For years, any time someone asked what brand of headphones they should buy for a flight, the answer was a simple one-syllable: Bose. The company’s QuietComfort line had long been synonymous with drowning out plane noise on long flights. But over the last several years, the question has become an increasingly difficult one, as companies like Apple and Sony have shot to the top of the category.
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earned Their Name
In mid-September, the company made its stance clear once more. The popular QuietComfort line underwent a transformation with three new additions: the $299 QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, $349 QuietComfort Headphones, and the $429 QuietComfort Ultra headphones. The latter, our focus today, takes the place of the $379 (now $279) Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
In terms of naming conventions, it’s undeniably simpler and more streamlined. You can easily discern the position of the Quiet Comfort Ultra Headphones compared to the QuietComfort Headphones (they’re, you know, more ultra). The price tag might have already given you pause, as it would for any reasonable, non-independently wealthy person. The competition in premium headphones has intensified, but it hasn’t made the products any more affordable. We’re approaching a price tag close to half a grand.
Bose QuietComfort Ultra: Unveiling the Pinnacle of Headphone Excellence, One Flight at a Time
Is any noise-canceling Bluetooth headphone valued at $429 worth it? That’s a question I can’t answer universally. What I can affirm is that if any headphone deserves this price, it’s these. Bose has crafted some of the most comfortable and best-sounding headphones I’ve ever tested, complemented by top-notch noise cancellation. These headphones are, without a doubt, the real deal.
Fortunately, Bose successfully delivered the pair before a cross-country flight earlier this week. Regrettably, I didn’t think to double-check the size of the auxiliary jack. What can I say? It’s been a while since I’ve worn a pair of Bose headphones on a flight (thank Sony for that), so I had forgotten that the headphones themselves feature a 2.5mm port instead of the more standard 3.5mm. When in doubt, use whatever they include in the box.
So, no seatback entertainment through the new QuietComfort for me on this trip. That’s fine; there was nothing good on anyway. As for the rest of the flight, you won’t find anything more comfortable — they’re lightweight and well-padded with a soft lining. The active noise-canceling also did an excellent job eliminating the plane’s white noise and even some of the shrieking child toward the back. Not entirely on that last bit, though – the technology just isn’t there yet.
The ANC is effective enough that I had to actively switch to “aware” mode when using the headphones during a podcast. With it activated, it was honestly too difficult to hear myself speaking, which threw me off (apologies to the interviewee on that one).
Setting aside the pricing, there is one notable complaint. The battery life doesn’t match up with other over-ear pairs, like Sony’s WH-1000XM5 and the Beats Studio 3. It got me through the aforementioned cross-country flight and should get you through a day without a problem. Still, be forewarned that it’s the one area where the Ultras fall short of the competition.