Bose Noise Cancellation Headphones 700 Review: Still worth it in 2020?

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In 2020, even as we live at home, work at home, practice social distancing and we still need to ‘get away from it all’. During this times of COVID-19 and quarantine, loads of family and friends have called me asking me for my advice on various products. One of those being noise-cancelling headphones. Noise-cancellation headphones come in various prices and types but if you asked me to recommend two right off the top of my head, one would be the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the other would the the Bose Noise Cancellation Headphones 700 (Bose NC 700). While I used the former for a short review period, I’ve had an extensive period with the Bose 700 and there’s a lot to be said about them.

Bose Noise Cancellation Headphones 700

Before we get into the conversation, no the Bose Noise Cancellation Headphones 700 do not replace the QC series.

Design and Build

Now this is the biggest change noticeable on the Bose 700. While its elder sibling, the QC35 II, still looks archaic (as far as headphones are concerned), the Bose 700 headphones very much stand out from the crowd.

The headphones come with a sleek stainless steel body, a newly designed headband and a whole lot of tech jammed inside them. There are a few buttons on the cans; namely the bluetooth connectivity button which doubles as the power button, the noise cancellation control which switched between three preset levels and the mute button. The buttons are not as clicky as the Bose QC35 series but are easy to find.

Keeping up with trends, Bose has also added a touchpad on one half of the right ear cup. The touchpad is easy to use since its mostly meant for single finger use. Taps and swipes are easy and it works well most of the time.

Now the following feedback is heavily subjective but I had a conflicting experience with the Bose NC 700s. The headband is aluminum on top and soft cushion underneath. Now this might be due to the shape of my head, but I definitely felt the weight of the headband and needed to adjust its position during long periods of use. The headband’s height is adjusted through a mechanism in the ear-cans. There’s no clicks here and adjustment is pretty smooth.

The ear-cans on the other hand are extremely comfy. They provided a fantastic cover over the ears. The inside of the cans is leatherish which is comfortable but also does accumulate sweat over a period of time. This is definitely an issue if you’re going to be using these outdoors in the UAE.

With these headphones Bose decided not to make them fold. The cans rotate 90-degrees which enables the case to be one of the slimmest I’ve seen and very easy to fit into your bag.

Noise Cancellation

Thanks to its comfortable ear-cans, which cover the ears very well, and its 8 mic set-up (6 mics for noise-cancellation and 2 for voice) the Bose NC 700 provide excellent noise-cancellation.

The headphones come with 10 levels of noise-cancellation which can be toggled manually in the Bose Music app or via the noise-cancellation button on the device.The button toggles between levels 1,5 and 10. These levels have been preset and can be adjusted in the app if needed. After a little usage of the 700s, I changed my presets to 1,6 and 10. While at full noise-cancellation or level 10, then Bose NC 700s are amazing, below level 5 I noticed a very marginal difference. Thus the change to level 6 in one of my presets.

Listening to any sort of audio with full noise-cancellation has been a fantastic experience. On an over 10-hour journey from Dubai to Malta, while juggling movies, music and work, the Bose NC 700s performed very well. At no point during the journey did I feel like suction of the cups getting heavy or any exhaustion thanks to such long hours of usage.

Battery and Charging

On the aforementioned journey is when I realized that Bose weren’t exxaggerating ten battery-life on the headphones. Bose states 20-hours of battery-life when using the cans wirelessly. At 80-100% volume and full noise-cancellation, I got about 17-19 hours on a single charge, which is fantastic. I can’t comment on wired use as I almost never used them with the included cable.

Charging is seamless and easy thanks to type-C charging available on the headphones.

Bose Music

The Bose Music app is the easiest way to connect to your headphones and get the most out of them. Once connected you can edit everything from the device name to the level of noise cancellation. You can adjust your controls such as the earlier mentioned shortcut to the preset noise-cancellation or even the level of your own voice that you hear when noise-cancellation is off.

You can enable your voice-assistant from the app and manage the devices connected to the headphones too.

Bose NC 700 – Daily Use

Now I’m not an audiophile but music and in turn my headphones do play a large part in my day, especially in my current work days. Most of my work day included listening to the Bose 700s since I didn’t want music blaring from my room thanks to everyone in the house working too.

Now the great thing about the 700s is that while there might be a lot of nitpicking to do as far as the body or build is concerned, there isn’t much to hate about the audio that comes plays through it.

On the Bose 700s, Frank Sinatra’s Somethin’ Stupid is mellow and welcoming. There’s a beautiful separation of the voice and instruments. While the former does take precedence, the headphones do a beautiful job of bringing intrusments like the violin to the forefront when the time is right.

I’ve said this before when reviewing headphones at this level, they all have a tendency to make you feel like you’re in a tiny room or claustrophobic when noise-cancellation is at a full. The Bose 700s do an incredible job of eliminating that feeling and have a sort of ‘roominess’ while listening to music. The headphones have a wide soundstage and don’t really struggle too much.

Prateek Kuhad’s Cold/Mess (a song which I’ve heard way too much while reviewing these headphones) is the song which made me wish that the Bose Music app had an equalizer in it. In the case of this song, the headphones prioritised the guitar and drums more than I would’ve preferred. I hope Bose change this soon but that doesn’t change that the listening experience is still a really good one.

Audio on the Bose Noise Cancellation Headphones 700s is as Bose-esque as it gets. It’s nice and crisp with a refined feel to the audio.

Bose Noise Cancellation Headphones 700 – Should you get a pair?

The Bose NC 700s are definitely a good pair of headphones but approaching mid-2020 they face a challenge, their price. Costing Dh1699 in most large retail stores right now, the 700s face competition on two ends.

On one hand are the Bose QC35 II headphones and on the other are the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones. Both are excellent cans and cost just Dh1000. While the 700s do trump both as far as design is concerned, audio quality is at par at best in most scenarios. That being said, both the Bose QC35 and Sony WH-1000XM3 are due for updates in the near future. So that brings another hinderance for the customer.

On the overall the Bose Noise Cancellation Headphones 700 is a great pair of headphones but take a hit as far as its positioning in the market is concerned. If you do decide to pick up a pair, I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it.