Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Headphones Review
Bose’s new premium-priced NC700 promises great things, but can this sleek new pair of Bluetooth headphones deliver? Matthew Jens decides…
NC700 Noise Cancelling Headphones
From the time of its release in 2017, Bose’s QC35II held a comfortable position in the Bluetooth noise-cancelling race. As one of the most popular pairs of headphones of this type on the market, it’s often highly recommended to shoppers. Then in June 2019, the company released a new flagship Bluetooth product – the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphone 700 (NC700). However, the company insists that this new model is not a successor to the QC35II, and instead is in its own league with a trendier look, more gadgets and a slightly higher price.
The design is contemporary – fashionable even – with unique touches, smooth curves and a sleek feel. There’s a choice of both black and ‘Luxe’ silver finishes – personally I preferred the former. The NC700 feels quite light, lingering dangerously on the edge of feeling flimsy and cheap at times. Despite the smooth stainless-steel headband, I found myself yearning for the gymnastic ability of the QC35II, which had more hinges allowing it to be stored in tighter spaces.
Wearing this pair of headphones for several hours was a pleasant and comfortable experience, which eventually produced some mild heat under the earcups. The clamping force is firm, but not too tight. The pads are a soft protein leather which doesn’t feel too stiff, and does a great job of sealing off one’s ears from the outside world. Its touch controls are intuitive and easy to use, and thankfully Bose has also included hard buttons as well.
Under the skin, the NC700 is a sophisticated product, but it’s a surprise not to see aptX HD and LDAC compatibility on a $600 product. It does do SBC and AAC, however. The battery is rated to last up to twenty hours and takes two and a half to charge. When switching on the headphones, a cheery voice will inform you of the number of hours left on the battery – this is far more useful than a percentage readout.
Ten levels of noise-cancelling are offered, and the NC700 lets you store three different favourite levels on the headphone itself. On the higher levels you’ll experience some pressure on the ears, but also some incredible performance with no audible hissing artefacts. The lower levels are perfect for usage around the house or office. The noise-cancelling performance is beyond good, it is next level – the true provider of a quiet life.
Existing Bose fans will be instantly familiar with the company’s house sound that lives on in this new model. In classic fashion, the upper mids are accentuated, with adequate levels of upper bass kick. The low end can execute a healthy, controlled and tight rumble with bass-heavy music, without smearing itself into the lower mids. Whilst this Bose flagship may not have the same quantity of bass as rival Sony flagships, there is still more than enough to get your toes tapping. I did find myself wishing for some further reach down into the low bass region, however.
Low frequency levels aside, the rest of the signature lends itself to the vocal range, producing some excellent detail and clarity in the midrange – plus some decent stereo imaging and soundstaging for a closed-back Bluetooth design. It is worth mentioning that there are no EQ settings built into the accompanying Bose app, and I can’t help but feel a little disappointed as the competitors over at Sennheiser are starting to implement this as a standard feature.
Overall, the new NC700 does an excellent job of controlling the sound signature at higher noise-cancelling levels, but a lengthy critical listen will reveal that the midrange can start to feel a bit congested when the music begins to get busy. Bass also becomes a little leaner and tauter, but still retains plenty of punch.
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are a great new addition to an already popular Bluetooth line-up, with terrific noise-cancelling and fine sound quality to boot. The lack of built in EQ and only basic codec support are compromises that will only affect the few, so most people won’t be put off – but still this new design has a fight on its hands in an increasingly tough market.
For more information, visit Bose.
Constantly keeping himself busy, Matthew is a production manager, Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt, Head-Fi fanatic, coffee enthusiast and all-round cool Dad.