Technophile

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Nice and quiet

Mala Bhargava | Updated on October 10, 2019 Published on October 10, 2019

After a long wait the audio giant brings up an answer to growing competition

After a long wait during which the competition hasn’t been wasting time, audio giant Bose has launched its Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 in India. The price is a whopping Rs 34,900 which at one time would have been fine for a Bose product but now seems expensive considering that others have intruded into territory which was once Bose’s alone — noise cancelling.

There was certainly a time when Noise Cancelling belonged to Bose. I still remember a demo during which we were to close our eyes, wear Bose headphones, and see what we could hear. Nothing except music, but what we heard when we took the headphones off was the unbelievably loud sound of an oncoming train. We did feel the vibrations, so in real life would have hopefully got out of the way, but during the simulation, we sat still. The active noise cancelling on the Headphones 700 is stellar. On the left ear up you have an easily feelable button that lets you cycle through levels of noise cancellation. It goes through three levels: 0, 5 and 10. Up at level 10, everything is nice and quiet and you can’t really hear anyone around talking.

With these headphones you can be in an island of your own on a flight or close off the noisy world around you elsewhere, including to focus on work. Using the same button, you can also let in outside sounds if you’re where you need to stay in touch with happenings around. There’s also quite a bit of passive noise isolation because of the thick plus insides of the ear-cups.

The Headphones 700 are interesting yet understated looking. More stylish and noticeable in the lighter colour variant which isn’t in India yet, they’re more business-like in black but still look unique because of the curvy accents given to the headband ends which looks as if they twist and merge smoothly into the ear-cups. But I found reactions to the design varied quite widely with some disliking it on sight to a surprising extent and some easily making their peace with the look. On top of the headband is a solid rubber strip that looks very durable. An understated Bose logo is just visible on both ear-cups. The ear-cups articulate more than usual but don’t fold right in for a tight fit in some small box. Instead, they do have their own very protective case — a fairly impressive one that should last well if you’re gentle with it. It has a beautiful magnetic flap on the inside to house the cables.

 

I wish manufacturers would allow for headphones to be more adjustable to fit women better, but that isn’t the case. That said, men will find them very comfortable and light. This set of headphones has an interesting style of head-adjustment. It has a spine running through the back of the ear-cup and extending to lengthen or shorten the headband.

Setting these headphones up must be done though the Bose app. The experience with the app hasn’t been very good, unfortunately. The headphones connect just fine but the app is buggy, crashes, and needs the device to be freshly connected on the software front repeatedly — even if the headphones end up working in any case.

The right ear-cup has the power and pairing button and for the first time for Bose, a touch sensitive surface to navigate tracks, and play and pause. But there’s a design element that cuts the surface in two, which is a bit strange, though you get used to it. A prominent button also leads you straight to your selected personal assistant including Alexa. That means lots of hands-free time since Google and Siri can read your messages out and give you information while you’re ‘in there’ with your music. These headphones are AR enabled, like Bose’s Frames audio glasses, and are supposed to give you content depending on your location. These products have motion sensors embedded inside that can detect your head orientation and body movement while you wear them. Bose AR-enhanced apps can then use this information along with location data from your mobile to offer you audio content tailored to where you are and what you’re doing. These features are not available everywhere.

The Headphones 700 sound good. Less flat than is usual and more strong and punchy but still not bossy enough for those who particularly want that. The sound quality and the noise cancelling are both better than Bose’s previous headphones but not so much of a leap that you’d need to upgrade if you have a pair already. They also work very well for phone calls, for which Bose seems to have specifically tuned the headphones and the microphones. The device has USB-C charging but strangely a smaller 2.5mm jack for a 2.5mm to 3.5mm cable. You have just over 20 hours of battery life. 

While Bose was about as quiet as the noise cancelling they offer on their headphones, other companies stole a march on it, specially Sony with its WH-1000XM3 which have noise cancellation on par, sound quality a bit better, and a price tag which is a lot better. 

Price: Rs 34,500

Pros: Industry leading noise cancellation, solid build, plush interiors, good quality carry case, improved sound quality

Cons: Too expensive given new competition, companion app doesn’t work well, love-it-or-hate-it design

Published on October 10, 2019
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