Bose QC 35 II review

Bose QC 35 II review

Last Updated on by Daniel Lawrence

Despite being usurped by the newer Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and Bose QuietComfort 45, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II remains one of the best noise-canceling headphones available.

In spite of its age, the QuietComfort 35 II offers both wireless operation and active noise cancellation, as well as built-in support for Google Assistant. 

In addition, you can interact with Google Assistant simply by pressing and holding a button instead of yelling, “OK Google.” The headphones will also read back notifications to you so you don’t have to dig around in your bag or pocket. 

For travelers and commuters, the QC35 II NC remains a solid recommendation, especially during Black Friday or Cyber Monday when they’re usually discounted by $100 or more. 

Bose QC 35 II: Design 

Bose QC 35 II review

With the exception of the Google Assistant button on the left earcup, the Bose QC35 II NC look exactly like the previous generation. The headphones come in black or silver, and the design is, to put it mildly, bland. These headphones are perfect for modest business class travelers, but less so for those who like their headphones to make an impression. 

Additionally, its plastic build is disappointing. It’s nice for saving weight, but it feels extremely cheap, especially compared to luxury headphones like the Master & Dynamic MW50, which are covered in lambskin leather and aluminum. 

Although it is plastic, the headphone feels very solid and can take a lot of abuse without being damaged. Moreover, the headphones come with a hard case for traveling, which is a nicer alternative to pouches that many headphone makers include. 

The QC35 II NC’s plastic build does help to make it comfortable, and we were impressed with just how comfortable it was to use for long periods of time. In spite of its unpleasant feel, plastic saves a lot of weight, which is great for travelers on long flights.

Even when the noise cancellation is turned off, Bose’s QC35 II NC pads block out a ton of ambient noise. If you want to preserve battery life and turn off noise cancellation, this is the way to go. 

A power slider and a pairing slider are located on the right earcup, and buttons for volume up and down are located on the left earcup. Bose’s Android and iOS apps let you remap the left earcup’s Google Assistant button to toggle noise cancellation levels. 

Bose QC 35 II: Features

Google Assistant is the main feature of the Bose QC35 II NC, and it works well most of the time. During our testing, we were impressed with how well the Google Assistant picked up our voice, even on a crowded train and in a coffee shop. 

After you power on the headphone for the first time, you’re prompted to download the Bose app for your phone, as it will need the app to enable many features, such as noise cancellation, remapping the Google Assistant button, and updating firmware. 

Although the app is simple and easy to use, we occasionally had problems with the app’s ability to detect our headphones on Android. Bose will hopefully continue to work on its mobile app so that it will be more stable by restarting it.

Google Assistant works just like it does on Google Home with the Bose QC35 II NC. You can ask it to read headlines, add reminders, or do a variety of other things. Also, the Assistant will read you your notifications as they arrive, which is nice, but maybe redundant if you have a smartwatch already. 

Shortly, Google Assistant is nice, but it is not the main reason you should buy the Bose QC35 II NC: buy this headphone for its excellent noise cancellation, balanced sound, and incredible comfort. 

Among the things, Bose falls short of are simple things like pausing your music automatically when you remove your headphones. Furthermore, there’s no instant-mute feature like on the Sony WH-1000XM2, where you can place your palm over an earcup to hear what’s going on around you. For travelers who need to hear the airport PA quickly, this feature is a godsend. While Plantronics’ BackBeat Pro 2 offers both of these features, Bose does not. 

BOSE QC35 II SPECS

  • Form factor: Over-ear
  • Weight: 10.9 oz
  • Battery life: 20 hour(s)
  • Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth 4.1

Performance 

This is Bose’s forte, active noise cancellation, as shown in the QC35 II NC. It’s as if you walked into a quiet room after being on a busy street. The headphones are exceptional at drowning out everything from the rumble of a train to the sounds of passing traffic and even voices. 

Despite noise cancellation being turned on, we still felt some pressure. The headphones do an excellent job of blocking out ambient noise, even with noise cancellation turned off, which is a testament to Bose’s earpad design. (Those sensitive to noise cancellation pressure may not like the headphones, though.) 

Bose QC35 II NC’s sound is good, but not class-leading. Although the sound is relatively neutral with a slight mid-bass bump, it is somewhat soft in comparison to competitors like the Sony WH-1000X M2 (previously the Sony MDR-1000X). This limits the dynamic range of the presentation and results in a somewhat dull presentation. The resolution is good, but not great, and the sound stage is good. 

Taken in isolation, Bose headphones have great sound quality for most listeners. For audiophiles, we recommend the Sony WH-1000XM3 or the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2. 

When the noise cancellation is on and listening at a moderate volume, the battery life is excellent at 20 hours. We found this rating to be accurate, so you won’t need to worry about charging these headphones when you’re on a flight. In contrast to the B&O Beoplay H9, the battery is not removable, so you’ll need a micro USB cable and a backup battery pack.

It’s nice to have the option of listening in wired mode while still having noise cancellation on. Bose’s use of a 2.5mm to 3.5mm cable is annoying – meaning finding a replacement won’t be as simple – but it’s not a deal-breaker.

Pros Cons
Class-leading noise cancellation Plastic build, plain design
Incredibly comfortable No instant mute
Balanced, but the soft sound quality No autoplay/pause
Affordable

Conclusion

Bose improved the already-excellent QC35 by adding Google Assistant. Except for the Google Assistant button, the headphone is identical. Thus, you get Bose’s renowned noise cancellation, good sound quality, and incredibly comfortable design. 

Both Android and iOS users can use Google Assistant, which offers a similar experience to Google Home. Smartwatch users may find this redundant since the headphones will also read back their notifications. Even though Google Assistant is nice to have, it is by no means the main reason you should buy these headphones. 

Overall, the Bose QC35 II NC is a great commuter and travel headphone. A good balance of features has been found by Bose that will satisfy mainstream listeners.