With the 45, Bose is taking over from a true legend, as the QuietComfort 35 II is one of the best and most popular ANC headphones per se. Will the new edition succeed in beating the original (our review)? And what innovations are there at all? Our Bose QuietComfort 45 test clarifies these and other questions.
|Headphone type||Over-ear (closed)|
|Bluetooth codecs||SBC, AAC|
|Maximum operating range||9m (without obstacle)|
|Battery life||Up to 24 hrs|
|Weight||240g (without cable)|
|Connectors||USB Type-C; 3.5mm jack|
|Scope of delivery||Bose QuietComfort 45, USB-C charging cable, 3.5mm jack cable, instructions, carrying case|
|Color options||Black; White|
|Price||€ 249.00 *|
Bose QuietComfort 45 review: the package
In terms of packaging, the Bose QuietComfort 45 remain true to the manufacturer’s design language. Thus, the outer packaging is strikingly reminiscent of the corresponding Earbuds, which we have taken to the chest in the context of a test last year.
Bose continues to go for understatement, as the matte-black box and cardboard slipcase with all the important information do without unnecessary frills. After opening the box, we immediately see the generous leather transport case that houses the headphones themselves. The lid of the case offers a small pocket where we can place the included cables.
Specifically, the QC 45 comes with a USB-A to USB-C charging cable that is around 30 centimeters long, as well as a 110-long 2.5 mm to 3.5 mm jack cable. Just in case you want to use the headphones wired after all. A quick-start guide and the obligatory safety instructions round out the package.
Design and workmanship
In terms of the design of the Bose QuietComfort 45, hardly anything has changed in direct comparison to the previous model. However, this is perhaps a good thing, as the QC 35 II are still among the most comfortable over-ear headphones on the market.
Thus, the 45 model also relies on large, oval ear cups and a consistent matte black color scheme, which ensures a noble and simple look. Purely visually, the Bose seem significantly less bulky than, for example, the ANC reference Sony WH-1000XM4 (our review). Not much has changed in the arrangement of the controls or the leatherette ear pads, as well as the thick leatherette cover on the inside of the headband.
At the same time, the Bose QuietComfort 45 proves to be particularly flexible and can be folded up very small. Both ear cups can not only be turned inwards, but can also be folded up so that the headphones can be transported in a particularly space-saving way – even without a carrying bag.
The ear cups are adorned with the manufacturer’s logo on both sides, and there are also a total of four external microphones that determine the ambient noise for the ANC function. The first new feature compared to the predecessor is found on the bottom of the right ear cups, where the USB-C port for charging is located, whereas the QC35 still used a micro-USB input.
On the right inner side, we find the three familiar but haptically improved controls, as well as the status LED underneath. On the outside is the Bluetooth button, which is used to turn the headphones on and off or to trigger the pairing mode. On the left, on the other hand, the button for switching between ANC and transparency modes sits on the inside, while the jack cable can be found on the bottom if desired.
Workmanship of the Bose QuietComfort 45
There is nothing to complain about the build quality of the Bose QuietComfort 45. This is, typical for the manufacturer, on a very high level. The entire construction feels robust and high-quality. Here, the new edition also plays in the top league.
However, there are also slight differences to the predecessor here. The headband made of glass-fiber-reinforced nylon feels significantly more robust once again, while the padding of the headband has increased in circumference (30 mm), which naturally has a positive effect on wearing comfort.
Bose QuietComfort 45 vs QuietComfort 35 II: The most important innovations
But what is actually all new in the 45 model? Here is an overview of the most important innovations:
- Bluetooth 5.1 (QC 35 II: Bluetooth 4.1)
- USB-C port (QC 35 II: Micro-USB)
- Up to 24h battery life (QC 35 II: 20h)
- Fast charge, 15 minutes charge for 3 hours use, 2.5 hrs charge time (QC 35 II: 2.5 hrs charge time)
- Robust processing
- Improved ANC function
- Minimally higher weight of 240 grams (QC 35 II: 235 grams)
- Simplified ANC modes Quiet and Aware (QC 35 II: ANC High, Low and Off)
- Improved voice pickup with a fourth microphone
New reference in terms of wearing comfort
In fact, partly because of the innovations already mentioned, the wearing comfort of the Bose QuietComfort 45 has been improved once again. At the same time, the weight has increased to 240 grams (without cable). Five grams more than in the case of the QC 35 II. However, that’s another 10 grams less than in the case of the in-house Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (our review) and 12 grams less compared to the Sony WH-1000XM4.
