Future audiophiles don’t hold the same grudge against Bose that longtime audiophiles sometimes do. Perhaps that’s because they know Bose for the thing the company does best: headphones. More specifically, noise-canceling headphones like the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (buy at Amazon). Priced at $379, these over-the-ear, Bluetooth 5.0 wireless headphones fall at the higher end of the mainstream headphone market, with the likes of Apple, Sennheiser, and Bowers & Wilkins. What you get with the Bose offering is a bit unique. Let’s dig in and find out why.
What Makes the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Special?
- Bose has offered the best noise canceling technology in consumer headphones for a long while. These cans are no exception. I was impressed with the noise cancelation on the similarly priced Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 headphones, but I gotta admit, the Bose noise cancelation is even better. One of my key tests is walking by the beach, with the Pacific Coast Highway a mere 50 yards away—that’s a lot of car noise. With the Bose noise cancelation enabled even at the lowest of the three levels, the car noise was gone. If you were walking through Manhattan, I’d recommend that you don’t engage this feature for safety purposes. It also runs the battery down at a faster rate.
- These headphones are lightweight and comfortable, and they travel well.
- Unlike other headphones in this price class, the internal prompts and voice cues sound good—more human and more “produced.”
- When taking phone calls, I found the way that the Bose six-microphone system works, along with “right ear tap” technology, to be pretty cool. Clearly, a lot of design money (and engineering) went into these headphones.
- Bluetooth 5.0 allows for all sorts of new features with more reportedly coming. Synching into meetings is one Bose touts thus bringing in the work argument to the discussion on what headphones to buy and why.
- These headphones sound pretty damn good overall. Their bass performance is notably better than that of the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 audiophile headphones. The highs on the Bose NC 700s are a bit bright for my taste, but the mids sound open and accurate. The overall balance of the sound is pretty musically pleasing, other than a bit of sizzle in the high frequencies.
- Like many other headphones in this price class, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 have an app that makes it easy to get the most out of the features. I need another app on my phone like I need a hole in the head, but I downloaded it and found the setup to be amazingly easy.
- Pairing the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 with my devices was a snap. All of my Apple devices easily found these headphones and remembered them.
- While not a feature I would use, voice control through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant is an option via the microphone system.
- The industrial design is downright slick. Is it Apple-like? No. But few headphones are. And when traveling on a cross-country trip, I found them to be quite durable.
Why Should You Care About the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?
- Everybody needs a good pair of headphones, and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 brings to the table some thoughtful technologies that aren’t always found in the $400 price range.
- More people are using headphones as part of their work setup, be it at the office or in a work-from-home environment. The Bose Noise Cancelling 700 is about as in-tune with this new reality as any pair of headphones that I’ve reviewed (and I’ve reviewed a lot of over-the-ear, wireless headphones over the years).
Some Things You Might Not Like About the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?
- I found the sound quality to be better than that of many competitors in this price class, but the bright high frequencies are worth pointing out again. There isn’t as much emphasis in the high frequencies in the Sennheiser Momentum 4 headphones, which are a similarly priced pair of higher-end, over-ear headphones.
- Where is the USB-C to USB-C cable, guys? Seriously, we Apple people don’t want to use an adapter, and we shouldn’t have to buy one for headphones in this price class.
- The battery life is among the worst in the category. I am not an engineer, but I’m guessing Bose’s very effective noise cancelation requires more battery power. The headphones do recharge pretty quickly, and the power notifications are helpful.
Listening To The Bose Noise Canceling 700 Headphones
On “Inside Out” from Phil Collins’s No Jacket Required (AIFF file, CD quality) (buy at Amazon), you get a classic taste of a drummer-first recording. That huge Miami Vice drum sound shows off both the good and the bad aspects of the Bose Noise Cancelling 700’s sound. The dynamics of the drums that open the track showed the strength of the Noise Canceling 700’s low-end prowess: These headphones sounded robust in the bass region, but not as bloated as what you will hear from other headphones from lofty brands at this price point. The cymbal crashes, meanwhile, were bright and edgy. The sound wasn’t quite as bright with the noise cancelation on, but make no mistake, these headphones are voiced to emphasize high frequencies. There is a “Bose sound,” and these headphones have it.
Listening to a more modern recording like “Making a Fire” from Medicine at Midnight by Foo Fighters (AIFF file, CD quality) (buy at Amazon) didn’t affect the sonic outcome. These headphones are consistent in their presentation. The bass sounded tight and went as low as any headphone pair that I’ve spent time with in this category. The mids were notably open, as I could clearly hear the very layered backup vocals in the repeating choruses. The late Taylor Hawkins’s cymbal crashes sounded tinny to my ears, and over time the music grew a bit fatiguing to listen to.
Who Is the Competition for the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700?
These headphones face competition from all of the big players in the mainstream space, including Beats, Sony, Denon, Apple, and others. In the performance space, I look to the recently reviewed Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 headphones ($399) (buy at Amazon) headphones because they, too, have excellent noise cancelation. Sony has a few contenders in the form of the WH-1000XM4 and WH-1000XM5 (buy at Amazon) , which reportedly have very good noise cancelation in their own right.
There are also very high-end wireless headphones on the market from the likes of Focal, Hi-Fi Man, T+A and Mark Levinson, but I’ve yet to hear them. On the lower end, you can find surprisingly good options from an endless number of companies that you may or may not have heard of. 1More’s Soniflow headphones at about $99 (buy at Amazon) comes to mind, given my recent review of the company’s Soniflow headphones that are much less than half the price of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. Both pairs of headphones have a pretty balanced sound (the 1More’s highs are more subdued which I liked), but with the Soniflow you don’t get the features, build quality, and excellent noise canceling that the Bose 700 delivers.
Do the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Have Any Resale Value?
I wouldn’t hold out hope for much resale value on the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. Like most headphones, they are a wear-and-tear item that’s just as much about style as audio performance. Chances are, you’ll beat the snot out of them, as I have with most wireless headphones I’ve used over the years. If you could get $50 for them on eBay.com after a few years of use, consider yourself lucky.
Final Thoughts On The Bose Noise Canceling 700 Wireless Headphones…
Don’t bring your audiophile biases to this discussion of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (buy at Amazon). These headphones have some of the best noise canceling in the world. They sound quite good, if you like a brighter edge. They’ve got a gorgeous industrial design. They feature well-integrated work-oriented technologies that are really cool. The ear-cup swipe control doesn’t take long to figure out and ended up being pretty cool, too. If great noise cancelation is a top priority in your next pair of wireless, over-the-ear headphones, you might just need to try on a pair of the Bose Noise Cancelling 700—it will deliver in that department, and far beyond, at a pretty fair price.