have similar modern features, like swipe controls and USB-C charging, while the QuietComfort 35 II offer a similar combo of comfort and sound quality.
Verdict: The Bose Headphones 700 are tremendous wireless noise-canceling headphones. The new design and modern features are welcome changes, especially because Bose hasn’t compromised on comfort (a defining feature of the QuietComfort). The voice pickup and call clarity are really category-defining, and it makes the Headphones 700 the instant best option for business professionals and anybody who spends a lot of time on the phone. That said, the improvements in sound quality and noise-cancellation aren’t so significant over the Sony WH-1000M3 or the Bose QuietComfort 35 II; people that don’t spend much time simultaneously wearing headphones and chatting on the phone – they should have no qualms about going the “cheaper” route.
What Others Are Saying:
• “As you might expect, the Bose 700 are excellent noise cancelers, but what you might not expect is that the noise-canceling effectiveness is slightly different than what is offered with the QC 35 II. What I noticed is that the 700 seem to cancel out more of the static high-frequency sounds than prior models. I can see this working well for air travel in that it will cancel more of the hiss you hear from a plane’s ventilation system.” — Caleb Denison, Digital Trends
• “These headphones aren’t your daddy’s Bose. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 have raised the bar for active noise-canceling headphones. The eight mics effectively silence outside noise while simultaneously allowing you to clearly be heard, whether you’re talking to someone on the phone or cueing up a digital assistant. The 700s don’t skimp on audio quality either, offering clean, balanced sound with some impressive, intuitive tech flourishes. The adjustable noise cancellation keeps things quiet without adding distortion to your music, and the Full Transparency mode is similarly impressive.” — Sherri L. Smith, Tom’s Guide
• “While the Bose 700 headphones don’t beat the Sony WH-1000XM3 at active noise canceling, they still do a great job. This is exactly the upgrade that Bose needed to make and I think doing so has made the Bose 700 headphones the most desirable pair of ANC cans on the market.” — Adam Molina, SoundGuys
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Charging Port: USB-C
Battery life: Up to 20 hours
Key features: 11 levels of noise cancellation, Transparency mode, four-microphone system
Bose provided this product for review.