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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 16 June 2010
If you are reading this review then you are probably in two minds about whether to buy these headphones, because, let's face it, they are very costly.

I too agonised for ages over the less expensive options on the market before eventually taking the plunge and getting a set of these. Here's what clinched it for me.

The noise-cancelling is the most effective of any I've tried - and I've tried comparable models from Sony, Sennheiser, Audio-Technica and Goldring.

The sound quality is extremely good. You simply will not get audiophile sound quality from any noise cancelling headphones. There will always be a trade-off between the naturalness of the listening experience and the frequency intervention and closed back design necessary for the noise cancelling to work effectively. Personal taste is always a factor when listening to headphones. I find these provide a very high standard of audio quality and they perform equally well across a wide variety of different types of music. Also, they sound even better once they've been played in for a few hours. There's absolutely none of the background hiss that is discernible on some of the less expensive noise cancelling headphones I've tested. Nor is there any sound leakage to annoy those around you - a problem that afflicts several of the cheaper options.

They are extremely comfortable. I have other good quality non-noise cancelling headphones, but these are by far the most comfortable cans I own to wear for long periods. I've been known to forget I've got them on.

The build quality is very good. Some people mistake the lightness of these headphones for flimsiness. They are designed with the traveller in mind. Consequently, Bose have built them to be both very light and very durable. Some people have complained that the cable is thin and therefore liable to break. However, it's no thinner than the cable on a set of in-ear phones and I don't find myself breaking those all the time - in fact, I've never broken the cable on a set of in-ear phones. I don't see the problem.

It's true that these headphones will only work when powered by an AAA battery. But so what? Most other noise cancelling headphones that do continue to work after the battery has run out do so with no noise cancelling, lower volume and muddy sound. Personally, I'd rather not listen to music on that basis anyway. There's plenty of room to store at least two spare batteries in the well-designed case that comes with these headphones . Each battery lasts in excess of 35hrs. Once again, where's the problem?

Buy them. There's none better on the market. Sure, it'll hurt for a few minutes but you'll be glad that you bit the bullet.
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on 12 December 2009
The astronomical price tag is all that stops this fantastic product from getting 5 stars. I was fortunate enough to be given them as a birthday present by a group of friends, otherwise I could never have afforded them. Apart from the cost, they are, in my view, pretty much flawless. They are very comfortable and the headphones themselves reduce exterior sound by around 1/3. When switched on, they do exactly what they should; they reduce noise, not sound. You can still hear people speak and ordinary sounds appear dulled, but still audible. However, all the noise (in the true sense of the word - as in white noise) is cancelled out. This allows you to listen to your music at volumes far quieter than with conventional headphones, hence these are a lifesaver on a plane, in the car, or in any crowded or loud surrounding. Sound quality is exemplary; when compared to my standard "earbud" style headphones, well, there is no comparison. Bass tones are rich and deep but never forced and the higher notes are crystal clear but never tinny. Battery life seems close to the claimed 35 hours, in two months I have used only 4 AAA batteries. The headphones breathe well, with specialised ventilation so ears don't get too hot, even in warm conditions. The case is sturdy and keeps the headphones clean and safe, it even has it's own ventilation to allow the headphones to dry if replaced when slightly damp. It also has a place to store spare batteries so you need not be caught short. I can find only two minor flaws; the first is the fact that, without batteries, these headphone will not function at all, requiring a regular set to be carried at all times in case of sudden power loss (however, a set of earbud style headphones fit easily in the case as a backup). The second flaw is a strange bumping noise experienced when walking with a heavy step, the headphones appear to pick up the jolt created by your feet striking the ground and amplify it hugely. When running it is unbearable. Aside from these small criticisms, I am delighted with these headphones, in my opinion, they provide a truly wonderful listening experience.
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on 2 September 2010
I have some BOSE over-ear headphones which although fragile, have lasted years (with glue and tape) and provide exceptional sound quality. I'm a great BOSE fan.

I fly a 7hr flight often and after plenty of consideration shelled out for these headphones (with huge anticipation).

