Bose QC15 Headphones Review – Still delivering great sound

Bose QC15 Headphones

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The Bose QuietComfort 15 present timeless noise-cancelling quality even in 2020

It’s been more than a few years since we first got our first pair of Bose QC15. We’ve certainly given them a workout. They have flown close to 80,000 miles across the USA, Canada, Japan and the UK.

Here’s what we can say we still love about the Bose QuietComfort 15 in 2020.

Bose QC15 Review
Lightweight and comfortable – the Bose QuietComfort 15 are still a great set of noise-cancelling headphones | Make Life Click

The QC15’s travel well

It’s mostly the sturdy case so they do stay in great shape assuming you don’t stomp on them or leave them out of their case.

We were a little skeptical about the flimsy cable that connects the headphones. This cable is removable and includes the inline phone controls which works with our iPhone and iPad. So far the cable has held up well to the rigours of a road warrior.

Admittedly there have not been many ‘get out of your seat and walk to bathroom while the headphones are still plugged in’, but it has happened.

[UPDATE] The cable with the inline controls recently died. We are now using the cable with no inline controls, which is fine, but we didn’t treat the other cable poorly and yet it didn’t make it past 18 months.

One of the things that Bose does so well with both the QC15 and the QC35’s is the elastic pouch on the side of the headphones case. It’s amazing when you are travelling how good it is to slip your phone, passport, a charging cable and perhaps some chapstick and have it handy on the external side of the case.

We go on and on about how great something so simple it. The elasticity and longevity of the little pocket alone make us love this case.

Bose QC 15 Case
Bose QC15 Case with the magic pocket | Make Life Click

Bose do headphone comfort very well

It has to be said these things are comfy. We’ve worn them up to 14 hours straight with no issues what-so-ever. We don’t even find they get too hot which is a common complaint from a lot of travel headphone users.

Before these we did have the Audio Technica ATH-7c model which do have a smaller cup and sit a little heavier on the ears. After while it is almost easy to forget you have them on.

QC15 – Sounds good?

The challenge with any noise-cancelling headphone is that something is actively messing with the sound. The QC15’s seem to soften the bass a little too much for our liking. There is plenty of bass in there but it feels a little soft around the edges.

There is a good soundscape and as far as noise-cancelling headphones go they do sound very good, the complaint is they don’t feel alive. If you put in a pair of Shure SE535’s you almost want to grab the nearest air guitar and rock out.

The Bose QC15 almost make you want to relax, so if you’re travelling on a plane or going somewhere that requires some serious chill time then these are a great match. We find the best sounds come from complex acoustic music like The Civil Wars, Damien Rice, Pink Floyd a little more than most. However, anything heavier like The Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party or Soundgarden can be listened to on a wide soundscape.

Don’t get us wrong – they sound pretty bloody good but tend to fall short of strong passive competitors. Bose produces a sound you favour or don’t, but in the arena of noise-cancelling we still can’t fault them.


The QC15 immediately scream (old) corporate traveller. Partly because executives can afford them and partly because they don’t look like something teenage angst would approve of. This is where comfort beats out fashion. Comfort and function are a clear winner in our minds.

We wouldn’t wear these out on the Sea Wall in Vancouver on our Longboard in Summer but on a plane they are almost a match made in heaven.

We do put them on our headphone stand on our desk and they look OK complimenting our office look.

Bose QC15 with case and headphones
Bose QuietComfort 15 Headphones with case and cable

Overall conclusion

The Bose QC15’s give back everything you spend on them, especially for the road warrior or traveller. You land and arrive from long journeys actually feeling physically more rested than to not travel with them.

They are not new and we have upgraded to the Bose QC35s in more recent times but we’re not sure they still don’t perform well enough to avoid upgrading.

They won’t block all the noise around you in the office or plane but they do a pretty damn good job overall.

If you’re looking at buying of Bose QC15 and old pair or second-hand pair online, and the price is right, we’d not hesitate.

Bose QC15 Review
Bose QuietComfort 15 (QC15)
Sound Quality
Value for Money
What we like (Pros)
What we like less (Cons)

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.

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2 thoughts on “Bose QC15 Headphones Review – Still delivering great sound”

  1. I have one and love the sound it makes, its cancellation is enough to walk down a busy street listening to music at good volume.
    I can even buy another bose, but I don’t sell these.

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