I was trying to choose the best high-end, BlueTooth, noise cancelling headphones among a selection of the top rated brands. ... Hello Bose Support and Engineering!**First off, I’d like to congratulate you all on an excellent job with the NC *** headphones! The industrial design is a true work of art, as is some of the functionality and performance.**The main purpose of my note is to provide a potential-purchaser’s assessment of the NC ***. Several motivations for me to take the time to write to you are:***. Bose is in my backyard***. you support our military***. I want to see you succeed.**I and my extended family own several Bose products, and they are generally excellent. I will say up front, that while the NC *** headphones have certainly achieved excellence in some areas, there is definite need for improvement in others, hence, this feedback and a few questions that I’d like quick answers to from Engineering to support my purchase decision.**As I write, I have purchased several leading headphones, after watching extensive product reviews about each of my top picks. Headphones are largely a luxury item for me (especially at the $*** price point in a global pandemic), so I will be keeping one pair and returning the rest. I am an Engineer and a Certified Scrum Product Owner, and watching product reviews is not enough to satisfy my need for hard data... or, if hard data isn’t readily available, at the very least I’d like to have hands-on subjectivity. As such, these notes are the result of my own testing and thoughts after actually using the products.**The products tested were:***. Sony WH-***XM***. Bose NC *****. Sennheiser PXC-*** II**. Sennheiser Momentum-* Wireless**I listen to a wide variety of music… much mellow classical at very low volume to help myself focus on technical work… all the way to Van Halen* AeroSmith, and **’s***’s pop with heavy bass.**At a high level, BlueTooth wireless headphones are a tool that need to perform in three primary use cases:***. Allowing deep focus**. Actively listening to quality audio (including music* audio*video podcasts* television* movies* online courses* corporate broadcasts* etc)**. Connecting virtually via audio*video with others (one-on-one calls*video chats* conference calls* video meetings* participatory remote learning* etc)**These three primary use cases drive multiple headphone performance metrics. In priority order, these metrics are:***. Noise cancellation*customizability (Sony WH-****XM*)**. Local sound quality*customizability (* way tie*Sony WH-****XM*)**. Bluetooth connection reliability ((Sony WH-****XM*)**. Self-hearing quality (Bose NC ***)**. User interface of the headphones themselves (* way tie)**. Usability of the associated SmartPhone App (Sony)**. Remote sound quality as applied to the remote end of a phone*conference call on which I’m a participant (Sennheiser PXC-*** II)**. Physical comfort when wearing for extended time (* way tie)**. Battery (tie: Sony*Sennheiser)***. Physical appearance (Bose NC *** for the awesome industrial design!)***. Carrying Case (Bose NC ***)**A few notes on the above.***. I received the Bose NC ***’s several days before the other headphones, and initially thought that those would be the ones I would want to keep.**. The Sennheiser Momentum-* Wireless had the worst performance — by far — in each of the performance metrics, so I won’t say much more than that. I stopped testing them very quickly on the day I received them, as it was obvious they were the laggard among the group.**. The amount*purity of the silence that the noise-cancelling headphones can produce, completely impacts the quality of all three primary use cases, and effectively allows or denies the first use case (deep focus, which requires silence). While I went into the test biased AGAINST the Sony headphones, I was stunned at how much better their noise cancellation sounded compared to everything else. Wearing the WH-***XM*’s was akin to being in an isolation chamber. Truly spectacular level of noise cancellation, and definitely a large step above everyone else in the competition. (ENGINEERING, CAN THIS BE CORRECTED IN FW? Or does it need a HW change or two?)**. The Sony App allows a user to mold the raw clay that is the WH-***XM* to the user’s liking. Perhaps the app is more complex than the Bose or the Sennheiser App (on iOS… can’t speak about the experience on Android), but I want to be able to dial-in the exact amount of each frequency and noise cancellation that the physical product allows. Also, the Sony App “just works”, whereas both the Bose and Sennheiser apps had occasional problems connecting their respective headphones, and in a multipoint connection, the connection with the App seemed to cause sound quality issues while listening to the non-iOS device. (ENGINEERING, CAN THIS BE CORRECTED QUICKLY?)**. I really liked the sound quality of the Bose NC ***, but after reading much criticism about the sound quality of the WH-****XM* (predecessor to the XM*’s), I was surprised at how clear* distortion-free, and expansive the sound stage was of the WH-****XM*’s. Again, I’m being very honest that I went into this test biased AGAINST Sony (to the point that I wasn’t even going to take the shrink wrap off of the package when the WH-***XM*’s initially arrived, after being so happy with the Bose NC ***’s). I was shocked at how good and clear the Sony’s sounded! Part of the sound quality may be the customizability offered by the Sony App over the Bose App, and part of it may be the ability of Bose to deliver a sub-woofer style thump out of the NC ***’s! (ENGINEERING, CAN THIS BE CORRECTED IN FW? Or does it need a HW change or two? I’m specifically talking about sub-Bass Boost here…)**. The Sennheiser PXC ***-II’s offered some settings, such as Reverb, that while appearing gimmicky, actually could add to the sound quality for certain scenarios. (ENGINEERING, CAN THIS BE ADDED VIA FW OR APP ENHANCEMENTS?Or does it need a HW change or two?)**. The Bose NC ***’s did excellently when testing how much of my own voice could be heard while on a call. The NC ***’s are clearly a step above the competition here. This also impacts performance metric *, as hearing others that are physically trying to have a quick chat is an important user interface element.**. The Sennheiser PXC ***-II’s are WAY ahead of everyone else wrt microphone quality. Each product’s mic tests could have produced warmer tones, such as those produced with a studio mic, but the PXC-***-II’s provide exceptionally clear voice for the remote end of a call. (ENGINEERING, CAN YOU MAKE UP THE DEFECIT IN FW? Or does it need a HW change or two?)**. The WH-****XM*’s had the worst mic quality, with lots of breaking up* stuttering* etc on the remote end of the call.***. The Bose NC ***’s industrial design is just so **** cool! Fluid swiveling* elegant lines… what more can you ask for (A: all of the other performance metrics)!***. The carrying case on the Bose offering is best!***. The battery on the Bose NC ***’s will last a couple of days, while the Sony headphones will last almost an entire week.***. There are inexpensive workarounds for the battery* carrying case* physical comfort (sometimes), and remote sound quality, which is why these items are prioritized lower, than say, Noise cancellation.**I am heavily leaning toward keeping the Sony’s, much to my surprise. I’ve written some questions to Engineering in parentheses in the above notes section. I’d be much obliged if those could be answered in the next few days. As I’d like to get multiple pairs of headphones off of my credit card as soon as possible. I really like certain things about the NC ***’s, and if you tell me that there’s an imminent FW release that will fix much of the above, then it’s probably worth while to hang on to the Bose headphones while waiting a week or two for the updates.**Thank you for listening. Please stay safe out there!**GV
While the NC *** is frequently ranked as one of the top two wireless, noise cancelling headphones on the market, when doing a comparison, I found that they are not at the top for either noise cancellation, nor remote call quality, and I wanted them to be there, as they have such awesome industrial design!
Getting a FW update and updated iOS app that provides the best of yourselves and your competition in a single package.
I've been a Bose customer for decades.
This is an internal FW or HW issue that needs to be fixed by Engineering.