Inside, there are 7.5 cm x 5.5 cm (height x width) – about a centimeter more in each case than in the case of the Sony model, which is why the QC 45s are also better suited for large ears and generally sit much more comfortably, also due to the softer ear pads. In the Bose-internal three-way battle between the new model, as well as the direct predecessor and the NC 700, the QC 45 have the highest contact pressure, but without this being unpleasant or annoying. However, this additionally results in an excellent passive seal.
Of course, once again, the ear pads can be quickly and easily removed for replacement in the event of damage. Or, for the black headphones with white ear pads (and vice versa), to provide a fresh look if desired.
Features and battery life
The Bose QuietComfort 45 connect wirelessly via Bluetooth 5.1 with audio sources and come to a range of about nine meters, without sound dropouts or disconnections.
Pairing is started during the initial setup by turning on the headphones with the Bluetooth slider. If we keep the slider in position, the headphones switch to pairing mode and allow additional pairing.
In fact, the QC 45 are multipoint capable and can connect to two audio sources simultaneously. Pairing with smartphone and notebook did not challenge the over-ears and was quick and easy. The headphones always play back the audio source that is currently playing sound. Of course, this is especially convenient when we listen to music on the PC or notebook and answer a call on the smartphone.
Otherwise, the QuietComfort 45 are rather simple. There are no gimmicks like air pressure sensors, the practical Quick Attention mode or an auto-pause function like in the case of the Sony competition. However, an automatic shutdown when not in use can be set in the companion app or deactivated completely.
In return, the headphones communicate with the respective voice assistant at the push of a button. SimpleSync” is also available for quick and convenient pairing with any existing soundbars or speakers from Bose, whereby the volume of the headphones and the other audio source can be fine-tuned separately.
In terms of Bluetooth codecs, the Bose is also quite spartan and does without all Qualcomm aptX variants as well as LDAC or other high-resolution codecs. Only SBC and AAC are offered.
Bose QuietComfort 45 battery life
Once again, the battery life of the Bose QuietComfort 45 has been improved compared to its predecessor. With ANC, up to 24 hours are now possible, which corresponds to a plus of almost four hours. Here, the WH-1000XM4 are clearly ahead with around 30 hours.
Another new feature is a quick-charge function that pressure-fuels the headphones for three hours of music playback in 15 minutes. However, the same applies here: Point for Sony, which hold out for five hours again in 10 minutes on the power. Bose-internally, however, a significant increase in the best mark. Overall, a complete charging process takes about two and a half hours.
Operation: don’t touch me
On a touch operation, as in the case of the Bose NC 700, the QuietComfort 45 consistently do without. Some may consider this to be less modern, but we personally like the operating concept extremely well, since incorrect inputs are virtually excluded.
Moreover, the precise control is self-explanatory. The plus and minus buttons control the volume, the center button activates the voice assistant, lets us pause or resume playback, and switch to the previous or next song via double or triple pressing. A clear and yet comprehensive operating concept that leaves nothing to be desired. Only the female voice, which can be set in several languages and provides information about battery status or active Bluetooth connections, should be deactivated as soon as possible – pure embarrassment.
Audio quality, ANC and microphone
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: How good do the Bose QuietComfort 45 sound? After all, the manufacturer promises improved acoustics of the drivers, which once again rely on the TriPort sound architecture. It is supposed to improve the acoustic volume of the earcups for a deeper, fuller sound.
The manufacturer already discarded the classic tendency towards over-present bass associated with Bose with the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, and presented itself at the time with a fairly neutral sound image that was convincing across all frequencies.
This could be improved again in the case of the QuietComfort 45 and shows itself warm and dynamic, but perhaps a bit weak in character for many in the basic setting – especially when you switch from the classic bass hum. However, once you get used to the sound, the QC 45s convince with excellent sound quality across the board.
The sound is built on a precise and detailed bass foundation across all genres, which is extremely pleasing without pushing itself to the fore. The mids presented themselves pleasantly dynamic and warm, which makes distinctive vocals like those of a Freddy Mercury or Lemmy from Motörhead a real pleasure and the headphones also a good choice for watching movies or listening to podcasts.
The Achilles heel of many headphones, the lower highs in the sound range between 2,000 Hz and 5,000 Hz, are also handled excellently by the Bose QuietComfort 45 and reveal a detailed representation of the sound colors. Only in the super high frequency range beyond the 15,000 Hz mark do the ANC headphones reveal a few weaknesses that come a bit too much to the fore.
