Yesterday – November 9 – I went to an event held by Bose in Milan, just near Duomo. It was inside Bose’s flagship store in the city, so I was surrounded by all their products. The spotlight was, however, on the QuietComfort 35, on the QuietControl 30 and on the SoundSport Pulse.
Those three were the newest products on display. Let’s get down to the details of each product. Warning: I am not a fan of bloated bass, so take my words with a grain of salt.
Bose QuietComfort 35
The top of the line comes in the form of the Bose QuietComfort 35, an over-ear headphone with ANC (Active Noise Canceling). These are light yet sturdy headphones, with great comfort. I wore them for a few minutes and had the feeling I was not even wearing them. That’s not so common, since my head usually starts screaming pain after a couple minutes. Comfort is very personal, but that’s a big win from my point of view. Build quality seemed top notch, even though it was plasticky.
Bose’s name is tightly bonded with noise canceling and they built on their expertise with the QuietComfort 35. I had one of Bose’s speakers blasting at full volume just a couple metres away from me, but I could barely hear it even without playing any music.
When I started playing music, though, I was baffled by the bass bloat. It’s the notorious Bose sound, but it was just worse than I recalled it. Bass was all around the place, leaving no room for the rest. Of course it all comes down to what one expects and to one’s taste (de gustibus non est disputandum), so I guess there’s people who might like it. Given my appreciation for more linear and natural-sounding headphones, it did not meet my taste. I only tried them out for a few minutes, so my opinion is in no way “final” or accurate – it is just a hands-on impression. I hope to be able to provide a more in-depth look at the QuietComfort 35 in the coming weeks.
Bose QuietControl 30
The QuietControl 30 are among Bose’s Bluetooth noise-canceling earphones, which adopt the neckband we’ve seen on many products recently (e.g. Skullcandy Method Wireless). Not only they allow the listener to cancel noise, but they do so allowing one to set the canceling level – so you can keep background noise out, but still be able to hear someone talking to you. You can set the level by either using a button on the neckband or by using an app.
They were comfortable, even though I could not get a proper seal with the eartips on the display unit. There were hooks to avoid the earphones coming out of your ear, which is not so common on this type of product in my experience.
Now, given the signature of the QuietComfort 35, I was not expecting much out of the QuietControl 30. I was wrong. I listened to a few songs I know well – Eagles’ Hotel California, U2’s The miracle (of Joey Ramone), Pharrell Williams’ Happy – and found them to sound much more natural and balanced than on the QuietComfort 35. Bass was full and upfront, but definitely not bloated or excessive, leaving room for the mids and treble to breathe. Again, it was just an initial impression given by a few minutes of use.
Noise canceling was as good as the one on the QuietComfort 35, since I could not hear a friend of mine (whose hand you can see in the picture) talking a metre away from me.
Bose SoundSport Pulse
This one was a bit tougher: their main selling point is not only in their acoustic features, but in their ability to monitor the user’s heartbeat when working out. This is not unlike other similar products we’ve seen in the past (Plantronics and Jabra are the first two manufacturers which come to my mind), and they require a compatible phone to do the sync.
I was told the heartbeat monitoring stops as soon as you take them out of your ears, but I was not given any additional info on how it works in details – I’ll find out if I’ll have a chance to try them out for a few days.
The SoundSport Pulse are far bulkier than the QuietControl 30, mainly because they host the battery and electronics. A better solution would be, in my opinion, to adopt the neck element used on the V-Moda Metallo. That would make the earphones lighter and allow for a larger battery to be included.