Bose QC 35 Review – One of the Best Even Now

Bose QC 35 ANC Headphones Side View

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Current testing methodology is v1.2

Release Date
October 13, 2017
QC35 ii
8.3 Ounces
3.2 x 6.7 x 7.1 in

Even with a young brother in the QC 45s the QC 35 and QC 35ii are still an awesome ANC headphone

I owned two sets of active noise-canceling headphones before I owned the QC35s. The first pair of ANC headphones was a set of Audio-Technica ANC9, I believe, which were the most affordable and effective noise-canceling headphones available on the market.

This was around 10-plus years ago. I used them a little bit for commuting, but mostly for traveling around Europe when overseas.

Editor’s Pick

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, Noise-Cancelling, with Alexa Voice Control

Price Range: $$$
Brand: Bose
Bose QC 35 ANC Headphones bottom view on a table


The Bose QC 35 are not young headphones but they are still the GOAT for me. The comfort, active noise canceling and overall sound and sound stage is super. With the QC 45 now out you can get these for less, but that doesn’t mean compromise.

The Specs

  • Item Dimensions:  3.2 x 6.7 x 7.1 inches
  • Item Weight:  0.52 lbs
  • Fit Type:  Over-Ear
  • Special Features:  Bluetooth, Lithium-ion battery

What’s in the Box?

  • QC35 headphones II
  • Charging cable
  • Backup audio cable
  • Carry case

Stuff I like

  • Comfortable for long listening sessions
  • Noise canceling is excellent
  • Excellent ear cup and ear band comfort
  • Light and durable
  • Clean and well-balanced sound
  • Long battery life

Stuff I like less

  • Not that comfortable when you lie down…if that is going to be something you try 🙂

Comparable products to consider

Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones
Sony WH-1000XM4

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are one of the first ANC headphones from Sony to really compete with the QC35. The WH-1000XM5 now do the same with the Bose QC45. These are a great headphone with good features and they stand up well to the Bose range. My issue is with a tight headband and earcups that get hot over time. The bass is also a little inflated for me.

Review Metrics

Sound Quality: 9
Bass: 8
Mids: 8
Treble: 8
Sound Isolation: 8
Active Noise-Cancelation: 10
Build Quality: 9
Comfort & Fit: 10
Value for Money: 8
Battery Life: 9
Accessories: 9
Review Metrics Average: 8.73 / 10

The second pair of active noise-canceling headphones that I owned was a pair of QC15.

I bought these direct from Asia (early days of Aliexpress), and if I’m honest, I’m not sure if they didn’t come out of the factory as a second pair, but I could see no blemishes on them.

The price was rather too good though, and the headphones were definitely authentic. The QC15s were a big step up from the Audio-Technica in terms of noise-canceling and overall soundstage. I never found them particularly attractive, but they were great headphones.

The problem is that they died quite young, as headphones tend to do when you’re traveling with them a lot.

The first thing I knew that I loved about the QC15 when traveling was the case.

It has a nice elastic banding netting on the outside, which allows you to put your passport, charging cable, and a few other things when you’re getting on the plane.

So, pretty much all you need to take out of your carry-on is the headphone case. I also would insert a sleep eye mask inside, on the inside pocket. It’s the little things that make all the difference.

Bose QC 35 ANC Headphones Case and Headphones on a table
The Bose QC 35 ANC headphones and case

When my QC15s died, I wasn’t traveling as much.

The wiring wore down on them. And at the time, I was spending more time researching and auditioning and reviewing in-ear monitors and earphones. It was about this time that I was starting Headphones Canada as a business, and so, I had so many toys to play with and review, that I really didn’t know what to do with myself.

Very few of those headphones were active noise canceling as I had no need to focus on those at the time.

But then I started traveling a lot, not only for work but also for personal.

In fact, for the following three years, I was in the top 1% of global travelers by distance.