The noise cancelling is very effective and coupled with the exceptional BOSE acoustics, music and films are hugely improved...in planes and in pretty much any other circumstance. You can still hear some vague airplane 'drone' and after parting with several hundred quid you feel slightly disappointed...but generally speaking the earphones perform as you would expect.

The reason for my low score is due to three issues:

1. After 2hrs of use I was very uncomfortable. I thought it was simply the prolonged pressure on the ears but it is something else. I'm not an acoustic engineer but there is something about the noise cancelling function that affects my (your?) ears over long periods. I tried with them switched on and off and its definately the noise cancelling function. Unbelievably I actually reverted to the courtesy phones after 3hrs 'for a rest'.

2. You can't sleep or snooze in them. They get twisted, they are very bulky (even in this spec) and they are just too expensive to risk. It's a very dear way of improving the audio on aircraft movies.

3. The headphone jack is staggeringly fragile. Its simply a rubber hood pulled over the soldered wired connections. After 6hrs of use a slight knock from a person pushing past severed the headphone jack.

I really wanted to love this product, I travelled 60miles/100km to collect them and paid the higher original RRP. That's not the characteristic of someone trolling with a bad review. I understand why BOSE fans are giving 4s and 5s, I love BOSE products too, but if you buy these MAKE SURE YOU CAN USE (proper trial!) THEM AND THEN RETURN THEM WITHIN THE SATISFACTION GUARANTEE IF NECESSARY.

Note that they make a good resale price on eBay, far higher than other brands, and you should perhaps consider this in favour of the unit.
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on 26 July 2010
Bose have certainly put themselves ahead of in the niche noise cancelling headphones market. The QC15 arrives in a rigid oval-like soft case with the headphones, manual, airplane 2-pin adapter, batteries and even a set of courtesy cards to hand out to your friends. The adapter can be placed in a detachable pouch affixed to the inner lining by velcro.
The headphones are solidly built and and reek of quality. It is almost at odds with the snugness afforded by how they fit over the ears. The set up is easy. A lead is provided that fits seamlessly (almost) into the left speaker and the battery slots into a hidden compartment on the right side. A single AAA battery is provided and according to the manufacturer, lasts 35 hours. My experience would say that this to be not too far off the mark.
The noise cancelling switch is on found on the right side also. There is the option of using it for noise cancelling only where you do not attach it to your music device. This is where the QC15 starkly demonstrates its superiority to other headphones on the market such as the Sennheiser pxc-450. The filter technology worked superbly to cancel out the planes' engines and other background noise to mere muffles. It also allowed through speech (though perhaps not as well as the 450) but one would readily accept that when one is on a long haul flight.
Music definition was clear and crisp and from a deep punchy bass that can find it hard to cope with extremes to a clear warm treble. Detail was easy to make out in several nuanced tracks such as the "High Road" by Broken Bells and on "Urban Hymns" by The Verve. The sound was dynamic as evidenced by listing to "Assessment" by the Beta Band and Snoop Dogg's "Drop it Like its Hot" outperforming the other contenders by a clear margin. There was a lack of volume control (just a hi/lo switch on the lead) on the headset itself which some users may find annoying and another possible problem is that it cannot play music when the battery has run out (i.e. drawing power from the music device). Keep a spare battery handy.
Another issue is that I could have bought this for 30 pounds cheaper from the airport if I had held out so consider this when you make your purchase.
The gripes are understandable but this is truly superior set of headphones which deliver exceptional sound and build quality. Currently nothing matches this on the market and even if there are new phones on sale over the next couple of years I would still urge you to give these a listen before you make your final choice.
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on 6 April 2010
I must say that the job done by this headset and by Bose is amazing! I have been using it when travelling by plane and by car and it has revealed simply perfect!
In the plane, the noise canceling is so impressive, that you can easily reduce the volume of your player and still enjoy every single note.
The headset might be a little pricey but I think it is really worth it!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 August 2010
I'm not keen on in-ear headphones - I've some Ultimate Ears headphones which do a great job of blocking noise but I find them very uncomfortable.

