When it comes to headphones, Bose is one of the names many buyers think of when it comes to quality and sound. As you would expect, the QC45 takes this reputation and continues to build on it. The feature set is similar to the previous generations but has evolved to continue upping the game.
One of the truly beautiful things I see in the Bose QC range, year on year, is the consistency of pricing. Last year and this year, the new cans drop at the same price which means if you’re due for an upgrade you can plan and save for the $499.00 price tag.
They Quiet the world around you and are very Comfortable
When you’re on a winning formula, why would you change it? That’s exactly where Bose is at with its QC headphone range:
- They look good without being lairish
- They’re lightweight
- They’re comfortable
- They’ve got great noise cancelling capacity
- Most importantly: They sound great!
- They come with a nice quality carry case to protect your investment
So it shouldn’t really be a surprise that the QC45 look very similar to the QC35 and the QC25 before them. If you’re keen-eyed, you’ll notice though that Bose now has a very welcome change: USB-C charging. This is a welcome change because — like myself — many potential buyers won’t upgrade or buy if manufacturers don’t keep up with the times.
As we outlined when the QC45 was released, there is an impressive 24 hours of battery — with ANC — life on a single charge. Right now, not the biggest of deals but when international borders open, this will see you through a long haul flight with battery to spare. Even if you are caught out, the charge time is pretty reasonable at 2.5 hours for a full charge, or 15 minutes for about 3 hours playback with ANC on.
The lengthy playback time isn’t going to do you much good if they’re uncomfortable to wear. Fear not though, the QC45 are the most comfortable headphones I’ve worn in the last year, possibly ever.
The lightweight design, plentiful (and well-positioned) padding and flexibility of the over-head arm mean you can actually wear these throughout the day. I have more than once during testing, forgotten I had these on until someone was speaking to me and I realised how muffled their voice was. When I removed the headphones, I was reminded of just how much of the noise from the world around me was being cut out making life in a quality set of ANC headphones peaceful.
I’m truly impressed by the noise-cancelling of the QC45. Even my daughter singing in top voice barely penetrates enough for me to realise what the noise is without really concentrating to figure it out.
Controls, Audio and Google Assistant
A facet of over-ear headphones that can often be overlooked is the controls. They need to be simple, easy to use (and develop the necessary muscle memory) and not easy to accidentally trigger. The Bose QC45 ticks all the right boxes here, but perhaps misses one feature that others have successfully included in the past.
The controls can be implemented via the physical buttons on the ear cups, or via the Bose Music app. In terms of physical controls and connectivity, there’s not a lot to learn on these.
The left ear cup houses a single button that toggles the ANC modes between ANC and “awareness” which carries through the voices and noise around you. This is a clever and well-implemented safety feature for users who may need to maintain awareness around them, but don’t necessarily want to stop listening during a commute. There is also a 3.5mm plug for those who still live in the physical connection age.
On the right, you’ve got three buttons, a slider and a USB-C connection for charging. The buttons include playback controls for Play/pause on the centre button, volume up and down either side of this. Interestingly, the controls for track change are tied to the centre button with a double-tap advancing a track and a triple-tap going back. This centre button also serves as the manual trigger for your chosen smart assistant with a long press and, if you receive one, answers and hangs up calls.
The only additional feature I’d like to see is the sensors that automatically pause playback when you take the headphones off. We’ve seen this in several competitors of late, and while it’s not a necessity, it’s nice to have.
The slider on the right ear cup serves as a power switch and when toggled all the way to the right, triggers Bluetooth Pairing mode. This is one of the areas where Bose has really nailed the QC45 with multipoint Bluetooth connection. This allows you to connect — as an example — a tablet or laptop, and a phone. If you’re streaming media from your tablet and a call comes in, your stream pauses and the phone then becomes the active stream.
This is taken a step further with the control app where you can seemingly add as many devices as you please. Then turn on and off connections to various devices as required, that is, providing your phone (with the app installed) remains connected.
The audio is exceptionally well balanced
If you’re looking for the best possible audio experience, you’re going to be spending a lot more on your headphones than $499 and you’re probably spending a lot more on an amplifier to drive them. When it comes to the audio capabilities of the QC45 however, the balance is excellent and suitable to just about anything for daily use.
In brutal honesty, there is a bit of imbalance to the sound at times particularly when it comes to bass. That’s not to say that they sound bad, far from it in fact because the quality of sound is truly excellent.
The mid-range audio is so clean, with vocals in audio really belting out clearly. Where the imbalance comes in, is the bass being a touch lacking. While this isn’t really a problem for me most days since I’m too old for “doof doof”, but I did occasionally notice it in the playback of some music genres. The high range audio is surprisingly good, even listening to orchestral scores the clarity of sound is
Google Assistant – Nailed it…
These days, if you’re spending any amount of money on headphones and not getting access to your chosen smart assistant, that’s a failing. Thankfully Bose has implemented the Google Assistant function perfectly with a long press on the right ear cup action button.
The feature set you can use through the QC45 is really only limited by your device. I’ve had messages read to me, sent messages and emails, controlled home automation and controlled playback. If you’re commuting, or spend a lot of time in an office – you’ll find some functionality in this. Although it’s not necessary, it’s a big box to tick for headphones in the current era.
Should you buy them?
Bose QC45 continues the history of delivering great quality hardware and excellent sound. They have noise-cancelling that is part of the industry-leading pack and come with a nice quality case to protect your investment.
In the box, you’ll get the headphones, case, an almost impractically short charging cable and 3.5mm connection cable. One area that Bose — following the growing trend in consumer goods — needs to be commended on is the fact the packaging comes with essentially zero plastics.
The Bose QC45 is not a cheap piece of hardware, they’re an investment to be enjoyed for some time and they’re damn good. Whether they’re worth $499.00 is a decision you need to make. I’d suggest though that if your headphones are getting a bit long in the tooth, or you’re looking for an upgrade then they’re well worth it providing over-ear sound is your preferred option.
The Bose QC45 is available in the usual retailers as well as online from the same outlets or from Bose direct. If you’re looking at picking up a set, keep your eyes out leading into Christmas and you may well pick up a bargain.