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Bose QuietComfort 45 Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 20 11.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 45 24.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 93 51.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 24 13.2%

  • Total voters
    182

617

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I agree, and want to stick my several cents in. Perhaps these are simple points that have been missed in this thread.

The basic background noise of a modern home can be quite annoying, In my opinion, and as you mentioned, HVAC, street noise, appliances, wind, cars, aircraft, spouse/children, pets, landscapers, workers, are only some of the many things that contribute to the endless assault of noise we hear daily. It's the main reason I can't enjoy my main hi-fi system: as soon as the vents start blasting air, that's just about it for my tolerance of background noise, not to mention all the rest.

It's incredible. I didn't realize how much noise there was until I bought a pair of these very same headphones in this thread and put them on. It was life-changing. I can even have a fan blowing right on me during these summer months and never hear the thing. Before, it was a choice between audio quality (wearing my HD 600) or being cool. Combine this with the accurate frequency response and it truly is a great product. As @617 mentioned:



And I concur, which is why I voted 'great'. It has almost single-handedly changed my perspective on consumer audio and what audiophiles say about Bose. There is a lot of scientific research going on in these non-traditional hi-fi companies and they are making quality, accurate products for the masses. I like not having to spend a fortune to get accurate audio. I like convenience, too. It's nice to have both.

For those interested, I was listening to Kind of Blue last night with these headphones and the tape hiss was louder than any hiss from the ANC circuit. So if you can stomach tape hiss in old recordings, especially pre Dolby-A, then I don't see how this would bother you.
I agree. When you look at old hifi, like Japanese turntables in the late 70s, you really get the sense that the best and brightest engineers were working on these products, with significant financial backing, so they could really push the state of the art. I don't get that impression when I look at modern hifi. How many speaker companies are just affluent dilletantes putting expensive drivers in expensive cabinets (I am among them?) Where did the cutting edge engineering go? Purifi makes some cool drivers, but it's a very niche thing, the class D amps have successfully commodified amplification, but who is creating the future? Topping and SMSL make traditional hifi components with crazy precision, Revel and KEF are making very refined passive speakers - but fundamentally it's all old technology. Yamaha was making beryllium tweeters fifty years ago.

Where is the real innovation happening in sound reproduction? Sound bars, line array PA systems, homepod speakers and these headphones. These ANC headsets aren't cheap, but I opened one up the other day and started to realize how incredible they were. The WH-1000xm5 has eight microphones pointed in different directions, a battery that lasts 30 hours, and it weighs less than a pair of HD-600.
 

BGLeduc

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At the moment, refurb QC45's in black are $199 at Bose.


I only ever use NC cans on planes, but they work very well in that environment. I have a pair of QC15's that I like a lot, and a pair of QC25's that just don't sound as good to me. I wanted to get a something for the day that my 15's die. Hopefully the 45's will pass the test. At $200 with full warranty, it was worth a shot.
 

perdido34

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I agree, and want to stick my several cents in. Perhaps these are simple points that have been missed in this thread.

The basic background noise of a modern home can be quite annoying, In my opinion, and as you mentioned, HVAC, street noise, appliances, wind, cars, aircraft, spouse/children, pets, landscapers, workers, are only some of the many things that contribute to the endless assault of noise we hear daily. It's the main reason I can't enjoy my main hi-fi system: as soon as the vents start blasting air, that's just about it for my tolerance of background noise, not to mention all the rest.

It's incredible. I didn't realize how much noise there was until I bought a pair of these very same headphones in this thread and put them on. It was life-changing. I can even have a fan blowing right on me during these summer months and never hear the thing. Before, it was a choice between audio quality (wearing my HD 600) or being cool. Combine this with the accurate frequency response and it truly is a great product. As @617 mentioned:
I have been seeing patients for psychotherapy from home via Zoom since the day after our state had a pandemic shutdown in March 2020. When a house was being built that spring, it was incredibly noisy until I bought ANC headphones (Sony WH-1000mx2). The headphones, plus the noise suppression programming in Zoom, blocked all of that noise from me and my clients. I bought AirBuds Pro 2, which did a decent job of blocking the noise until I had to run the window A/C unit and a floor fan in the room--the noise was blocked, but my voice quality was terrible with that much background noise in the room. So I recently bought Bose QC45--the noise is all blocked, my voice quality is good, and they are more comfortable than the Sony ANC's.

I decided to investigate whether I should take the petite AirBuds on a plane trip vs. the bulkier headphones. So I found an estimate for the SPL level inside the type of plane I'd be on, along with a YouTube video recorded on that Boeing model, and I played it back at home using an SPL meter to match the estimate I'd found online. Both ANC headphones completely blocked engine noise, but the AIrBuds Pro 2 were mediocre at that job. The AirBuds are fine for sitting outdoors while a neighbor uses his gas mower, but they aren't up to blocking airplane engine noise.
 

Human Bass

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Considering human visual reaction time is in the region of 200ms and less, and human auditory reaction time is even less than that, then 14ms as part of your "reaction chain" could be pretty significant when reacting to auditory cues in fps "competitive type" gaming environment. So a gamer wouldn't really want a 14ms delay on their audio, they'd rather choose a different headphone.
If they are playing hardcore competetive gaming, sure it is better to go wired. But 14ms is actually incredble for bluetooth audio
 

Robbo99999

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If they are playing hardcore competetive gaming, sure it is better to go wired. But 14ms is actually incredble for bluetooth audio
It might be a good latency for Bluetooth, but any gamer who likes to optimise their system whilst also trying to be competetive wouldn't be wanting a 14ms latency on their audio, they'd be choosing a different headphone.
 