So I wanted headphones that didn't go inside but would reduce noise so I don't have to listen to my iPhone on full blast!

I've been amazed at how good they are at reducing noise. It can't reduce external noise to silence but essentially its like turning the volume down on the world!

They are actually as effective at noise reduction as some ear plugs I have! Unlike claims in some reviews I've seen they won't stop the sound of a screaming baby next to you or someone chatting loudly in the next seat but they really do a great job of reducing general external noise. I had some people talking loudly outside my window - coupled with busy traffic noise and a PC fan. With the headphones on and some music on quietly I couldn't hear a thing of the noise outside!

I'm no audiophile but the sound quality sounds good to me.

One area I am disappointed about is the hiss sound they make. Its not audible with music on or in a noisy environment. But in a quiet room playing an audio book the hiss is clearly heard.

I spoke to Bose about this and they said this is normal. She did say not everyone hears the noise - so I guess lucky me for having good ears!

If the noise cancelling is switched off the headphones stop working. It'd be nice if the noise cancelling could be switched off in quiet rooms but the music still played. Not only would this save on battery it'd remove the hiss.

Overall I'm very impressed by these headphones.

--- UPDATE ---

Away on holiday and travelling by train a lot for a week. The headphones performed very well and made listening to an audio book possible on a busy train without having to crank the volume up to max. Sadly won't block sound of screaming babies on trains but deadens the noise a bit!

Hiss was not at all audible in the noisy train - only when used at home in a quiet room.
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on 22 September 2010
Granted this is a lot of money for headphones that you probably wouldn't be seen dead in walking down the street, but they are simply phenomenal for long distance traveling. The noise cancellation is amazing and they are seriously comfortable to wear. Good storage case and good battery life means I will always have these with me on the plane! Worth trying in a shop to see just how great these are.
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on 19 November 2010
As other reviews have said, if you are reading this review you will be probably be agonising over paying the price of these headphone. I kept going back to the Bose display at my local retailer and every time was blown away by how much back ground noise they seemed to cut out but being a cynic I just put it down to the "display" being set up to maximise the Bose experience and so I spent the best part of 3 months keep talking myself out of it.

In that time ordered the Sennheiser and Philips at £128 & £85 respectively on Amazon on the basis that if they were cheaper I would be prepared to put up with some background noise. I found the Sennheiser's uncomfortable and a little too big, but the Philips were very comfortable. With each I also tried to replicate being on a plane by playing the sound of an aircraft over the PC to see how much background noise got through and in both cases there was some to a greater or lesser extent.

I like the Philips but in the end I ordered the Bose on Amazon and did the same test and they cut out almost 100% of the background noise even when the PC speakers were turned up to a level that would be more than you would get on a plane. OK this was not a very scientific experiment but it did help me to establish that the Bose performed much better than the others and in my mind at least justified paying the extra money. The Philips went back the next day!

Amazons return policy was first class as always, so if you are in doubt order them - and make your own mind up.
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on 9 October 2010
Short review:

Sound quality - sound quality is great a little bit not enough bass but otherwise very nice.

Noise cancellation - it cancels almost all the noises except human noises. If someone will speak to you, you will hear them, but if you sit on an air plane even near the engines you wont hear anything.

Comfort - these headphones are the most comfortable headphones I have ever had. The leather is so soft, even after several hours of using these headphones your ears doesn't hurt.

Price - totally worth it, the price is a bit expensive but it is worth it.
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on 29 July 2010
I couldn't make up my mind between these and the B&W P5s, roughly the same price. Listened to both for hours to different genre's of music, classics,jazz and rock.P5s, great build quality and sound but for me terribly uncomfortable. The pressure on your ears is unbearable after a while and the next day suffered from ear ache. The Bose are extremely comfortable, amazing and the sound very good. Different to the B&Ws as they sit around the ears not pressing against them. The look and build is good and they are very light. I love them!
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