New in-ear noise-cancelling headset: Bose QuietComfort 20i

These made such a good first impression that I posted an Amazon review; we’ll see how that feeling holds up over time:

I’ve heard great things about these.

One of my biggest pet peeves is ‘cable noise’. You know, when your cable is banging against your jacket or something and you get the sound relayed to your ears.

How do these perform in this regard?

You wear noise-cancelling headphones during a carpool?

I saw some review complaints about that. I haven’t noticed it myself yet, but I’ve been using the alligator clip all day. I’ve had some headsets that were really bad with that, and so far these aren’t having any such issue.

101 is a very noisy highway. Plus, I had a new toy… of course I was trying it out!

How comfortable are they? I have an old pair of Bose earbuds that are by far the most comfortable I’ve ever had. I also have QC3 on-ear headphones which are super comfortable, but don’t really block out noise as well as I would like.

Comfort is outstanding. They have a super soft rubber earpiece, with a thin extrusion that fits into the curve of your ear, and it’s easy to forget it’s there.

I can’t overstate how impressive the noise reduction is. I hit the bypass button while testing them at home when someone had the TV on, and I was astounded at how loud the TV was. It wasn’t even registering while the NR was on.

I think if people are going to find issues, they’ll likely be:

  • the cable is pretty thick, and there’s a thin & light but still substantial lithium battery at the end
  • it’d be nice if Bose invested more in their drivers, rather than relying on their electronics to boost performance

On the other hand, it’s surreal when the main indication of noise that you have when a motorcycle roars by is that you can feel it in your chest.

I’ve had two different solutions to airplane / snowblower noise: a pair of Etymotic 6i’s, which are noise-isolating earbuds that go deep in the ear canal, and a pair of Bose QC-15 over-ear noise cancelling headphones. The earbuds work better despite being completely passive, but they’re a bitch to insert and remove. Every time I had to talk to someone, it was a production taking the earbud out. Which is why I bought the QC-15’s. They’re a lot more obtrusive, and don’t work quite as well, but being able to take them off rapidly proved to be worth it.

I’d like something that wasn’t as bulky as proper headphones, but which are still easy to remove for conversation rapidly. It’d be a bonus of course if they worked better than the QC-15’s. These things have the sort of ribbed tips of the Etymotic 6i’s, but I gather those tips don’t go into the ear canal? Because wedging those in like earplugs / working them out of the canal is what takes the effort. One review said he’d prefer wearing the QC-15’s for a long trip, and frankly the QC-15’s aren’t that great comfort-wise when you’re wearing them for 3+ hours.

I’ve got a trip which will involve 11-13 hours on the plane each way coming up, and during the winter I like to listen to music to stave off boredom while using my snowblower. I’m not sure I want to spend $300 on another set of noise canceling / isolating earphones, but I can see doing it if they are significantly smaller and more comfortable than the QC-15’s without the difficulties of the Etymotic 6i’s.

These aren’t tight-fitting plugs like the Shure & Etymotic models. They sort of just rest in the canal, like the older Bose style “in-ear” headphones do; they’re very comfortable, and the skeleton (which is unnoticeable for me in use) holds them there. Letting sound through is a button-press away (on the side of the volume control). You can also just pull down on the cable to pop them out, if that’s what you prefer.

A good friend of mine spent quite a bit of time working on these. I’ll pass along the praise!

Holy shit–$300?

The Quiet Comfort 15’s are also $300. I got mine used, but yeah, they’re pricey.

The thing about the Bose noise-canceling earphones - either variety, the QC-15’s or QC-20’s - is that you buy them when nothing else is going to do the job. Some environments, like airplanes, are incredibly loud.

Tell him or her that we’re anxiously awaiting the bluetooth-enabled version :)

It’s such a logical move that I can’t imagine a reality where they aren’t already working on it. Bluetooth pendant designs are already very similar to what Bose has done here, and with low-power BT4 and the nice big battery they have, they could probably do it without any sacrifices over the current product. Just add a necklace chain.

Right, most people buying these are frequent fliers. They are incredibly nice on airplanes.

Skull Candy these are not.

Well, I’m hoping for these for my birthday. I aleady knew I was flying to the east coast in October. Now looks like I’ll be headed back right after Christmas.

I bought a pair, since the QC-15’s are cumbersome while traveling. They’re really quite comfortable, as Michael said, they may have the ribbed design, but they go into the bowl of the ear, not the canal, so putting them in and removing them isn’t a production. They’re pretty much indistinguishable in feel from any other soft-tip earbud, despite being designed for improved noise isolation. I may fire up my snowblower tomorrow to compare the total effect of the noise cancellation vs. the QC-15’s. Maybe compare them to the Etymotic earbuds as well.

I have a pair of these too… They are the best headphones I’ve ever owned.

I’m not a huge audiophile though, so my judgement of the sound quality isn’t really well informed… but the reason I like them is that they are INSANELY comfortable. They stay in your ears, but you basically can’t feel them at all. It’s all about the little weird moon ear thingy.

The plastic is crazy soft and comfortable. The only way I’ve found to make them uncomfortable is to use too large of an earpiece (it comes with three sizes). They aren’t a tight fit like many other in-ear designs, and when I tried to make them fit more snugly by switching the ear-pieces from medium to large, that’s when I found them uncomfortable after a couple of hours. It turns out they don’t seem to need a tight fit; I went back to medium, they feel fabulous, and noise isolation hasn’t suffered at all.

Just got these today and the first impression was astonishing. I was standing in the kitchen and flipped them on, and the 48-decibel dishwasher three feet away from me, just disappeared. Gone.