In general, the overall sound is rather dignified and not very agitated, but not too flashy either. It seems as if Bose tried to achieve a convincing sound across the board, but disregarded the character a bit. However, you can still provide the desired fine-tuning on the software side with the equalizer in the companion app.
This positions the QC 45 well above all Bose headphones, but it doesn’t sound quite as pleasing as the Sony WH-1000XM4 or, in particular, the Apple AirPods Max – but the differences are minimal.
How good is the ANC in the QuietComfort 45?
So purely in terms of sound, the Bose QuietComfort 45 isn’t good enough for the top spot, but what about the ANC function and transparency mode (called “Aware mode”)? The short answer: Excellent!
While the strength of the ANC could still be fine-tuned in eleven levels on the NC 700s, this time there is only one ANC level, while active noise cancellation cannot even be deactivated. The typical “normal” sound mode, without ANC and transparency, is simply not available. But let’s be honest: Nobody needs that. Except maybe to save some battery, right?
But back to the effectiveness of the ANC. This is on a reference level and presents itself on par with the Sony counterpart. We can already confirm after a few minutes that Bose has improved this mode and especially wants to suppress noise in the mid-frequency range better.
The QuietComfort 45s block out almost all ambient noise excellently across all frequencies, creating an almost whisper-quiet atmosphere at home and on the go. From the barking dog, the doorbell and conversations in the immediate vicinity, to traffic noise or the revving fan of my notebook while editing images: Everything is largely blocked out. In combination with the excellent passive shielding of the ear pads, the headphones are on par with the “ANC king” from Sony.
The transparency mode, which allows traffic noise and voices to come through, is also on a reference level. It reproduces voices clearly, dynamically and undistorted. A slight background noise in ANC mode is, however, perceptible in complete silence, but this is not annoying.
Microphone quality of the Bose QuietComfort 45
The microphone quality of the Bose QuietComfort 45 also ranks at a very good level and presents itself as improved in detail compared to the other models of the manufacturer. The user’s voice is transmitted quite clearly and dynamically. However, the voice transmission could be a bit louder.
Windows 11 recognizes the microphone as a 1-channel device with a maximum resolution of 16 bits and 16,000 Hz. In return, the quality is definitely convincing for a Bluetooth headset, although a quiet background noise is always perceptible during voice recording.
The quality does not come close to a wired headset. Let alone a real desktop microphone. In the field of ANC headphones, however, the microphones deliver a better sound than, for example, the competition from Sony.
App connectivity: Bose Music App
As with other current Bose headphones, the QuietComfort 45 uses the “Bose Music App” as a companion app, which is free to download on iOS and Android. It lets us rename our headphones after the first pairing, if desired, and provides practical tips for operating or activating the voice assistant. The option to create an account with the manufacturer is – compared to many other headphones – purely optional and not an annoying compulsion.
In the main menu, the app first welcomes us with a firmware update, which you should definitely install, because only then will the 3-band equalizer be unlocked, which lets us adjust bass, mids and treble separately or select one of four presets.
The app also informs us about the battery status, allows us to switch between the two sound modes, and lets us pair a second device via Bluetooth or display or disconnect the connected devices.
In the settings, we can determine the strength of our own voice transmission during phone calls so that we do not accidentally yell at the other person, or regulate the automatic deactivation of the headphones when no sound is heard (between 5 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours). In addition, the miserable computer lady voice (“voice commands”) can be deactivated or a different language can be set.
In terms of functionality, the Bose Music app presents itself reduced to the essentials, however, there are no features that we would miss. The clearly structured design also enables intuitive operation.
Conclusion on the Bose QuietComfort 45
Bose really didn’t promise too much and delivers an all-around improved noise-cancelling over-ear headphones with the Bose QuietComfort 45, which finally catches up with the reference models. A better sound across all frequencies, an outstanding ANC, a longer battery life and an even higher wearing comfort are on the plus side of this noble headphone, which more than justifies its (meanwhile strongly dropped) price.
Thus, the Bose QuietComfort 45 secure their place among the currently three best ANC headphones on the market and position themselves between the in-house NC 700 and the Sony WH-1000XM4 in terms of our overall rating, which realizes a marginally better sound during music playback and offers high-resolution codecs like LDAC and aptX. In return, the QC45s are ahead in terms of microphone quality.
The Apple AirPods Max are still the (considerably more expensive) non-plus-ultra for pure use in the Apple universe. However, the Bose QuietComfort 45 are an almost equal all-rounder that performs equally well on PC, notebook, Mac, Android and iOS. Those who are willing to spend the necessary small change will be excellently served by the QC 45. No wishes are left unfulfilled here.