I would do regular trips, and the first leg was often a 17-and-a-half-hour non-stop flight with Emirates Airlines, followed by a nearly eight-hour flight to the UK.

 I also traveled extensively in and out of Asia, which were typically 12-hour flights, and quite a few to Australia, which was closer at the time.

On my first large, long-distance flight to the UK (NetShare Full Version Apk), in duty-free, I took the plunge on a set of QC35s hoping that they would be a good companion.

A lot of people deride the Bose sound signature and really don’t like it. And at first, I think I carried this opinion with me. But I also knew that in terms of active noise canceling there were very few things on the market that would equal it at the time.

So, enough backstory, let’s see how my Bose QC35 stacked up to tens of thousands of flight miles, hundreds of hotels, and a whole lot of other trains, and automobiles. Before I even get to the sound, I wanna go through some of the other things that really made these headphones one of my best traveling companions of all time.

The Case and Convenience

Firstly, it had the same case as the QC15, in that it had a small outside pocket, and a small inside pocket so I could fit all the things I needed.

I also attached a small carabiner to the small hanging loop that is available on the case, so that I could clip it over the back of the airplane seat pocket in front of me, so it just hung down conveniently.

Bose QC 35 ANC Headphones headband part
The head cushion of the Bose QC 35 ANC headphones

I didn’t always get to fly in the front of the plane, but when I did, I was fortunate enough to be able to lie flat. And I got very good, when flying at the back of the plane, to strategically position myself to often get a row to myself, which also allowed me to lie down.

The problem with headphones is that when you lie down, it’s not that comfortable.

I had an amazing neck pillow, which I’ll link to here, that when I curled up into a ball allowed me to place the ear cup inside the headphone, the neck pillow, and allow me to side sleep having two ear cups in without too much discomfort. This was a pairing made in absolute heaven.

The other thing I did with the Cabeau Evolution neck pillow is, took it out of its material and carved two small sculpted areas on the left and right to allow the left and right ear cups to sit perfectly when I had the neck pillow around my neck. The neck pillow was particularly comfortable on long journeys but was quite large. I would certainly recommend it to anyone traveling.

Comfort and loooooong flights

This is a huge standout for the Bose QC range. Not only the QC15s, but especially the QC35, QC35 IIs, and now the QC45s (which should be in my possession shortly and I will review accordingly).

I will say though if you can get the QC35 or QC35 IIs on sale, they are absolutely 100% worth buying still, and I wouldn’t be hurrying to jump into the QC45s. I will be jumping into the QC35s because after seven years of heavy abuse, my QC35s have finally given up the ghost, so it’s time to upgrade. Otherwise, I’d be sticking with them.

When you’re sitting on an airplane for 17 hours, comfort becomes a really big deal. And what I love about the Bose QC35s is that they don’t get hot, they are very light, and they have excellent ear cup and ear band comfort.

These three things make for a much more comfortable flight, knowing that your ears aren’t gonna get too sweaty, you’re not gonna get a sore head from the ear band, and the pressure on the headphones is not that tight. It’s tight enough, but not so tight that it creates any feeling of pressure around your head, which some other headphones do, leading to complaints of headaches and strain.

Active noise canceling and all the silence

I almost feel it’s unnecessary for me to go into detail on the active noise canceling of the Bose QC35s because they are such an industry standard. And everybody knows that their active noise canceling is always among the best in class.

This is certainly true for these as well.

And while I’m sure that there will be some small incremental gains made across the Bose, Sony, and Apple’s progression over the years, right now, these things are pretty awesome.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, Noise-Cancelling, with Alexa Voice Control - Black
Bose QC 35ii ANC Headphones

Build quality despite how things feel

It seems funny to say that my QC35s just died. But I think it’s more of a switch and battery issue, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s because I haven’t used them for a while and we live near the beach where pretty much everything seems to get oxidized or goes to pot because of the saltwater levels in our local air. But I will say that the QC35 build quality is awesome. Not only is it light, but it’s also very durable.

