The new QuietComfort (QC) Earbuds are the first generation of noise canceling earbuds for Bose and it shows. These are clunky earbuds with an even clunkier case but Bose is hoping you’ll overlook all of the QC’s shortcomings for its superior sound and excellent noise canceling (ANC). For most people, those two features won’t be enough for the pricey price tag but if you fly a lot, then these Bose could just be for you.

Portable But Not Comfortable

At 3.9 x 2.6 x 2.7cm (1.54 x 1.02 x 1.06 in) the Bose QC are relatively large earbuds which noticeably stick out of your ears. They’re not too heavy – 8.5 grams each – and thanks to Bose’s familiar wingtip design the QC are much more comfortable than they look. These larger earbuds though don’t come with longer battery life, hovering around 5-6 hours per bud. The beefy charging/carry case also has a disappointing 12 hours of battery life although it supports wireless charging. (I think most of us would have preferred a bigger battery rather than the space the wireless coil takes.)

A lot of these physical design drawbacks come from being a first gen product certainly but Bose is banking that you’ll appreciate what’s housed inside – not what’s missing.

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Impressive Sound And True Noise Canceling

Where Bose does know a thing or two about is sound quality and noise cancellation. First, the sound quality. It is immersive, full, with vibrant tones across the spectrum from highs to mids to lows. When listening to these QC the thought of “these are huge earbuds” becomes “I can’t believe the sound coming out of buds this small.”

The Bose QuietComfort Noise-Canceling Earbuds Are Made For Frequent Flyers

That’s the same thought when activating active noise cancelling as well. As the world around you melts into silence (a close competitor to over-ear versions) even with a jet engine screaming in the background the QC show off what they’re capable of. With 10 levels of noise cancellation through the Bose Music app you can go from ambient mode all the way to quiet library.

Travel Trades

Given the powerful noise canceling frequent flyers might be tempted to get a pair of the Bose QC. Yes, the touch controls for volume, noise canceling levels, and pause/play aren’t sensitive enough to work reliably and the charging case is an odd shape that’s hard to pocket. It’s true the QC can’t connect to multiple devices and staying connected is something of an adventure you shouldn’t have to deal with at premium prices.

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I’m glad Bose added IPX4 certification, meaning they can reliably survive a splash of water so you can use these in light rain. I like the auto pause when you take the earbuds out. But if it weren’t for the exceptional sound quality and ANC it would be hard to justify the price. For most people it still won’t justify the price but if you find yourself on planes or other noisy situations often, the Bose QC could just convince you.