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Reviewed: Bose NC700

As long-time readers of the blog will know, I have owned, and thoroughly enjoyed, several pairs of Bose headphones. After over three years of more or less daily use and abuse, my last pair of QC35s had started acting up. When a local store ran a good offer on a pair of NC700, I went for it. Here are my thoughts.

Design-wise, NC700 is a fairly radical departure from the QC-series. Gone is the collapsible design, the ratcheting adjustment of the headband, and most of the physical controls. The NC700 offers a sleek design, stepless adjustment of the headband, and touch controls on the right ear cup.

The result is a comfortable set of headphones that take up significantly more real estate in your luggage or pocket. Where the QC35 was pocketable in most handwarmer pockets, the NC700 doesn’t have a prayer of fitting.

While there is a bit of a learning curve to use the touch controls, once learned, they work. I still prefer physical buttons, however, as finger placement – particularly for play, pause, and accept/end call – can be slightly fidgety. At the end of the day, I prefer physical buttons to the touch panel, and I prefer the slider power button of the QC35 to the pushbutton on the NC700.

Like the QC series, they are very comfortable, though the cup fits a little more snugly around the ears than did the QC series. The noise cancelling is far and away the best Bose has ever delivered, and can be adjusted in three levels using a physical button, and cycled through ten levels through the companion app.

Also like the QC series, bluetooth is unavailable when the headset is charging. Frankly, I find this to be very disappointing. There are plenty of offerings out there that do work when charging, and this feature – which has been requested by users for years – really should be available by now.

The biggest drawback to me is that there is no way to turn off noise cancelling, while retaining bluetooth connectivity. Instead, the lowest level is a sort of pass-through mode, which actually amplifies ambient noise, robbing the user of the passive noise cancelling inherent to the headphones.

While they are good, I would have preferred it if I could disable the noise cancelling altogether, as the pass-through mode is as tiring on the ears as the noise cancelling itself.

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