When it comes to active noise cancelling headphones, Bose has been at the top of the pack for the longest time. Headphone makers play catch up in between Bose’s product launches, but with the QuietControl QC30, Bose has set a high bar for the chasing pack yet again.
They have also opted for a neckband design, which might irk some with its outlook and bulk. But it ensures the earphones stay secure around the neck at all times without fear of it slipping off. It also has a unique feature: you can adjust the intensity of the noise cancelling effect with the in-line remote. Not everyone feels comfortable with high levels of noise cancelling, so having this option provides some relief to affected listeners.
And when you adjust the noise cancelling level in the opposite direction, the QC30 amplifies the ambient noise to ‘heighten’ your aural senses. I can listen to music while being acutely aware of what’s happening around me at the same time; for instance, while at the airport waiting for boarding announcements. Unlike others with fixed levels of noise cancelling, the QC30 allows adjustments to fit the needs of different situations.
The audio quality is commendable for ANC-type earphones. With ANC enabled, I was still able to pick up audio details without turning up the volume excessively, even in a noisy environment. The treble is detailed, and the sound staging delivers breadth to the music. The bass is musically pleasing and not excessive, with the right boomy response that delights meticulous listeners while the ANC helpfully eliminates the distracting ambient noises.
Battery life is rated for just eight hours, which is average and will be a bane of long-haul flyers. Unlike the other Bose QC models, the QC30 cannot be used at all when the battery is flat. If you are a casual user or if you need one for long flights I would recommend the QC35 over-ear headphones for longer battery life for about the same price.
Another home run for Bose, thanks to superior noise cancelling and the ability to adjust ANC level to suit a variety of listener preferences and environments. Audio is exceptionally clear and distraction-free, and you can wear it around your neck comfortably for hours and only put on the earbuds when needed.