Do Bose’s Noise-Cancelling 700 Headphones Live Up To What They Claim?
I’m forever in pursuit of ways to block out sound from my life. While avoiding urban settings and meditation help, headphones have always been my acceptable refuge, be it walking down the road or while sitting on a crowded plane. The latter’s prevalence in my life has increased exponentially lately and while I’ve been quite happy with my Bang & Olufsen noise-cancelling wireless headphones, they’ve gotten a bit old and well, we’ve all gotten louder.
While Bose predominated the market with their QuietComfort line, other brands have stepped up over the past few years, including Sony, who for all accounts have had the best blackout headphones on the market with their WH-1000X line. Of course, Bose wasn’t simply going to let others take away their crowning achievement and with their 700 headphones, they might have just achived that.
Masking sound is not an easy accomplishment. And for someone who often feels he has a heightened sense of sound, as we took off from Mumbai airport for my recent trip to Spain, I was floored at the level of noise cancelling. If I hadn’t been looking out my window, I’d have never known that we were up and up away!
Ergonomically superior to any previous model Bose has launched to the market, the headphones are incredibly comfortable thanks to the soft padding that don’t feel heavy around the ear. They are far more modern looking than the QuietComfort line and they don’t feel too bulky while travelling, thanks to the ear cups rotating flat for wearing around the neck or when keeping in their case for storage.
Beyond the superior design and comfort, the touch controls on the headphones themselves are very easy. In fact, on the left ear cup, there’s an actual button for shifting through your three favourite noise-cancelling levels. By default, it’s set to zero (fully alert), five (some awareness) and 10 (full noise-cancellation), but you can actually modify those preset levels in the Bose Music app. If you press and hold that same button you can immediately shift to Conversation Mode so you can chat whenever needed. This pauses any audio and disables any noise-cancellation that’s active. It’s far easier than quickly taking off the headphones. When you’re done, you can press any button on either ear cup or tap the touch panel and audio and noise cancellation at their previous levels will immediately resume.
On the right ear cup, there’s a touch-sensitive area where you can adjust volume, forward tracks or replay tracks, and play/pause. If you hold your finger on the touchpad, the 700 will let you know how much battery is left. After a relatively long flight, I was shocked that I had still 10 more hours of life left in the headphones. The battery life is incredibly long (more than 20 hours and a 15-minute charge will last more than 5 hours!) and that was truly a welcome surprise.
There’s also a Bluetooth pairing and power button on the right alongside a separate button for Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. You can even beckon for Alexa with a wake word prompt, but you need to push the button to call on the other two.
Another unexpected upgrade was the quality of voice calls. On the 700, they’ve placed eight microphones total (four on each ear cup). These mics work together to silence the immediate surroundings so the focus is on your voice. So in a way, the headphones actually work to create the right environment to take a call in any noisy area. Of course, remember, the headphones don’t block out the noise we make by talking. What did impress me though was that my friend on the other end of the call had no idea I was using the headphones. Most sound like speakerphones and here the Bose 700 has delivery truly clear voice clarity.
With all these pluses and some unexpected added surprises, any downside? A standard complaint of mine with Bose speakers of any kind is the treble-heavy reliance. Sadly without an equalizer setting option in the Bose Music app, we’re forced to listen to it as is. Having said that, the quality is far better than I expected and so long as you don’t blast the songs (and there is no need frankly for that with these noise-cancelling headphones actually working), the instrumentation manages to actually stay within range of any crackling and the crispness of the music staying intact.
All in all, I’m very impressed with the Bose 700 headphones. They are just about as perfect as I could have imagined Bose could make them. With the brand expanding into AR and with my obsession with their sunglasses still in full effect, I’m hoping this one-two punch of ingenuity puts the company back in the forefront and elevates them from the comfortable but expensive choice to now the innovative and modern choice.