All of the side sleeping I’ve done in these, and the wearing them around my neck through airports, or the dropping them here and there, kicking the cable while it was charging in airport lounges.

Bose QC 35 ANC Headphones side view
The good build quality of the Bose QC 35 ANC headphones

These QC35 survived it all brilliantly.

There were times I was concerned when I was sleeping when I would twist one of the ear cups away from my head that I might damage them, but this was never the case.

After six years and thousands of miles, the inside of the earpads only started to wear very slightly and not enough to be a concern to replace them.

Which I know I can probably do at some time.

Although, now that their battery seems to be malfunctioning, I probably won’t. The truth is, I lent them to a family member, and they came back not working. So, I’m not sure if it’s the headphone’s fault or the borrower’s.

Sound signature and all that competition

It’s impossible to compare these to any open back, studio, or audiophile headphones that are wide and passive. The Bose QC35 ANC headphones sit in a class that has become a little more crowded over the years. This now includes Sony, B&W, and a few other brands that are trying to really get into this market.

The sound signature on the Bose QC35 is wide, it’s very expansive.

There’s certainly the feeling that there is some compression occurring just by the very nature of the active microphones and the noise-canceling science that goes on inside the ear cup. But on the whole, it is quite a clean and well-balanced sound.

They’re quiet enough when active that the bottom end is sufficient but doesn’t leave you feeling fatigued after long listening periods. And the mids and trebles are well-placed and sound quite enjoyable.

I’m definitely in the camp, I think, where I believe that your hearing adjusts to your headphones. So the more time you spend with these, I find the more I enjoy them.

I’ve certainly thrown all sorts of genres at them over time.

Everything except for what some of their user bases will use them for, which would be jazz and classical. I tend to listen to a lot of rock, a lot of hip-hop, hardcore, acoustic, and some pop. And then, of course, they’re great for audiobooks and podcasts.

Battery life goes long

The battery life is exceptional.

As I say, taking those long 17-and-a-half-plus, 8-hour flights, the headphones never faulted and were always on. There is nothing worse than battery anxiety on your headphones on a flight where the last thing you wanna be doing is plugging them in to charge them.

Fortunately, a lot of planes these days have USB ports in their seats. But that’s not ideal.

Bose QC 35 ANC Headphones top view
The power and Bluetooth switch on the right-side cup of the Bose QC 35 ANC headphones

Bose QC 35 vs Sony WH-1000XM4

The biggest competitor is probably Sony’s WH-1000XM4 (soon to be Sony WH-1000XM5), which has a huge fan base and following.

I’ve tried them multiple times in airports and borrowed them from family and friends.

I have too many complaints about the Sony if you’re a true road warrior, where I feel like you’ll run into some issues after a few hours in a plane.

My main complaint with them is the ear cup pressure is too tight. Also, their headphone design is too dense and therefore gets very hot over long listening periods.

And to be honest, I find the sound signature in the bottom end to just be a little too inflated and a little too full for my liking.

Other than that, the build quality on them is excellent. The active noise canceling is great. But the other features I worry about, as mentioned, make these not an option for me.


In conclusion, the question really is, are the QC35 or QC35 II still worth it, even now the QC45s are out and the competition is increasing in the market?

I would say, without hesitation, especially if you can get a deal, these headphones are fantastic. And certainly were, without doubt, my best traveling companion above any other traveling road warrior, airport, airline piece of hardware I could have traveled with.

I would highly recommend them and certainly, be happy to answer any questions you have on the QC35 at this time.

Bose QC 35 ANC Headphones Side View
Bose QC 35 Editor Review
Sound Quality
Build Quality

Endless hours of experimentation, professional work, and personal investment in Home Theatre, Hi-Fi, Smart Home Automation and Headphones have come to this.

Former owner of Headphones Canada, a high-end headphone specialty retailer.

This post was last updated on 2023-12-03 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.

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