Review: Bose QuietComfort 25

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A few months ago I was in the office of a PR Company, dropping off a bunch of review units that I never got around to reviewing. The products I was dropping off were ok, but not good enough to bother writing about publicly. Instead, I shared my thoughts with the company privately, over a beer. As I was leaving, one of the lovely people there asked if I wanted to borrow a pair of Bose QuietComfort 25s. “Nah, I already have a bunch of headphones to review at home, I can’t add more to the pile of shame!” “Are you sure? They’re pretty good. I think you’ll like them…”

I said thanks but no thanks, and was on my way.

Persistent lil Buggers

A few weeks later, I received another email:

“Pete, I have some more Bose QuietComforts – I’m sending you a pair!”

“Fine, but I can’t guarantee I’ll write about them…”

And here we are. God damn, these things are amazing.

First Impressions. 

The Bose QuietComfort 25s aren’t as flashy as some of the headphones I’ve played with recently. The box is small, with minimal accessories. Some newer headphones are so over the top in size, in boasts, in leather stitching. Not so the QC25s. They’re just light, comfortable cans that ship with a carry case, a cable and an AAA battery. That’s right, the QC25s are old school. No fancy pants bluetooth or built in lithium-ion battery. In 2015, the out-of-box experience feels almost quaint.

Sound

The QC25s aren’t the loudest headphones I’ve used, they focus instead on crisp, perfect sound. They already sound good enough without using the noise-cancelling feature, which is great for two reasons. One, you want the headphones to continue working if the battery for noise cancelling feature dies. Two, you want to be able to switch off noise cancelling in areas of non-consistent background noise. Try listening to any noise cancelling headphones on a busy street, and you’ll quickly feel vertigo as the cans try to eliminate all the swirling noises around you.

So they’re great as just regular old ‘over-ear’ headphones, but the marquee feature is noise cancelling. Flipping the ‘traffic-be-gone” noise cancelling switch completely eliminated the sound of the bus I was on each morning. It was creepy good, much better than the other noise cancelling phones I’ve tried in the past. Better yet, there was no feeling of my brain being vacuumed through my ears, as I’ve felt with some noise cancellers.

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Comfort

Bose put Comfort in the name, so they’re pretty confident in the wearability of these headphones. And just like sound quality, they nail it. The headphones are so damn light and comfortable. I could wear them all day without feeling their weight, or feeling uncomfortable.

After so many months of using bluetooth headphones, the cable does feel weird to me, but I can understand why Bose chose not to use bluetooth. Even the best bluetooth headphones are susceptible to digital crunching and errors in sound, and I think Bose want quality sound here above all else. I assume that’s why they chose to stick with an AAA battery too, so you’ll never run out of a charge on a long haul flight. They’re simple phones, with simple design choices, but there’s quality behind every choice.

Price

The QC25s aren’t cheap. At around $399 RRP, these are luxury phones, designed to eliminate the noise of cabin around your business class seats. I don’t fly business, and I could never drop $399 on a pair of headphones. I’d love to, and I probably could justify the expense somehow, but I grew up poor, and spending $399 on a treat is just so weird to me. Then again, I’ve bought an $600 iPad every year for five years, and I don’t need an iPad.

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Final thoughts

Last week, my good friend Anthony was in town, showing off his shiny new Apple Watch. “It’s good,” he said, “but it’s too fancy for me. Like, I’m not worth it.” I understand the feeling. These headphones are so damn good they make me feel bad about myself. Like, what the fuck have I achieved in my life to deserve them? Nothing. How the hell can I justify owning something this fancy-pants? I can’t.

Perhaps you don’t feel this kind of guilt or self hatred. Perhaps you enjoy ‘treating yourself’. Well, if you can justify spending $400 on a pair of headphones, you’d be mad not to buy the QuietComfort 25s. They are the best sounding headphones I’ve ever used. Me, I’m going to go back to the shitty buds that come with my phone, because that’s what I deserve. But I’ll always remember the time I had with these cans.

Reckoner had its humble beginnings way back in June of 2013.

Founded by James Croft, along with Peter Wells and Anthony Agius they created what would go on to become one of Australia’s most highly regarded and award winning independent tech blogs.

With its uniquely Australian voice Reckoner is committed to offering a “no-holds-barred” approach to its writing. Beholden to no one but its audience. Reckoner’s goal is to remain completely transparent and honour the trust it’s built with its faithful readership.

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