For years, whenever anyone asked what brand of headphones they should buy for flying, the answer was one simple syllable: Bose. The company’s QuietComfort series has long been synonymous with drowning out aircraft noise on long-haul flights. But that question has become increasingly difficult over the past few years, as companies like Apple and Sony have jumped to the top of the category.
Back in mid-September, the company once again planted its flag in the sand.The beloved QuietComfort series Reorganization is underwayIntroducing three new products: QuietComfort Ultra earbuds for $299, QuietComfort headphones for $349, and QuietComfort Ultra headphones for $429. The latter (which, as the title suggests, is our focus today) replaces the $379 (now $279) Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700.
Going by the naming convention, it’s definitely simpler and more streamlined. At least you know where the Quiet Comfort Ultra headphones stand relative to the QuietComfort headphones (you know, they’re more ultra). You’re probably already balking at the price tag, just like any rational, non-independent wealthy person would. The competition for premium headphones may have heated up, but that doesn’t make the products any cheaper. We are very close to reaching half price.
Are there any noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones worth $429? Of course I can’t answer this question for everyone. All I can say is that if anything, that’s it. Bose makes some of the most comfortable and best-sounding headphones I’ve ever used. Plus top-notch noise cancellation we’ve ever tested. These things are indeed the real deal.
Thankfully, Bose managed to deliver the pair ahead of a cross-country flight earlier this week. Unfortunately, I didn’t double check the size of the auxiliary jack. What I can say is that it’s been a while since I’ve actually used a pair of Bose headphones I wore on a plane (thanks, Sony), so I’d forgotten that the headphones themselves had a 2.5mm port, as opposed to the more standard 3.5mm port. When all else fails, just use whatever headphones they give you in the box.
So, I didn’t have the seatback entertainment available through the new QuietComfort for this trip. It doesn’t matter, there’s nothing good about it anyway. As for the rest of the flight, you can’t beat these in terms of comfort – they’re lightweight and have a soft lining. The active noise cancellation also does an excellent job of canceling out the white noise on the plane and even the screams of the kids in the back. However, this last point has not yet been fully realized – the technology is not yet mature enough. Still there.
However, the ANC is good enough that when I use the headphones during a podcast, I have to actively switch to “Aware” mode. After launching it, I was honestly disappointed that it was so hard to listen to myself talk (apologies to the interviewee on that one).
Price aside, there is one notable complaint. Battery life is on par with other over-ear headphones, such as Sony’s.WH-1000XM5 and Beat Studio 3It got me through the cross-country flights mentioned and should get you through the day with no problem, but be forewarned that this is where the Ultras doesn’t stack up against the competition.