Zensō

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If they are playing hardcore competetive gaming, sure it is better to go wired. But 14ms is actually incredble for bluetooth audio
Maybe I missed it upthread, but where does the 14ms measurement come from? These are the latencies as measured by Rtings:

PC Latency (SBC) 180 ms
PC Latency (aptX) N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD) N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL) N/A
iOS Latency 80 ms
Android Latency 115 ms

 
Last edited:

GaryH

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If they are playing hardcore competetive gaming, sure it is better to go wired. But 14ms is actually incredble for bluetooth audio
Maybe I missed it upthread, but where does the 14ms measurement come from? These are the latencies as measured by Rtings:

PC Latency (SBC) 180 ms
PC Latency (aptX) N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD) N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL) N/A
iOS Latency 80 ms
Android Latency 115 ms

For testing I used the included cable. It eliminates the effect of the BT codec and gives me more flexibility in testing its dynamic capabilities.
 

Robbo99999

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Zensō

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Ah right, then that's even worse then! (I thought that was with Bluetooth enabled)
Just FYI, the Apple AirPods Max BT latency on iOS and Android is ~40% less than the Bose:

Bose QC45
iOS Latency 80 ms
Android Latency 115 ms

PC Latency (SBC) 180 ms

Apple AirPods Max
iOS Latency 47 ms
Android Latency 67 ms

PC Latency (SBC) 173 ms
 

alumnicesar

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The main sources of noise in this type of devices:
  1. NC microphones have a finite SNR from 63dB (every other maker) to 73dB (a select few like Infineon and Knowles) so they generate their own noise...
  2. Portable electronics also have a finite SNR, Bose usually uses Qualcomm BT IC (QCC51xx) and ADI DSP (ADAU 1777, 1787 and newer)
  3. NC function in particular the Feedback (FB) loop (as opposed to the feedforward) where you need to amplify the signal from the FB mic by 15-25dB
  4. The FB loop is not perfect: example of the QC35.2 anything above 0dB will actually amplify the noise!
    BTW QC35.x are better than the 45 and 700 in terms of NC.
View attachment 300119
So yes, for now, you have to trade SNR for accuracy to get portable devices offering NC with decent battery life/weight.
Accuracy is NOT an issue as BT ICs and any DSP will have more than enough EQ capabilities to match pretty much any target.
Therefore no EQ for those.

Score no EQ 55.3
Score with 75.5
View attachment 300137


Regarding the L/R imbalance that is too much i.e. it barely meets the industry low standard (within 6dB) and way too much for a large maker.
It should be within 3/4dB max up to 5kHz I reckon, above both diaphragm break-up and cavities modes make it trickier.
In the old days prior to iPhone, Nokia bundled earbuds that were within 2dB up to 8kHz and would still be industry leading today.
I would not be surprised at all that someone could pick that up, QA apparatus can 100%, and trained personnel definitively would...
So it is what is it because it fine by their standards and might be related to built-in L/R issues of the design and consistent across production.
Do you have a list/table with all your scores?
 

perdido34

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I bought these to use for work meetings; I am in a home office with a noisy window air conditioner, and the QC45 (using Zoom) completely blocks that sound from me and the other folks on the call--and it does a better job with my voice quality in that noisy setting that AirBuds Pro2 or my older Sony WH-1000XM2.

I was pleasantly surprised with the decent sound quality for music and TV. The Bose Music app has a three-point EQ setting that can reduce the boomy bass quality acceptably. As for the hiss, I have mild tinnitus, so I don't hear it!
 

staticV3

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However, if I use them wired and switch on NC, music is barely audible. If I switch off, it is back to normal listenin…any ideas? Is this normal behaviour?
It's possible that with NC switched off, the headphone is fully off and you're driving the (likely very efficient) drivers directly, whereas with NC on, the headphone is on and you're instead driving the built-in ADC + DSP + DAC + Headphone Amp, which results in a different (lower) effective sensitivity.

This is just speculation though.

Edit: what makes my theory more feasible is RAA's test reports for the QC35II and NC700, where NC Off will result in an input impedance of 55/60Ω (raw driver impedance) and NC On will give you 455/465Ω (ADC input impedance):
https://reference-audio-analyzer.pro/en/title-report.php?id=2262#gsc.tab=0
https://reference-audio-analyzer.pro/en/title-report.php?id=2267#gsc.tab=0

Though these earlier models show identical sensitivity either way, that might've changed with the QC45 generation.
 
Last edited:

Tom22

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It's possible that with NC switched off, the headphone is fully off and you're driving the (likely very efficient) drivers directly, whereas with NC on, the headphone is on and you're instead driving the built-in ADC + DSP + DAC + Headphone Amp, which results in a different (lower) effective sensitivity.

This is just speculation though.
Thanks…I increased the volume with the button on the headphone, the setting (in the dsp?) was apparently way too low….seems to be fine now.

Not sure if it sounds better with NC on though…need to do some more listenin.
 

staticV3

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Not sure if it sounds better with NC on though…need to do some more listenin.
Amir actually measured the difference in frequency response between On and Off, which shows a drastically better response with the headphone On:
index.php
 

perdido34

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At the moment, refurb QC45's in black are $199 at Bose.


I only ever use NC cans on planes, but they work very well in that environment. I have a pair of QC15's that I like a lot, and a pair of QC25's that just don't sound as good to me. I wanted to get a something for the day that my 15's die. Hopefully the 45's will pass the test. At $200 with full warranty, it was worth a shot.
The 45s have much better sound quality AND noise canceling than the 15s. However, the 15s run on a replaceable AAA battery; the battery in the 45s isn't replaceable.
 

Garlucky

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I'm a little confused, When saying passive does that mean wired?
And
When saying turned on and turned off, is that referring to active mode nc on and active mode nc off?
 
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